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72 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2020 I no longer in regular contact with all of these people, but I also was unable to attend the design conferences and other events that I had enjoyed for many years. They say that silence can be deafening, and with the absence of the networking activity in my life, I completely agree. Fortunately, that period of time went by fast- er than a six-shooter horse, and I am now back in the saddle again, as they say. However, the relative isolation that I experienced made a huge impression on me, and I came to realize just how important having a network of pro- fessional peers to rely on actually is. The truth is that a good peer network is more than im- portant; it is absolutely essential. Here are six benefits that I have come to depend on with my professional network of peers, and perhaps some of these may resonate with you as well. 1. Help Let's face it; sometimes, we are going to run into problems where we just don't know the answer. Maybe you need help creating a spe- cial shape in your CAD tools that you are unfa- miliar with, or you need help calculating a PCB layer stackup. In those moments, you need the help of your co-workers and professional peers to get you back on the right track. I can't even begin to count the number of times that people have helped me when I found myself barkin' at a knot, and I would be willing to bet that each of us relies on help from our networks far more than we realize. 2. Training There have been several instances in my life where help has turned into full-blown train- ing. I am very thankful for the folks in my life who have spent extra time to patiently take me through whatever process it was that I need- ed to learn. I've even had people spend time outside of their regular shifts at work to make sure that I completely understood what it was that I was doing. A few years back, as I was preparing to work on a new schematic capture tool, one of my peers made a special trip to my house to drop off his own training materials on that tool to help me. 3. Professional There are also many aspects of our ca- reers that aren't specifically PCB design re- lated, and your network of peers can be of great help with that as well. I've had peers help me with financial questions, writing re- sumes, and learning the ropes at a new com- pany. I've even had times where I've whined and complained about work situations that I couldn't clearly see through, and a valued co- worker was able to help me view the situation from a different perspective. Having someone to bounce ideas off of that you can trust is a treasure that can't be bought, and must be protected at all costs. 4. Career When you are looking for a job, having a large and diverse network of professionals that you can reach out to is worth more than gold. Time and time again, I've had referrals from my network of professionals that have opened up opportunities that I would never have known about otherwise. 5. Social Industry trade shows are not only great plac- es for seeing and learning new design advance- ments and methods, but they also provide a wonderful venue to engage with your peers on a social level. I absolutely love my family, friends, and neighbors, but when I start a dis- cussion with them about microvias, I can see their eyes glaze over right before they collapse on the floor in a deep coma. With trade shows, however, you have a unique opportunity to spend time with people who share the same interests as you, including microvias. Additionally, the times away from The truth is that a good peer network is more than important; it is absolutely essential.

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