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It's All About Connections

What's the single most critical skill for operating your pro AV business? Designing systems? Selling them? IT networking know-how? It's none of these. It's so simple, yet competence at this basic skill can mean the difference between a system that works and one that doesn't. It's so critical that InfoComm International devoted much of its first ?AV Installation Handbook? to the topic.

What's the single most critical skill for operating your pro AV business? Designing systems? Selling them? IT networking know-how? It's none of these.

It's so simple, yet competence at this basic skill can mean the difference between a system that works and one that doesn't. It's so critical that InfoComm International devoted much of its first “AV Installation Handbook” to the topic.

This vital skill is “making connections.”

The highest quality AV components or “Frankenstein” cabling won't make any difference if the point of connection between two pieces of gear fails because of improper or faulty contact. These problems can be as mundane as the cold-solder joint, or as elusive as the “Pin 1” problem that plagues our industry. Making connections is to the AV professional what sutures are to the surgeon. All the certifications and years of experience don't matter if you haven't mastered — or don't maintain mastery — of this most important skill.

When I first received my copy of the recently published InfoComm handbook, I thought it was unusual to focus so many pages on cable terminations. But upon further reflection, I realized it was the right place to start. And it's just as critical in AV as it is in other related industries. For example, did you know that 65 percent of all repairs in the CATV/broadband world are related to connectors? In IT, when “Category” cables first appeared, the No. 1 cause of system failure was user-made patch cords. That's why, at least in the network world, they will now sell you a jack, to which you punch down the wire, and then a pre-manufactured and assembled patch cord.

Network reliability went up by orders of magnitude with this change. Experts such as Belden's Steve Lampen will tell you that these same reliability issues, no doubt, exist in pro AV. It would benefit all pro AV system integrators, installers, and consultants to step back every once on awhile and brush up on the little details, such as making connections.

The critical role of making good connections goes beyond the literal technical skill we all must master. It's a good metaphor for the interpersonal skill set that also can determine the success or failure of your business. If you can't find customers and “make connections” with referrals for new business, you're certainly doomed to fail. Making connections is probably why many of you are reading this right now at the NSCA Expo in Orlando, Fla. Whether it's the technical skill that enables the transmission of electrons, or the “people” skill that enables the transaction of commerce, making connections is key to your success or failure in this business.

Mark Mayfield
Editor



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