It’s time for my annual plug for The American Ceramic Society’s great “marketplace” tool—the “ceramicSOURCE‘ directory.
Actually, ceramicSOURCE is two nearly identical directories. The only difference is that one is online and the other one comes in a printed format (as part of the December issue of ACerS’ Bulletin).
I know I am biased, but let me explain why I like ceramicSOURCE.
First, in my line of work, I often go looking for an expert in a manufacturing field or with knowledge about a particular process or raw material. I find it is easy for me to begin my search by going to the ceramicSOURCE home page. I just start plugging in search terms (into a Google-like window). There are several search options: Search by Keyword, Search by Location, or Browse by Product Category. I also get access to an Advanced Search option that allows me to combine search words, locations, proximity parameters (e.g., if I want to find someone within 50 miles of my location), etc.
So, for example, if I wanted to find a supplier of alumina, I just enter “alumina” as a keyword. The resultant search might look something like this (please note, I have included just the first few of the hundreds of companies that were suggested by the directory):
Besides being able to drill into one for the suggested links, I also can share what I find with others and create a “favorites” list to keep track of organizations I want to follow.
Most of the ceramicSOURCE search suggestions have more information than I typically need, but I know that if I ever was trying to procure or get advice on purchasing an oven or a piece of analytical equipment, well—the more information, the better!
Now, I know there are a lot of places one can start to search for supplies, equipment and advice. Sure, there is always Google and Bing. But, my experience is standard search engines produce more junk links than good leads.
I also constantly see people in the ceramics community searching for products, materials and expertise in LinkedIn, which is very much a hit-or-miss situation, where you have to post a question and then wait for someone—someone who truly has expertise, one hopes—to respond.
So, hands down, for me the best and fastest spam-free starting place for ceramics and materials-related searches is ceramicSOURCE.
The second reason I like ceramicSOURCE is that I really enjoy the response from raw material suppliers, testing and evaluation equipment vendors, material handling equipment, etc. when I tell them that getting a basic listing in the directory is free. If you want to reach what is essentially a “qualified” group of potential customers and clients, taking advantage of the free listing offer should be a no-brainer.
If you or your company are not already listed in ceramicSOURCE, you should begin by clicking on the “Add Your Company” tab, which will take you to a page showing listing options. As I mentioned, the basic listing in the directory is free, with no strings attached. (Of course, you can choose to upgrade to a “premium” or “showcase” listing, which gives you extra visibility in ceramicSOURCE.)
Next, pick your listing options and then click on either the “Add Listing” or “Contact Us” links.
My suggestion is to begin with the free option: The “Add Listing” link will lead you through the process of setting up your free account and company/organization information. Here is what the top of the new account page looks like:
If you are a new listee, you should be sure to click on the “Continue” button on the bottom of the page — this will trigger the process of getting the free listing approved (the approval process allows ceramicSOURCE staff to weed out possible spam listings, check spelling, etc.).
Sometimes ceramicSOURCE is thought of in only in regard “hard” goods, raw materials and equipment. In fact, ceramicSOURCE did start out years ago as an old-school buyers guide. But, now the directory—online and print—goes beyond just supplies and hardware, and it serves as a great marketplace for “soft” services such as consultants, research groups, engineering services, education institutions and other associations.
One final note: To a large extent, ceramicSOURCE is a user-maintained resource. It is impossible for ACerS to continuously verify and maintain the information in the listings. Therefore, it is crucial that if you or your company are listed in ceramicSOURCE, that you take a few minutes to review your listing and, if necessary, update it. Have new phone numbers? Is there a new contact person for questions in your organization? Don’t take the risk of losing a possible lead because of outdated information. If you have forgotten your account password, just go to Account Login and follow the instructions.
ACerS will soon begin the process of assembling the print version of ceramicSOURCE. The cutoff date for updating or adding new listings that will go into the printed directory is Oct. 12, 2012.