Posted on 1/5/2016

Top 15 of 2015

We hope you enjoyed our first year of blogging at Automation Alley! This year, we heard from a host of local experts, who shared their knowledge on a wide range of business topics, from job market trends and workforce development issues to what’s new in technology, manufacturing and more.

Are we discussing the topics that are most important to you? Let us know what you’d like to read about by contacting us at

Here’s a look back at some of our favorite blog posts from the past year. Thanks for reading!

1. Mistakes, Mishaps & Making Friends Abroad: Stories About Going Global

Participants on Automation Alley's Trade Mission to Mexico

Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of international business services, discusses Automation Alley’s trade mission program, some of the biggest mistakes companies make when stepping into exporting for the first time and how individuals can educate themselves on business customs abroad. 

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2. Startups Should Target Customers Before Capital

Tom Kelly, Automation Alley's COO

Tom Kelly, Automation Alley director of entrepreneurship, discusses why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to study their customers and prove their ideas in the marketplace before they seek funding. 

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3. Thunderchickens, First Robotics and Creating a Supportive, Rewarding Environment for Young Girls


Kelly Kozlowski, Automation Alley's senior director, discusses how mentoring a local FIRST Robotics team of high school students has opened her eyes to the  endless opportunities for young women in STEM fields. 

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4. The Smart-er Factory

Debbie Holton, SME

As vehicles become increasingly more connected and electronic, manufacturers are facing significant challenges and opportunities as they try to meet customer demand for more capabilities. SME's Debbie Holton discusses this big data challenge, both on the road and in the factory. 

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5. Empowering Detroit’s Civic Tech Community

Beth Niblock, City of Detroit

Beth Niblock, CIO for the City of Detroit and #hack4detroit judge, discusses how civic hacking can lead to the development of community-changing ideas.

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6. 5 Networking Tactics You Haven’t Tried Before

Diane DeForest, Automation Alley

Networking isn’t what it used to be. With people becoming more and more distracted by constant interaction and stimulation, the art of creating a meaningful connection is changing. And that means it’s time for you to assess your go-to strategies for those handshake-heavy evenings. I’ve been watching people network for 20 years, and that continuous observation has led me to a handful of tips that are key to any successful strategy, whether you’re a seasoned expert or a shy newcomer.

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7. Beyond The Taco: An Intro to Business Opportunities and Culture in Mexico


Today, we’re talking about Mexico. No, not Cancun. Not spring break. Not tacos, or sombreros, or any of the other Chi-Chi’s-inspired imagery that comes to mind when most people think of our neighbor to the south. We’re talking about meaningful opportunities for you business to expand.

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8. Sisters Code: Empowering Women to Explore Technology

Marlin Page, Sisters Code

Marlin Page is the founder of Sisters Code, a global social enterprise with a mission to educate, empower, and entice women ages 25 – 85 to explore the world of coding and technology. Here she talks about why she started Sisters Code, what goes on at the “Weekend Website Warrior Experience,” and how Sister's Code gives back to the community.    

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9. How Much Should I Spend On Digital Marketing?

Paul Chambers, Core3

As a business owner, I wear a lot of hats. One of my favorite hats to wear is my business development hat.  Not because I like selling, but because I love helping people. When I’m talking to a new prospect, I take some time to learn about their project, their specific needs and their business. My final question is, “What is your budget for this project?” This question typically yields one of three responses.

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10. Grant Writing: 5 Tips That Might Seem Obvious but Are Commonly Overlooked

Suitcase of Money

When you’re competing for funding dollars, it’s important to dot the i’s and cross the t’s when writing and submitting a grant proposal. On this week’s blog, Automation Alley Grants Manager Lisa Stief breaks down the grant writing process and offers up tips for grant writing success. 

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11. Robots: The Destruction and Restoration of the American Imagination

Addie Langford, Tech Shop

One of my favorite stories told by my father was the only time he recalls seeing his mother in the buff. She flew from the bath at the sight of my father, then seven, who had carved a deep gouge in his neck while shredding her rubber galoshes to craft a slingshot. This toy/weapon would accompany the motorized go-cart, the handmade printing press, an elaborate treehouse, and a basement full of eviscerated toasters and wiring. 

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12. 10 Ways to Attract Tech Talent, Grow Sales

Joe Serwach

Tech companies get in trouble when prospective new hires and customers ask, “What do you do, exactly?’’ If your answer is too hesitant or generic, too vague or too specific, their eyes quickly glaze over and a prospect quickly tunes out.

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13. Challenge Vs. Outcome

Erik Meier, Sandler Sales Training

Erik Meier is the founder and CEO of EAM Consulting Group and president of Sandler Training. This week on the blog, he discusses how to improve your prospecting efficiency by making sure your discussions focus on the outcome, not just the challenge.

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14. 11 Common Networking Mistakes

Greg Peters

You've heard it before: Networking is the best way to grow your business, find a job and support your nonprofit. Unfortunately, a lot of bad techniques and misconceptions have grown up around the practice which, if followed, can severely limit the success you see in pursuing your networking goals.

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15. Five Characteristics of Winning Innovators

Lisa Vallee-Smith, Airfoil Group

Innovation is an equal-opportunity phenomenon. The public and the media tend to restrict the term “innovative companies” to startups from Silicon Valley and the Northwest, but business leaders in Seattle aren’t the only ones who go sleepless developing great ideas into great brands.

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About the Author

Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley

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