Thursday

Thank You & Happy Holidays

In this season of celebration, I just wanted to express my appreciation for your support of Building Industry Resources. This year has brought new relationships and opportunities to connect and share information with thousands of professionals in a variety of ways. Whether you read our newsletters or blog, attended one of our workshops, downloaded our resource materials, emailed, connected on social networking sites, called, or contracted our services, communicating and working with you is truly a blessing.

Thank you! You are the reason Building Industry Resources exists – to encourage and assist you in achieving your business and career goals, empowering you to be the best.

Although this past year brought challenges to many, I am excited to think of the possibilities of 2010. The New Year promises new beginnings, innovation, and creative collaboration. Let’s look forward to an increase in projects, new partnerships, and business-building opportunities.

Wishing you peace, joy, great memories, and dreams fulfilled this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

Karen A. Davis
Building Industry Resources

Friday

Articles and Blog Posts for Building Industry Professionals to Write


As the New Year approaches, I’m sure you are re-evaluating business goals, strategizing to increase business, and readying yourself to welcome new clients as they request your services. You can utilize article writing to tell your story, define your service offerings, and market your business.

Resolve to position yourself as an expert in the building industry this coming year by writing articles and posting them on your website or to a blog. Let people know who you are and how you operate. Make yourself and your firm completely accessible to your clients and prospects, informing them of how you got to be where you are and why you are the right professional to meet their needs and solve their problems.

Here are topics to help you get started (two to four months worth of blogging):

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Architects & Interior Designers to Write

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Contractors & Builders to Write

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Facility Professionals to Write

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Real Estate Professionals to Write

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Building Products Manufacturers and Distributors to Write

As you complete your articles, send me a link at kadavis@buildingsource.net, and I’ll share them with my network.

Building Industry Resources can help your write, market, promote and distribute your blog and articles. We also work with you to build your business. See How We Help You and then Contact Us here or e-mail kadavis@buildingsource.net

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Building Products Manufacturers and Distributors to Write

1. Why did you choose to manufacture, distribute or represent your particular product?
2. Why should an architect or designer specify your product?
3. When did you determine that you product was not best suited for a project?
4. How do you collaborate with other building industry professionals on a project?
5. What or who inspires you?
6. Describe the best application or use of your product and where it is located.
7. Describe the best project you ever worked on.
8. Describe the project you are most proud of.
9. Give advice to those considering the application or use of your product.
10. Describe the relationship between product suppliers and designers or contractors and how the relationship can be improved to better serve the end-user.
11. What trends do you foresee for the design and building industry for the next five or 10 years?
12. What are the trends for your niche market for the next five to 10 years?
13. What makes you a leader in your niche market?
14. What organizations do you volunteer with and why?
15. Write a summary of the last workshop or conference you attended.
16. Describe your “aha” moment – the moment that changed your career.

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Real Estate Professionals to Write

1. How did you decide to become a real estate professional?
2. What or who inspires you?
3. How do you ensure good customer service?
4. How do you choose your clients?
5. Give advice to your clients and prospects to make for a smoother relationship.
6. What professions would make good business partners for sharing contacts and why.
7. Describe the best real estate transaction you ever conducted.
8. Describe the real estate transaction you are most proud of.
9. Give advice to those entering the real estate profession.
10. Give advice to improve the real estate profession or the building industry as a whole?
11. What trends do you foresee in real estate for the next five or 10 years?
12. What are the trends for your niche market for the next five to 10 years?
13. What makes you a leader in your niche market?
14. What organizations do you volunteer with and why?
15. Write a summary of the last workshop or conference you attended.
16. Describe your “aha” moment – the moment that changed your career.

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Facility Professionals to Write

1. How did you come to be a facility professional?
2. How do you collaborate with other building industry professionals on a project?
3. What or who inspires you?
4. How do you ensure good customer service?
5. Give advice to your clients to create a smoother relationship.
6. Give advice to other service providers to create a smoother relationship.
7. Write a review of your favorite building or space.
8. Describe the best project you ever worked on.
9. Describe the project you are most proud of.
10. How did your firm or department improve the operation of any particular facility over the last 12 months?
11. Give advice to those entering the facilities profession.
12. Give advice to improve the facilities profession or the building industry as a whole?
13. What trends do you foresee in facility management for the next five or 10 years?
14. What organizations do you volunteer with and why?
15. Write a summary of the last workshop or conference you attended.
16. Describe your “aha” moment – the moment that changed your career.

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Contractors & Builders to Write

1. Why did you become a builder or contractor?
2. How do you collaborate with other building industry professionals on a project?
3. What or who inspires you?
4. Write a review of your favorite building or space built by someone else.
5. Write a review of your favorite building or space built or worked on by you.
6. Describe the best project you ever worked on.
7. Describe the project you are most proud of.
8. Give advice to those entering the construction industry.
9. Describe the relationship between contractors and materials suppliers and how it can be improved to better serve the end-user.
10. What trends do you foresee for the construction industry for the next five or 10 years?
11. What are the trends for your niche market in construction for the next five to 10 years?
12. What makes you a leader in your niche market?
13. Describe your hobbies and how they may relate to the construction industry.
14. What organizations do you volunteer with and why?
15. Write a summary of the last workshop or conference you attended.
16. Describe your “aha” moment – the moment that changed your career.

16 Articles and Blog Posts for Architects & Interior Designers to Write

1. Why did you become an architect or interior designer?
2. Who is your favorite designer or architect?
3. What or who inspires you?
4. Write a review of your favorite building or space designed by someone else.
5. Write a review of your favorite building or space designed by you.
6. Describe the best project you ever worked on.
7. Describe the project you are most proud of.
8. Give advice to those entering the architecture and interior design profession.
9. Give advice to improve the architecture or interior design fields, or the building industry as a whole.
10. What trends do you foresee for architecture or interior design for the next five or 10 years?
11. What are the trends for your niche market for the next five to 10 years?
12. What makes you a leader in your niche market?
13. Describe your hobbies and how they may relate to architecture or interior design.
14. What organizations do you volunteer with and why?
15. Write a summary of the last workshop or conference you attended.
16. Describe your “aha” moment – the moment that changed your career.

Thursday

Pre-Qualify Your Prospects


When business slows and funds are trickling in, it’s tempting to just take the next project that comes along to keep operations flowing. But will that project be worth your time and effort? Do some planning before accepting just any client or project that comes calling.

- What are the characteristics of your ideal client? Think back to those clients with whom you have enjoyed working in the past.

- What’s your ideal project? For instance, if your focus has been on educational design, you may not want to take on a residential remodel.

- What is your work style? If you have a short attention span, reconsider that year-and-a-half-long project (unless you can get yourself to think of it as several smaller projects). You don’t want to get bored and end up giving your client less than your best.

- How do you relate to people? Say you’ve determined that the prospect who calls several times a day will turn into the client who asks for daily progress reports. If you’re not a good hand-holder, maybe you should consider referring that prospect to someone else.

Resolve that it is okay to keep a list of business partners to whom you can refer prospects if you don’t think they’ll be a good fit for you. Your partners should do the same for you.

Monday

Is pursuing that project worth the effort?


It’s a money-making (and saving) Monday.

Have you ever considered how much it costs you to pursue a client before an agreement is signed and before the actual project begins? Consider the following to save time and money and avoid frustration:

- Determine the average number of meetings – including phone meetings – it takes before you sign an agreement. Can the number be reduced?

- Ask your prospect if they are qualifying other professionals for the job. If they are, ask for names and research your competition so you can position yourself as the best candidate.

- Prepare a list of questions to determine if your prospect is really ready to begin their project.

- Explore ways to win the project without providing work product (sketches, cost estimates, etc.) before signing an agreement.

Tuesday

Do-it-yourself Career Tactics




I’ve met lots of good people lately. Good, talented, hard-working people who are looking for jobs or consulting opportunities, and some who may have temporarily thrown in the towel.

In the face of lay-offs, downsizing, unemployment and underemployment, a professional has to continue to move forward – and that means setting the wheels in motion to create his or her own career opportunities.

What services do you offer? Tell everyone you know. If they can’t use them at the time, they may know someone who can. (Send me an e-mail at kadavis@buildingsource.net so I know, too.)

Network and keep in contact with positive people, sharing and trading ideas. Yesterday, I had coffee with my friend, interior designer Kiana Doggan-German. Our meeting generated ideas for collaboration, not only between the two of us, but also for the larger building industry community. You’ll hear more about that shortly.

Here are five articles that provide more strategies for opening the opportunity pipeline:

1) You are your best brand advocate

2) Are you communicating your career brand?

3) They tell you you’re over-qualified. Here’s a solution.

4) Tell your network what you need

5) 8 Ways to Stay Marketing-minded During a Recession




Monday

Presentation: Social Networking for the Building Industry

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to present the workshop, Social Networking for the Building Industry, at the National Organization of Minority Architects Conference in St. Louis, MO. The presentation, below, outlines: reasons building industry professionals and firms should utilize social media sites; an overview of social media sites utilized by the building industry; principles for social networking success; creating a social media strategy to fit with traditional marketing methods; and engaging potential clients and collaborators.

Thanks to the NOMA Conference Planning Committee for selecting the Building Industry Resources presentation to be included at the Conference.

Tuesday

The Bottom Line: Finding Work

Get complimentary access to the Building Intelligence section of the Building Industry Resources site.

The news is reporting it, and if you do a little research, you will find signs: the economy seems to be in an upturn, albeit ever so subtly. With the amount of information that comes our way daily, it may be difficult to find the projects relevant to our targeted segments and markets of the building industry.

Building Industry Resources has sifted through websites, magazines, newsletters and other media to compile a list of recent articles: who’s designing, who’s building, who’s developing, and who’s selling and leasing. You need to know where the work is in the building industry; who is getting it done, and how you can get a piece of it. One of our goals is inform you of potential projects and provide you with the information you need to build your business and cultivate new relationships.

Retailers are expanding. Some cities are growing, and there is work in hospitality, transportation and other industries. We’ve listed reference articles and the location of projects by state. There are also useful articles to help run your business, and professionals and firms who’ve made significant moves in the industry.

What do you do with the information once you retrieve it? Look at it inquisitively. Mine the articles for the possibility of a new contact, a new market to research, or consider going the extra step to make one more phone call to find out if there is any work available on an upcoming project. If you don’t have the time, contact Building Industry Resources. We’re here to assist you in your business development efforts.

See the most recent Building Intel list here. We invite your feedback: What other information would you like to see? What would help you get leads and build relationships? Let us know if this information is useful and what else we can do to help you build business.

The How's and Why's of Blogging


I'm a big proponent of social media. You probably know that already. And one of the best and least expensive ways to promote yourself and your business is through blogging. What is blogging, and what is a blog? Well, you're reading one. Blog is the abbrieviated form of "weblog," an on-going written journal of your thoughts on a particular subject.

When promoting your business, you want to present yourself as the expert in your particular field. What do you know better than anyone else about real estate, or construction, or design? Blogging allows you to present your expertise in an open forum to thousands or millions of people. As you surf the Internet and read articles, you can share the information, and your commentary, with your readers through links in your blog (This is also another way to make contacts; other writers appreciate you passing on their information.)

Keeping a steady flow of ideas and maintaining a blog can be difficult and time-consuming, but plan to update it regularly - maybe bi-weekly at first, then weekly or more often. Jot down topics you'd like to address. Create an outline of ideas for your posts. Follow other blogs related to your profession for inspiration. Copyblogger, a blog dedicated to writing for marketing success, has compiled "73 Ways to Become a Better Writer." It just takes time, persistence, focus, and imagination.

Business writers, Seth Godin and Tom Peters, present their reasons for blogging in the video below. Tom, who has authored over 10 books, says "... no single thing has been more important to my life... professionally, than blogging. It has changed my life..." It's a great marketing tool, and it's free. (For Bloggging and Marketing Coaching and Consulting, contact me at kadavis@buildingsource.net.)

Friday

Using Competitions as a Marketing Tool




By Karen A. Davis

“… for someone who is young and who has no experience, the only way to get big projects is through competitions.” Bernard Tschumi

There are hundreds of design and construction competitions sponsored by various trade magazines, professional organizations and industry groups. Maybe you have never entered a competition or it’s been years since you have. Consider including competitions in the overall marketing strategy for your company. If you’re short on client projects, or even if you have ample workflow, entering a competition is a low-cost way to promote your name, explore new ideas, and motivate you to try new project types.

Competitions can inspire and offer an opportunity to be more imaginative. Your current projects may have very tight budgets, or your creativity may be stifled by the requirements of your client. A competition can be a design exercise – or a charrette – for you and your employees. Think back to those “open-ended” projects you had in college – no funding restraints, loose client requirements, and a little time to dream.

Once you enter the competition, the design can be included in your portfolio to highlight your capability in that particular niche. Does your body of work have a high concentration of office projects, but you would like to work more in hospitality? A competition sponsored by a hospitality design magazine can allow you to sharpen and show your skills in that market segment.

Utilize competitions as cost-effective marketing tools. They typically have no or relatively low-cost entry fees, and are an excellent way to get your work in published. In most cases, even runners-up get their name listed as an honorable mention. Once published, reprints and press releases can be sent to clients and potential business partners.

Plan ahead to include competitions as part of your annual marketing efforts. Create a calendar of upcoming calls for entry, including registration dates, binder requirements, and submission deadlines.

Bernard Tschumi, quoted at the beginning of this article, won the 2001 competition and commission for the New Acropolis Museum in Athens Greece. Tschumi estimates that he wins one out of four competitions he enters. Learn a few of his strategies in the Architect magazine article “Playing to Win.”

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Thursday

Side Note: CSI Student Competition Winning Entry

See CSI's video of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's winning entry from the Segway Shelter Student Competition at the Construct Show, June 2009. Samuel Barringer, Lauretta Cocke & Nathan Kocaj designed the shelter.

Wednesday

Side Note: Segway Shelter Competition at the Construct Show

The Segway Personal Transporter has many uses. Segway is marketing its PT's for use on guided tours of local attractions and for commuting.

As part of the Construct Show & CSI Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana last week, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) sponsored a student competition: design a Segway shelter for use along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The Cultural trail "connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system."

Using a standard kit of parts, college and university students were to design a safe, secure, weather-resistant enclosure where guests could leave their transporter on the trail for hours at a time. Students were then to build the shelter over two days of the Show.

See the entries below.

Segway Shelter Competition: Oklahoma State University Entry

Segway Shelter Competition: University of Tennessee Entry

Segway Shelter Competition: Indiana University/ Purdue University Entry 2

Segway Shelter Competition: Indiana University/ Purdue University Entry 1

Segway Shelter Competition: University of Memphis Entry

Thursday

Moving Past No


by Karen A. Davis

I just began reading I’ve Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked, and They’ve Got Nothing on You! by personal trainer to the stars, Jake Steinfeld. In his book, he talks about his relationship with director, Steven Spielberg, and I discovered something new: Steven Spielberg was declined admission to both the University of Southern California and UCLA film schools. (He was turned down by USC three times.)

A few pages into the book Jake says of his friend, “Sure he’s brilliant and talented, but like the rest of us, he struggled until he found his niche and his genius was recognized.”

Well, most of us know how the story progressed. Spielberg became such a great filmmaker that USC had to take notice, and the university awarded him an honorary degree in 1994.

We view celebrities’ lives through the mainstream media’s filter, and typically what we see is the result of years of diligent, hard work. Sure, some have it easy and quickly rise to fame, but in most cases they are the ones who fall the hardest. For those whose careers endure, conventional media doesn’t really show us the struggle: the planning, reworking of the plan, the closed doors, and the tears when things don’t happen as expected. What we see is the end of the movie, or the beginning of the sequel – how it all turns out after the plans fall into place.

Whether you’ve been let go from a job, moving into a new career, working to get your own company off the ground, or if your long-standing business is experiencing lean times because of the current economy, stay focused on your strengths. Make sure you have solid goals and objectives in place for the job hunt or for developing new business for your office. If you’re working from an old plan, take it out and revise it, recognizing that the methods you used a year or two ago may be outdated.

Determine your niche: the place where you fit – and thrive – in your field. Are you defining your position, or are you letting someone else do it for you? Determine what you do best, work to make yourself the best in your niche, and promote your craft every chance you get. When you move yourself to the top, your audience will have no other choice but to recognize you as the best.

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Friday

Reach Beyond Your Contact List




Live networking is key to building your business. You must establish new relationships and put yourself in the right places at the right times in order to position yourself for the upturn in the economy.

It's important to reach outside of your current contact list and explore new resources for networking. Architects, attend an Engineering convention. Construction professionals, try a Real Estate trade show. Listen to the trends and ideas presented at their events. Our building industry fields are certainly interrelated: Facility Managers need Contractors; Builders need Interior Designers.

Building Industry Resources has compiled a listing of upcoming conferences, trade shows and other events where you can meet building industry professionals, network, and expand your reach throughout the industry. Get your free networking guide: Building Relationships 2009

Tuesday

Make More When the Marketplace Says Less


Have you taken a day to look at the total situation of your business? Look at the big picture and identify all opportunities - not just for you, but also for your clients. Sales guru, Jeffrey Gitomer, says, "Write down what you intend to do to help the customer, do more business with the customer, gain more referrals from the customer, and make the relationship with the customer a financially rewarding one." Read his article here.

Friday

Build Your Network and Market Your Business with Twitter



I have a short attention span. I skip to the end of a book to find out the ending, and it’s difficult for me to sit through movies. I often tell friends and family, “When you tell me a story, just give me the highlights.” Maybe that’s why Twitter is currently my favorite social networking site. I can get the gist of what a person wants to say in 140 characters or less (including spaces).

Marketing and business promotion have changed; you can’t just build your website, put it out in cyberspace, and hope customers will come. You should be building relationships, participating in discussions and conversions, and helping people solve problems. Twitter is a medium for all of that, and you can use it to drive traffic to your website.

Why use Twitter?
Twitter is free and simple. You can reach hundreds in just a few clicks and point clients in your direction, all in a few minutes per day.

(See, you just got loads of information in 138 characters.)

Who’s on Twitter?
No, it’s not just celebrities. Organizations and publications you know use it, too, including: ASID, Big Builder magazine, ENR, Architectural Record, Professional Remodeler, Newsweek, and the National Building Museum. And you know what? They’re following me! That means whenever I post a new article I’ve written or twitter about a project I’m working on or what I’m teaching my students, those posts come up on their Twitter feed.

There are also real estate agents and developers, architects, interior designers, builders, sustainability specialists, attorneys, magazine editors and other professionals in the building industry who share their expertise with a short post. Most often, each person’s profile (160 characters or fewer) provides a link to a website which can provide a way to contact him or her.

Who to follow?
You don’t have to listen to (read) all of the Twitter chatter; choose who you want to follow. Upon registering, you can see anyone’s followers or whom they are following. Start by following me at www.twitter.com/buildingsource (or as you might see it abbreviated @buildingsource). I typically do not follow anyone who does not post a profile, so click on a photo and find out a little about someone who intrigues you. You’ll find that I am mainly following people in the building industry, some marketing folks, a couple of news sites, and a few just for fun (like @cookbook who tweets recipes in 140 characters or less).

Once you choose a few from those on my page, select from the ones they are following. You’ll soon discover that you’ll gain followers because many are doing the same routine that you are. Also, try We Follow, a Twitter directory site that categorizes Twitter users and ranks them by number of followers.

What to post?
Post items of interest to those in the industry in general or those within your niche. What articles are you reading online? Tweet a link with an interesting introduction. What are you working on? Do a feed of the process of completing the project. Post your portfolio. Trying to sell a property? Tweet it. Got advice for colleagues or clients in your niche? Do a series of tips. Post a link to your blog.

From a conference or trade show, tweet information on the workshops you attend and the vendors and professionals you meet (they’ll appreciate the publicity, too).

Remember, as with all social networking, you should actively participate. Comment on the posts. If someone asks a question and you have the answer, respond, or try to refer him or her to someone who might be able to help. Share your professional experiences. Congratulate people on well-written articles or a creative online portfolio.

Schedule Your Twitter time
Finally, don’t try to read the entire feed coming onto your page; it can be overwhelming. Just take a few minutes each day and scan your page for helpful and interesting information. If you feel you’ve missed something valuable from someone you like to follow, put in their Twitter URL and check their profile.

Twitter can be a useful and productive method for promoting your services. Log on, be sure to complete your profile (with picture or logo), and start networking.

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Wednesday

AIA Convention Goes Virtual


The American Institute of Architects 2009 National Convention and Design Exposition begins Thursday, April 30th in San Francisco, CA with the focus on "The Power of Diversity: Practice in a Complex World." If you want to attend and have not registered, there will be on-site registration beginning April 28th at noon.

If you can't make it to San Francisco, there are a variety of ways that you can keep up with the happenings at the convention online:

1) Architectural Record's web editor, William Hanley, has dedicated a Twitter stream to the AIA Convention. Follow his reports at www.twitter.com/WilliamHanley

2) Receive daily updates on all the convention events from educational sessions to parties by signing up for the Architectectural Record WebInsider e-newsletter. Find the link on the ArchRecord site.

3) Attend the convention from the comfort of your home, office or classroom. Register for the AIA Virtual Convention here. It's free! Get daily keynote addresses, attend continuing education programs (and, yes, you get AIA/CEU credits), and virtually visit the exhibitors.

Monday

Marketing Lessons from the Domino's Incident


To avoid a public relations disaster, Domino's Pizza responded quickly to a negative video posted by two now former employees. The Detroit Free Press lists what companies can do to respond effectively to negative publicity:


  • Closely monitor social media


  • Responded quickly and at sites where action can be taken virally


  • Educate company workers


  • Foster a positive corporate culture


  • Set clear guidelines for employee behavior during working hours

See Domino's video in response to the employees' actions

Wednesday

Maximizing Social Networking for the Building Industry – Part 2


(Read part 1 here)

by Karen A. Davis

Social networking is a productive method for meeting colleagues in your field or across the many professions of the building industry. Since reading part one, I hope you’ve developed your plan to increase your presence on the networking sites and updated your profile with professional information and a few personal items, too.

The next step is to make your presence known to potential business partners and clients. When attending a live networking event, you introduce yourself to people in the room and join the discussions taking place. You’ll do the same when you network online.

Don’t be a wallflower, but don’t wave around the business card, either.Participate in conversations, and start your own. If you say things people want to hear, they’ll join you. As in live networking, the more engaging you are, the more people will gather to hear what the buzz is about in your corner. And, as in live conversations, you have to listen - actively.

Join groups within your chosen networks. LinkedIn and Facebook both have numerous sites for architects, real estate and facilities professionals, designers, and builders. Consider joining discussion groups related to your hobbies also. You never know when someone there might need your professional knowledge. If you haven’t found a group that addresses topics you’d like to discuss, you can start your own.

When you make your way to a discussion group, don’t just jump in and say, “I want to connect with businesses.” Well, isn’t that really why we’re all here? And don’t just post stuff about your company. Like I said in part one, nobody cares about your business unless you can help solve a problem they’re having. Participate in discussions, responding to questions that are asked, sharing your expertise and experiences, or offering to direct people to the right answer. Many times people will post an award or article in which they’ve been featured. Don’t just read it. Congratulate them on a job well done.

Feel free to ask questions. I’ve found that fellow group members are quite open and honest about matters of business and are willing to share their knowledge. Post links to interesting articles that you’ve read or written, and comment on how the information can benefit others. Again, actively participate, and people will find you.

Use your online connections to schedule offline meetings.
Keep a calendar of upcoming building industry events and network online with people who might attend. You can make plans to meet them at conferences, workshops and tradeshows. You’ll already have something to talk about when you get there, and you can discuss potential employment or business ventures. You can also create your own offline meetings in your area through Meetup.com.

Get a grip and manage your time wisely.Be careful with social media. It’s easy to be drawn in and have it consume a good amount of your time and attention. You don’t want to belong to so many sites and groups that you can’t keep up. Just as you may schedule time to read and respond to e-mail, it’s also a good idea to plan your networking time. You still have projects and deals (with live clients attached) to tend to and complete in a timely manner.

My series on social networking for the building industry will continue, and I will devote separate articles to the sites on which I’m most active: Twitter, Google Blogger, LinkedIn, Facebook and Ning. I’ll also explore other social media sites, discovering how they can be a useful resource for collaboration among architects, designers, builders and real estate professionals.

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Thursday

Maximizing Social Networking for the Building Industry – Part 1



by Karen A. Davis

You’re getting acquainted with the social networking scene. Maybe you’ve signed up for accounts on LinkedIn, FriendFeed or BrightFuse. You may have even made a few friends on Facebook or started following people on Twitter. “But,” you ask, as so many do, “what’s the point in all of this? How can I use social networking and its numerous sites – with new ones popping up every day – to promote my business? Is it really worth my time?”

Since I began networking online, I’ve connected with several colleagues I may have never met otherwise. I live in the Midwest, and I now communicate regularly with building industry professionals across the country. Sure, it’s possible that we would eventually cross paths at a conference, trade show or workshop, but social networking provides additional media for meeting and sharing ideas. It’s a way to learn from other designers, builders, and real estate professionals, sharing information across the industry. It’s also a convenient method for keeping in contact with clients and informing them of the work you are doing, while positioning yourself as an expert in your niche of the building industry.

If you’ve only dipped your toe in the sea of social networking sites, or if you want to take full advantage of the accounts you’ve opened and increase your exposure, let’s get started:

Draw up your plan.
We’re in the building industry. We know that if we don’t have a blueprint to follow, things can go wrong quickly. So plan your “course of attack” to determine how you will participate in all of the social networking conversations going on out there. The first thing you’ll most likely discover: you don’t have enough time or energy to participate in every conversation. Choose the sites you can devote real, quality attention to.

Decide the image you want to project. Who is your target audience: your clients or others working in your field? Visit the various networking sites, and you’ll find that there are many of our building industry friends sharing information. Do you see conversations in which you can participate? If not, you can start discussions and draw others in. Remember, one of the main goals of social media is to build relationships.

What will I say?Introduce yourself, sharing business and personal information. Personal information? Honestly, nobody really cares about your business unless you can help with a problem they’re having. But, generally, people love to get personal tidbits. (Come on, you know you glance at those tabloids in the checkout line at the grocery store.)

You’ll want to start by building your profile on every site on which you participate. Forget the chronological resumes. Start with an “elevator speech.” If you only had a couple of minutes to tell someone about your business, how would you describe it – succinctly? Make it intriguing, and include a bit about how you can make a potential client’s life easier. You want to draw people onto your site, your blog or your networking page. Sprinkle in a few personal notes: hobbies, kids, pets, funny habits. Give your audience something to relate to, but be selective and don’t be gauche – it’s still business.

Don’t forget to add a picture. What would it be like to attend a live networking event and everyone wore a mask? We’re networking here and we want to see the person with whom we’re communicating.

Now, develop your blueprint for success, and tweak those profiles. Part two will continue with “Don’t be a wallflower, but don’t wave around the business card, either.” Also, watch for separate articles devoted to the sites on which I’m most active: Twitter, Google Blogger, LinkedIn, Facebook and Ning, as well as other social media sites.

(Read part 2 here)

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Wednesday

Marketing Strategies that Work... and Some that Don't

Remodeling magazine posed some tough questions in a series of articles to ten remodelers across the country. Included in the interview were question about marketing strategies. The panel listed grassroots efforts, social networking, and face-to-face interaction as marketing strategies that are currently working for their companies. And they said direct mail, lead-gen services, print ads were among the marketing efforts that are not producing.

Monday

5 Keys to Selling Your Services

Here’s some insight to an online building industry video I viewed recently. Builder magazine editorial director, Boyce Thompson, interviewed William Kraeger, principal at Mithun, on how the architecture firm sells its clients on sustainable design. This interview was only two minutes and 40 seconds, but it spoke volumes about marketing professional services, whether green building or some other market niche. Here are five key points from the brief segment:

1. Study the trends. Mithun foresaw that the housing industry and the country were moving toward urbanity, innovation and sustainability. In business, it’s vital that you monitor the pulse of your industry, understanding what’s valuable to the majority of your clients, and paying attention to the work of your colleagues and competition.

2. Find a niche you can believe in. Mithun decided to focus only on sustainable, contemporary work. It was a market they studied, one in which they excelled, and something in which they wanted all of their employees to take part.

3. Stick to your guns. Even though some of Mithun’s clients were not yet ready to hop on the green building bandwagon, the design firm did not compromise their mission. Leaving the lines of communication open, clients were informed that they could call the firm when they were ready to move forward with sustainable ideas.

4. Get clients to market for you. After moving into a newly constructed Seattle residential project designed by Mithun, owners were so pleased with their new homes that they began blogging about living there and inviting their friends to move, too. Satisfied customers pass on good news.

5. Never stop learning. Kraeger says that this is an “exciting, intimidating, ‘goose-bumpy’ time.” It’s important to stay current on emerging technology and marketing trends in order to keep in contact with current and potential clients. Communication and publicity methods are changing continuously.

See the Builder TV interview.

© Copyright – Karen A. Davis. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.