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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Social Networking -- an observation

Here is an email from Chris Lowes who has been using Social Networking resources to build connections for his new contracting business.

Hi Mark:
I thought I would let you know how my "Social Networking" is going. You saw my one and only post on Linkedin. I did receive several responses and can say that they were all helpful and encouraging.

As a start-up the resource that such a group provides can't be underestimated. In terms of marketing and receiving work from that network the jury is still out. I ammeeting next week with someone I have corresponded with as a result of that post. He is working with some investors to build a 17 unit townhouse complex in Hamilton and is looking for Construction Management.

I also tried a search on Linkin using a geographic filter, searching the terms construction and retail. I chose a person in the result category who met my target market criteria. The gentleman had an outstanding bio. His contact settings at the bottom of his page showed "expertise requests" so I posed this question to him:

'I have recently started my own construction company with 20 plus years of commercial construction experience. The last 12 years running jobs for a company whose main client is Loblaws Properties. I have built and renovated Grocery stores, Department stores, Retail spaces and Golf Course Club Houses. My company is a one man show, at this point, with me sub-contracting out most of the work and I have an agreement with another contractor to share his labour force when needed. I will add as I grow. The question I want to ask you is: Would a company, such as yours, use a start up like mine to build? Or are they only interested in dealing with a company with a greater capacity then mine. My goal is to become a preferred contractor to companies, such as yours. However, I'm not sure whether I have to grow first or can grow as I'm doing this work.I would like to thank you in advance, as I know you must be quite busy.

The question is genuine, as you know. He answered my question thoughtfully. He asked me some questions. I have since sent him a list of projects I have completed with several references. I don't know if I will get the opportunity to bid on any of the work that he represents, but as I start up (that he doesn't know anything about) I'm pleased with feedback he has given me and the access I have been granted by Linkin.
Chris Lowes
CLIC Construction
tel. 905 228 1113
fax 905 228 4891

Undoubtedly the new Internet resources can accelerate the communication process and facilitate relationships -- the point is whether the communications achieved in this manner really translates to actual business. I think the new resources have potential; but their power is magnified when linked with recent graduates and younger people familiar and 'born into' these business models.
My article on the topic for the SMPS Marketer is almost ready for submission -- on one level, it is tempting to post it here, but that of course violates one of the cardinal rules of publishing -- stealing the thunder of the publication for which you have been assigned, by releasing the story ahead of time. So we'll have to wait!


Anonymous said...

I work with a small box retail contractor. I have also tried to use linked-in to search for potential clients. Using similar search terms like "construction" & "retail" only produces a handful of results. As a 25-year-old, social-networking has been a primary way of communicating since college. I think that as the younger generation begins to come into the industry, you will find the construction industry to have a much stronger representation in social networks like linked-in.

Martin Thomas

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Martin,thanks for your comments. I agree with you 100%. Not surprisingly, some very senior people in the industry are experimenting with the social networking resources (they didn't get to be 'senior' without constantly keeping in touch with new trends) but they are reluctant to wholeheartedly embrace them; presumably because they are simply not used to the volume/intensity of online relationships of younger people.
Of course, writing about these issues can give us direct access to these senior participants; of course achieving the networking goal!
Regardless, I truly appreciate your insights here.