It isn’t every day that I promote a book here on CofeBuz, but I believe I have found a great book worth sharing. Several weeks ago AEC marketing guru Matt Handal published the book “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home On Time” as an Amazon Whispernet exclusive book. It quickly moved up the ranks to a “Top 100” Marketing book, even rising as high as the Top 10 for a period of time. After reading it I know why, in it Matt provides a comprehensive overview how to win proposals while providing anecdotal “secrets” that are easy to understand and even easier to implement. This engaging book was a win for me, providing far more value than many other much more expensive books. (It only costs $3.99) Be certain to check it out, and also keep an eye out for my latest video set to release on Monday here at CofeBuz!
Today the Design and Construction Network will break 1,800 members, our expansion into Philadelphia for the next networking event is already exceeding expectations, and to date over 500 people that have attended our networking events in Washington DC. It leaves me wondering how it is that the network has experienced such incredible growth.
Something about all of us
I am not alone when I say that, when it comes down to it, I just want to be myself. I want to laugh with friends, experience the ups and downs of life, and leave the world a better place than I left it. I have found more value in relationships than in money, and more monetary profit in building friendships than in making a sale.
Actually, not only do I think I am not alone in these thoughts, I believe that I am in the majority. Yet somehow in business many of us seem to have gotten off track; we have traded relationships for things of lesser value. We often know that the best results are found in the long-term, but find it difficult when we see the immediate results of others that are focused on short-term success.
Back to the network, back to you.
The Design and Construction Network isn’t a success because of me, it is a success because of great people like Mark Buckshon, Matt Handal, Melissa Allen, Deborah Hayward, Kevin Smith, (the list truly goes on and on) that believe in building long-term relationships, not just creating value for themselves (note that I did not exclude it being of value for them also, I personally believe and hope that each of these people receive a ten fold return from the network). They are great people that simply want to be themselves, to help others, and to laugh with friends. Success is being born simply by bringing these types of people together and building positive momentum towards a shared goal of building relationships.
This week it is your turn, to be yourself. To get back to the passions that brought you to where you are at today, to laugh with friends this week, to experience the ups and downs of life, and leave the world a better place than you left it. I hope this week that you experience the long-term gain of helping your friends and building some new relationships.
On several occasions I have been asked for a list of the top marketing blogs in the A/E/C industry. Below is a list of the blogs and bloggers that I believe lead the industry. I hope that many of these bloggers likewise consider Cofebuz an industry leader, yet as this blog is also read extensively outside of the A/E/C industry, I will leave that call to someone else. In addition to being industry leaders in Web 2.0, these bloggers are on my “must read” list each week. I encourage you to check them out also:
Construction Marketing Ideas by Mark Buckshon
E-Quipblog by Mel Lester
Harding & Company by Ford Harding
PSMJ Resources by Ed Hannan (and others at PSMJ Resources)
Let me also add Help Everybody Everyday by Matt Handall. This is a new blog for the A/E/C industry, but on that I believe deserves placement in this list due to Matt’s success with Construction Netcast and his long history of excellent writing for Marketer and A/E Rainmaker.
A Final Note:
I don’t want to downplay some of the other great blogs in our industry. Note that the list above was for marketing blogs. I also recommend checking out the SullivanKreiss blog, and I always enjoy the unique and fun SEI Design Group Blog.
On Wednesday this past week Ford Harding (the author of one of my favorite books “Rain Making” and the Harding & Company blog) spoke at the DC chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. As we sat prior to Ford’s talk, I was amazed at the group that had gathered at the head table. In addition to Ford, multiple Web 2.0 experts from the industry, including Mark Buckshon (Construction Marketing Ideas) and Matt Handal (Construction Netcast and Help Everybody Everyday) were engaged in conversation.
I couldn’t help but note how interesting it was that Mark and Matt had taken the time to attend the event in Washington, D.C. Mark had flown in from Ontario Canada and Matt had taken the train from Philadelphia that morning. Each of them showed the importance they place on in-person communication in order to make their businesses succeed, even in light of their prominence in the Web 2.0 world.
The Digital Crutch
Many people I know use technology as a crutch, rather than a tool to build relationships. It is an easy and important form of communication, but what we can’t do is use digital communication to replace human interaction. Even the leading Web 2.0 experts in our industry know that in order to keep their relationships strong, nothing can replace in-person communication.
Are you limping?
Are you limping by with e-mails and a linkedIn account that isn’t focusing on the development of relationships? Perhaps it is time for you to step away from the computer and focus on in-person communication this week.
In an effort to explain what Cofebuz is all about I have recently added the following description to the sidebar here at Cofebuz.com: Relationships are the foundation of success in business and in life. Cofebuz is dedicated to creating and maintaining the relationships that build companies and individuals.
It is my hope that through Cofebuz you will gain insight into building networks and relationships that create success in business and in life. Oftentimes this takes the form of writing on marketing or networking, but it can also take the form of discussing challenges and ways to overcome those challenges. In addition it is my personal goal to build relationships with each of you; I do this by working to provide you with help and insight during the time you spend reading Cofebuz.
On that note, this past week there has been a plethora of great information that I am certain you will find helpful. Here are the links and information:
- The Stimulus Bill, Sector by Sector – This is a great summary of the economic stimulus package that congress is working on that was sent to me by Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services.
- LinkedIn for A/E Professionals? – This article by Mel Lester of The Business Edge provides a great overview for those that are just getting into, or are interested in getting into, online networking. While it is written for the design and construction industry, many others will benefit from his clearly defined outline of the benefits and downfalls of online networking.
- Proposals… and proposals – What do you do when your marketing staff needs technical help, but the technical staff tends to ignore proposal deadlines? Some experts weigh in on Mark Buckshon’s Construction Marketing Ideas website.
I had a great conversation with Shannah Alloway Hayley of Urban Design Group earlier this week about how to build success on the world-wide-web. As we spoke I couldn’t help but think about Matt Handal’s Construction Netcast that is sponsored by his company, Trauner Consulting Services, Inc. The key to building a great web presence is providing value and helping other people, something that Matt has excelled at through the monthly netcast.
Brochure or Value
What about your website? Is it a Web 1.0 brochure, or a Web 2.0 environment that truly benefits those that visit it? Have you recently checked your Google PageRank to see how you are doing?
Construction Netcast as a model for Web 2.0
Here is a brief overview of Construction Netcast: “Learn from experts with decades of experience who have taught thousands of construction professionals across the country. Each month, we will discuss the issues that affect your projects. Topics include project scheduling, claims avoidance, specification writing, alternative procurement methods, contracting best practices, and many others. You can enjoy these programs on your computer, pda, ipod, or other portable devices. You can also subscribe for free and receive these programs on a monthly basis. The result: training you need when it’s convenient for you… Fifteen Minutes Can Save You Millions“ – That is what I call creating value, nice work Trauner Consulting.
On Thursday this last week Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services, Inc. sent several marketers that I have a great deal of respect for a draft of the article “Learning to Accept the Three Card Monte.” The article discusses the practice of “pre-wiring” solicitations by procurement professionals.
It caused quite a stir, including two great posts at the Construction Marketing Ideas blog (including the thoughts of Ellen Moore at Aker Systems in Houston and Frank Lippert of David Evans and Associates, Inc.). This led me to two questions that I believe must be answered in light of the article:
Is it ethical to benefit from a “pre-wired” solicitation?
To start, lets differentiate two types of pre-wiring. The first is “Incumbent Pre-Wiring” and the second is “Illegal Pre-Wiring.”
What most people perceive as ‘pre-wired’ is often simply an existing incumbent relationship that has exceeded the client’s expectations to a point where they do not want to take on the additional risk of trying a new company. Incumbent Pre-Wiring is a good thing as it allows clients to maintain relationships with firms that best meet there needs. It ensures that clients receive the best service throughout the project and it is the mechanism that allows clients to refuse to hire a firm that does not meet expectations. One thing to note about incumbent pre-wiring is that it still allows for other firms to compete for the work in the framework of fair procurement.
Illegal Pre-Wiring is another story. It is the practice of illegally manipulating procurement rules or results to ensure that one firm wins. Let’s be clear here: it is not ethical to benefit from Illegal Pre-Wiring.
How should you respond when you see a “Pre-Wired” solicitation?
If you are dealing with an Illegal Pre-Wired solicitation there is only one answer, you should have nothing to do with it. If you want to debate this issue just look at the governing bodies of every professional discipline (AIA, PE, LA, LS, CPSM, etc…), all have very strong ethical guidelines and, if not followed, can result in the loss of licensure or certification.
If you are dealing with an Incumbent Pre-Wired solicitation as an outsider you need to evaluate your goals with regard to pursuing work with the client. Remember, relationships are everything in business and you should evaluate the pursuit from that standpoint. I do not believe that you should put together extensive or specialized marketing materials simply as a brochure. Rather, focus on developing a path that you can follow that will result in a strong relationship and the opportunity for obtaining work.
If you are dealing with an Incumbent Pre-Wired solicitation as the incumbent, congratulations! You have succeeded in developing a strong relationship with your client that is based on trust and (most often) strong performance. Do everything possible to make certain that your client follows ethical standards of fair procurement, and enjoy.