Why Cofebuz and some incredible links

treeandfieldIn 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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

“Fifteen Minutes Can Save You Millions”

constructionnetcast

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.

When an award is “pre-wired”

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.

Web 2.0 From Marketing Theory to Reality

I had a great conversation with Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services yesterday regarding Web 2.0.  Many of us have read about marketing using Web 2.0, but most people struggle to understand how to add value to their company and build a strong return on investment (ROI) for their online efforts. 
Let me propose that Matt’s website Construction Netcast is a great example of what a successful Web 2.0 effort can look like.  Matt is succeeding by focusing on helping other people and in return reaping the benefits of increased name recognition and market positioning as an industry leader.  Note that Web 2.0 requires that you add value to others lives, if you don’t add value you will simply be skipped over.
At the end of our conversation I sent Matt several links to blogs that (in my opinion) are successfully integrating into the new web.  Below are several of the links (plus one or two more) that I sent him. There are some great things being written on each of these blogs, but probably of more interest might be the great ideas these blogs are themselves.  If you are looking to expand your Web 2.0 presence start by looking at Construction Netcast and these blogs for some ideas:
Duane Craig’s Construction Informer
Ruairi Glynn’s Interactive Architecture