A new year also translates to new opportunities, and as the construction industry unlocks new heights, your business can grow with it as well. Once you have all your systems and tools in place, the most effective way to start scaling is to ensure that you are connected to the right people in the industry—from fellow construction companies and suppliers to potential partners and clients. Winning bids are not always about having the lowest price. Your relationships with clients and contractors will set your business up for positive reviews and substantial referrals.
Connecting with other construction professionals is more difficult than ever due to current circumstances in our world today. Nevertheless, networking, meeting, and collaborating with your peers continue to be essential career practices in managing the construction business.
Networking is professional relationship building with purpose. While all industries vary, many networking methods can be utilized across different careers. For an individual, networking can first and foremost be applied to generate more leads. By getting to know other business owners or contractors, they are more likely to refer you to a work they may not be able to do or a project they need help with.
Networking is also a free and easy way to grow in your profession. With new innovations and techniques introduced in construction, having a network of other trusted professionals can help if you ever have potential questions. Talking through recent trends in project management for construction can help further your education and grow your business. After all, a person is always good at something, and you can learn from everyone you meet.
What are the Benefits of Networking?
Networking is an essential part of any career, no matter the industry. The conversations you create while networking act as seeds for potential career opportunities that could bloom in the future. You may hear about a job opening before anyone else, get advice from an expert on a skill you’re trying to improve, or find assistance for a complicated project you’re hoping to build. Don’t avoid it; cultivate your version of networking that suits your company’s needs, so you feel more confident reaching out and talking to people.
Networking improves your chances of knowing about new job roles, fresh details about apprenticeships, and you can meet new people across your industry. Below, let’s break down some of the main advantages that networking can give you and your company:
1. Strengthening Connections and Relationships
Networking allows you to get acquainted with new people and enhances the relationships you already have in the construction world. Keeping in touch with your professional circle shows you appreciate the relationship and can be relied upon.
2. Gaining New Ideas
Meeting with people with different personalities and mindsets is bound to keep your creative juices flowing. You may gain new ideas on how to further your company, what methods to implement to manage construction projects better, who you should work with next, or which subcontractors are reliable or not. Connecting with others and talking about business is never a bad thing for gaining fresh ideas and perspectives.
3. Promoting Your Brand
By attending networking events and making the most of opportunities that come your way, you also make sure that others are aware of you and the company you represent. Companies you’d like to work with or people you’d like to collaborate with will notice you if you are present to have a conversation or share ideas. The same applies to online interactions, so make sure you are up to date on social media platforms with the construction peers.
4. Gathering Fresh Innovations
The construction industry is innovative and always comes up with exciting new ideas. New developments and technologies are getting introduced all the time, so keeping an ear to the ground on networking events is a great idea to stay informed. Talks about new construction projects or even casual chats about new job opportunities opening up are all useful for you and your team.
5. Get Professional Support
Networking could serve as your lifeline, whether you are just getting started or moving onto a new construction project is outside your expertise. You can talk with fellow professionals with more experience to get helpful advice or even training opportunities. Constant support from your peers and others from the industry will be invaluable at many phases in your career, whichever role you might be in.
Don’t Know Where to Start? Tips on Networking Effectively in Construction
1. Define What Problems You Can Solve
Maybe you have your elevator pitch prepared, but are you ready to confidently share the value your company can bring? The best way to connect with new people is to listen attentively and share how your business provides a solution that intersects with a problem they may experience. Take time to think through typical issues that may arise during conversations and the unique way your company addresses each one.
2. Become A Mentor
With skilled labor shortage still being a problem in the construction industry. Though jobs are plenty, not enough skilled workers are available to fill them. As someone who has expertise in your trade, you can help the next generation of professionals by sharing your knowledge and learnings. Through mentoring, you can teach others while learning from them as well.
3. Incorporate Digital Tools
Just like on any job site, good construction tools make the work easier and more seamless. Depending on where or how you connect with other people, you may need a business card or a digital version. Make sure you complete a portfolio of your completed projects to share your best work anytime, anywhere. You may even put together a file that showcases your construction approach, services pricing, task management tools, and a brief overview of past clients.
4. Maximize Trade Events and Conferences
Trade shows and conferences are coming back, whether business-focused, like the Color World House painting event, industry-focused, like the AGC Convention, or trade-focused, like World of Concrete. Before coming to networking events, set goals for planning one face-to-face event and one virtual event quarterly. Do some research with your team ahead of the time to see who will be attending and what possible connections you can create that relate to upcoming projects in your sector.
5. Carry A Business Card Everywhere
Business cards are an excellent takeaway for anyone you meet, from a potential client to a business contact. The question is, do you carry a few with you? Networking may not always occur on planned events. From waiting in line at the department store to being introduced through a colleague, meeting other professionals can happen anywhere. That’s why it’s essential to prepare for the unexpected. A business card will help them contact you when an opportunity presents itself and even refer you if they see a job you’re a good fit for.
6. People Over Transactions
When you are at a face-to-face event, you will also want to leave a possibility for spontaneous conversations, whether with that person who may be sitting toward the edge of the conference room. Let your natural personality shine and keep in mind that genuine connections aren’t all strictly business. Talk about what inspires you, like hobbies or family or your pet. Not only will you build a business connection, but you may also even make a friend!
7. Keep In Touch
After an event or show, organize your newly acquired contacts and make a plan to keep the relationships going. A quick email introduction or follow-up is an easy way to move the conversation further, and you may also reach out to set up a coffee or lunch meeting with a local colleague. Also, utilize social media tools like Facebook groups or LinkedIn to expand your network from just one connection.
How to Form Your Professional Network
Building a professional network is generally the same as connecting a group of friends; only these people can help you career-wise achieve some of your professional goals and expand your horizons.
1. Family and Friends
If you already have family and friends in your social circle who work in the construction industry, they are perfect for helping you discover more about the opportunities within it. Speak to them about scheduling training, management apprenticeships, trade events, anything that might help you get the project you want, or access innovations or technology you’re interested in. After all, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”
2. Social Media
Forums and discussion boards are excellent places for sharing ideas, job openings, and trends about the industry. You can talk to someone of certain expertise or maybe find a pro who works in the role you are training for. You can also use forums to find out about physical or remote events!
3. Local Organizations
Find local organizations which focus on your specific job role or are made up of local businesses specializing in construction and get involved any way you can. You may attend activities and meet people that way or get access to training or jobs through the organization’s members.
In any industry, getting to know colleagues in your field is essential. While you may see other people as competition, they can also be a good source of information and even a means to help generate more leads.
Many contractors work alone, or with a small group, so many business owners find it refreshing to connect with people doing similar work. After all, networking is all just learning from other pros.