Let’s face it, it’s easy to be commoditized in any industry. Before a client has visibility into customer service or on-time/on-budget delivery, you’re just another guy offering the same service.
What a lot of sales experts will tell you is that trust makes the difference-and I have to admit, I think they’re on to something. If you’re given a selection of GC #1 and GC #2 and they both provide the exact service for the exact amount of years with all the same certifications, the only difference between the two is simple: relationship. After work is performed, what becomes clear is that maybe GC #1 is always late on deadlines, or GC #2 has a client-first attitude. But how does a construction manager/general contractor get themselves through the doors of that difficult-to-reach executive while you’re in the phase of “just another face in the crowd”?
Without giving away my company’s secret sauce-it’s no secret that networking is key. Even for a subcontractor/materials supplier trying to become a preferred resource for a GC, it’s all about building the initial rapport, then gaining the business that will allow you to positively represent yourself.
So does this mean that construction managers and subcontractors have to break the bank and attend every premier trade show in a 100-mile radius? Absolutely not. As awesome as large-scale events and conferences can be, there are FREE events always happening in the community where you’ll come across great connections, and surprisingly enough, have a great time doing it.
While I’m being perfectly honest, at first it’s hard. You’re out of your comfort zone and know absolutely no one. But then you continually go out there and raise the bar so that eventually – you’ll enjoy the opportunity to meet a new connection that potentially can throw you some new business one day. Whether you’re in a sales capacity or not, raising the bar of your comfort zone is a practice the most successful people encourage. If you are in a sales capacity, that face-to-face interaction is golden time to be more than a name on a voicemail.
Why is this of particular importance in the construction world? I can demonstrate with the case of a brick supplier. Every brick supplier will give you pretty comparable materials at remarkably similar price points. However, it’s not about the bricks. It’s about coordinating a project’s needs with someone who’s organized and easy to deal with-as opposed to a company that is overwhelmed and incapable of time/resource management. These positive referrals come from relationships and other people who have seen the benefit of a strong supplier firsthand. It’s that type of door that networking opens-and also why I highly encourage it.
Although not every networking event is going to be your perfect match, the only way to gain a sense of what’s out there is to test the waters. Learn what organizations offer events that gather your ideal target and frequent those with an open mind. You’ll start to see familiar faces and gain valuable practice in presenting not only your “30 second commercial” but ultimately, yourself.
If you need any recommendation on what networking events/associations I’ve found to be great within the area from a construction perspective, feel free to connect. It’s always great to have a new addition to a group, especially if there is some way our businesses can help each other.