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Posts Tagged ‘AEC’

Sometimes we need a little reminder on the basics of proposal writing.

1. Always dissect the proposal into an easy to comprehend outline and be considerate of what the client is asking to be presented.

2. Be vocal – We all know that relationships win business, but sometimes there’s an RFP out on the streets from an unknown person/organization/community/etc., that’s a perfect fit for your firm’s qualifications. Don’t let not knowing anyone on the selection committee preclude you from going after the job, but do make a courtesy phone call and try to schedule a meeting to learn more about the project and the client’s needs. Make your presence known before your proposal lands on their desk and your chances of making the shortlist will escalate.

3. Coordinate the staff that will work on the proposal. Give them an outline early on with detailed writing assignments and due dates. Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up.

image credit: flickr user Q is for Quilter

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We all know that creating experts is a key way to establish credibility for a firm. When our principals are teachers, presenters, lecturers we have something to talk about. It’s easier to present their credentials for an upcoming project, especially if you’re presenting them to someone who has seen that principal speak. Why then don’t we do the same for ourselves?

Being marketers we’re at an advantage in creating our personal brands. We know the tricks, we know how to get our names out there. And in an environment where job stability is a thing of the past it’s even more important to start building that credibility now. Maybe you’re already on your way to building your personal brand, but if not here are 6 simple steps to get your started:

  1. Develop your story: Who are you? What are your professional goals? How are you achieving them? Then talk about it.
  2. Think about where your home base is going to be, that URL that you can point people to. Maybe it’s your LinkedIn profile or maybe it’s your personal website. If you haven’t claimed your name as a URL do it now. You may want it later and it would be terrible to build your name only to send traffic to another person’s website.
  3. Establish your expertise through blogs. If creating your own blog is too time consuming consider contributing to a blog within your industry. If you’re in the AEC industry SMPS Boston and Help EveryBody Everyday are good places to start.
  4. Comment on other people’s blogs, not only does this show your expertise, but it helps raise your name in SEO rankings.
  5. Share industry news with your peers through status updates either through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or a combination of all three.
  6. Join an organization within your industry and get active.
And for more personal branding tips visit Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog.
image credit: Flickr user nicholaslaughlin

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salonI’m a salon hopper. It’s not that I’m not happy with the umpteen places I’ve been too, but none of the salons I’ve visited have ever encouraged me to come back. So the next time I need my hair done I find another salon (I live in an area with hundreds of them) with a new customer discount, book an appointment, get my hair done and repeat the process in another 4-5 months.

What should these salons be doing? At the very least they should be encouraging me to book my next appointment on my way out. And if they haven’t done that, well then hopefully they’ve taken the time to collect some minimal contact information from me so that they can keep in touch while I’m between cuts.

It’s a story that’s all to common, and not just with salons. We’re often so busy trying to win new clients and servicing the ones that are in front of us that we loose sight of the previous clients whom we’ve finished servicing.

Keeping in-touch with past clients should be one of our biggest priorities. Everyone knows the saying it’s harder/more expensive to gain a client than it is to retain an existing one. Yet more often than not we’re so focused on winning the next job that we forget to reach out to established clients that may have another project waiting for us in the wings.

There are a number of simple things we can do – send them the firm’s newsletter, connect with clients on social networks you both participate in, add them to the holiday card list, send out a post-services survey. But more important than those tactics and more personal, keep a list of the important clients – the ones that you want repeat business from – and pick up the phone once a quarter. Give them a call to see how their new office building/home/whatever it is you did for them is working out. Share some news that might be applicable to them, ask to take them out to lunch, anything in order to have a quality conversation. With minimal effort your firm is back in the consideration set next time they’re looking for a designer. And all it cost you was a little bit of your time, and maybe lunch.

I realize I’m not conveying anything new here, but based on a few conversations of late I felt it was a good time for a reminder. So if you’re not already doing it, stop, make a list of past clients and pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Image credit: Flickr user stpiducko

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ProtestI was reading an article on-line about Mayor Menino, Shirley Kressel and the Boston Redevelopment Agency. Shirley Kressel, a landscape architect, is a long time voice against the BRA and has been lobbying for its demise, as have the candidates running against Menino in Boston’s mayoral race. I have many opinions about the race, the candidates and the issues surrounding them, but I will not share them here. Instead, what I’d like to explore are the individual responsibilities we have to our employers when it comes to political activism, particularly those whose work is primarily in the public sector.

It’s reasonable to say that if you owned a design firm that was working with or hoped to secure work with a particular public agency you would not hire a candidate with a history of opposing your client/prospect. It just doesn’t make business sense. But what if you hired someone that had no obvious opinions about your clients/prospects, at least not initially, but then began publicly announcing, either through words or actions, that they held disdain for them? As an employer what are your options? Can you ask the employee to abstain from sharing their views on the client and/or prospect, even if it stifles their freedom of speech? Can you fire them if their activism becomes problematic in securing work from the client/prospect, without risking a wrongful termination lawsuit? And from the employee side, do you have an obligation to abstain from becoming involved in a political campaign/cause that has the potential to negatively affect your employer, even if it’s something your believe strongly in?

I imagine these questions will become more prevalent with the increasing adoption of social media. Social media gives everybody a (louder) voice while giving more controls to employers wanting to keep tabs on what their employees are up to outside of the office (which in itself brings up another ethics question – should employers keep tabs on employees’ personal lives just because the tools are available to do so?).

As information becomes easier to share and get it brings up new questions related to appropriate employer/employee relationships. If your firm starts thinking about them now so that there is a strategy (that’s been run through legal) in place your job will be easier when (if) you run into the questions posed above. And if you’ve already been in any of the above situations and have feedback you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it.

Image credit: Sniderscion on Flickr

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The design industry is embracing social media a little more every day. The AIA published an article for architects using Twitter, Engineering News Record wrote about firms’ goals for Twitter and each day you can find more design professionals sending out tweets. Like all social media tools Twitter has its advantages and disadvantages, but until you dive in you wont know what potential it holds for your company. Personally, I’ve been on Twitter for a couple years, but didn’t use it much at first. Now I’m addicted. I’m following great people and finding new information everyday. Recently I’ve added my firm to Twitter. It’s just getting started, but I’m already seeing the potential, especially as our clients start joining and tweeting. If you’re thinking of putting your firm on Twitter I’ve got some tips for you to help ease your transition. Here are my top 10:

  1. Dive in personally, then transfer what you’ve learned to help your company succeed on Twitter.
  2. Concentrate on quality of followers, not quantity of followers
  3. Share valuable content, remember it’s not all about you
  4. The RT (that’s twitter speak for retweet) is the equivalent of telling someone “hey, I like what you’ve got to say.”
  5. Follow people. You don’t want to be that company that’s only interested in having people listen to them. Not sure who to follow? Find a few people you respect on Twitter and check out who they’re following.
  6. Expect organic growth, rarely are there overnight successes on Twitter or any platform for that matter.
  7. Participate. Twitter, like any social media platform, is only as good as the effort you’re willing to invest in it.
  8. Let people know you’ve joined twitter – add a link in your email signature, blog about it, talk it up in your newsletters.
  9. Follow people in your industry and learn from them.
  10. And because Twitter can turn into a huge time suck if you let it, get organized. Use an application like TweetDeck to categorize the people you follow by topic, get notice of your mentions and direct messages, shorten your URLs and handle multiple Twitter accounts, all within the same window.

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