Topical Networking Vs. Relationship Building

A few years deep in the construction world I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever anticipated. One glaring difference from other industries I’ve worked in is the opportunity for a relationship to take on many more forms than the conventional-and it’s all dictated by a willingness to go the extra mile. What I’ve found is that construction business development managers all have their own style and tools for hitting leads. When managers with slightly different focuses get together to collaborate, I’ve found there are big ways to gain new targets and benefit from information exchanges.

It can be exhausting running from coffee meeting, to lunch networking, to happy hour connects-this type of presence can spread even the most energetic BD manager a bit too thin. While quantity is important, I’ve been tapping into the relationship-focus more, and in my world, this is done best with a smaller circle repetitively. Rather than being exposed to someone at a business card exchange once, it’s served me more to schedule ongoing meetings with another business development manager/broker over coffee in a nice setting where both parties can relax and enjoy a brief, yet productive escape from looming Salesforce tasks.

While I think it’s always nice to mingle at late night commercial real estate centric events over drinks with a new contact, I’ve been seeing a new contrast in more one-on-one networking settings where both parties understand each other’s typical scope and are able to form parallels in industry news to collaborate on ways to engage both sides’ interests. Recently I’ve partnered with a few connections to exchange our target lists and keep our eyes open towards any intel that may benefit the other. When one person gains a relationship, there is an understanding that the other person will be introduced from the mutual effort that led to the link.

Other topics I’ve delved into that can enhance any BD manager’s pipeline are new tools and free programs that either party has found success with in usage for lead generation. Exchanging these means can spare valuable time and open doors that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise. More detailed opportunity information can also be shared (when not confidential) in circumstances when a specific project isn’t suited to one party, but it may end up being ideal to the other.

There are also new perspectives on conflict resolution that can be introduced through a connection’s experience. These uncoverings from a conversation aren’t limited to a contractor and their competition working in the same capacity. It’s likely that an architect or engineer has a unique perspective on a discovery from previous project’s challenges.

My emphasis in relation to commercial construction is that relationships across diverse parties in the project lifecycle are a wise use of time if handled in the above-mentioned ways. Whether a general contractor sits down with an engineer, architect, designer, furniture supplier, branding specialist, or subcontractor partner – the collaboration potential is there for those who want it to be.

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