Blogs and Social Media Social Media continues to gain significant momentum and, like many, we are challenged to understand the full meaning and impact of LinkedIn, Face Book, Twitter, and blogging. Our use of these tools has increased and, like anything, the more you use it the more you understand the value. What we do know is that the AEC is relationship based and with the increased competition and turnover in the workplace your network and relationships with clients are more important than ever.

LinkedIn is a tool that we are using heavily from posting job ads to finding consultants. Recently we were searching for a consultant to assist on a marketing endeavor. By using the search features we discovered that one of our employees was connected to a local professional that was a great match. We easily could determine who some of the marketing consultants clients were, read their reviews/recommendations, and contact other professionals that used their services as further references.

When posting a recent job advertisement on LinkedIn we were able to get a solid response and review candidates recommendations on their profile page. Note that being hired for a position in a company or by an Owner’s Representative on a project these recommendations are significant, we see them as the equivalent of a product review on Amazon. When your clients are willing to say something great about you, not just the company, that means a lot. We know and also practice the fact that our clients look closely at the people on their projects, not just the company backing them up so make the effort to get the recommendations. Clients; please give them these recommendations whenever you can.

Need help on a question? Who better to ask than your network of professional colleagues. Using the “ask a question” feature on LinkedIn, your question will go to your network and usually provide a solid answer.

Blogging is a solid way to demonstrate your expertise in certain areas; usually the more specific you can be on a topic the better. AEC professionals are constantly trying to get their name out through press releases. In essence that what a blog is. But the true benefit is that you can get feedback on your article, build stronger relationships, and start a dialogue. As an example, we have been pursuing the BEST projects. In lieu of just attending the meetings, we share what we learn and our opinion. Not sure what the BEST Grant program is about? Check out our blog and add a comment.

Twitter is perhaps the most evasive social media to understand. Originally perceived as a useless waste of time (even by us) we are beginning to see the true reason for the boom in activity. We have applied twitter in two ways at this time. At pubic meetings and conferences we have set up the “hashtag” and asked people to comment during the presentations. We have been able to receive real time feedback about design-related items, presentation issues (sound and visual), and value-added comments. The format is noninvasive, productive, and sometimes quite amusing. In addition to the public forums, Twitter is a great place to gather relevant information regarding blogs, news articles, and other information of value.

Social media is constantly changing and we have seen some sites with over 30 icons that must do something-we just keep learning. What we have been able to see is a stronger connection with colleagues and clients. In a relationship-based industry what could matter more so get connected.