Social Media

Getting the most from LinkedIn

Posts on LinkedIn have generated more inquires than I got during years of blogging.

Change to Wikipedia may affect you.

WikipediaIn 2010, this blog posted:
Have you searched for your product category on Wikipedia? Does the page exist? If so, is your product properly represented? Remember that anyone can edit Wikipedia, so add your information if it's not there. Play fair, though. Wikipedia's community of editors will zap you if you don't, and the backlash can be worse for your reputation than missing information would have been.
What's new?
Wikipedia's parent organization, Wikimedia, has proposed an amendment to its terms of use that puts a control on the "anyone can edit" principle. The amendment states: 
you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia projects for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation. (emphasis added) You must make that disclosure in at least one of the following ways:
  • a statement on your user page,
  • a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
  • a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.
As I will explain below, this change may impose difficulties and risks on your company that would make Wikipedia less attractive as a social media platform.

The introduction to the amendment explains:
Contributing to the Wikimedia Projects to serve the interests of a paying client while concealing the paid affiliation has led to situations that the community considers problematic. Many believe that users with a potential conflict of interest should engage in transparent collaboration, requiring honest disclosure of paid contributions. Making contributions to the Wikimedia Projects without disclosing payment or employment may also lead to legal ramifications. Our Terms of Use already prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. To ensure compliance with these provisions, this amendment provides specific minimum disclosure requirements for paid contributions on the Wikimedia projects.
What does this mean to you?

Wikipedia depends on the willingness of users to share what they know. Since many building product companies have a great deal of expertise in-house or on retainer, it serves the community spirit of Wikipedia to have your experts contribute information to the online, community-sourced encyclopedia. Under the proposed guidelines however, your employee or consultant would have to disclose that he or she has a financial relationship with your company.

I have three concerns:

1. Will disclosure of your expert's relationship hurt or improve the public's acceptance of the expert's edits. Some people will assume that the pecuniary relationship makes the information biased and untrustworthy. I posit that disclosure of the expert's qualifications could also make the information more credible by establishing it as originating from a source that can be vetted.

2. The new rule may make many real experts want to avoid Wikipedia. As it is now, your expert can make edits with a certain amount of anonymity. Others can (and usually will) change what your expert contributes, but there is no repercussion on the individual.  By disclosing the individual's relationship with an employer or client, the expert loses anonymity, and may be expose to harassment or other tribulations. 

3. Of most consequence, your employee's or consultant's statements may be interpreted as a warranty issued by your company. (A warranty is any claim you make about your product's performance, not just the things covered in your company's warranty form.) As it is now, edits are made by individuals acting as individuals, not acting on their employer's behalf. The proposed change, therefore, could impose a new legal liability and risk.

Take a look at the proposed changes, discuss this with your PR person and attorney, and let me know what you think about this.

Telephone is a most social media

Tweet, text, post, email -- all have applications in building product sales. But the sound of a voice, with the ability to sense tone and inflection, to listen and share, in real time duplex communication, fosters connection not available in other social media.

I am reminded of this by feedback I got from "Tim", a client of mine. 

Tim called last week and asked for my advice on the pricing he charged a long-time customer. Tim had bought his way into the customer's vendor list by underpricing his services. The pricing strategy made sense, at first, since Tim had excess capacity and was seeking an entry into a new market segment. But now, Tom was operating at full capacity, was firmly established as a preferred vendor in the segment, and had even improved the product.

We reviewed his options and agreed that a significant rate increase was justified. But when Tim said he would send the new rates via email, I stopped him.  You see, Tim had never had a face-to-face meeting with his customer. In fact, had never even spoken with him by phone. Their only relationship was based on price. I told Tim, "If you send it by e-mail, all your customer will see is the price increase.  You need to speak with him directly.  Tell him how much you have appreciated his business and ask him if he is satisfied with your work and what improvements you could offer. Only then can you explain why a price increase is necessary and point out how you have been providing extra value not offered by other vendors. By being in conversation, you let your customer express any concerns about the new costs so you can look for a win-win situation."

Tim said he felt awkward about speaking with customers -- that is why he had built his business service model around internet and email instead of direct selling.  I understood, but urged him to work outside his comfort zone to see what would happen. Since the customer is on the other side of the country, making a face-to-face meeting impractical, I urged Tim to phone the customer.
 Tim wrote me today, saying:
"Your seat-of-the-pants insistence (or so it seemed, to me) that I not send an email but instead talk on the phone with my guy in NYC surely made this a different process from what it would have been, had I done things from "my will." Changed behavior led to improbable outcomes: For the first time in memory, in a significant way I have asked for what I need, and I got it."
I found these dictionary definitions of "social":
1. relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other
2. liking to be with and talk to people: happy to be with people
So be social and pick up the telephone. (My number is +1 818 219 4937 and I would love to hear from you.)

Photo is public domain and accessed at Wikimedia Commons.

Ask for testimonials

In sales, nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from a happy customer. When a customer gives you or your company a complement, ask them to put it into a letter. Or better, in this online age, ask them to post their thoughts on their blog, twitter, facebook, or other social media site.

As an example, here is a recommendation Erik Missio, editor of Construction Specifier posted to Linked-in after my request for his comments:
"As the editor of a peer-reviewed design/construction magazine, I’ve happily worked with Michael Chusid on multiple occasions over the last 10 years. A writer, consultant, and advocate, he brings his vast experience in architecture and the built environment to topics as diverse as concrete, ceilings, sustainable design, and wall finishes. Whatever the specific subject matter, Michael’s writing displays not only his wordsmith skill and ability to convey complex technical information, but also his passion for the world of building products and materials. He also understands the needs of editors in a trade publishing environment. In other words, his writing is clear and concise, his arguments are persuasive without losing objectivity, he meets deadlines, secures photography, and provides sources for his information, and he truly understands both his story’s content and its audience. It’s a genuine pleasure working with him."
 Don't be niggardly in giving recommendations to your customers. Architects, contractors, and distributors like to be recognized, too.

All Over the Internet

One of my clients depends on online sales -- they have no external sales force and do almost no print advertising. In addition to google ad words and a little bit of online banner advertising, they actively maintain a presence, as individuals and as a company, on:

Google Profile

And these are just the sites I know about.  They also have multiple websites, with urls and landing pages that are distinct for each of their major markets. Keeping their content fresh on all these channels is a full time job for their marketing department.

Apparently it is worth it the effort as their business keeps growing.  How about yours?

Do the Math

Sheldon Wolfe, author of Constructive Thoughts, has given this blog the Liebster Award, a method of recognizing good blogs that do not get much traffic.

Like many social media campaigns, this one is based on the power of something going viral. Each receipient is supposed to give awards to five more blogs.  Here is a comment I left on Sheldon's site:
I appreciate the honor given to {NOW:}

I am concerned, however, that the concept behind the Liebster Blog is Award impractical. Consider the math:

If each award recipient honors the commitment to nominate 5 other blogs, and does so within 10 days of receiving the award, there would be, within the first year, 5 raised to the 36.5 power = 3.2539072e+25 awards given. This is a a quantity that exceeds by orders of magnitude a reasonable estimate of blogs around the world, 1.81e7, tracked by Nielsen/McKinsey. (

In addition to being clear, complete, and concise, I also aim for constructability. A decision to participate in a "chain letter" of any type can only be founded on the assumption that the instructions will not be followed by all the recipients.

And if I wanted my instructions to be ignored, I would write construction specifications. ;-(
Still, I will list some of the blogs I follow: -- I write it. -- the brave new world of digital fabrication and composite materials

Many science blogs: I don't remember their names because they automatically load to my home page.

While not blogs, I subscribe to many e-newsletters on topics of interest.

Beyond that, I love the surprise of wandering through the internet, with one idea leading to another.

The iconic 87 ft. dia. sphere containing the Hayden Planetarium was fabricated by Ceilings Plus, as anyone visiting can now find out.
A new website,, attempts to create social networking with a cloud-sources database of commercial buildings. They say, "Honest Buildings is a software platform focused on buildings. It brings together building service providers, occupants, owners, and other stakeholders onto a single portal to exchange information, offerings, and needs. It provides a voice for everyone who occupies buildings, works with buildings, and owns buildings globally to comment, display projects, and solicit business with the macro goal of creating a more sustainable environment."

It may be useful to Building Product Manufacturers, too. As the site says, service providers can:
  • Increase company exposure and build brand awareness.
  • Share completed projects and highlight team members across popular social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Drive business by attracting new clients with your showcased projects and networking with the Honest Buildings Community.
  • Profile information will be included and searchable in the Honest Buildings directory.
I add to this list:
  • Identify prospects, especially for maintenance of existing buildings.
I have started populating the website with photos of notable work done by Chusid Associates' clients, including case studies about the firm's contribution to the success of the project and links to websites and other sales collateral.

  • Remember to maintain the description of your own building as part of your overall online reputation management program.

Friends with Posts

Wouldn't it be great if this was part of a promotional campaign by a light pole manufacturer!

Image found on Facebook, creator unknown.

Use Social Media to Protect Reputation

Design and construction professionals pay attention to what their peers are saying. You might never know what people are saying about your company or products when they gather around the office water cooler, but you can monitor their discussions in online social media.

An excellent example of this is a recent exchange on the Construction Specifications Institute's group at where someone posted a question soliciting advice about window films that can be applied to glass for shading, safety, privacy, or insulation.

Within hours of the question, an architect posted a warning:
"I would strongly suggest staying away from window film. You can end up voiding the warranty for the insulated glass unit (IGU) since it can overheat the airspace."
In subsequent days, several other individuals gave qualified endorsements of films, but the tone remained, as one post put it, "don't use it on IGUs."

Then a manufacturer's rep responded. He began by stating his credentials to speak knowledgeably on the subject, then explained,
"The "airspace" in a typical IGU is evacuated and replaced with an inert gas...typically Argon, but sometimes Nitrogen or other inexpensive inert gases. Inert is the key word...those gases are there to be an insulator and, as such, can't hold onto heat energy."
He then went on to share guidelines for situations where films should not be used; his honesty about these demonstrates that he is a fair broker who can present a balanced appraisal of the product. He ends by offering assistance and giving his contact info.

His answer seems to be the last word on the topic, as no one has challenged it in over two weeks. The forum automatically sends updates to individuals posting comments, so the people with concerns about films have the benefit of the reps knowledge. Further, anyone finding the conversation through an online search will benefit from his insight.

Identify the social media channels used by potential buyers and specifiers. Then assign someone on your team to monitor each channel to seek opportunities and to protect against misinformation.

Image from 

NPR's Social Media Policy is Worth Emulating

NPR has been gracious enough to make its Social Media Policy available online. While much of it is centered around ethical journalism, building product manufacturers would do well to examine it. As more and more relationship-building happens online, companies need to participate, and to do so wisely.

Increasingly, lines between employees' business and personal lives are blurred, and social media is an especially blurry place. One case study, entitled "There is No Privacy on the Web", illustrates any company's nightmare:

Imagine, if you will, an NPR legal correspondent named Sue Zemencourt. She’s a huge fan of Enormous University’s basketball team and loves to chat online about EU. She posts comments on blogs under the screen name “enormous1.” One day, an equally rabid fan of Gigormous State (“gigormous1”) posts obnoxious comments about EU.
Sue snaps. Expletives and insults fly from her fingers on to the webpage. They’re so out-of-line that the blog blocks her from submitting any more comments — and discovers that her i.p. address leads back to NPR. The blog’s host posts that “someone at NPR is using language that the FCC definitely would not approve of” and describes what was said. Things go viral.
The basically good person that she is, Sue publicly acknowledges and apologizes for her mistake. But that doesn’t stop The Daily Show from satirizing about the “NPRNormous Explosion.”
Damage done.
Be circumspect about your behavior, even when the exchange feels private or anonymous. Even an email to a trusted recipient can be made public, with or without the recipient’s knowledge or consent.
In fact, a big part of the chapter on "Honesty" is, in fact, the putting on and taking off of the work identity. Because many NPR employees use their real names on the radio, they're encouraged to use screen names that don't identify them in the personal realm.  And when they're off duty and they find themselves working, they must put their work identity back on.
If in their personal lives NPR journalists join online forums and social media sites, they may follow the conventions of those outlets and use screen names that do not identify who they are. But we do not use information gathered from our interactions on such sites in our reports for NPR. If we get ideas for stories, we treat the information just as we would anything we see in the “real world” — as a starting point that needs to be followed by open, honest reporting.
Your business, even if it's far less public, may wish to explore policies about how employees present themselves in their off-work interactions. For instance, American Widget Co. may decide to allow its product reps to use their real names online in private, but ask that they not identify their employer in their Facebook or other profiles. Or, they may simply prohibit the use of AmWidget or AWC in screen names except for social media used for business. By the same token, when representing Widget, employees should make that clear in their profile names and follow the company's communication policies.

The best part of NPR's guidelines, in my opinion, is their understanding that social media conduct continues to be a moving target. Even if a manufacturing company's policy is far simpler, NPR's review process is worth emulating:
We rely on the contributions of every NPR journalist to ensure this handbook remains current and relevant to the situations you face each day. If you encounter decisions for which you feel the guidance in this book is inadequate, have questions about interpreting what you read here, or suggestions for how to improve the handbook, we encourage you to send a note to Ethics.
Twice a year, the Standards and Practices Editor will convene an ethics advisory group to consider all suggestions, review the Handbook, and make any additions or revisions necessary.
How do you want to be seen online? Take a look at your company through this lens and see if you're inspired to make any changes to your social media policies.

Word Processing Format for Guide Specs

Guide specifications should be in a digital format that is easy for for potential users to read and edit.

Microsoft Word is the word processor most widely used architects and engineers. But there is a compatibility issue between versions of Word. Word 2007 and more recent versions create files with the .docx extension; prior versions use the .doc extension. While it is easy to convert from one format to the other, a document can become discombobulated.

To find out which file format is most useful for guide specification, I posted a question on Linked In's Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) group. Within hours, I had my answer, demonstrating the power of social networks.

Theodore Smith, a specifer in New York City, wrote:
With Word 2007 and later you can use either .doc or .docx formats. The problems happen when you go backward from Word 2007 .docx format to earlier versions of Word .doc format files. If you are preparing guide specifications you should use the .doc format; there are a good number of firms and people who are looking at your guide specifications who are still using older versions of Word and .doc files and who will go elsewhere if your files give them problems due to incompatibility with their word processing programs. 
This opinion was confirmed by other responses.

Several voices in the group also remind us that some specification writers prefer WordPerfect, a program that uses the .wpd extention. WordPerfect can open and convert .doc files.

If resources are unlimited, consider publishing your guide specification in multiple file formats for the convenience of users:
  • .html so it can be read in a browser.
  • .pdf so it can be readily printed without a word processor.
  • .doc for use in Word.
  • .wpd for WordPerfect fans.
In most instances, however, using the old Word .doc format will delight most, and be serviceable to the rest of, specifiers.

Google+ Hangout

I have not used Google + yet, but their Hangout capability might change my mind.

This is a recording of a Hangout with eight space science journalists. The system replicates face-to-face conversation more effectively than any other online program I have experienced.

Imagine using it for sales training. Participating in project team meetings. Online panel discussions. Jobsite walkthroughs.

Watch for future developments.

Wiki Revisited

I was asked, recently, about the potential for a new and improved internet-based source for building product information, a comprehensive and reliable source of information about construction means and methods.

It seems the industry already has many powerful tools for distributing information; the crucial issue is how to create and maintain the content. My suggestion is to "crowd source" it, allowing the learned members of the construction industry (including building product manufacturers) to create content.

Wiki tools, such as Wikipedia, are a good way to do this. I use Wikipedia frequently as a quick source of information, as demonstrated to the many Wikipedia links embedded in this post.*

When looking for building product information, many architects and builders begin their investigation on a search engine where pages from Wikipedia are often the first result returned. is another wiki specifically for architecture. Yet I note that these sites are woefully limited in building product information and neither uses industry standards for organizing data. They could be more useful to the construction industry if it were cross-referenced according to MasterFormat and OmniClass, industry standards for organizing construction information.

At the time of writing this, Wikipedia, for example: 
  • "Ceiling" does not cross reference MasterFormat Division 09
  • A search on "Acoustical Ceiling" returns 13 hits, but most of these are tangential. Wikipedia does not have a prime entry for the topic.
  • Wikipedia's "MasterFormat" entry links to the entry for "50 Divisions" where Division 09 links to a page on "wood finishing" --- hardly a complete discussion about finishes.
Amazingly, the following common building product terms do not have pages in either wiki:
  • "Concrete Admixture"
  • "Division 04"
  • "Single Ply Roof"
This makes me wonder if the construction community is willing to support a new, non-profit product database. Perhaps an individual or organization could champion such an effort. Is this an initiative that should be undertaken by a trade organization such as the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)?  Is it a viable commercial venture that could be financed by selling ads? Or will a new generation of online tools soon render wikis as antiquated as three-ring binders?

Marketing Opportunities
While the industry sorts itself out, you have a great marketing opportunity. If you are in the ceilings industry, for example, why not take it upon yourself to provide and maintain good content about your area of interest.

While overtly commercial messages will quickly be deleted by the crowd sourced legions of wiki watchers, you will find many ways to direct prospects to your company, such as links to articles you have published, and describe technology specific to your products. Chusid Associates created the studcast page, for example, with links to articles we wrote for our client, articles that also list the client's name and contact info.

This blog is mentioned in the Wikipedia listing for scriptio continua:
Scriptio continua has become common in e-mail and internet addresses. For example, the address for the website "Building Product Marketing" is written, scriptio continua, as, without spaces between the separate words.[4]
My business has little to do with Latin inscriptions, but I have had prospects call me after finding our link in the footnote on Wikipedia. It also helps our search engine listing.

 Other than the time you invest, there is no cost to participate in most wikis. It should be part of your social media and brand management programs.

For more information, see my earlier posts on the subject.

* Wikis should not be relied upon for critical decision making since they can contain biased, incomplete, and inaccurate information. Still, they are powerful starting points for further investigation, and frequently provides links to other resources.

This Weekend Only -- Testing Social Media

You can read the following to save $48, or you can read it for insight into using social media to channel the promotional efforts of your customers.

It is from an email sent to CSI members with blogs, asking them to publicize a "this weekend only" discount on CSI membership.  Check back next week for feedback on the effectiveness of the promotion.

And in the meanwhile -- please consider joining the Construction Specifications Institute. It has done wonders for my career, and will do the same for yours. (You can also forward this to others in your network.)
This weekend, we’re going to offer 20% off of a professional membership to people who join between 9am ET Friday and midnight Monday. (Shhh…. Don’t tell anyone until Friday!) CSI leaders will receive this information in a separate email.

I’m writing to ask you to help us. Please post this information on your blog after 9am ET Friday, along with your view on who should be a CSI member, and why. Even if you just refresh an old blog entry that touched on CSI, it would help us out. If you want to promote your favorite chapter, by all means, do!

If you tweet this, I’m using hashtag #JoinCSI for this promotion.

I know this is short notice, and I appreciate any help you can give me.

Here are the exact directions for getting the discount:

Don't miss this special offer! Join CSI by October 31 and pay only $192 for national dues -- a 20% savings.

1. Visit
2. Select "Join Now", and then click "Sign Up as a New Member"
3. Enter Promotion Code 1220ARCH when prompted
4. Click the "Add Discount" button

We recommend you also join a chapter, where you can attend local education sessions and networking opportunities (chapter dues are not included in this promotional offer).

Your dedication to talking about construction, architecture, and CSI has made a huge difference for the Institute during the past few years. CSI’s newsletter has high open rates because we link to your blog entries, and CSI members who can’t get to a meeting tell me that they feel they’re part of CSI’s community because they read “so-and-so’s” blog. Thank you for all the time and energy you put into your blog, I really appreciate it.


Joy Davis, CSI, CCPR
Communications & Web Community Senior Manager
800-689-2900 ext. 4795

TOUT, new video Social Media channel, perfect for building products manufacturers

Tout is  new Twitter-like communications channel for VIDEO.  15 second messages.  Today, I saw about a dozen short clips, apparently from an architect showing the contractor (or owner?) things that needed to be fixed on the project.

This could be a great way for a building products manufacturer to offer brief tips and ticks, and more important, to handle tech support inquiries.  Open a channel.  Print your TOUT tag on all your product packaging, so your customers will know how to reach you.   Use you existing outreach channels - including your packaging - to encourage customers to put their issues on short videos and send them, so you can monitor the channel and provide answers.  A quick visual demo may be enough to resolve the issue.  Or else, you can answer by telling the person to call you directly for a detailed discussion.  It puts correct information out into the Toutosphere (which is small now, but could easily go big) and shows that you're there for your customers all the time.

Naturally,  this means you have to have someone monitoring Tout for you - either someone in house, or your outside PR agency perhaps.  Social Media is about being engaged, after all.

Facebook and Twitter: Major Impact on Purchase Decisions

New study shows that those who are fans or followers of a brand on Facebook or Twitter, respectively, are significantly more likely to buy products and services or recommend the brand to a friend.

Specifically, the study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook. Moreover, they’re 79% more likely to recommend their Twitter follows to a friend, and 60% more likely to do the same on Facebook:

Of course, those findings might be a bit overstated — many people actively seek out the brands they’re already fans of and follow or fan them on Twitter and Facebook. Moreover, the research was conducted among ordinary consumers, not construction industry specifiers or buyers. But there’s still much to be said for the mindshare that engaging those existing brand enthusiasts on social media sites creates, in turn keeping them active. Plus, the study also found that many consumers across a wide variety of demographics have negative perceptions of brands that aren’t using social media.

Overall, the study is another sign that social media is becoming a competitive advantage for those that are participating, and an increasingly major weakness for those that aren’t.

[via eMarketer]

Product Rep Blogs Done Well: I Dig Hardware

The I Dig Hardware blog wastes no time letting you know what it's about. The top of the first page proudly proclaims:
Following the tone set by the title, the blog's style is very informal. The layout is simple, using a pre-made template with minimal customization; this keeps focus on the blog's content, instead of high-tech bells and whistles. The language is very personal, like a conversation with a colleague rather than the business or textbook style adopted by many corporate blogs.

Which makes sense because this is not a corporate blog; it's personal.

Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR started the blog when she was basically the New England product rep for Ingersoll Rand. But it was not a company project; she started it on her own as an evening hobby with three stated goals:
  1. Keep her name in front of New England architects
  2. Gather all the building code information she had collected over the years in a single site
  3. Make learning about hardware less painful
A fourth goal has since emerged, increasing awareness of new fire door codes. 

The blog has developed a very active community of commentators, and high daily readership. Lori reports that some people have even set it as the home page on their web browsers, and is picked up as a monthly column in Doors & Hardware magazine

Not bad for a night time hobby.

Why this works
The first key to Lori's success is that she started with clearly stated goals in mind. As the blog has grown, reoccurring topics have emerged (such as "Wordless Wednesday" where pictures of interesting doors speak for themselves...mostly). In the early days of a blog, deciding what to post can be very intimidating, so having goals helps you identify good topics and give structure to the blog.

The informal, personal style is also a major strength. Developing relationships with architects is still the best way to get specified, and the conversational tone does more to foster a relationship. If the blog felt like a constant sales pitch, or used very dry "professional" communication, it would not make that same personal connection. Especially for this topic. The original title of the blog was "I Hate Hardware", a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that many architects do not understand, are scared of, and get intimidated by hardware. The informality defuses the subject, making it more accessible.

Which is not to say all blogs need to be this informal; many great blogs benefit from creating an "expert" or "consultant" tone. The key is to decide what tone will resonate most with your audience, and what you will be most comfortable writing. 

The blog is also very multimedia. Almost every post has a picture or video; given that many architects are visual learners and thinkers, relying solely on text would be a mistake. Especially given the perceived complexity of the subject. It also makes the page more visually interesting, and provides other avenues for readers to find your site by following links from YouTube or photo-sharing sites.

Finding Hidden Architects

How can a building product manufacturer or sales rep stay in touch with architects that are working out of their homes and other unconventional business venues?
A recent post by Architectural Record discusses architects working out of storefronts and other unconventional locations as survival strategies during these tough times, including the one shown above who sets up his "Architecture 5 Cents" booth at farmers' markets.

While architects have always been nomadic, moving from office-to-office as they hire then fire for big projects, the recent recession has made it even more difficult for manufacturers and sales reps to locate their prospects.

Here are some tips:

1.  If you build relationships of trust and service with architects, they will call you when they need your products.

2.  Ask architects for their personal contact info. Make it clear this is not to bombard them with spam, but to be able to contact them in the future, "if necessary."

3.  Architects working alone or in small offices frequently seek out professional comradeship by attending professional society meetings, educational events, and local product shows.  You can attend as well.

4.  In a big office, there was always someone around to speak with or to get advice. Architects working from home increasingly go online for the same types of interaction. You need to, too.

5.  Track them down using Linked In and other online resources.

Twitter Augments Webinars

When you do a face-to-face seminar, the side conversations around the table help participants understand the information being presented, and to apply it to their own needs. For example, Charlie turns to Jane and whispers, "This would solve our problem on the new High School project."

This interactive aspect has been missing in many webinars.  Until now.
Twitter conversation during webinar enabled participants to ask questions and share insights.
Joy Davis, manager of CSI's online programs, conducted a demonstration during a seminar she presented recently at a CSI Chapter meeting. Her presentation was about use of social media in the construction industry. So she incorporated social media by simultaneously sharing her slideshow and talk with specifiers across the nation via webiar. Participants were also encouraged to engage in side conversations via Twitter.

A transcript of the Twitter feeds is at While some of the comments are just chatter, serious information is also being exchanged, and relationships are being fostered. The tweets were projected on a screen at the live CSI meeting so the people in seats could benefit from the comments, and I suspect a few people in the physical audience were also conversing online.

Like it or not, this type of interactivity and further social media innovations will affect your business in the near future. Since anyone can create a hashtag to start a side conversation during a webinar, it might as well be you -- at least you will know about the conversation and be able to follow-up. Used wisely, Twitter feeds like this can be an important way to extend your sales effectiveness.

Social Media for Construction - Webinar

Social Media for Construction Professionals

Joy Davis, CSI's Social Media Champion, will be presenting this program at a CSI Chapter while simultaneously broadcasting it via a webinar and having a Twitter Feed so folks around the world can engage in simultaneous conversation about the topic.  Come and learn about the future of collaboration.

Join us for a Webinar on July 14 Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: 

Whether you’re considering a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a LinkedIn profile or another social networking option, if you’re “experienced” in the real world, you have something to offer online -- and social media has something to offer you in return. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man shop, or one-of-many in a firm. You can build credibility, demonstrate your expertise, and expand your network through the web. A decent web-presence can be as valuable to you as a well-written resume or a colorful brochure about your company.

This presentation focuses on understanding what social media is and how it works, so that you can approach any social media platform with confidence. We’ll look at the actual social media examples set by other CSI members, and see how some of the principles of construction documentation carry over into social media.

Twitter Users: We’re hosting a tweet-chat during this webinar. Please use hashtag #CSIFutureCom to participate.

Title: Social Media for Construction Professionals Date: Thursday, July 14, 2011 Time: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.