Thursday, February 9, 2012

Client Communication Outside of Projects, More Relevant than Ever Before

As I write this, I'm reminded of a number of project pursuits recently that involved early communication with Owners, board members and potential clients about what the latest tools and technologies were and how they are changing the industry. What was really interesting was how many opportunities it opened up, given the meeting wasn't held under the pretense of "give me work". As I work in the construction industry, we are notorious for becoming best buddies with Owners as their projects come up on their program and then losing contact with them like an annoying ex-girlfriend when they don't have any work.

The reality is that the game is changing.

Not just in design and construction, but in all industries. The norm of a sweet PowerPoint presentation, some flashy brochures and a great website is now the expectation and potential Clients are seeking real partners who want to be a part of their business to become engaged in a much larger way than before and to see both organizations grow. While cost continues to be a factor for project selection, it is interesting how it isn't the only factor for selection any more.

In my business, I have found that it's just as important to talk with potential Clients about whatever is relevant to their business, even when they don't have a project on the horizon. Whether it's technology, innovative processes, new tools or a more value focused offering, Clients usually have the time to chat and truly appreciate the connection. Additionally, these same people are usually very well connected with people in similar positions to theirs in other companies. Often these meetings mean so much to a Client that they will extend your network for you and make introductions to people who have potential projects or needs coming up or whom you weren't connected with before.

The real value in communication and information sharing is what "banner" it's held under. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, "The results of a meeting you have over tea, versus the one you have on the battle field are always different."