As a strategy and business development consultant to professionals working on the built environment, people often ask me: "What is the surest path to a steady stream of business?"
While there are many (many) ways to answer that question, in short time I would simply say: Be interested and be interesting; most importantly, make a human connection.
Solid connections inspire trust!
So, how do you connect with people? There are many ways to do so. Some are intuitive. Others are more reliably tied to planning and deliberate effort. It is absolutely necessary, however, to put yourself out there. Whether in person, in print, on line or some other way, give some thought to what it is you really want to do and who the natural or most likely audience, customer or clientele for it may be. Think about how your work is relevant to the bigger picture in the world you live in.
Don’t hesitate to pull back the curtain on your world, sharing your knowledge and making use of your years of experience and expertise. Show your professional chops. But while you're at it, have a little fun. Draw on the familiar, especially on relatable things around which people naturally connect. It isn’t even necessary to tie your message explicitly to your day-to-day project work. What is important is that your message is memorable, relevant, engaging. There are plenty of opportunities to communicate your knowledge along the way.
Recently Michael Wyetzner of Michielli + Wyetzner Architects, a firm I work with and advise had the opportunity to develop some light-hearted general interest video content with the editorial team at Architectural Digest. The video highlights the “Hidden Design Details in Suburban Architecture” as communicated to us by sitcom television. In it he reveals a vast depth of knowledge on how design develops, what architects actually do and how the process unfolds. While he is not primarily focused on designing and building single-family homes in the suburbs, he communicates a lot about himself, his work and his capabilities, all with a great deal of candor and charm. By implication, we get a glimpse of what it might be like to work with him.
362,000+ views later (and adding up very quickly), feedback on this short video from only a single day in late July reveals that his message resonates well with a broad variety of viewers, some of whom could certainly be potential clients for his firm. A sampling of youtuber responses includes:
- “Who is this man? He needs to make more videos.”
- “This was great. I'd love to see him talk about maybe more famous examples of architecture walk us through why the architects made the decisions they made. He's a great speaker & you can tell he's very passionate about the subject.”
- “More videos with this guy!”
Not everyone will have the opportunity to make a video like this. So what’s the take away? As opportunity presents itself, whatever it may be, do NOT let it pass you by.
Do your homework so you know what to say and who to say it to, and be confident. Along the way you’ll find plenty of opportunities to deliver the direct message about what gets you up and at it every day.
Nancy Kleppel is a trained architect and strategic consultant to firms working on the built environment, and a Brick & Wonder member.
"On TV, You Can Go Home Again. But It’s Weird." From the New York Times, September 3, 2019
"That surreality of trying to recapture a thing that’s passed — that maybe never really existed the way we recall it — is the subject of this bizarre artifact of summer 2019 TV."