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Tips to Strengthen Professional Relationships

tips on building professional relationships

Do you want to be top-of-mind not only with people that you want to do business with, but also with those who can help build your influence? The secret is to get personal. Here are four tips to help build your professional relationships and get larger returns as a result.

1. Reach out IRL. In this world of e-mails, texts, and tweets, the value of a phone call is often underestimated. Take time every so often to pick up the phone to touch base with a prospective client or colleague. You can also stop by a client’s office to say hello or drop off a small token of appreciation you’ve picked up during a recent trip. Gestures like these let people know you’re thinking about them, and that they are important to you.

2. Perfect your timing. Reaching out is key, but don’t forget to factor in when it’s appropriate to do so. Don’t just get in touch with journalists when you want them to write about you or cover your project. Instead, suggest meeting for a coffee—your treat—to talk about the stories they are working on now and down the road. Make a friendly introduction to a third party that shares common interests with your writer friend. Send a thank you note and connect on social media by sending a LinkedIn invitation within a day or two after your meeting.

3. Socialize on social media. Social media is an essential tool for successful marketing. You can share your work and ideas in real time, while simultaneously making connections with other design pros. Maintain active Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and open up communication channels with writers, peers, and potential clients. Connect with, or ask for an introduction to, those folks you want to know. Familiarize yourself with journalists’ Twitter handles and say hi once in awhile. (Of course, don’t forget to mention your latest project!)

4. Really get to know people. If you take the time to find out what’s important to the individuals you want to connect with, your chances of establishing professional relationships with them will increase. Make a list of personal as well as professional details about each person, ranging from their alma mater to their extra-curricular accomplishments to what non-work-related subjects in which he or she is interested. If you demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about a person’s life outside of work, it shows you’re interested in building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Architecture & Design Film Festival – Kyle Bergman Q+A

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Here in New York City, it’s Architecture and Design Month “Archtober” (ärk’tōbər)! It’s the fifth annual month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions taking place during the month of October.  Around the globe, there are a bounty of cultural festivals that also celebrate excellent architecture and great design and, this month, we’re highlighting some of the world’s best. Let’s start here at home in NYC with the Architecture & Design Film Festival… 

 

Now, in its seventh year, the Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York, October 13 -18, with an invigorating selection of feature-length, short, and documentary films. Expect to be engaged and entertained by lively discussions with architects, designers, filmmakers and industry leaders. We caught up with Kyle Bergman, the founder and director of the Architecture & Design Film Festival.

 

Q: How did the festival get started?

A: I’m an architect by profession and I’ve always thought about the great connection between architecture and film. To me, they’re two sides of the same coin — architecture and film are ways for us to tell stories. They share similar characteristics, for one, they are both public acts. Both art forms consider light, scale, proportion, and it’s really a balance between art and science. Merging architecture and film was something that came natural to me. I really wanted to develop a film festival that engaged the general public as well as the design community.

 

Q: What is the film selection process?

A: We accept submissions year-round. We preview around 250 films and try to stick to a schedule of 25-30 films. However, this year we ended up with a selection of 33 films, which speaks volumes about the high caliber of submissions we received. Our selection process is “organic”, and we don’t adhere to criteria; we care more about how the films capture the creative design process.

 

Q: Were there themes that came together in making selections for this year’s programs?

A: No, we don’t start with themes, it generally evolves. But a Nordic theme became apparent when we were finalizing our program schedule. For instance, we’re showing Jytte Rex’s acclaimed portrait of the late Henning Larsen, and The Infinite Happiness, which features the giant 8 House designed by Bjarke Ingels. Festivalgoers may even detect mini-Irish and family themes.

 

Q: Can you describe the physical and emotional duress of putting on a festival like this?

A: I may disappoint you with my answer… I’m a firm believer that if you like what you do, you don’t even think about it.

 

Q: Tell us the best and worst part of your job.

A: The festival is something that I started, so I’m proud of that. But I would say the best part of my job is having the opportunity to increase architecture and design dialogue, and make it more appealing to a wider audience, not just for design professionals. Then, there are the filmmakers…I feel that the festival puts a spotlight on these talented filmmakers and showcases their passion and dedication to their craft.

 

Don’t miss out on the nation’s largest film festival celebrating architecture and design. Tickets and the program schedule are available here.

Worth a Thousand Words: Make a Photographic Impact on Social Media

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May is National Photography Month, so we are going to explore how you can use professional and snapshot photography to promote your firm and projects on social media.

Using photos and imagery in your social media will boost your company’s virtual presence, promote your projects, and engage your audience. In fact, Tweets with images get 2 times the engagement rate of those without them. The following are a few strategies for using photography to communicate about your work.

Tell a story with your photographs. Social media platforms allow you to take your audiences – clients, colleagues, potential clients, fans – on a story-telling journey. Your followers want to see snapshots of your projects at every stage, from design concept through completion. Showing them your process through photos is a great way to show them your personality as a designer, what your office culture is like, who your employees are, and so on. Tell them a story with the photographs that you upload on social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. For example, you can choose a collection of project photos that represent your firm’s signature style and post them as #signatureproject. Or you could choose a different photo every day of projects, people, and places that tell a story about your firm and its work as #photooftheday. Whatever you post, choose photos that tell a story and share them!

Build your virtual portfolio. You probably already have a portfolio of your projects on your website. But you can also use platforms like Pinterest or Instagram to create a virtual project portfolio on social media and use it as an active way to engage your audiences. For example, you can create a Pinterest board to show off all of your projects in one typology such as healthcare or cultural buildings. In fact, the more boards you create the more opportunities you create for other users to pin your photos to their boards. Showcase your projects, from renderings to final photography. Optimize all the images that you upload and remember to link back to your website.

Take control of your firm’s existing presence on platforms like Pinterest, where users may already be pinning images of your projects. Photos of your projects may already exist on other people’s Pinterest boards. Take control of those images by re-pining to your board and expand your audience by following other users who admire your work. This will not only increase your exposure but it will also build your network.

You can also create a virtual gallery on Twitter. You can tweet links to your gallery and use it as yet another way to engage your audience and promote your projects.

Show the evolution of a project. You do not have to wait until the completion of a project to promote it. The power of social media, specifically Instagram, allows you to keep the conversation going, from planning to completion. Instagram is a good platform that delivers informal snapshots to your audience and gives them the opportunity to follow, share, and comment as a project progresses. Use Instagram to take your audience through the journey of your project and capture moments throughout the life of the project to tell a story. Choose a project in the beginning stages of design and show it’s progress by posting photos as the project progresses from concept to construction through opening day. Your audience wants to see photos of behind-the-scenes (you could use a hashtag like #bts), events, and people. Always remember that it’s important to use hashtags because they allow your tweets to trend on other users Twitter feeds, sparking new conversations and re-tweets.

So, whether it’s an informal snapshot of your team hard at work on your next design or a professional photo of a completed building, remember that using photography on social media has huge potential to engage and grow your audience.

Doctor in the Haus: Off the Radar

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Dear Doctor,

I’m an architect with a strong professional network, including over 500+ connections on LinkedIn. I’m also a member of the AIA. But my network is predominately made up of other design professionals and colleagues in the AEC industry. I feel like it’s a new year, and I need to do something different. I’d like to broaden my reach and meet new people. And I was just promoted to associate, so I need to be able to bring new business into the firm. Can you suggest some ways that I can develop a presence beyond my immediate circle of colleagues and get to potential clients? 

Signed,

Off the Radar

 

Well, Off the Radar, you are certainly asking all the right questions. And you’re in luck, because the Doctor has answers. But, I have to admit, your timing may be off by just a teeny weeny bit, because it’s been a brutally cold winter – at least for those of us who live in the Northeast – and who wants to be running around proverbially knocking on doors to meet people in this cold? However, don’t you worry, because the Doctor has some ideas! And you don’t always have to brave subzero temperatures to make important connections.

Let’s start with LinkedIn. It’s great to have so many connections. But have you tried to take advantage of the people you know? I mean that in the best possible sense! For example, you may find that one of your LinkedIn connections knows someone who you want to meet. Maybe he or she can make an online introduction for you. Or, even better, you can all get together for coffee. Just make sure that you dress warm and wear plenty of warm clothes when you go out. (I know, I know, I’m not THAT kind of doctor, but I still care about you).

Another way to build your influence is to start a conversation about a topic on LinkedIn. If you don’t want to dip your toe in such deep water, at least you can start to post updates on LinkedIn on a regular basis. It’s good to show your network that you’re alive and kicking!

As for meeting new people, well it just means that you need to change up your surroundings and the company you keep. Other architects are great, but you can’t just hang around the same people all the time because, ya know, that just gets BOR-ING. And if you want to meet potential clients, then you need to start stalking professional events where you know those folks might be (ok, I’m not advocating the creepy kind of stalking, of course, just saying that you need to put yourself in the company of people who you want to do business with). When you go to events, make sure you get there early and actually talk to people. The great news about networking events is that…just like you, people are there to network! Imagine that! Even better, if you find an organization that you like, get involved in a committee or seek out a board position. You can attend as many breakfast meetings as you like, but there is no substitute for digging in your heels, really getting involved in an organization and forging strong relationships that really matter.

Remember, too, that you can meet potential clients anywhere. Get involved in a charity or do some pro bono work for a local community group. You never know where your next client may turn up. And you’ll feel gratified by helping others – a double win!

You could also consider writing some articles about your expertise. Many trade journals and other publications are always looking for good content. This can be a great way to start building up your visibility in front of potential clients. And, even better, you don’t have to go out in this freezing weather to do it!

However you decide to begin, Off the Radar, stay warm and try not to get “cold feet”…and remember to have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring into Networking: Make the Most Out of Professional Events


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You’ve taken on the challenge of planning your own event, now it’s time to look at effective ways to get the most out of the events that you attend. The weather is getting warmer, so there’s no excuse for you to be sitting at your desk all day. It’s time to be out and about! Events can be fun, and they can also help you connect with potential clients and build the visibility of your firm.

Here are our best tips for making the most out of networking:

Be prepared. Know the event and who is attending. Make a plan to connect with at least five people that you don’t already know that you’d like to potentially work with down the line.

Do your research. Given the short amount of time you have to meet with each person, it’s crucial to leave a lasting impression. If you aren’t great at thinking on your feet, write out your elevator speech that describes what you do in a way that’s informative and engaging – so it invites further conversation.

Show up early. By arriving early, you will be able to approach people and strike up conversations more easily. It’s more difficult to jump into conversations once the room has begun to get crowded and people form groups. It’s a lot easier to talk to the person standing alone next to the veggies and dip – he would probably welcome the company.

Circulate at the event. Make sure to circulate around the room, and meet and talk to as many people as you can. There is no substitute for strong professional relationships with new people that can bring lasting value. People like to talk about themselves (it’s true!) so be sure to ask a lot of questions. 

Follow up. After the event, follow up the next day with a quick email to say hello and reiterate your contact info. Follow up in a reasonable timeframe of two days or less so they remember you. Always connect with them on LinkedIn and add new acquaintances to your contact list.

Don’t forget social media. Find the right moments to Tweet and Instagram during the event, or post the event to LinkedIn. This can bring you more followers and help you get the most out of your investment!

Once you start to network in a smarter, more productive way, you’ll see your firm and your professional network grow. Remember that the successful outcome of any professional event comes from learning new information and, most important, enjoying it as well!

 

 

 

Spring Into Networking: 5 Strategies to Plan Your Event

architecture-public-relations-eventsWhen it comes to marketing your firm, events mean networking. To put your business in front of new potential clients, get out there and attend industry events — like those we highlighted in our first post this month.

Ready to take your networking to the next level? It’s time to host your own event. This requires a significant investment of time and effort, but if you are willing to commit, it can pay off for you in a big way. Hosting your own event, whether on behalf of your firm or a professional organization, gives you positive exposure in front of your clients and potential clients.

Here are our top five strategies for planning your  event:

1. Define your objectives: The first step to hosting an event is to decide what you want to get out of it. Is your goal to fundraise for a professional organization, raise the profile of your firm in your industry, or celebrate a milestone like an anniversary? Be specific, because your goal will guide the rest of your decisions throughout the planning process, including your theme, venue, activities, and speakers.

2. Hire an event planner: An event planner will take charge of coordinating the details of the event. They’ll also be there at the event to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Choose an event planner who comes recommended from someone you trust, and be very specific when communicating your goals for the event to them.

3. Fill the room: Your guest list should be focused on your target list of contacts, including clients and potential clients. You should send a “save the date” announcement to your guest list at least 8 weeks in advance of the event, and follow it several weeks later with an official invitation. Make sure the invitation includes a deadline for RSVPs, which will encourage those invited to respond in a timely fashion.

4. Network: At the event, focus on networking. Make sure to connect with everyone you invited, but don’t get cornered by any one person or group. Without seeming rushed, you need to get in a few words with everyone you invited! Circulate throughout the room, and introduce your clients to each other — you might help them do business together. You should also make a short speech thanking guests for attending.

5. Document the occasion: A dedicated social media point person should post photos and tweets to your social media accounts in real time at the event, and a professional photographer should document it. Afterward, share the photos on your social media and website. Send a thank you e-mail to all who attended and include a link to your album on Facebook or Pinterest.

Posted by Beth Connolly

 

Spring Networking: Top 5 New York Design/Construction Events

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At long last, spring has arrived, with plenty of bright sunshine and colorful flowers. Now is the time to kick your professional social life into gear. Awaken from your winter slumber and join your industry peers for networking events to build your business while having fun. It’s the season to make new relationships and rekindle old ones!

In our upcoming posts this month, we’ll give you tips for networking at events and for planning your own. But first, to get you started on the right foot, here are the top five professional events catering to the A/E/C industry in New York this spring.

1. Van Alen Institute: The Imprint of the City (May 9 at 7:30PM)

ISSUE Project Room (22 Boerum Place, Brooklyn, NY) 

To launch Van Alen Institute’s Spring 2014 Events, the Institute and ISSUE Project Room present a fast-paced medley of music, poetry, personal reflections, conversations, and performances by designers, artists, musicians, writers, social scientists, and others exploring the meaning of well-being, and the effects of the city on our minds and bodies.

2. DoCoMoMo New York – TriState: A Modern Affair (May 13 at 6PM)

Alvar Aalto Rooms at the Edgar J. Kauffman Conference Center (809 United Nations Plaza)

Join DoCoMoMo New York/Tri-State for A Modern Affair in celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the Edgar J. Kauffman Conference Center, designed by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

3. On MAKINGOODESIGN: Good-Maker Party (May 15 at 5:30PM)

New York Design Center (200 Lexington Ave)

The first annual MAKINGOODESIGN: Good-Maker Party is co-hosted by Design With Benefits, desigNYC, AIANY ENYA, and Keilhauer at the New York Design Center. Come meet and learn about  Good-Maker Thumbs-Up honorees, an innovative group of organizations using design to create change in New York City, and enjoy delicious cocktails, beer, and nibbles.

4. Designer City: How Innovative Solutions Transform Urban Life (May 16 at 7PM)

Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle)

This panel discussion explores how the design industry has improved life for New Yorkers as well as people around the world. Moderated by The New York Times Home section Deputy Editor Julie Lasky, the panel will feature David Burney, associate professor of Architecture, Pratt Institute, and former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction; Christine Gaspar, executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy; Jason Schupbach, director of design, the National Endowment for the Arts; and Wendy E. Brawer, founder and director, the Green Map System.

This panel is part of NYC x Design, New York’s official city-wide celebration of design. Take a look at their website for a complete list of events taking place from May 9 to 20, 2014.

5. Van Alen Institute Spring Party (May 21, 2014 at 8PM)

The High Line Hotel (180 Tenth Avenue)

The Van Alen Institute concludes its 2014 event season with a Spring Party in celebration of its 120-year legacy and the years to come. Enjoy festive cocktails, light food, and great music by White Prism and Maria Chavez.

Posted by Beth Connolly

 

Share the #SocialMediaLove

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On February 15, couples around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Whew – another 364 days until you have to shower your partner with material displays of affection! You may be off the hook in the romance department, but when it comes to developing your professional relationships, you’re on call year-round.

We think February is a great time to re-focus your attention on and re-direct your efforts around your professional relationships. That’s why our theme for this month’s installment of Design on the Haus is Build Relationships, Build Influence. Your network of professional relationships is a pipeline that brings you new business, new partnership opportunities, and recognition in your field. Overall, it enhances your credibility, and can make your job a bit more pleasant, to boot!

In 2014, building relationships involves more than just facetime and power lunches. If you harness the power of social media, you can truly make your relationships work for you.

Relationships that bridge both the online and offline worlds are the most valuable assets in today’s social landscape. In order to create these relationships in real life, start from the first point of contact. For example, whenever you meet someone in person at an event, follow up online the next day. Connect on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, like their company’s page on Facebook, and follow them on Pinterest.

Then, take it a step further by actively engaging. You can retweet, favorite, or respond to their tweets, comment on their LinkedIn updates, or repin their pins on Pinterest. Be creative! These little touches take only a few moments of your time, but they’ll remind your new contact that you are thinking of him or her. As we mentioned in our first post on relationships, it takes three to five touch points, on average, to build a strong relationship. Social media engagement is an efficient way to hit some of those touch points.

But social media is not enough to solidify the relationship. As you probably know, just because you’re Facebook friends, doesn’t mean you’re friends in real life. By the same token, connecting to someone on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you have a viable professional relationship with that contact.

In order to do that, we recommend you meet any new contact in person. If you’re in the neighborhood, suggest a coffee date or offer to drop by his/her office. If he or she is too busy to meet that day, follow up a few weeks later with another invitation. If you’re attending a conference together in a different city, set up a time to catch up over dinner or breakfast. Setting aside the time for a face-to-face meeting shows that you are serious about developing the relationship. The best connections are memorable ones, and people are far more memorable than screennames!

This month, commit to getting outside your comfort zone as you develop your relationships, whether that means engaging in person, or online. We think you’ll find that when online and offline intersect, the result is a relationship that’s twice as strong.

Posted by Beth Connolly

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