Social Media’s Most Wanted: Experienced Architects
0By Joy Davis, CSI, CDT
0Understand this about social media: it is insatiably hungry for information. This is great news if you’re a little gray around the ears, because you have the richest, juiciest information of all – the stuff that come from real experience. Your favorite war stories from job sites, scenes you witnessed in meetings with owners, questions you’ve answered for interns – all of it can help you build a reputation for you and your firm online.
0Think of social media platforms like Twitter (www.twitter.com) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) as tools that help you build that reputation by making it easy for you to share what you know. If you can write an email, you can set up a free blog at a site like www.blogger.com and start talking about what you know about architecture and construction.
0What you post on that blog – pictures of construction that startled and amused you on a site tour, answers to questions you were asked by a client – defines you to your audience. It’s what potential employers find when they Google you. It’s what gets forwarded by your colleagues. It’s what your clients think of first when they think of you. It’s a digital you.
0Too many architects play it safe. Their websites are filled with glossy images and carefully crafted, soulless text. Their websites read like brochures. Add a blog where you take questions. Post a 5-page white paper dissecting a key decision in a big project. Put a presentation on Slideshare ( www.slideshare.com). Don’t just tell me you’re knowledgeable and experienced. Show me!
0You’ll attract a mix of people – ones that are learning from you, and ones that know as much or more than you. Both groups are valuable, because both consider you a resource, the former because you know more than them, and the latter because you reinforce what they think they know (who doesn’t like to be told they’re right?).
0It’s a lot less painful than you think, because it relies on the one resource you have that never stops expanding -- your experience.
Ready to get started?
1) Pick one. Most social media platforms are free. I suggest starting with something your co-workers or friends are using.
2) Create a profile. Remember that you don’t have to answer all the questions right now, or at all.
3) Commit to spending 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week experimenting with it for a month. You don’t have to post anything. Just follow links, read discussions, and find people talking about the things that interest you. It’s like mingling at a cocktail party; you drift around until you find an interesting conversation, and you don’t jump in until you have a thought to contribute.
0At the end of the month, you’ll have figured out all the basics, and have stumbled across resources for using this tool to your advantage. You’ll be ready to start building a social media profile that will give life to the resume you submitted, and gain the trust of potential clients and the respect of your colleagues.
Already using social media? A few more tips…
Link your social media, your website and your printed collateral. The reason my Twitter profile (www.twitter.com/CSIConstruction) is on my business card is because I want people to talk to me where they’re comfortable. I have a LinkedIn profile (http://www.linkedin.com/in/joysdavis) for the same purpose.
Say it once in the right place. Any specifier will tell you this is true. You put it in the specification and you reference it everywhere else. It’s true in social media, too. Post a blog entry then put links to it everywhere else. Don’t copy and paste the same material from blog to website to newsletter to …
Clear, concise, correct, complete. CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) has been using the 4 C’s to teach people how to write construction documentation forever. Turns out it’s true for blog entries, tweets and other social media posts. Use no more words than you need, and no fewer.
It’s not a big failure if no one noticed right away. Odds are the ideas you think are perfectly ordinary will be revelations to someone out there. Make your thoughts known and find out. Social media tools are free-to-cheap in cost. What have you got to lose?
About the Author: Joy Davis, CSI, CDT, is CSI’s Web Community & Communications Manager.