I think I have a marketing flaw. I am uncomfortable socializing in crowds of people who I don’t know.
I don’t like to go to galas, cocktail parties or other “business-related” or professional social gatherings with people I don’t know or don’t know well.
It seems that a common method of networking in business involves being in crowds with strangers or getting to know other people in those types of venues. I went to a networking event recently and sat quietly as it seemed everybody already knew each other. I don’t go golfing. I tend to avoid situations where there are “open bars” or the evening cocktail after work. This can be a real challenge for architects who are seeking larger, public or more visible projects. If you want to do work with the public, the public needs to know you exist if nothing else right? People like to talk and get to know others in casual situations. Relationships are fostered in casual situations.
As I plan and ponder methods of seeking out new opportunities for interesting work I have to grapple with how I will primarily network with others. I do well one-on-one with people. When the scene is not a one-on-one setting (and I don’t know anyone), I am more comfortable when the topic of discussion is architecture. I believe I am more shy or quiet than anything else. Actually I would be disappointed to find out that someone misinterpreted that as snobby or self-centered.
I made comments recently on a blog where the author was discussing ways to benefit from AIA Conventions. I shared why I did not attend the AIA Convention this past year. When I attended the Convention many years ago, it wasn’t an experience that I found largely positive. I don’t find this the fault of the convention or the AIA; it has to do with interacting with people I don’t know. You have to push yourself to meet people. I went alone and when there were off-hour events, I am the type that prefers to be invited rather than just show up and mingle. Guess what, I went back to my hotel.
In my personal life I enjoy spending time with friends and family. And to be honest, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m most comfortable and most happy when alone with my own family.
As architects how should we effectively market in today’s business world? How do we make ourselves known in our communities and how do we make ourselves known on a broader level if we don’t spend time with people that we don’t know? How do we get to know the right people so they know us, trust us and will allow us to work with them on their projects? How can we land more visible, more challenging work if we are reclusive?
Many of us idealists would love to think that people will recognize our work and will hire us solely on the merits of the work. However, we all know that’s a naïve at best or limited viewpoint. It is not likely the method that most people get their work. Sure competitions exist and request for proposals or request for qualifications are methods for getting work. However we all know that in business, it’s about people getting to know people, the right people and getting to develop relationships. I find relationships incredibly important and I spend a lot of time developing them and nurturing them. I want people to be genuine with me as I with them.
You might think I need to force myself out of my comfort zone. Do I need to get over this or I am ok? Ooh, try a little harder?
What works for you? How did you get to know the people who brought you the most rewarding work?
I extend my apologies for not writing for several weeks. I’ve been doing some thinking, some working and some vacationing. Hopefully, my head is starting to fill again of obscure observations and obtuse viewpoints about the world and practice of architecture.