Rock stars, genius and social networking for construction marketing

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For every rock star, there are hundreds of thousands of garage bands.  For every NHL (or NFL or World Series) athlete there are perhaps millions who play in recreational leagues.  For every person who reports great wealth and impressive architectural, engineering and construction marketing results from blogging or new media/Internet social networking, thousands are still seeking the magic success elixir.

Welcome to the real world.

You can jump on the social networking bandwagon for the big dream  of construction marketing success, only to find you are just where you’ve been all along.   Or you can grasp at quantifiable success stories and think that maybe you can share in the wealth if you can just copy the leaders’ secrets.

For example,  yesterday Tim Klabunde reported to me on the results of his work on the Design and Construction Network for the engineering practice where he is employed, William H. Gordon Associates (Gordon), in Northern Virginia

I just finished running the numbers and since starting DCN I have received $271,793 worth of signed contracts for Gordon that are a direct result of the Design and Construction Network. This does not include other relationships that are still developing, but rather direct relationships that have resulted in real contracts that wouldn’t have existed without the network.

Pretty impressive, eh.  But Tim started the network!  And if Gordon’s total revenue from social networking activities really represented more than a small portion of the practice’s overall revenue, I doubt the company could afford Tim’s services.  (This is not meant to belittle Tim’s contributions here.  In the AEC market, once you are “in” for delivering professional services especially in the metropolitan Washington DC area  and you do your work right both professionally and by maintaining your personal relationships with current clients, repeat business and direct referrals will carry you to great places — so over the years, that $271,793 will multiply many times.  See The Brooks Act.)

Conversely, look at the results to this posting more than a week ago from Leslie Sluger on the DCN forum:

Leslie only received one response  — from Curtis Lewis, who established the well-designed Socialtegic.com site for AEC Social Networking (where you can listen to recent podcast profiling Tim Klabunde).

The Design and Construction Network has more than 7,000 members.  My LinkedIn.com Construction Marketing Ideas group has close to 600.

I’ve directly earned about $20,000 from this blog and related social networking initiatives.  This revenue isn’t in Tim’s league but at least puts me in the small group who can say, yes, we’ve made a meaningful amount of money from our social networking and Internet marketing activities.  But we’re not quite ready to go “pro” and retire on our interest from the fortune we are paid for this work.  (Hmm, maybe there is a correlation between the size of the network you create and the revenue you can earn from it, suggesting in Tim’s case, the “network” has a value of $38.00 per member and, in my case, $33.00 based on the respective size of the Linkedin.com groups we’ve established.)

I’m not belittling these accomplishments but am sharing them with you to give you a solid grounding on what you can expect in the short-run when you enter these spaces.  You may get rich, but if you expect to do it quickly, remember that the rock star with the great hit probably played in garage bands for 10,000 hours before the break-through and most garage band players who practice their craft for 10,000 hours (with some degree of talent) will achieve some level of success but will probably not make it to the cover of Rolling Stone.

Should you persevere in these spaces, then?  Yes, if you enjoy the social media activities, especially if you can integrate them with your revenue-generating business (without worrying about the revenue you will directly earn from your networking activities.) Then you can live your success dream even as you play in the garage.

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