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Why Contractors and the AEC Industry Need Cupcakes June 3, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in communication, linkedin, Twitter, website tips.
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Contractors and the construction industry as a whole love celebrations. For Architects, Contractors and Engineers a cupcake reminds us of our childhood, the birthday parties you attended and the Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Legos and Tonka Trucks you received. For the young women of today it might be their Architech Barbie. Every time you win a bid, finish a project, have designs accepted or get plans approved you relive these moments. Whether you’re a tradesman, project manager or CEO there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment in every task performed. It’s the same feeling around the world. So why aren’t you celebrating construction milestones on social networks and your website making them social cupcakes?

Too many construction professionals are focusing on the economic woes. Stop. You know that happiness and success attract. After attending a joint networking event for the Arizona Builders Alliance(ABA), MCAA and SMPS at Audio Video Resources yesterday it was noticeable who the happy people were and just how many others were congregating around them. Lorraine at Caliente Construction was celebrating making it onto 4 short lists this week and having 2 bids awarded. Way to go! John Ulibarri had a discussion with Mark Minter on the value the ABA brings to the construction industry. Talking points with positive messages and the people around them were listening. Even my discussion with Dennis Tsonis of Lovitt and Touche had others watching us exchange contact info using the Bump app on our smartphones. That gesture of bumping is like a high five and feels like a celebration.

All this translates easily onto the internet. Just this morning at a Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce East Valley networking breakfast we had Tim Troy of TNT Shredding celebrating the arrival of his second truck – Tim tells me he’s getting it wrapped and will be posting pictures on Facebook soon. If you need paper shredded (I’ve been to many construction offices and know you need to make some room), give him a call. Desert View Aerial Photography captures construction celebrations daily. Here’s a top off shot for Haydon Building Corp with the American Flag and evergreen cheering on the last steel beam put in place. Last Steel Beam in Place at Construction project

Many social strategy sessions end up in discussions of what to blog, tweet or share on Facebook or LinkedIn about. The content should not always be about you but on people and business you know…things happening in your community that make a difference to your clients, suppliers and employees. If they elicit emotions and fond memories all the better. That’s why Cupcakes are in the title of this post!

Tell us about what you’re celebrating in the AEC industry and let’s get everyone in a great mood. Every contruction related celebration comment will be approved. Click on the comment button at the top of this post and/or share this with your friends.

ConExpo ConAgg 2011: Social Media a Twitter in Construction March 24, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software.
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ConExpo-ConAgg is rockin with activity and as a techie and social media consultant it’s time to explain how visitors leverage all the social media outlets during a construction event. You must realize if attendees are looking on-line, they are seeking help, great content and suggestions as to what they haven’t found or seen yet. I noticed early on that the majority of Tweets using the #conexpoconagg hashtag were being used by media and vendors. The media was providing news but only a few smart firms understood how to serve the show’s target audience – contractors and aggregate buyers.

ConExpo iPhone and Android App Powered by CumminsSmart Firm #1: Cummins has advertising that’s smart. They provided the ConExpo App for the iPhone, Android and other smartphone users. It has maps, events and more which serves the attendees well, helping navigate through the huge volume of exhibitors and educational opportunities.

Smart Firm #2: Forcontractorpros.com looked at how they could serve everyone and has the daily recap of the Las Vegas Tourism and Convention Center Channels 6-10 am broadcast of what’s happening at the show 24/7. You can’t go wrong with news and great content that feeds the appetite of the construction industry.

Smart Firm #3: Ok, it’s me. I’m making this a teachable moment. If you don’t use Twitter, here are selected tweets from @carolhagen during the first two days that you probably wish you had read sooner:

Watch #conexpoconagg on the Las Vegas Tourism & Conv Ctr Channel, 6-10 am in your hotel room or 24/7 at http://bit.ly/eZvpqO

Anyone at #conexpoconagg looking for the best place to watch March Madness while in Vegas? Here you go http://bit.ly/f4Ehat

The oldest machine on display at #conexpoconagg http://bit.ly/gWWToP via @DoctorDiesel | That beats my ’29 Packard #aec

If you’re in technology @TomSawyerENR will be @ McGraw-Hill’s booth S-10519 @ 1pm today #conexpoconagg http://bit.ly/ezgXYv

Your first day at #conexpoconagg and own an iPhone? Grab the ConExpo App off iTunes – Maps, Events and More #aec Thanks @cummins

What associations are exhibiting at #conexpoconagg in Vegas? http://bit.ly/fUZHJ8 – NAWIC missing :(

Great photo, gives good sense of Conexpo construction equipment displays scope http://t.co/0KbSqC0 via @AGCofA #conexpoconagg

Have you seen the “I Make America” booth GL 3221 #conexpoaggexpo via @JanTuchman | Video http://www.am.org/ #aec

After #conexpoconagg tonight you might want to check out “Best of Vegas 2010″ http://bit.ly/h3O2Vc (2011 venues out March 27)

Have you been to the John Deere Chatterbox at #conexpoconagg? http://bit.ly/hCTC5Y Going social in construction #aec

The iPad giveaways are in full bloom at #conexpoconagg http://bit.ly/gJfTsR Other good prizes http://bit.ly/g4txGc

Free WiFi in Vegas near #conexpoconagg Maps of Starbucks http://bit.ly/hXU5An and other hotspots http://bit.ly/fp9zck

For those tweeting at ConExpo, it is my sincere hope you notice that these Tweets aren’t selling my products or services. It is all giving away information that real people, enjoying ConExpo might find valuable. A few were sharing interesting tweets from others. You can’t sell anything to someone that doesn’t like you and trust you first! That’s Sales 101 right? So how come so many vendors are just blasting out “come see me” …it’s like a shouting match for airspace. They’d do better if they tweeted about the booth next to them. Sharing is caring.

The construction industry is moving into social media but their skills aren’t yet tuned to the etiquette of the tools or the construction Tweeter (yet). Knowing that Twitter is underutilized (as 14% of the US population has a Twitter account), it is best to share this in a more traditional manner… Blogging, to reach the whole construction audience. A recap of sorts from one social media tool to another…to wet your Twhistle (that’s a Twitter whistle). Should I do something similar on the use of Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn? Let me know. And please follow me @carolhageon Twitter.

Social Media Policy or Police? September 30, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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Social Networking PoliceSocial Media Policy is a hot topic for most businesses. The larger the enterprise the greater the impact on the IT infrastructure. Bandwidth bottlenecks can occur quickly with employees all viewing YouTube, Vimeo and Viddler videos simultaneously. Reports on the reduction in employee productivity at work will lead you to believe that social media is a waste of time and that there’s no reason to be in Facebook on business time. Security issues are also a concern with the proliferation of social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that offer apps, chat and email functions. So what should a company do?

Begin a Dialogue with Your Employees
Don’t just lock everyone out of everything! This reactionary approach will make your firm look like a dinosaur to your team as well as your customers. I’ve seen this implemented at large publicly held construction companies and I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot by locking out everyone with URL filtering. Determine which employees and social media applications can contribute to your company brand, market reach and customer relationships. Ask your marketing, communications and sales people including anyone involved with customer relationship management or customer support for their input. Check out your competitor’s website to see what social media applications and tools they are using. Often you’ll see a few icons listed somewhere on their site, an invitation to connect in the sidebar of a blog or perhaps an RSS feed of their social activity.

Establish a Social Media Policy
Start with defining what is acceptable and unacceptable when using social media sites as you do for email and cell phone usage. Yes, your Legal and Information technology teams will probably influence (scare) you enough that risk tolerance decisions will need to be made. My favorite book for addressing social media policy is The e-Policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn. You may have already decided that “we only allow LinkedIn”, period. Think again. The most popular Business to Business (B2B) network by far in the United States is LinkedIn and they’ve just added the ability to display Twitter feeds and blog posts on the Company Profile. Since blog posts often have videos embedded in articles, you may have just policed yourself into not being able to view your own marketing materials.

Get the IT Department on Board
With budget cuts across the board, IT is trying to do everything without spending money and often takes the “lock down” approach as the only thing they can do with the tools they currently have. Perhaps you should consider budgeting for new equipment, particularly firewalls that address social media. It’s not good enough anymore to rely on old technology. Traditional firewalls rely on port and protocol to classify traffic, allowing tech-savvy applications and users to bypass them with ease; hopping ports, using
SSL, sneaking across port 80, or using non-standard ports. It may be time to have your network traffic analyzed for applications, users and content, you need to know what bandwidth is used by social media and have a way to monitor and enforce your policies effectively. The Interface2010 Technology Symposium has this topic covered and while I attended the Scottsdale, AZ event last week, you can still catch them in a few other US cities this year.

We’re in the process of scheduling a webinar to help educate business owners and their IT departments on social media policy, monitoring and network security. If you’d like to receive a webinar invitation, be interested in a network audit or have questions, please ask us by posting a comment. Please share this with your business partners, IT friends, and customers.

Social Media Safety Meeting Minute May 3, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, records retention, twitter, web 2.0.
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The idea of a Safety Meeting in a minute is a great idea, which I must thank Tim Greene of Networld for sharing in a PCWorld article yesterday. What’s different if you haven’t figured it out is this is not your typical construction site safety meeting. We’re talking about Internet Safety and I believe the idea is fantastic.

The premise is if you had to take a 1-minute internet safety lesson before being allowed access to the Internet your employees would recognize just how important it is to protect their identity and the electronic information contained within the company. The article mentions many of the popular social media sites but doesn’t give you 10 lessons to kick start the idea. So why not make this blog post a place for everyone to share their ideas…and build a 100 or more “lessons”? I’m extending this to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too (as I believe a 140 character tip will ensure the time constraint of keeping it to one minute).

Safety Tips

To get us started, here are a few of my one minute safety tips:

  • Know your company’s policy on Social Media use (Write a corporate policy on Social Media)
  • Make all your passwords more than one word in length and include at least one number
  • Never write (post) anything you wouldn’t want your mom or your boss to read (or see)
  • Text Messages from your Blackberry are “discoverable” so think of them as business emails
  • If you blog independently of work, make sure it is understood the contents are not the opinions of a past, current or future employer, but only that of the blogger’s
  • If you post while at work to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn make sure it is work or industry related (see corporate policy)
  • Never open attachments or click hyperlinks from people you don’t know and trust
  • Now that you get the idea, let’s hear your one minute (or less) lessons and Tips. I promise to share them with you all!

    3 Social Media Twitter Tools I Recommend for Construction January 18, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter.
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    The construction industry is known as a technology laggard, but not all construction companies take a wait and see approach. In the social media realm, many contracting firms have decided to get involved early, primarily being driven by the business development and marketing folks. They want to use LinkedIn to further develop their contact base and find prospects hiding in the contacts of their associates. Linkedin is the public version of customer relationship management (CRM) for B2B and for some, the only computer-based CRM available.
    What really astounds me is the misunderstanding of what social media brings to the table. Smaller firms are more nimble at embracing these technologies and still Twitter is the most underutilized tool in the bunch. Twitter seems to have an identity crisis when you talk with construction CFOs, CEOs and CIOs. Now that Google, Bing and Yahoo are searching tweets, Twitter should become part of your search engine optimization strategy at least.  

    Here are the 3 most useful social media twitter tools for construction, or for that matter any business:

    1. Blogging. Once a week someone at your firm must have something they could share that could help: Establish your brand, identify a new business niche, further the relationship with a client, improve the communications with your suppliers or empower your employees.  Why not blog about it and establish yourself as an expert!  Blogging will  assist in attaining higher search engine rankings and gives you the ability to create a unique voice.  Why is this a Twitter tool?  Because when you publish your blog article it should immediately post to Twitter.
    2. Twitterfeed or Feedburner.  Feedburner has been around the longest and was aquired by Google long ago.  They recently added the Socialize function to “push” your blog posts to the Twitterverse automatically.  It doesn’t have some of the reporting options that Twitterfeed does, but I suspect that will arrive shortly.
    3. TweetBrand.  I was so impressed I became an affiliate of theirs.  What it does is further your branding within your tweets.  There’s a timeline entry for every tweet that says how it was posted (via Twitter, Ping, Tweetdeck, LinkedIn, etc).  What if instead it had your company name that hyperlinked to your company website or URL of your choice? 

      Stop giving away your Tweet Real Estate

    For the B2B and B2C (Business to consumer) Facebook is also something to consider.  If the AGC of America, Turner Construction and ENR all have Facebook pages you’d think that there must be value there right?  As a social media strategist it still surprises me that so few construction  firms have even tried to dabble with social media tools. 

    Perhaps you think social media is a waste of time, that your employees would lose productivity, that there are only teenagers out there using Twitter to “instant message” their friends.  But social media can be used for much more.  What are your favorite tools?  Can’t wait to hear your comments. 

    Why not try out TweetBrand and tell me if your like it as much as I do.

    LinkedIn and TweetDeck Together at Last December 7, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    My workshops have been attended by construction firm execs, IT and marketing personnel, and we have spent plenty of time discussing Tweetdeck and Twitter.  LinkedIn was already being used by every student in the class.  Now we all need to take advantage of the recent upgrade to TweetDeck (v0.32.1).  TweetDeck has just added LinkedIn accounts to make it easy for you to view LinkedIn updates in your own personalized column…a one stop shop.  Here’s how to get this working.  Under your TweetDeck settings, choose accounts and add your LinkedIn info:

    Once you have that done, you can add your own LinkedIn column based upon your preferences.  From TweetDeck click on the add column button and select the LinkedIn icon.  You can decide what items to include like recommendations, connections, status updates, etc.  Here are your choices so you can be a smarter, more efficient listener:

    Now that you are listening, have you tried out the Twitter options on LinkedIn?  I blogged about it a few weeks back.  Read it here if you missed it.  Now have you all considered using Twitter (or some other microblogging application) for your company press releases?

    Share Tweets with LinkedIn Connections (even if they don’t have Twitter) November 20, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter.
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    There’s a new application available in LinkedIn called Tweets. This does more than just the plain add your Twitter account and tweet at the same time you update your LinkedIn status.  It give you access to your Twitter followers and their tweets from within LinkedIn.  You can retweet and reply to your tweets too. 

    But these are not the gems of the application.  What I really like is if your LinkedIn connections don’t have Twitter you can directly share the tweet message with them.  It doesn’t even have to be your own tweet.   Just click share and then pick your LinkedIn connection to compose a message.  It will default to the subject “Interesting Tweet Found in LinkedIn Tweets”  and put the tweet in the body of the message. 

    Now go try it out and tell me how you like it!

    I’ve been Beta’d by Twitter November 11, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I was pleased to see a notification this morning on my Twitter account that I believe will be valuable to all the listeners in the Twitterverse.  Here’s a screen shot of the Retweet To Share Tweets (Beta):RetweetToShareTweets

    I think Twitter got this one right.  If I want to know what my followers are really interested in, it should be their retweets.  After all it is a call to action for their own followers and represents the groundswell of our followers reach too.  What better way to understand the value of content than from our followers.  This is a keeper as far as I’m concerned.  Now will this feature be incorporated into some of the popular aggregators like TweetDeck?  How do you decide when to retweet?

    LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry August 19, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, linkedin, twitter, web 2.0.
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    Yesterday I presented the seminar “LinkedIn, Twitter and Web 2.0 for the Construction Industry” at the American Subcontractors Association Arizona Chapter office. While well attended, I found the majority to be in the same boat as most B2B firms… still trying to understand just what Social Networking is all about and how these tools could impact their business.

    Interestingly enough, one attendee was from a Lien Service and was successfully using LinkedIn for locating people that had stiffed their suppliers & subs. One designated Twitterer @smallgiants came to see how they could more effectively communicate with their customers with Twitter and Blogging…I actually suggested a forum or discussion group for their clients while using a blogging tool like WordPress.org or WordPress.com to give them easier updating and flexibility. 

    The contractors present all had the “generation gap” syndrome and needed to understand that this Web 2.0 stuff is not a fad it is about a method of communication that creates a conversation. These conversations can be with employees, customers and vendors but depending upon your strategy you should focus on one group of people at a time in deploying any web 2.0 tools.  Another consideration before jumping in is addressing your e-policy to include such things as disclaimers on any employees “freelance” blogging as it is likely they have you listed as their employer.  If you haven’t created an e-policy yet I recommend “The e-POLICY Handbook” by Nancy Flynn.

    Every construction firm should have their company profile on LinkedIn and at least a few employees, particularly business development and human resources connected to LinkedIn.  It is where unemployed construction talent has posted their resume, and it’s where savvy entrepreneurs are recruiting.  This morning I received my weekly update from the McGraw-Hill Construction LinkedIn Group and a discussion post included an 8 page summary of Jim Collin’s book “Good To Great” and applying it’s study and conclusion to the business of construction contracting.  I guess this just reiterates the message of my seminar, to get started you must first listen to people, then determine your objectives to create a web 2.0 strategy before you pick all the technology for a full court press of embrasing E2.0 or web 2.0 tools. 

    Have you started a web 2.0 project?  I’d like to hear about your experiments, challenges, and success stories.  Leave a comment or contact me directly.

    Construction Industry Slow to Adopt Twitter August 12, 2009

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, twitter, web 2.0.
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    I was speaking with the CFO of a highway heavy contractor recently and he thought that Twitter was a waste of time. Of course this gentleman was over 50 and thought that tweets were just going to be more spam being delivered to his phone or email. Isn’t this the conception you have of Twitter?

    There are 8 Things You Need to Know About Twitter and Business according to John Mancini, president of AIIM International.   Twitter is more than instant messaging because it has a world wide reach.  You need to keep your business purpose in mind and understand the use of hashtags when using this web 2.0 tool.  There are some contracting firms getting their feet wet, and using a twitter account like Leobuild that posts press releases and some news in hopes of driving traffic to the Leopardo website.  So while I haven’t found a construction firm hugging the tweetdeck wholeheartedly, but how ’bout an A/E firm? 

    HOK, a prominent architectural firm launched HOK life last year using blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more. It’s more about extending the conversatation. They tweet about HOK media coverage, employee’s accomplishments, project stories, publications, new hires and more. They are branding their firm as “the best firm to work for” and a place where new technology is embraced.  They build links between tweets & blogs, pulling you into the conversation and encouraging discussions, improving relationships and personalizing their firm.   Their employees use these tools during work hours, their purpose is clear and their company rules are few.  Do you think they have talent chasing them?

    Twitter is just one of the web 2.0 tools out there that is underutilized by the construction industry.  In my efforts to educate contractors I use Twitter and LinkedIn to announce seminars and other events including an upcoming  Lunch N’ Learn entitled, “Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Networking/Social Media in the Construction Industry”  at the American Subcontractors Association office in Phoenix on August 18th. 

    Are you interested but can’t attend in person?  There will be a webinar announced in the near future.  I’d also be interested in contracting firms that are using web 2.0 tools extensively in the USA.  I welcome the comments.

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