Trades Networking: Pounding the Pavement Still Has Merit

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While the trades industry is most definitely evolving into a more accessible and technology-centered organism, at the same time it is still undeniably rooted in the tactile and “hands-on” approach that has been passed down through generations.

Though there is much to be gained by familiarizing yourself with the online trades world, and seemingly limitless avenues to pursue once you learn to navigate the channels and resources available, you simply cannot overlook the fundamental value of that good old-fashioned hand shake. Because the trades industry is one of constant change with a wide range of participants, projects can be extremely diverse and stretch out over long periods of time.

As we all know, construction is done in stages; this means that, depending on your trade, there are various stages where you can visit a job site in person to make introductions, hand out your company information, and hopefully do some networking, for both that particular project as well as potential future projects.

One of the best things about the construction industry is that projects are often hard to miss, particularly new residential construction and commercial tenant improvements. Are you a flooring installer?  Do you see a new home going up with a sign on the perimeter fence identifying the general contractor?  Are they only in the framing stages?  Go to the site and introduce yourself.

Take a walk through your local shopping center, and you will likely find at least one retail store with a hoarding in front of its doors, and construction going on behind them. Check out the job site and find out who is in charge, and ask questions.

Have they secured a company for your particular trade yet and if so does that group need an extra hand with this or other projects?  Is this store a chain that’s renovating multiple locations in succession?

Many of these projects are in constant flux because of budget and design evolution. Clients increase budgets, change their minds, run into problems along the way (oops- we didn’t know we had dry rot behind the sink…now we don’t just need a plumber we need a drywall restoration company), and thus create many opportunities for you to get your business card in the mix.

Don’t underestimate the value of your presence and an in-person handshake.  You may not always find immediate work from these impromptu site visits, but you will have broadened your client network and potentially set yourself up for projects in the future.

So, grab a stack of business cards and get out there!  Best of luck!

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