Build success via relationships

A business’ success does not rely solely on its experienced engineers or research reports. Relationships with individuals are vital to business development and professional advancement.


One of the better perks of working in this profession is having the opportunity to meet with people from around the world. As of Aug. 1, I’ve visited the following places in 2014: New York City; Orlando, Fla.; Silver City, N.M.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Eden, Wis.; the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao); Germany (several cities, including Frankfurt and Cologne); Las Vegas; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Las Vegas (again); and various locations all around Chicago, which is where our offices are based.

Not all of this travel is connected to work, unless I can somehow find an excuse to write off snorkeling on Bonaire and hiking in the Gila National Forest. But it is all connected to meeting people. It’s the people who make things exciting, who teach me in many forms, and who keep me on my toes. The connections made at each conference and expo or in each personal meeting drive home the fact that it’s the interpersonal relationships we build that really make the difference.

Case in point: In recent data collected from the Consulting-Specifying Engineer audience, 80% of you said the most valuable source for obtaining information is colleagues and peers. And 61% of respondents to a recent survey indicated that a personal visit from a sales representative was the best way to receive information about new products and services.

Each of the 2014 MEP Giants firms also chalk up some of their success to relationships. Without key connections to architects, building owners, and professional partners, these 102 firms wouldn’t be as successful as they are. Projects cannot simply be inked via research or reports (though those are key ways to develop business); it’s the relationship cultivated with an individual at another firm that seals the deal.

So while e-mail, social media, and conference calls may seem efficient and the best way to conduct business, they’re not necessarily the most successful way to make a connection. Face-to-face contact really reinforces the point, and phone calls or video conferencing are a close second.

That said, I invite you to meet with me personally the next time you’re in the Chicago area, or traveling to a conference or education session. My upcoming travel includes: 2014 MEP Giants and 2014 40 Under 40 awards dinners in Chicago in September, Greenbuild in New Orleans in October, and a host of travel dedicated to specific projects or clients. And if you happen to run into me while I’m traveling for the pure fun of travel, feel free to say "hi."

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