12 “Great” Reasons to Give a GO Decision for an RFP

In her experience as a marketer and business developer with BRPH, Lindsay Diven has listened to hundreds of pitches as to why an RFP should be pursued. In her blog originally posted to Marketers Take Flight, Lindsay shares twelve of the most common arguments made in favor of an RFP’s pursuit.

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I have sat in hundreds of Go/No-Go decision meetings and reviewed just as many Go/No-Go submission forms over my decade in this industry. While they bring good discussion and heated debates, there has been a theme to the pleas I get from Project Managers, Business Developers and Principals as to why we should spend time and resources chasing RFPs. Below are about a dozen of the most common pleas I have received over the years.

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“Great” Reasons to Pursue an RFP

  1. It will get our name in front of the client.
  2. We have a project that is similar in scope.
  3. The procurement officer asked us to submit.
  4. We live in the city (county, area or school district).
  5. Our lead architect or project manager went to that school.
  6. The submittal is not much effort.
  7. We can use the exact proposal we submitted last time.
  8. A teaming partner brought this project to us. We don’t want to jeopardize the relationship.
  9. Work is awarded in a rotation. If we don’t submit we will get skipped.
  10. It’s our turn to win one.
  11. We need to get our foot in the door.
  12. We did one project with this client (although it was 10 years ago and no one who worked on it is still at your firm).

Of course, these are not good reasons to submit a proposal. Needless to say that if they are using these reasons, they haven’t positioned your firm and team properly. However, they are sometimes used and the marketer is left getting overturned.

Has this happened to you?

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Have you heard others that are even “better”?

-Lindsay Diven

What do Nora Jones and Rap Music Have To Do With AEC Marketing?

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Who inspires you? Who do you look up to? Is there someone you’d like to be in five years?

My biggest professional inspirations are two beautifully and talented women, who are taking the Central Florida AEC marketing world by its reigns. Carrie Davis of Hensel Phelps and Alycia Pollock of H.J. High Construction are SMPS SUPERwomen! Carrie is currently the President-Elect for SMPS Central Floridaand Alycia is the Director of Communications for SMPS CFL. Both are extraordinary ladies who are dedicated to their profession and also to the AEC community. They care about the people they work with, they even take newbies under their wing (like myself) and mentor them through this crazy, fun business.

I got the chance to ask them some questions about themselves, their marketing experience and they shared some advice for new and fellow marketers.

Favorite part of working in the AEC industry?

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The beautiful Alycia Pollock

AP: What I love most about our industry is knowing about the developments that shape our community before most people. It’s like being in on a very exciting secret! So often developers come to architects, engineers or contractors with an idea that our teams get to bring to life. Those ideas go on to be iconic Central Florida establishments like Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Amway, the Orlando City Stadium, SunRail, theme parks and so many more places that our community lives their lives in.

 

Do you listen to any podcasts or read any blogs that you think others in our industry could benefit from?

AP: Yours! J

CD: I enjoy both podcasts and blogs. My top three are…

  1. Communiqueso – https://communiqueso.com/
  2. Help Everybody Everyday – http://www.helpeverybodyeveryday.com/
  3. Circle S Studios – http://circlesstudio.com/blog/tag/aec-marketing/

Any trade secrets or tips?

AP: Proofread, proofread, proofread! Typos look lazy.

CD: Something that has helped be tremendously is keeping lists and prioritizing things on those lists. Having a game plan or plan of attack for everyday is a huge time saver and you will surprise yourself with how much more efficient you become.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally and how did you overcome it?

AP: Being a woman in the AEC industry is difficult. Our generation has a lot that past generations didn’t but the unfortunate truth is that women still have to fight for respect in a predominately male-filled industry. I’m a big advocate for women in business removing “just” and “sorry” from their vocabulary. Don’t accept disrespect. Take your seat at the table and speak up. If the firm you’re working for has a problem with that – find another firm.

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The gorgeous Carrie Davis

CD: By nature, I am not an outgoing person. So being in the Marketing Industry was a strange choice of profession for me. When I would walk into a room full of people my first inclination was to hide in a corner somewhere and hope no one noticed me. It was a struggle of mine long before I even started in the A/E/C industry. When I started at my first job in the industry my boss at the time saw this in me and I am sure that is why I was “volun-told” to join SMPS. Which scared the heck out of me but ended up being the biggest blessing. Slowly, but surely, I gained confidence in myself and my fears disappeared. Get engaged, put yourself out there, be vulnerable and you will reap the rewards tenfold.

What do you look for in a Marketing/BD/Communications coworker?

AP: In any coworker I look for someone I respect, can learn from and can laugh with.

CD: Trust. You can have the most technically savvy co-worker in the entire world but if you can’t trust them nothing else matters.

What’s something you do to help you get in work mode? 

AP: Starbucks Tea Latte (soy) and gangster rap.

CD: I have several different habits when I need to really focus on something but the one that remains constant is music. I turn on iTunes Radio and choose a station depending on what I am in the mood for, usually some variety of country music, Nora Jones, or John Mayer.

How do you keep yourself motivated and engaged?

AP: For me to stay engaged, I have to remember to disengage periodically. Take walks to break up the day. Keep a book handy and read a couple pages every now and then. Use your vacation time! It’s all about perspective.

Favorite event you’ve attended?

AP: I think my favorite event hasn’t happened yet. The SMPS Central Florida AEC Art Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art in August 2016 is going to be one for the books!

Advice to someone new to the industry?

AP: Join SMPS! Find your people. There will be others like you that want to get involved and grow. Find them, befriend them, and before you know it you’ll be vacationing together and find them to be in all your photos. There’s also a good chance you and your people will be the next generation of SMPS Central Florida leadership.

CD: I couldn’t narrow it down so here are my top four tips to someone new to the industry:

  1. Ask Questions.
  2. Be a sponge – soak it all up!
  3. Find a Mentor.
  4. Get involved on a committee.

 

-Courtney Franklin, Marketing Strategist

Graduating from the Default-Setting

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The emergence of groups of interns in our offices marks the beginning of a new season—it’s graduation season and the time has come for high-school and college students alike to don their caps and gowns and prepare to walk across a stage to lay hands on a long-sought piece of paper marking the successful completion of their formal education. Before this ceremonial conclusion can occur, these students, along with their friends and families in attendance, will listen to a commencement speech likely filled with lines of inspiration, noting the students’ accomplishments and looking ahead toward a bright future of boundless opportunity. This past weekend I listened to such a speech while attending my cousin’s high-school graduation in Lakeland, Florida. The speaker who addressed my cousin’s class admitted to not remembering a single word of the commencement speech from his own graduation and acknowledged that these students were unlikely to remember his words in the years to come. Aside from this admission—I don’t recall anything this speaker said, nor do I remember who spoke at my own high-school graduation or what presumably encouraging messages he or she shared. However, a particular graduation speech, delivered by one of my favorite authors to Kenyon College’s graduating class of 2005, and subsequently shared online, has stuck with me since I first heard the words spoken in a video on YouTube.

In his address to Kenyon College’s graduating seniors, David Foster Wallace shared a message that, while not inspirational or all that encouraging, is extremely important nonetheless. Wallace spoke to these seniors about the monotony of day-in, day-out living: the tedious, oftentimes boring routine of adult life that most of us are all too familiar with and graduating seniors have yet to experience. Upon completing our education and entering the “real world,” we experience an existence in which we wake up, drive to our challenging jobs, work a long day, drive home, make dinner, clean up, and get ready to repeat the whole thing over—over anAverage Adult Dayd over and over again, while somehow finding time to buy groceries, clean the house, take care of the kids, hit the gym, go to the dentist, service our cars, etc. Throughout this routine of everyday living we place ourselves at the constant center, and this self-centered approach that Wallace calls our “default-setting” has us automatically programmed to view those around us as being in our way. In this tedious existence, the petty frustrations brought upon us by the people we encounter too often stand in the way of our happiness.

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How often do petty frustrations form a roadblock to your pursuit of happiness? How often do these annoyances occur in your work, affecting your productivity and job satisfaction? Our jobs are challenging, and we will all encounter computer or printer problems, late nights in the office, difficult clients, feeling unappreciated, dirty dishes in the break room, or those people who don’t read your e-mails, have loud and obnoxious personal conversations when you’re trying to focus, or make you cringe when you catch them clipping their finger- or toenails at their desk. Decide.pngWhile these grievances are an inevitable circumstance of work life, the way we respond to them, Wallace asserts, is entirely our decision.
In every instance we have the ability to operate apart from our “default-setting” that automatically pits others against us and holds life’s irritations to be great injustices. Instead we can acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe. We can approach others from a place of compassion and understanding, even when we find them rude, obnoxious, or cringe inducing.

While this may seem like moral advice, it isn’t. This call for a greater awareness in our thinking is a means of navigating life’s waters so that petty problems are pacified in our minds before they become infuriating. It is a disciplined effort that we can choose to not become bogged down by the monotony of day-to-day life and the unavoidable frustrations that come with it. Our personal happiness, our satisfaction in life and in our work, hinges on our willingness to reach beyond our automatic, “default” way of thinking, and open ourselves to a more conscious, controlled way to address problems as they occur.

Wallace’s message was not the typical inspirational speech most of us have come to expect from a graduation commencement. While he may not have left the Kenyon College graduating seniors feeling encouraged to take on the world, he nevertheless provided the students with an important message, a message that applies not only to young professionals entering the “real world” for the first time, but those of us who have lived the reality of adult monotony day after day, year after year. Wallace’s words have stuck with me longer than those spoken at my own graduation commencement, and will likely stay with me longer than any future graduation speech I hear, while serving as a constant reminder that the way I think about life’s petty frustrations and how they affect me is entirely my decision to make.

-Michael Porter, Marketing Coordinator
PCL Construction Services

Referenced speech / video:

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfw2Qf1VfJo

 

SMPS Member Spotlight | Scott Nichols, CPSM

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Meet Scott

Scott Nichols is a Senior Graphic Designer and Animator for Brasfield & Gorrie. Scott has over 15 years of experience designing and implementing marketing, branding, and graphic communication strategies. He constantly looks for innovative ways to implement and apply new technologies to A/E/C marketing pursuits and client communications. In addition to a solid foundation in graphic design, motion graphics, 3d printing, and animation, Scott’s background is in organizational communication, which encompasses corporate communication, message development, marketing, public relations and branding.

Fun Facts about Scott:

If you could trade places with one person for a day,  who would it be and why?

Toss-up between Sir Jonathan Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple and Bruce Mau of Bruce Mau Design and the Massive Change Network. Both have a keen sense of design and both have been successful in raising awareness of the use of design to solve business and social problems.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?  

So far… Paris, France… in the future, possibly Kauai.

Your greatest extravagance?  

Anything that enriches my daughter’s life.

Which of your personal attributes has made you most successful in your career?  

Sedulity.

What’s one question you always ask a potential employee?  

What was/has been your most rewarding career experience?

What’s your favorite Central Florida restaurant and why? 

Hawkers.  Great food… great concept

Your most interesting deal? 

P3 Proposal for the New Long Beach Courthouse.  Managing the proposal production for a 2,000 page submission, including 7 binders, a custom telescoping box, 30 large format design boards and 10 full size sets of drawing. The submission had to be shipped on a shipping palette.

One thing you’d teach someone in your industry? 

The importance of storytelling in marketing.

Best lesson from a mentor? 

You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.

Your worst subject? 

Victorian Literature

Favorite book?  

Good to Great by Jim Collins

One thing you wish everyone knew about your job?  

Design thinking is a tool for solving business problems… just look at Apple. Design-driven companies outperform S&P by 228% over ten years – THE ‘DMI DESIGN VALUE INDEX’

 

Spring Ahead Speakers: Tim Asimos and Cyndi Gundy

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Our mission is to help SMPS Central Florida members grow in their careers through education, skill development, and fostering relationships with other industry professionals. This Thursday marketers are invited to attend a full day education event, Spring Ahead, at the Lake Mary Westin. This year’s speakers will deliver key messages to give members the tools they need to BE MORE educated, skilled, informed, and connected.

Our first two speakers will be Tim Asimos and Cyndi Gundy.

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Tim Asimos, CPSM :The Evolution of the Modern Marketer: Critical Skills Needs to Remain Relevant Now and in the Future

Tim Asimos, CPSM is Vice President and Director of Digital Innovation at circle S studio, a strategic marketing and design agency where he helps A/E/C firms grow in today’s increasingly chaotic digital landscape. Tim leads the online marketing team to develop innovative strategies in web development, content marketing and online lead generation. His unique approach is based on more than a decade of previous experience in corporate B2B and A/E/C marketing—placing him in the same seat as many of circle S studio’s clients.

Tim is a syndicated blogger and frequent speaker on the topics of online marketing, lead generation, and content marketing. An SMPS Member and Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM), his A/E/C industry expertise has been featured in numerous publications, webinars, programs and conferences. He’s also a member of the American Marketing Association and is currently President of the Richmond, Virginia chapter. He holds a B.S. in Communication Studies and an M.B.A. from Liberty University.

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Cyndi Gundy: 4 Hot Topics in A/E/C Marketing for 2016

Cyndi Gundy is an award-winning Marketing Instructor at the University of Central Florida where she has taught courses in professional selling, services marketing, sports marketing and other courses in the discipline for 14 years. She is also an active business development consultant and professional development trainer, with the majority of her clients in the A/E/C industry. Cyndi assists her clients with training in the areas of business development strategy, personal selling technique and delivering strong presentations. A longtime member of the Central Florida Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, Cyndi has the privilege of serving as the faculty advisor for their 80+ member student chapter.

Focus Forward: Experiencing the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference

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In March of this year I attended the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference, Focus Forward where I had the pleasure of meeting wonderful marketing professionals from cities through the southeast. In between enjoying the offerings of our host city, Charleston, South Carolina with my new SPMS friends, from the beauty of the historic downtown to the dozens of incredible restaurants within walking distance from the Francis Marion Hotel where the conference was held (and a few too many margaritas), I attended seminars with industry experts who shared strategic methods to alter our messaging as marketers to improve our communication with clients. Three of my favorite speakers shared a similar theme in their presentations, expressing the importance of engaging clients by framing your marketing materials in a way that promotes the client and the client’s interests ahead of your own.

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Jen Hebblethwaite | Focus on Your Clients: Helping vs. Selling Storytelling

Jen Hebblethwaite is the the director of Graceworks, a company that coaches clients to form human connections through their writing and presentations. In her Focus Foward presentation, Jen urged the conference attendees to stop beginning their marketing efforts by sharing the “we-we” show. How many marketers begin to engage their audience with an “About Our Company” overview? Jen’s experience has shown that this “we-we” approach is ineffective. Clients don’t care, and what is important to the client, is the client. Begin instead by telling the “you-you” show; show you understand the client by identifying their wants and needs for their project. Determine the challenges facing the client, offer plausible solutions to the problem, and back yourself up with proof from your past successes. This approach allows you to communicate your experience and achievements, while doing so in a way that puts the client’s interests ahead of your own. You’re not selling your story to the client, you are presenting your client with helpful information to assist in meeting the client’s needs.

Wayne & Holly Paige | Video Storytelling: Marketing in the Digital Age

Wayne and Holly Paige of Wave One Group specialize in creating visual storytelling that inspires audiences through emotional connection. Wayne and Holly identify three questions to answer as the building blocks of a great story: What, How, and Why? When creating a video of your project experience, footage of end-users enjoying the space your firm created is a strong way to answer the question of “Why” your company does the work they do, while creating an emotional connection that engages your client in your work experience. Allow your project team to speak with passion about the work they do day in and day out. Use testimonials from previous clients to appeal to prospective clients, or employ corporate responsibility videos to give your audience an appreciation for the work you do to better the local community. The intent of your visual storytelling should never be to boast about your experience and capabilities. To engage your audience and earn the trust of your client, brainstorm ways to tell your story while creating an emotional connection to your viewers.

Rachael Frohardt | Elevating the Proposal Process

Rachael Frohardt is Orlando’s marketing manager for PCL Construction, the 6th largest general contracting firm in the United States. In her conference presentation, Rachael spoke from her experience managing proposals for high-profile clients like Disney and Ritz-Carlton, in what was my favorite presentation of the conference (Rachael is also my manager and my review is coming up). In a competitive construction market, proposals are a key way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Elevating the proposal process means taking the time to research and understand your client and customizing your proposal response to suit their needs. Read every word of the RFP to understand what information your client is asking for, and read between the lines to discover the concerns your client has. Engage your coworkers to determine who has worked for this client before and what their experience was like. What you uncover in your research will inform your approach to your proposal response, from the use of color and graphics to the project and personnel experience you present to the client. Standing out from the competition is a matter of demonstrating that your understanding of the client’s goals exceeds that of your competition.

Whether planning a presentation, producing a video, or creating a proposal, your job as a marketer is to put yourself in the shoes of your client. Understanding a project from the client’s perspective allows you to form your marketing materials in a way that puts the client in the spotlight. In doing so, you are able to communicate your story with finesse. Your client will listen to what you have to say because they recognize your understanding and desire to help them overcome challenges. Ultimately your client will view you as someone who they want to work with, and you will achieve more success in your pursuits.

-Michael Porter, Marketing/Communications Coordinator
PCL Construction Services, Inc.

 

Obtaining CPSM Expands Network and Opens New Opportunity

By: Lindsay Diven

In early 2013 I was working as a marketing manager in a mid-size engineering firm. It was then I decided to take the leap to study and obtain my CPSM license. From the beginning of this journey, I began to realize the CPSM’s value. I was part of the SMPS Central Florida’s CPSM Study group with a half-dozen other marketing leaders. Not only did we study together, but each session was taught another CPSM, veterans in our industry. Each of them brought with them a unique perspective of how they studied and applied the material in their roles. I formed a bond with the members of that group while studying and passing the certification. This will bond will keep us close for years to come.

Beyond just developing relationships with other marketers, studying for the exam provided me with insight into the organization and function of the business side of our firms. While I had nearly eight years of proposal experience under my belt, I wasn’t exposed to the business and strategic planning at that point. Through my reading and studying, I learned this side of the business which has helped immensely in my current role.

Upon obtaining my certification, I felt that doors opened and opportunities for career advancement presented themselves. I was contacted by several recruiters who mentioned that they were searching specifically for CPSM marketers in the Central Florida area. Later that year, I joined BRPH as their Director of Marketing and Business Development. It has been a wonderful experience as I have been able to build a marketing and business development team that includes 12 talented professionals. As I built this team, I incorporated the fundamentals of the Domains and requirements of the CPSM for Marketing Coordinator advancement.

I highly recommend anyone looking to advance their career in AEC marketing to obtain their CPSM.

Here are some of my tips to successfully pass the CPSM:

  • Join a local study group – This helped me stay accountable for my own reading even with fluctuating deadlines at work. Through this group, I also was able to build close relationships with other SMPS members outside my normal circle.
  • Purchase or Borrow all of the recommended materials – When I was going through the certification, there were about a half-dozen books. I purchased all of them and read all of the recommended reading. It seems like a lot of reading, but it really does show up on the test. (note: some of this has changed recently)
  • Dedicate time every day – It has been a while since I was in college and had to study for tests, so I was a bit rusty! It was better for me to read for 30-60 minutes each day to keep the information fresh in my head. If I missed a day or two, I felt like I was going backwards to remember what the topic was covering.
  • Schedule the test before you are ready – We all work toward deadlines. If you never actually schedule the test, you won’t ever take it. Schedule the test with enough time to study (8-10 weeks out) and then start studying. Work backwards from the deadline (similar to a proposal submission) and divide your studying. If you join a local study group, then this should be done for you!

I am available to anyone who has any questions or concerns.

I hope to see you at next year’s CPSM Celebration!


Lindsay Diven, SMPS Program Speaker

Lindsay Diven, CPSM serves as the Director of Marketing and Business Development, a Principal and Member of the Board of Directors for BRPH Architects-Engineers. She also manages the Marketers Take Flight blog, focusing on helping marketers new to the AEC industry acclimate to the proposal environment. Over the past 10 years, she has specialized in developing marketing and business development teams with emphasis on creating workable processes and accountability measures. Lindsay has been a member of SMPS since 2005 and is currently serving on the Student Chapter Committee for SMPS Central Florida and as a Chapter Liaison for SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference committee.

CPSM and Back Again – A Marketer’s Tale

By: Tim Asimos

To help promote the CPSM program, I am honored to share my journey and experience with SMPS Central Florida members. When I first started working in the A/E/C industry in 2006, I was immediately introduced to SMPS. While I was already a member of the American Marketing Association and had a business-to-business, services-oriented background, I was attracted to SMPS because of the extremely niche focus of the organization. And needless to say, right away I found a ton of value in all the resources SMPS offered: the magazine, programs, conferences and content. All of which provided me with a bit of a crash course in the nuances of the industry.

Certifications and accreditations (and the accompanying acronyms that follow your name) abound in the A/E/C industry and they absolutely elevate a professional’s status. As all A/E/C marketers can attest, gaining credibility with principals and technical staff for both your expertise and ideas can be challenging. So naturally, the CPSM program and the recognition that comes with certification greatly intrigued me. After a few years in the industry, many conversations with CPSMs from my local chapter and a discussion with Kevin Doyle of SMPS National, I decided that I wanted to pursue certification. The starting point in my CPSM journey was my annual review goal setting in 2009. I shared the details of the program with my boss (who happened to be a Professional Engineer) and made the case for why this was beneficial to both my firm and my career. He agreed to support my cause and I was challenged to sit for the certification by the end of the year.

Fortunately, my local chapter offered a CPSM study group and I immediately signed up to join several of my peers who were also looking to get certified. Looking back, joining that study group was single-handedly the best decision I made once I decided to pursue certification. The group was facilitated by a CPSM who shared her experience and advice, and each member (there were about 6 of us) was tasked with presenting on one domain for the group. This interaction with peers and the accountability that the process brought was so helpful for me. When it came time to sit for the exam, I felt VERY prepared and had the knowledge and foundation to pass the exam. After a weekend of nervousness over the results, I was informed on the following Monday that I had passed. It was both a tremendous relief, as well as a terrific sense of accomplishment. I was proud to share the news with my boss and update my email signature to include my newly minted designation. An announcement was made to my firm about my accomplishment and, while I won’t suggest that an engineering firm will ever treat CPSM to the same level as PE, it certainly raised my profile and boosted my credibility with technical staff.

Fast-forward to 2013 and I found myself working in the agency world and had let my CPSM lapse, as I initially thought that my credentials wouldn’t have too much value outside of the industry. However, the marketing agency I work for had a growing list of A/E/C clients and an expertise niche in the industry. So in an effort to capitalize on my previous industry experience and elevate my credibility as a speaker for various SMPS chapter programs, conferences and webinars, I decided to recertify. When I revisited with SMPS, I was excited to find out I had nearly all the CEUs required and was able to gather the remaining credits and recertify in a matter of days.

So why, you may ask, would I bother to pursue becoming a CPSM not just once, but twice? Simply put, the CPSM designation sends a message that the person holding it is a seasoned, knowledgeable and savvy industry marketer. When I was with my former firm, being a CPSM spoke volumes that I was no longer a newbie learning the ropes, but a veteran that was able to apply my marketing expertise to the A/E/C industry. And now that I’m a marketing consultant that travels all around the country sharing my marketing knowledge and advice with A/E/C marketers, being a CPSM gives me instant credibility with my niche audience. It very quickly says that I’ve been in the trenches, I understand what makes your job so challenging and I know what being a marketer in the industry involves.

All of this leads me to this point: if you’re a marketer working in or for the A/E/C industry, you should seriously consider becoming a CPSM. The certification process alone was so helpful to me. Add to that the raised profile and the invaluable network of fellow CPSMs I now have at my disposal, pursuing certification was really a no-brainer. So if you’re still on the fence, I HIGHLY recommend jumping in, joining a study group and putting in the study time to make it happen. You’ll never regret becoming a CPSM, but you might regret not doing it. Becoming a CPSM was an important step in my career and it can be for you as well.


Tim speaking at SMPS Central Florida 2015 2014 Spring Ahead Education Event
Tim speaking at SMPS Central Florida 2014 Spring Ahead Education Event

Tim Asimos, CPSM is Vice President and Director of Digital Innovation at circle S studio, a strategic marketing and design agency focused on helping A/E/C firms grow in today’s increasingly chaotic digital landscape. He leads the online marketing team to develop innovative strategies in web development, content marketing and online lead generation. His unique approach is based on more than a decade of experience in B2B and A/E/C marketing. An SMPS Member and Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM), his A/E/C industry expertise has been featured in numerous publications, webinars and conferences.

5 Tips on How to Make the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Profile

By: Michael Fleming

LinkedIn has often been referred as the social media tool that is very valuable, but often rarely used. Personally, I never thought anything of it. I had my profile up to date, a few recommendations, and a sizeable amount of connections, but it never appealed to me until I had to search for a job. Until I needed it, I didn’t know the true value of LinkedIn.

In order to reach the full potential of LinkedIn your profile has to be complete and up to date. A few simple tips can mean the difference between a solid profile that can lead you to a new job, or a missed opportunity. Below I have outlined several things that you can do (and continue to do) that will enable you to take full advantage of what LinkedIn has to offer.

1. PROFILE PICTURE

As one of the largest visual elements on LinkedIn, your profile picture has to grab people’s attention. It is time to hang up your college years and replace the old party profile photos of years past. Since LinkedIn gears towards professionals, your profile picture has to mirror your intended audience.
In the photo, you want to be easily recognizable and give a great first impression. Please dress professional, take the photo in a well-lit area and have fun with it. It is important to show a little personality without goofing off too much.

2. STAY CONNECTED

LinkedIn is all about connections and it is important to stay current with each connection. On occasion, or after industry events, it is important to find others on LinkedIn and keep the conversation going.

LinkedIn is also a hotbed for high-level CEOs, Companies and News Organizations that often post interesting articles. This is a perfect opportunity to stay connected with the industry and the world around us.

It is also important to keep current with your connections. People often switch jobs and meet new people, so you may never know when that information may come in handy one day.

3. JOIN GROUPS

The ability to join groups has transformed LinkedIn to become much more than just a virtual resume. Features like groups and company pages allow people to stay connected and up to date on the latest ideas and products.

Joining a group allows like-minded people to connect over a passion or company. Thanks to social media, we are seeing a shift from industry experts to more of a community of users who understand each other’s challenges and can provide relevant information. Having online groups also allow users from all across the world to connect instantly. We are no longer seeing small tribes of local people, but a worldwide community helping each other.

When applying for a job, taking a few minutes to research the company’s LinkedIn (or any other social media) profile can give you a better understanding of the company culture. Using this information in a job interview could show that you have done your research and show the company you care enough to spend a few minutes researching not just the job, but the company as well.

4. FILL OUR YOUR PROFILE COMPLETELY

The great thing about this online profile is that you can constantly update it and add information. Adding job descriptions allows people searching your resume to easily understand what the job entailed and also to give your profile more searchable key words.

In addition, adding awards and skills will round out your resume and will paint a better picture to the intended audience. Also, don’t forget to add your headline below your name. The headline is your first description that people will see when searching for you. Make sure it describes you and your current position.

5. GIVE AND RECEIVE

Lastly, start the conversation, ask questions, and keep yourself engaged on LinkedIn. The more often you start a conversation and connect with someone the more likely they will connect back with you. This is a great tool at your fingertips and it is important to keep the conversation going.

Over the past year, people have been discussing the “pay it forward” movement. It usually happens at a fast food window or a Starbucks where the person in front pays for the person behind them. I believe social media can replicate this concept as well. Pay your friends forward by giving them a recommendation, endorsement or posting an article they will like. The ability to spread information at an instant is amazing and it is our job to give the people around us the information and tools needed to better their lives.

As with other Social Media sites, your LinkedIn profile will develop over time and continue to grow the more time you put into it. Like a well-pressed suit your social media outlets have to look sharp, well groomed and professional. Take the time to put your best information online and treat this as an extension of your traditional resume.