7 networking tips for construction pros

Parties full of strangers. Mega, massive, mammoth conferences. Your neighbor’s weird potluck.

Just think of the awkward moments – and handshakes – to come.

Or, consider all the wins that could happen. At that party, you meet a superstar subcontractor. You weed through the conference crowd to find one vendor who can help your business boom. That potluck you thought was going to be so weird? Yeah, there’s not one but two guests there who need homes built in the new year – just shy away from any and all grey chilis.

The reality of the situation is working a room is hard. Meeting new people is hard. Networking is just plain hard!

But it can be easier. It’s time to stop thinking, “Why did I even come to this thing?” and start saying, “Can we do this again…like now!”

We chatted with Buildertrend’s resident networking expert, Justine Petsch, HR development specialist, to learn how to expand your circle, career and contacts. Here are seven networking tips and tricks all construction pros can start using today.

Justine Petsch headshot

Justine Petsch, HR development specialist

1) Networking time is all the time

Yeah, most people don’t think of a potluck as a networking event. But who knows what magic can happen over the third batch of store-bought cookies?

As a contractor, you’re not most people. There are business opportunities everywhere and anywhere. You can always be landing new partners, new trades or even new customers. Not that we’re trying to put any more pressure on you during your next Target run …

“Every opportunity is a time to meet and network with someone,” Petsch said. “Recognize if you’re responding and representing your personal brand well.”

2) Build relationships, not referrals

Let’s face it … dating sucks. But work dating, as Petsch nicknames networking, doesn’t have to.

Just like romantic dating, work dating is really all about relationship building. (Don’t worry, the similarities end there). You’ll form a more supportive, stronger network if you don’t approach it with a quid-pro-quo mentality. People are more than just referrals, a means to an end, stepping stones.

Genuine kindness wins every time.

3) Search by service

Getting started is always the hardest part. With networking, it’s no different. If you’re new to this scene, where do you begin? How do you find those people who can take your business or career to the next level?

The easiest place is wherever your peers are. Nobody knows the struggle like those providing the same service as you. Join a home builders association. Attend trade shows like the NAHB International Builders’ Show. Form a community, not competition.

“Find other professionals in the exact same role, and then make an effort to meet those people,” Petsch said. “That’s a shared experience – even if you work at another organization. That service you provide is your commonality to start building a relationship.”

4) Trust in the power of connection karma

Connection karma is a real and powerful thing. Don’t just look to get connected, connect others along the way, too. Helping other people is just another way of building relationships. Not only does it feel good, but your generosity will likely be repaid.

The golden rule – treat others as you want to be treated – is just as applicable climbing the ladder as it is in the preschool sandbox.

5) Help yourself by helping others 

When it comes to helping others, don’t just keep it to those in your industry. Think bigger, broader, bolder! It’s time to change the world one volunteer hour at a time.

While you’re putting out all that good in the world, you’re also gaining wider contact expansion through whatever community you’re serving and your fellow volunteers. Just find something you’re passionate about then get involved. Yep, it’s that easy.

6) Be the little networker that could

Like the Little Engine, just keep repeating, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!”

Don’t give up. Don’t go into any event looking for something specific. Don’t count anybody out.

“Do keep an open mind,” Petsch said. “You might go 10 times before you land the opportunity you were looking for.”

7) Take things online

Now that we live in the world of DMs and Tweets, the gap is bridged. You can network with the likes of Oprah or Kermit the Frog. Good luck getting ’em to reply, though.

Maybe think smaller and start in your own community – although calling Kermit a personal friend would be quite “ribbiting”. When we talk digital networking, the best place to start is LinkedIn. Here’s Petsch’s quick wins for this social channel:

  • Have a complete profile. More detail solidifies you.
  • Keep things professional with your photo. Use something that gives you credibility.
  • Add people intentionally – not just anybody and everybody. Start with coworkers then build your network from there.
  • When adding someone you don’t know, give context. Don’t send blank invites. Instead, send a message with it.

Network now

You don’t have to be an extrovert to be excellent at networking. Even you shy guys (or gals) have a chance to succeed when following these pro tips.

And if we haven’t met before, we at Buildertrend would love to connect with you, too. Start expanding your social circle by reaching out to us today. We’d love to chat about your business and see what we can do for you.

We can help with everything from client relations to project management to finances. As for perfecting a chili recipe for that next potluck – you’re on your own there.