We all need help now and then. Calling manufacturer reps or tech support usually does the trick, but often what you really need is someone to brainstorm with. But how do you find people in the industry to be your shoulder to lean on, your mentor, and/or your friend?
There are so many ways to meet people: vendor events, distributor events, CEDIA, trade publication articles, and social media. I have built some of my best relationships via social media. When I started to get involved with Crestron, I knew I needed someone to work closely with for programming, and I also wanted someone I could foresee becoming a friend and a business resource. I met Rich Fregosa of Fregosa Designs by first following him on Twitter and Facebook. Over time I started to really value his contributions and what he had to say, so I reached out to him privately and we began to develop the relationship we have today.
Rich has been invaluable in helping me grow my business. No matter how long any of us have been in business or how successful we are, getting fresh ideas and looking at our business from a different perspective is critical. Rich has helped me do that. The Source Home Theater revenues have tripled in the past year, and I owe a lot of that to Rich’s help, not only in terms of Crestron, but because of how I’ve learned to run a better business.
Another benefit to using social media is that it exposes you to everyone–clients, other integrators, decorators, designers, architects, and manufacturers. Through my extensive use of social media, I have built some amazing relationships and contacts with my manufacturing partners. They see our use of their product on jobs and give us likes and retweets, furthering our exposure. While I can’t quantify new business gained directly through social media, the bigger our exposure gets and the more we interact with manufacturers and other interested parties, the more referrals we get.
If I hadn’t been active in social media and followed Rich and if he hadn’t seen that I was someone worth keeping in touch with, this never would have happened.
Social media is not just a marketing tool to clients and other trades, it is a great way to identify people in our industry who you can relate to and who would be a great addition to your formal or informal network. Don’t just be a social media lurker, be a contributor and you’ll be amazed at the doors that will open up.