Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Kaplan’s top priorities are the health and safety of employees, students, customers, and the community. If you have individual concerns, please visit our FAQ page ».

Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

How to Build a Network for Your New Contracting Company

Image of people connecting

Written by: Holly Welles, The Estate Update

Published: May 7, 2020

Networking is a valuable tool for any business starting out, regardless of industry. For contracting companies and those trying to find their niche in the construction industry, however, it’s an essential piece of your marketing tool belt.

If your contracting organization is just starting out, you may be wondering how you can build a network of leads for your company. This article will show you a few tactics for making contacts in the industry and demonstrate why it’s vital to start making those connections early and often.

How to Network for Your New Contracting Business

Attend Trade Shows

Trade shows are one of the best places to start your networking journey as a new company. Even if you're not running a booth or a display at the show, it can be an excellent place to talk to other like-minded individuals and those working in the same sector. Some of the top annual events include the Associated Builders and Contractors Convention in Nashville and ENR FutureTech in San Francisco. Most communities also host regional trade shows for people involved in the building trades.

Try not to go into the trade show with the mindset of, "I need to network." Attend with the goal of talking to some new people and making a first impression. That's networking in a nutshell.

Don't Burn Bridges

If you end a professional relationship with someone, it's tempting to burn the bridge. In networking, burning bridges is the last thing you want to do. A former professional relationship might give you the tools to connect with someone else in the future. You never know when you might need to rely on an old connection, and rebuilding a burnt bridge is more difficult than repairing a neglected one.

Use Business Cards

Never underestimate the power of a well-placed and well-constructed business card. Your card should include a link to your website, your organization's tagline, and plenty of white space. This advice might seem like common sense, but even in the age of the digital phonebook, a business card is going to be your best tool for connecting with other people you meet out on the street, on the job, or at trade shows.

Handing someone your business card means you're giving them a way to stay in touch with you. Exchanging cards, even with someone you just met in a coffee shop, is often the first step toward networking. It sounds simple, but don't underestimate the good you can do with a smart business card.

Network on the Job

When contracted to complete a task, the chances are high you're not going to be the only professional on the job site at any given time. In addition to creating a word-of-mouth reputation as someone who does good work, this is the perfect opportunity to network with your peers. Get to know the other contractors on the job, and add them to your connections. From there, they may introduce you to other people in their network, which helps you grow your own.

There might not be a lot of time for socializing on a construction site, but don't overlook the opportunities you have. If you don't have time for a conversation, exchange business cards, and continue your discussion another day.

Try Online Tools

We live in a digital age and that means you don't have to stick to in-person networking. While it's easier to create a carefully crafted first impression face-to-face, it's not always necessary when you have online tools like LinkedIn.

Online networking tools won't replace in-person networking. Still, they can be a valuable way to connect with like-minded companies around the globe you might never get a chance to encounter during the course of your daily life.

Networking Can Happen Anywhere

The most important thing you can remember when you're building your contracting company network is that connections don't always have to happen in a professional setting. You can network anywhere, from a trade show or a jobsite to the coffee shop where you get your morning caffeine fix. It's just a professional conversation, and you don't need to be at work for that.

Open your mind, and your ears, and you might be surprised at how many networking opportunities you encounter during your daily routine.