Blog Archives

Building Relationships & Momentum for the Future: Learn How To Make BD Work for You!

Building Relationships & Momentum for the Future

Learn How to Make Business Development Work for You!

February 13, 2019

Strong and effective relationships are essential to personal and business success, but how can you transform meetings and introductions into long lasting business relationships? Find out how on February 22nd from 3:30 PM- 5:30 PM at The Mattabesett Canoe Club, 80 Harbor Drive, Middletown, CT, 06457. Register to learn how to make those relationships work for you and your company’s business development.

Our guest speaker will be Julie Brown, founder of business development company JB|BD. Julie helps firms increase their market visibility and lead generation through strategic thinking and thoughtful relationship building. She is a passionate relationship builder, having spent the past 18 years building a powerhouse network, which has rewarded her with friendships and connections leading to measurable business growth for her clients. Julie believes in the power of connecting people, and is now on a mission to help professionals build their businesses by overcoming their fear of networking.

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, SMPS, nationally, represents a dynamic network of 7,000+ marketing and business development professionals from architectural, engineering, planning, interior design, construction, and specialty consulting firms located throughout the United States and Canada. The Society and its 60 chapters benefit from the support of 3,250 design and building firms, encompassing 80% of the Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firms and Top 400 Contractors.

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For further information, please contact:

Marta Dabrowski, CPSM

SMPS Communications Chair

marta.dabrowski@wsp.com

(860) 815-9424

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Event Recap: Welcome to Coach U - Teaching Presentation Skills the Graceworks Way

Carol Doscher, President and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Graceworks led the first SMPS CT program of 2019 - Welcome to Coach U: Teaching Presentation Skills the Graceworks Way. As marketing professionals, we are often faced with the challenge of successfully leading our teams during interview preparation. Carol shared her process of preparing a confident team that's ready to knock it out of the park come interview day. Top of the list was the importance of putting the client first, and focusing on 'what's going to help the listener?' as the basis for decision making through the preparation process. The attendees of our program were taken through the steps of developing compelling story boards, while making sure to address the client's main concerns. 

As coaches, it is our responsibility to accentuate the positive in our teams, and provide constructive input. To help our attendees with this task, Carol provided tips and tricks and how to address common interview mishaps and how to best utilize practice time, such as putting story ahead of graphics, and not being afraid of 'ugly rehearsals.' 

Ultimately, the key takeaways included:

  • Make it about your client
  • Strategize and develop a story before you develop the graphics
  • Practice out loud - don't be afraid of 'ugly' rehearsals 
  • Body language is key

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Teaching Presentation Skills the Graceworks Way: Join SMPS for Our First Program of 2019!

Teaching Presentation Skills The Graceworks Way

Join SMPS for Our First Program of 2019!

January 17, 2019

Are you ready to take your coaching skills to the next level? Let us teach you how to coach The Graceworks Way®. This interactive program will equip you with advanced skills to educate, motivate, and bring out the best in your presentation teams. Attendees will learn how to coach individuals and teams on their delivery, strategize and develop optimum content and lead a proven presentation preparation process, including how to help your team practice and prepare for Q&A sessions. Join us on January 23rd from 11:30 AM- 2:00 PM at The New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511. Register to learn how to take your team’s presentation skills to the next level.

Our guest speaker, President and CEO of Graceworks Carol Doscher, has trained thousands of professionals globally to make that vital human connection in sales presentations, client meetings and lectures. Featured in The New York Times and on “Bloomberg Television,” Carol also has published numerous articles on presentation and communication skills.

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, SMPS, nationally, represents a dynamic network of 7,000+ marketing and business development professionals from architectural, engineering, planning, interior design, construction, and specialty consulting firms located throughout the United States and Canada. The Society and its 60 chapters benefit from the support of 3,250 design and building firms, encompassing 80% of the Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firms and Top 400 Contractors.

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For further information, please contact:

Marta Dabrowski, CPSM

SMPS Communications Chair

marta.dabrowski@wsp.com

(860) 815-9424

 

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Are You Doing Enough To Grow Your Audience?

By Amy Graver | Elements, Principal & Creative Director | SMPS CT Member

 

To gain the full potential of the new media landscape, you must actively engage in all three media types: earned, rented and owned.

— Amy Graver

We are in the age of micromedia. This means it doesn’t take us more than a split second to decide to either engage or to change channels, keep scrolling, swipe left or close a tab. Having so many choices means
we expect more from those select few we seek out and choose to follow. But, it only takes one too many self-promotional posts, off-targeted tweets, or “all about me” messages to lose our attention forever.
The challenge isn’t getting our attention—it’s keeping it.

Here are the three types of media you need to be actively engaged with:

  1. Earned Media

Earned media is when you receive exposure on someone else’s platform—earning your way to be in front
of their audience. It is extremely difficult to gain earned media because you are at the mercy of the gatekeepers (the people who own the platform and decide who gets in and who doesn’t) and they are
not easy to get past.

Examples of earned media are speaking engagements, television appearances, events, press release mentions, an opinion post that is picked up by media sources, something you post goes viral, a great
review on something you did (art exhibit, book you wrote, etc.) or any other media exposure in general.

  1. Rented Media

Rented media, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, allows us to have a presence on their platform, but make
no mistake, we do not own our Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google, Pinterest or other rented media platforms; we are borrowing space on that company’s platform. At any moment, any social media
platform can change the rules or algorithm and limit your exposure or shut you down completely.

Think of rented media as a way to reach a much larger audience than we could reach on our own and a means to interact and engage with them—the goal being to keep their attention on you and to discover creative ways to lead them to your own stage. Examples of rented media are any social media channels
or advertising spaces.

  1. Owned Media

Owned media is the space you own on the internet that is completely yours and in your control, such as your website, blog or vlog, email list or podcast. Growing this audience is the key to mastering your online efforts because it is your stage to get out your messages that will benefit your audience—and you—directly.

Each type of media (earned, rented and owned) builds upon one another. To have a fully integrated, effective online strategy, it is critical for you to use all three.

All three types of media complement one another and, when used skillfully together, are greater than
the sum of their parts. Keep in mind that as a general rule, your goal is to lead people from earned and rented media to your owned media.

 

Building Your Audience

The strategy you should adapt is one where you are creating a compelling call-to-action (CTA) that will continuously move people from earned and rented media to your owned space—your website, blog, vlog, podcast, etc. 

These days, we are all short on time and attention spans, so you need to give something of real value to
your audience, such as sharing your expertise, insider industry knowledge, entertainment or share something helpful they could put to use.

The first step is to create a solid researched strategy and decide how your time is best spent. You should
get clear on what your goals are or you will be spending wasted time in areas that will not provide the best return on your investment. Next, answer the question of which social media channels are be the best place to reach your audience to gain and keep their attention.

Once you have your strategy, time investment and platforms nailed down, you need to work on content. Write, research, take pictures, share information and create posts that will give people a reason to engage and return again and again.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when creating compelling content to lead your audience to your owned media:

  • Does it clearly convey the value you are offering?
  • What is your prospective client gaining that is valuable? Have a clear CTA that leads them to your website to obtain a free value item. Some ideas are a video, free assessment, quiz, access to a photo gallery, a download, discount or other industry information of value to them;
  • If you are able to create emotionally engaging content, fans will share it, post about it, comment on it and thereby start engaging and paying attention to you;
  • Have an opinion;
  • Never lead with a sales pitch; creating value and generously giving away expertise will create a connection with your audience, however, selling to people over and over will drive them away, possibly for good. Focus instead on informing, entertaining, inspiring and being authentic;
  • Post consistent content;
  • Give yourself some time when you first start becoming active for people to seek you out and discover you. Monitor over time to ensure that your audience is growing. If it isn’t, it could be the platform you’re on or the content you are providing—take a hard look at each and adjust accordingly;
  • Make your headline memorable.

 

 Final Words of Advice

Don’t allow the fast-paced world of micromedia push you into rushing your written, spoken, visual or the design of your communications in a way that presents you as is anything less than professional, accurate and engaging. Taking a little extra time to ensure your message looks great and communicates perfectly is time well spent.

To summarize:

  1. Start with a researched strategic social media plan;
  2. Decide your time investment upfront and your dedication to each channel that you feel is best
    for reaching your audience;
  3. Put together a weekly / monthly / quarterly content schedule;
  4. Create engaging content;
  5. Monitor for responses and results over time;
  6. Engage daily and reply immediately with your audience;
  7. Adjust strategy, platforms, time commitment or content / topics as needed.

We look forward reading, watching, learning and being inspired by your content!

— Amy Graver | Elements, Principal & Creative Director

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Stop Being a Bad Manager

By: Gilda Bonnano

Being a manager is not easy. It requires you to mobilize your team to achieve results while helping each employee maximize his or her potential. Management communications expert and professional speaker Gilda Bonanno explains how to avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes of the bad manager.

© Gilda Bonanno

Gilda Bonanno helps you transform your communication, presentation and leadership skills so you can have more confidence, influence and success. She has worked with leading organizations, including GE, Travelers, Praxair, Assa Abloy, Wells Fargo and Yale University, on four continents from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome.

Since 2006, Gilda has delivered thousands of in-person programs, her YouTube channel has received over 1 million views and her digital newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008.

Gilda has a proven track record of partnering for results with people in a variety of industries and at all organizational levels, from C-level executives to sales teams to frontline managers.  She collaborates with them to help them lead more effectively, communicate more clearly and create and deliver more powerful and engaging presentations so they get results.

Sign up at www.gildabonanno to receive her twice-monthly newsletter for practical tips you can use to improve your communication, networking and presentation skills.

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SMPS CT Principals Program: Beyond the Plan

SMPS CT PRincipals Program: Beyond The Plan

Challenges and Solutions to Strategic Planning, Implementation, and Budget

November 19, 2018

So, you have a strategic plan, but now what? How does a firm take its plan from creation into successful implementation and execution? Join SMPS CT for our annual Principals Program—Beyond the Plan: Challenges and Solutions to Strategic Planning, Implementation and Budget—to discover best practices for avoiding common mistakes, engaging stakeholders, and measuring and monitoring your strategic plan’s progress. Gain a better understanding of the process, learn creative ways to overcome challenges, and engage leadership during this interactive session on November 28, 2018 from 8:00 AM- 10:00 AM at OFI, 28 Garfield Street in Newington, CT. For more information and registration, check out our website.

Our guest speaker, Kayla McCause, CPSM, a well-respected leader in the AEC Industry, has held a variety of leadership positions, specializing in developing and executing creative marketing and targeted business development strategies, implementation, and coaching. In her current role as a Business Development and Marketing Strategist at Dragonfly AEC Consulting, Kayla works with design and construction firms through a wide range of services, including market research, situational analysis, branding/messaging, and target pursuit strategies and implementation.

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, SMPS, nationally, represents a dynamic network of 7,000+ marketing and business development professionals from architectural, engineering, planning, interior design, construction, and specialty consulting firms located throughout the United States and Canada. The Society and its 60 chapters benefit from the support of 3,250 design and building firms, encompassing 80% of the Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firms and Top 400 Contractors.

 

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For further information, please contact:

Marta Dabrowski, CPSM

SMPS Communications Chair

marta.dabrowski@wsp.com

(860) 815-9424

Read More

Giving a Virtual Presentation? Don't "Wing It" 

by Gilda Bonanno

Whether your virtual presentation is a teleconference or webinar, it’s important that you prepare and practice it so that you can be successful.  Just showing up and “winging it” – delivering a presentation without preparation - will not work. 

One of the factors that makes a virtual presentation more challenging than an in-person presentation is that the audience can’t see you (unless you are doing a live streaming video) so you lose all the elements of body language which normally would help them understand your presentation.  All you have is your voice.

Also, you can’t see the audience to determine if they understand you or if they have any questions (or even if they are paying attention).

And technology glitches, such as a poor internet connection or static on the phone line, often occur and interfere with your ability to communicate to the audience. 

Here are 6 strategies for ensuring that your virtual presentation will be effective:

1.    Shorten your presentation.  If it normally takes you 1 hour to deliver it in person, condense your content down to 45 minutes because it is more difficult for people to pay attention virtually when they have so many other distractions.  And don’t assume it will take you 45 minutes; actually practice and time it.

2.    Have a laser-like focus on your audience and your message.  Since you can’t see the audience’s reaction, you need to be unambiguous about your purpose and state it clearly and directly in your opening.

3.    Add more variety to your voice.  A monotone voice can be deadly in a virtual presentation.  Speak louder, more slowly than usual (without speaking too slowly) and with more enunciation.  Record yourself during practice and the live presentation itself and also get feedback after the presentation.

4.    Energize your presentation.  Even if there is no one in the room where you are presenting, standing up and smiling will give your voice more dynamism and help to keep the audience’s attention.

5.    If you want audience engagement, prepare for it.  Let people know that you will call on them by name.  Or if your software has a polling or Q&A feature, learn to use it. If several people are gathered at a remote site, ask them to discuss something as a group and then have a spokesperson share the results.

6.    Be prepared for what can go wrong with the technology of a virtual presentation.  Know what you will do to handle any situation, from the call getting disconnected to the webinar software crashing.  

The next time you have to deliver a virtual presentation, use these 6 strategies to ensure that the virtual medium doesn’t interfere with your ability to communicate your message to the audience. 

© Gilda Bonanno

Gilda Bonanno helps you transform your communication, presentation and leadership skills so you can have more confidence, influence and success. She has worked with leading organizations, including GE, Travelers, Praxair, Assa Abloy, Wells Fargo and Yale University, on four continents from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome.

Since 2006, Gilda has delivered thousands of in-person programs, her YouTube channel has received over 1 million views and her digital newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008.

Gilda has a proven track record of partnering for results with people in a variety of industries and at all organizational levels, from C-level executives to sales teams to frontline managers.  She collaborates with them to help them lead more effectively, communicate more clearly and create and deliver more powerful and engaging presentations so they get results.

Sign up at www.gildabonanno to receive her twice-monthly newsletter for practical tips you can use to improve your communication, networking and presentation skills.

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Event Recap: Confessions of a Content Whisperer and Google Analytics Guru

Getting content from your technical staff isn't easy. Whether it's proposals, social media, or presentations, having the right strategy and game plan can make all the difference. At our October program, Danielle Gray, Owner of DG Marketing Company, equipped our attendees with tools to get content from their technical team, measure online presence utilizing Google Analytics, and apply your findings to your overall strategy.  The program started with a discussion of identifying the correct content. To ensure that you are getting meaningful content, it is important that it address these questions: What? So What? Now What? As important is identifying the various technical and work personas and developing a communication strategy for each of them. Having the appropriate approach for each of these personas can make all the difference in the quality of your content. 

Utilizing Google Analytics can help you determine if the content you created is having an impact with your desired audiences. Data pulled from Google Analytics can be analyzed to show where your strengths and weaknesses are, what's working and what's not, give you insight into your core audience, and inform your overall strategy. It is important to report the data back to your company and it "digestible" so that it is easily understood and communicates key points. 

 

The key takeaways from the program include:

  • Focus on the goal
  • Everything starts with content generation
  • Remember your technical personas
  • All content should be customer-focused
  • Measure everything
  • Use data to communicate points
  • Present 2 + 2, not 4

 

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SMPS CT Confessions of a Content Whisperer

Confessions of a Content Whisperer

Extracting Data from Technical Experts and Google Analytics

October 23, 2018

Marketers juggle multiple tasks—proposals, presentations, trade shows, and content marketing. But pulling teeth? Yes, that too! Especially when it comes to extracting information from technical experts. Join SMPS CT to equip yourself with practical tools on how to obtain technical content, what to do with it, and how to measure its effectiveness using Google Analytics (GA). The event is being held on Friday, October 31, 2018 from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm at the Baci Grill, 134 Berlin Road, Cromwell, CT.  Registration is open until Friday, October 26th.

Danielle Gray will present the session. She is the owner of DG Marketing Company, a professional services marketing firm committed to contributing and creating genuine, humanized marketing that listens and solves instead of tells and sells. Learning objectives include: identifying subject matter expert (SME) personas and their motivations; what your team needs to know before contributing content; outlining five methods to extract content from your technical team; and identifying and locating the basic website and social media metrics that inform strategy in GA. We will also discuss methods for presenting complex analytics data to leadership and create a sample monthly GA report for internal use.

Known for her reliability and humor, Danielle is a Content Marketing Strategist with over seven years of industry experience composing proposals, writing content, running email campaigns, and generating leads online. She helped her former design-build firm grow website visits by 88% and contributed over $150 million in revenue from leads generated from the website in just three years. She also speaks around the country about content generation, the importance of digital marketing and social media specifically relating to the AEC industry.

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, SMPS, nationally, represents a dynamic network of 7,000+ marketing and business development professionals from architectural, engineering, planning, interior design, construction, and specialty consulting firms located throughout the United States and Canada. The Society and its 60 chapters benefit from the support of 3,250 design and building firms, encompassing 80% of the Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firms and Top 400 Contractors.

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For further information, please contact:

Marta Dabrowski, CPSM

SMPS Communications Chair

marta.dabrowski@wsp.com

(860) 815-9424

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Event Recap: Reading the Room - The Dynamics of Emotional Intelligence in Action

We kicked off our 2018/2019 program year with an interactive, experiential learning workshop, Reading the Room: The Dynamics of Emotional Intelligence in Action, led by the Bolder Company.

Keynote Speaker

The program opened with a keynote speaker:  Liz Dederer, Selling with Service. Liz spoke about sales conversations and decoding your client's sales language. The #1 mistake everyone makes in sales conversations is presenting financial decisions to another party in our own financial language -  we need to take the time to listen for what drives someone's decisions. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people. Attendees of our September program were led by Bolder Company's Founding Partners Ellen Feldman Ornato and Jenny Drescher through a series of exercises that built their self-awareness and self-regulation including Rule Breaking and Catastrophizing. Concepts such as cognitive distortions, which are biased perspectives, and practicing minful responses, which allows us to take a take a step back and assess a situation before reacting, were explored during the program.

Overall, everyone came away with a set of skills to help them tune into facets of emotional intelligence that will help them better navigate challenging business and personal situations. Take aways included:

  • Get out of your own head.
  • Open up the communication and have a conversation.
  • Be prepared for different outcomes.
  • Be BOLDER.
  • Take a longer pause if needed. Deep breaths.
  • Don’t be reactionary.

 

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