Oh, sure it’s easy to meet new people when you’re taking your kids to baseball practice or cheering for the local sports team. After all, you’ve got something in common with those people around you – maybe something that’s really important to you and yours.
As it turns out, you also have a lot in common with the competition out there, those other contractors in your area that do work similar to yours, face similar struggles, even work with some of the same subs. But how do you make a connection with other pros without it getting weird?
It’s Not a Contest, It’s a Network
There are plenty of good reasons to get to know your friendly neighborhood contractors. Not only do they really know what you’re going through with your business and might even be able to help you fill in knowledge gaps, they’re a great place to turn if you simply have more work than you can handle and want to make referrals to someone you can trust.
But where do you meet them that isn’t awkward and weird?
1.Trade Associations. Join a home builder association in your area or a trade group for your particular specialty (there are lots of things under that home builder umbrella for many groups). You’ll get a chance to learn some new stuff and meet like-minded tradespeople who also want to get out of their bubble now and again.
2. Get Friendly at Your Local Lumberyard. Look, lumberyards aren’t just places where you get wood, you can also make some great connections if you take the time to get to know the people around you. Your rep might be able to introduce you to other contractors working in your area or you may have a chance to chat with those folks while waiting to pick up your order. There are lots of opportunities to strike up conversations about what you have in common while you’re getting wood.
3. Ask for a Lunch Meeting. Many of your subs are also contractors, you know that, right? Next time your electrician or plumber or tile guy is around, ask them if they would like to meet up for lunch, just the two of you. It’s ok to have friends, especially when they’re in your field, but you have to take the first step if you want to get to know the other guys in your field. If you hit it off, you might make it a regular thing — it never hurts to have another friend with a loaded toolbox.
4. Check Out a Trade Show. If you live in a larger area, check out the next trade show. You’ll get a chance to see all the newest building materials out there and plenty of openings for introducing yourself to other contractors doing the same thing. You can talk about the things you’ve seen that you think would be great for your projects and what unbelievably silly things are up for sale this year. It’s a sure-fire ice breaker! Make sure to bring lots of cards and hand them out like it’s going out of style.
Meeting the competition doesn’t need to be hard, you can find them almost anywhere you go for work-related stuff. Whether you’re at the lumberyard looking for some nails, the plumbing supply digging for the right elbow, a trade show where you’re going to be milling about with lots of other contractors or on your own building site, contractors are easy to find. Just take the first step, introduce yourself or ask a long-time work acquaintance out for a beer. It really is that simple!
How do you get to know other contractors? Any good places to meet the competition that might not immediately spring to mind?