The Long View Approach

(By: Heather the Intern)

Looking Forward

Being innovative in this rocky market often means going out and actively looking for clients rather than waiting for clients to find you; and sometimes that means stepping outside your “bubble,” which is exactly what Winter Street is thinking and doing.

This past week, I sat in on a meeting with Paul Durand, a principal and founding partner here at Winter Street, Mary Beth Di Figlia (another Principal), and Allison Brooks the Director of Business Development, they were making final revisions to a presentation that they were giving to a local college. The entire reason for this presentation was to inform the college about what Winter Street could do for them so that the school could adapt to future growth and technology enhanced learning. Here’s what Paul had to say when I asked him, the proverbial “Why?:”

“We take a long-view approach with our clients, acting as partners to them – almost like business consultants. We want to help them create their next big idea…be there as it develops and foster its growth. You can’t do that if all you’re thinking about is the next project in the queue – we prefer to look out and upward, trying to forecast with our clients their next innovation that we can help manifest.”– Paul Durand, Founding Principal

Now personally, prior to being at Winter Street Architects when I thought of architecture firms I didn’t really know what that meant. I didn’t really expect to ever know what went on in one, but here at Winter Street they really try to be out in the public…sharing what they’re up to, what projects they are working on and what they’ve completed. Most every business these days has a website; not unusual or original, but how many architecture firms do you know that have a website, blog (which you obviously already know about), facebook page, twitter, and a bio on linkedIN, all of which are well maintained. They really try to reach out to their community using tools that are both smart and effective.

Here are some lessons that I’ve picked up so far – although simple to most, I’m positive they are a good reminder:

1. People Buy People – There’s no arguing that good relationships equal good business, and approaching clients as “partners” enables collaborative success – when you make them look good, they’ll go back to you. Also, finding time to “stay connected” helps influential decision makers think of you first before the other guy (see #2).

2. Stay Connected – Whether it’s a blog post, flickr album or quick email to say hello, consistently reaching out to your clients, associates, and industry partners with meaningful messages positively influences your brand which helps support sustainable relationships.

3. Make Your Own Opportunities – No one ever said business was easy, especially now. Driving good ideas for your clients can spur projects that previously weren’t there…but whatever you do, don’t give away the farm – share what you can that will entice and inspire decision makers to act (with you by their side).

4. K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple (Stupid). Ok, so my Uncle always said this one but I think it still sticks and it applies to a lot. In short, don’t confuse your clients or yourself. Keep messages, meanings clear and confident. And don’t try and be everything to everyone.

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