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Nurturing Your Network

October 21, 2010

A Letter from SMPS Boston President, Matt Hawk

I write proposals, and have done so since my first day in the industry, Monday May 3, 1999.  On that day, The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 11,000 for the first time at 11,014.70.  Also, upon my arrival, the Big Dig was winding down and firms were beginning to realize that teamwork and partnerships were going to be the future of the AEC along with diversifying or specializing company skill sets.  To this day, I am intrigued by the nuance and political nature of this world. The more things change the more they stay the same. 

I didn’t know much about this industry that first day, but I could read, write, and follow directions. Those are the three most important skills necessary as a proposal writer. One of the best pieces of advice I received was from my boss and SMPS Past President, Aurora Cammarata, “Join SMPS.”  By becoming a member of SMPS, I had found my career.  Two things were necessary for me to become good at my job: understand the goals and mission of my company and gather around me a network of people that would help me grow.  Until that time, I only had a social network of an aging 20-something.  

The network that was most critical to my initial success was and still is the project managers who would work on the proposals that materialized into billable efforts. So I began to build it in two ways, both based on the simple notion of curiosity.  I found curiosity in the project, and then curiosity about the person I was working with were most effective. So it became my job to develop a working relationship with my [internal] clients. The more successful I am at making a connection, the proposals will be tighter and focused on the project, external client, and users. Developing this relationship leads to better proposals.

This afternoon, I will be leading a discussion about nurturing your network from the inside out for the Professional Development Lunch Series.  I will focus on tips for building your internal network and then expand upon forming external contacts. Topics of discussion will include effectively serving in-house clients, managing conversations, meeting and event preparation, and follow through.

– Matt

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