Designed to Connect: LinkedIn for Architects

Popular social media outlets, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, all have their uses. Of the three, LinkedIn has retained an air of professionalism and restraint compared with the more informal information-sharing that takes place among “friends” and “followers” on Facebook and Twitter. Yet, LinkedIn manages to produce a lot of noise – a consistent hum. So how can we, as architectural professionals, effectively communicate a message about architecture that rises above that hum?

by Brian H. Griggs, AIA

Texas Architects New Media Committee

Below are some helpful ideas on how the world of LinkedIn can see more of the world of architecture through you and your LinkedIn profile.

1. Effectively Share Updates – If you or your firm are completing projects that are receiving buzz  (i.e., newspaper articles, Texas Architect articles, etc.), attach links about those articles to your LinkedIn updates, and let people know about those projects. Keep it simple. If you are like me, then most likely no more than 60% of your LinkedIn connections are architectural colleagues – that means you are also communicating with non-architects who have an opportunity to learn more about the built environment from you. Refrain from architectural jargon such as "The juxtaposition between the built form and open spaces…” Remember, keep it simple.

2. A Direct Relationship between Time and Utility – With LinkedIn, you can share a blog through your profile and you can use other utilities such as SlideShare (www.slideshare.net) to share work or presentations via update link.  Keep in mind that for every added utility you integrate between LinkedIn and other sites, the effort to keep LinkedIn activity high increases as well.  Your increased efforts through LinkedIn have a diminishing return on investment as that time and effort pays off.  As a social network service, LinkedIn still ranks 12th among global social networking sites, compared with Facebook at 2nd and Twitter at 8th.* People simply do not spend as much time on LinkedIn, and if they do, they are visiting for a specific reason, not for random browsing.  

3. Writing for LinkedIn is Similar to Architectural Marketing –  Revise your LinkedIn profile. Three out of four LinkedIn profiles consist of dates, places, names, and projects.  Consider rewriting your profile in a way that passionately describes who you are and your involvement in the architectural profession.  

4. Ask for a Recommendation – At the 2009 Texas Society of Architects Convention, I asked past President Dan Hart, a friend and humble leader, why he decided to run for Texas Society of Architects President, he surprised me by jokingly responding with a Frank Lloyd Wright quote: “Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.”  Simply put, most people I know shrink away from LinkedIn’s “recommendation” tool.  Asking someone for a recommendation feels self-important  Dan’s response, however mentioned in jest, has some truth to it – if you are searching for accolades from others that help to raise you above the hum, in all reality, hypocritical humility most likely will not get you there.  Ask a "connection" of weight and value to write a LinkedIn recommendation.

5. It’s Not about Connection Count – There are differing thoughts on this, and here is my opinion:  quality always trumps quantity.  Your connections represent a collage of who you are -  holistically, they represent the impact you have upon the people around you. Build your connections intelligently, and utilize them from the standpoint of your personal development through mentorship and business relationship building. Your connections should not be a list of predominantly architecture-related people.  Clients, civic leaders, business people, and scores of others out there are LinkedIn members, and (in case you did not know this already)  they are often the ones who need to learn more about architecture.

As a member of Texas Architects, I have an opportunity to be a part of "The Voice for Texas Architecture."  LinkedIn is just as much a part of that voice as any number of other outlets available today, whether it be social media, traditional media, or simply word-of-mouth.  I hope in reading this, you are encouraged to utilize LinkedIn to effectively communicate about Texas architecture, yourself, and the profession in an effort to help raise that voice above the hum.

Brian Griggs is a Corporate Associate with the Amarillo Office of Parkhill, Smith & Cooper. He is a member of the Texas Architects New Media Committee.

*Based upon Alexa global site rankings - http://www.alexa.com/topsites



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