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I was recently speaking with someone who was about to start her own business and was a little nervous about finding new clients. She asked me what sorts of business development activities I undertake. One of the most important that I mentioned was getting involved in my industry’s trade associations. Trade groups like the American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, Urban Land Institute, etc. have been great ways for me to network with peers and prospective clients. This is true for every industry. According to the Center for Association Leadership, there are about 1.9 million trade associations in the United States, which means that everyone, no matter what their field, is represented in some form or fashion.

In Stephan Kaiser and Max Ringlstetter’s Strategic Management of Professional Service Firms: Theory and Practice (Springer, 2011), the authors discuss the procurement process of professional services. One of the key elements as to why companies and individuals buy these services is the brand that is accompanied with the advice that they are receiving. That means that prospective clients expect a certain philosophy and set of knowledge that comes with those professional services. If the individuals that make up the firm do not meet those expectations or are not communicating the firm’s identity correctly, they are likely to lose the business opportunity.

The fact is that property owners and developers rarely like engaging the public for their input during a project. The rationale is that the community at large does not understand the nuances that go into financing deals. This is very true. However, there is something to be said for engagement with the public on projects where rezoning is needed, parking or ingress/egress is impacted, or a variety of other factors are at play. This engagement does not start at the Planning Commission phase, true engagement means being more proactive.

Are you prepared for a crisis to hit your organization? This is question is less about if a crisis will hit and more about when a crisis will emerge. Whether the result of a natural disaster (i.e., hurricane), human error (Comcast’s now infamous “customer service” call), or something more nefarious (i.e., data security breach), every organization and company will face crises. You may have the necessary insurance and some operational contingencies, but too often the communications side of a crisis is ignored. The organizations that don’t address crisis communications do so at their own peril. As countless examples demonstrate, how a company responds to a crisis could have a more significant impact on its bottom line than the crisis itself.

For the past year or so, when we log on to Facebook, Twitter, or another social media profile, we’re seeing more and more sponsored posts and ads. Embedded in our news feeds or populated as display ads, we can’t seem to escape social media ads. And there’s a few reasons for it. They are very effective and make social media platforms a lot of money. In fact, some social media platforms, like Facebook, are becoming increasingly “pay-for-play.” Facebook has diminished the organic reach of business pages, putting more pressure on companies to sponsor or boost content in order to be seen by more users.