Getting construction leads can be a challenge. AEC Business development and sales professionals know that paying for leads or cold calling are options, but strategies for finding free construction leads shouldn’t be ignored.
There are tons of free tactics, resources, and tricks that firms can leverage right now to find qualified, industry-specific prospects. The best part is that Business Developers, AEC Marketers, and Sales teams can focus on platforms and tools that prospects are already using daily.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get 100% free construction leads today, using tools that are easy and familiar to both you and potential prospects.
Read on to learn how to get free construction leads for your AEC firm.
Join LinkedIn Groups to Access the Right Audience for Free Construction Leads
LinkedIn is a great resource for networking with like-minded peers and companies. But there are also groups that can be joined which include members of your exact target audience and potentially, customers. I have been using LinkedIn groups for years to learn the latest trends in AEC and to find people who might be interested in thought leadership articles, blogs, or eBooks. The same can be achieved for finding potential customers who could be interested in your product or service offering. Below are a few LinkedIn groups to join if you are looking to connect with more like-minded AEC professionals who could be interested in using your firm for work.
LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Construction
Design and Construction Network – This group boasts more than 80,000 members (about the seating capacity of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum). It’s a great resource for connecting with construction professionals who mostly fall under the design-build category.
Construction Marketing Association – With more than 4,600 members, this group focuses on exactly how to market your construction firm to win more work.
Online Expo’s & Virtual Trade Shows- Construction Who’s Who – This 3,000-person LinkedIn group is great for finding virtual conferences and local events to connect with construction professionals and find potential leads.
Top Construction Jobs – If you look at the posts in this massive 25,000-person group, you’ll notice that some firms and owners are looking to hire. Furthermore, you can find some posts looking for RFPs for construction work as well.
CIM | The Chartered Institute of Marketing – Construction Industry Group – CIMCIG – This 3,500-person group focuses on marketing your construction firm.
AGC Business Development Forum – This group by the Associated General Contractors of America is focused specifically on GC business developers. It’s a great resource to see how others are finding quality leads.
LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Architecture
TEKLA Structures Users – Users of Tekla, a software for architecture professionals, could find this group helpful for finding leads. A lot of posts are related to individuals in architecture that are trying to fill vacancies on their team or find qualified individuals or firms to fill in where their team is lacking.
LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Engineering & CEC
Quantity Surveyors, Commercial Managers, Cost Managers/Engineers and Estimators Forum – More geared towards estimators and cost engineers, this group includes posts from a plethora of users dedicated to sharing ideas and concepts.
Civil Engineering Jobs – This group boasts over 160,000 members and includes information about jobs related to CE.
Civil/Structural Engineering Network – With over 115,800 members, this network is great for sharing ideas, project pursuits, and information about how your firm is running the business.
Civil Engineering & Construction – This 68,800-person group shares best practice knowledge in CEC. Here, you’ll find people looking for but also be able to use business development knowledge to ensure you’re always staying ahead of the competition.
LinkedIn Groups for Overall AEC
Engineering News-Record – ENR is one of the top news sources for the AEC industry. Their group is full of information from firms across the entire architecture, engineering, and construction spectrum.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) Experts – Posts from this BIM (Building Information Modeling) experts group come from professionals across the AEC spectrum. Many of the 97,600 members are owners or operators looking for workers or jobs.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) and Architecture, Engineering, & Construction Projects and Jobs – This 91,000-person group is chocked-full of companies looking for subcontractors or individuals that can fill in where their team is lacking. It’s also a great resource to see what types of projects certain firms are working on. Just by connecting with others in this group, you should be able to find quality projects.
LinkedIn Groups for AEC Business Development
Bd4aec – Business Development for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Markets – With a little over 300 members, this group has a specific audience. According to the page owner, the goal of this group is “to bring together the best-of-the best ideas, concepts, strategies and tactics and put them in front of you to make a difference in your business. If you’re a principal of an AEC firm and want to get more business, or you’re a business developer wanting to improve your game, or you’re an estimator or a project manager wanting to improve your skills, or just someone who wants to move into the business development field, then this group is for you.”
Attend Local Meetups for Qualified Construction Leads
You can find local meetups for architecture, engineering, and construction on meetup.com. It’s free to join, and they even have online events for those who are concerned about social distancing during in-person events. This is a fantastic way to learn more about businesses in your area that could be looking to partner with a firm like yours. Just search for the topic you’re interested in meeting up about and you’ll find a list of events in your area.
You can also create your own events and invite others who might be interested in attending. Creating a thought leadership event and inviting potential prospects can help build credibility as an individual and build trust for your firm.
There are even events specifically for Business Developers to connect and network about clients looking for jobs across industries. The event in the screenshot below offers networking opportunities for BDs and sales professionals to “build better business by referral.”
Attend In-Person and Virtual AE and Construction Industry Conferences for Lead Opportunities
Although several in-person conferences were canceled for 2020, many popular AEC events have gone virtual. Event hosts across the country are using creative ways to make the conference experience feel as immersive and real as possible— think virtual booths, live Q&A sessions, interactive content, and online “happy-hours” to network with like-minded AEC professionals. These events are a gold mine for networking with people who could refer your firm to quality construction leads. Some of the events are user conferences for customers of a particular product, while other conferences invite anyone in the AEC industry to attend. Below are a few conferences to check out this year.
- June 15–16, 2021 – This virtual user conference, hosted by Unanet and Cosential, focuses on best practice techniques for users of Unanet’s ERP and Cosential’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) products. Learn how to use the family of Unanet products to their fullest capabilities, network with like-minded individuals or business developers who can help grow your client base, and attend online presentations with live Q&A.
- Current Unanet and Cosential customers can Register here.
- Not a Cosential CRM customer but want to be? Request a demo.
- Not a customer of Unanet but want to be? Contact the team.
- June 9–11, 2021 – Hosted virtually this year, ENR future tech is “the go-to source for business and IT leaders in architecture, engineering, and construction to explore emerging technologies that can enhance construction productivity, profits, and safety.” Connect with business leaders, meet others who are facing similar business development and sales challenges, and brainstorm with other professionals in your area of expertise.
- Register here
- September 22-24, 2021 – A/E/C THRIVE Conference will be hosted in-person in Scottsdale, Arizona this year. The conference will focus on growth, profit, and success for AEC firm leaders across the nation. You’ll learn what the most successful firms are doing today to drive more revenue, increase business performance, and truly scale their firms for the future. This is a great opportunity to network and meet potential partners who can help refer you and your firm for future projects.
- Register here
- September 13-October 8, 2021—This event hosted by Zweig Group will be virtual this year. Offered at only $49 per person, this event is one of the AEC industry’s top networking and learning events. You can even enter your firm to win an award across Zeig group’s selection of award entries. To celebrate great projects and teams across the AEC industry, the awards will be presented at the conference in front of all the attendees. This is an excellent strategy to promote your firm and to celebrate a job well done.
- Register here
There are so many more conferences to check out for 2021! Take a look at this full list of upcoming AEC conferences from Construction Dive.
Request Ratings, Reviews, and Referrals to Encourage Free Construction Leads
Are you currently requesting reviews and referrals from past or existing clients? Any time your clients have a positive experience while working with your firm throughout the project lifecycle—from conception to completion—you should request a review.
The most common way for potential prospects to see reviews for your firm is via Google reviews, as shown in the screenshot below. The more five-star reviews you have, the higher you’ll appear in search results anytime someone searches for something like “Top rated construction/architecture/engineering firms near me” or “Best commercial construction firms in (state).”
Google isn’t the only place to request reviews, however. There are many other ways for prospects to find you based on your high rating. On Glassdoor, you can ask your own employees to give your company a five-star review. When potential prospects are searching for firms to handle their next big project or when they’re reviewing RFPs, they’ll read your company reviews from current and past employees. The best part about Glassdoor reviews is that you don’t have to reach out to past customers. Simply send an email to your employees asking them to add their review, and you’ll be well on your way to showing up as a five-star firm in search results. Look at the full list below for instructions on how to get reviews on Google, Glassdoor, and a few other platforms.
For strategies on exactly how to request reviews from customers, check out this article from Forbes.
Check Job Postings and Investor Websites for Free Construction Leads
One way to find out which companies are planning big projects is to check out job postings across Glassdoor, LinkedIn jobs, Indeed, and other hiring websites. This is a great way to understand companies that might be planning their next big project. Companies are constantly using Glassdoor to hire subcontractors, architects, engineers, and to outsource work that they might not have the resources to complete with their current team.
Also, browse investor forums to see who is willing to front some cash for the right project. AngelList, the world’s largest startup community, offers an extensive list of construction angel investors that you can follow or reach out to for free.
Monitor Community Forums and List Your Business in Their Directories
NextDoor is an online community where residents can post about happenings in their town, request recommendations, or discuss issues affecting their area. Although most of the posts related to construction serve the residential community, any local businesses can add their details to NextDoor and will appear when anyone searches for your services. Expanding your brand locally is a fantastic way to connect with the local community and potentially find new leads.
Another tactic for your firm to find leads (and for leads to find you) locally is through Facebook. Over the years, Facebook has become more than a social networking tool. It now has a marketplace to sell and buy products, groups to join that are specific to interest and industry, “looking for recommendations” posts, job listings, town hall discussions, business pages, events, and even an “Offers” page. If your firm has a Facebook business page, you can post offers or updates, and anyone searching for services you offer will see it in their feed, as shown in the screenshot below.
So, what happens next?
If your business development, sales, or marketing budget is tight, we hope you found a few of these strategies helpful. Before long, you’ll find qualified architecture, engineering, or construction leads and, more importantly, they will find you.
Here’s what you could expect after successfully applying any of these construction lead tactics for your firm:
- Your contact list will grow exponentially.
- Business development activities will increase significantly.
- Your time will become more valuable.
- You’ll need to assess pursuits as go/no-go to quickly decide which projects are worth your time and effort.
- Your boss will love you even more than he/she did before. If you’re your own boss, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.
Finally, once you have all these free construction leads, you’ll need a way to manage them.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a solution that helps businesses manage sales opportunities, log activities and customer interactions, store internal and external contacts, track leads, and grow their business—but not all CRMs are alike. Some AEC firms have tested well-known CRM tools, like Salesforce, to manage their customer relationship activities. What they found is that these CRM tools don’t have the specific capabilities that the uniqueness of the AEC industry requires. These “one-size-fits-all” CRM tools aren’t built for the AEC industry, and thus aren’t tracking some of the most important aspects of the AEC sales lifecycle. Many firms discovered that they needed more specific tracking for business development and sales activities that these “one-size-fits-all” solutions weren’t designed to address.
Unanet CRM by Cosential is the only CRM built specifically for architecture, engineering, and construction. The company has spent the last 20+ years tailoring its platform’s robust CRM and proposal generation features to the AEC industry, enabling business developers, marketers, executives, and project teams to win better projects and grow more revenue.
If you’ve applied any of the tactics listed in this blog and want to learn more about how to win better business, make better decisions, and grow revenue, be sure to request a demo of Unanet CRM by Cosential today.