The Good Ol’ Boy Network

January 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm 1 comment

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

Are you a member of  the “Good Ol’ Boy” network in the civil engineering industry?  

For decades, whether you are consulting to land developers or DOT’s, cities or counties, the most successful consultants have been part of the “Good Ol’ Boy” network.   Making regular appearances at networking functions or pre-proposal meetings, shaking hands, following up with a nice note and meticulously putting together well thought out proposals  just did not cut it.   Above and beyond preparing a strong technical presentation and proposal, and beyond following all the “rules” of being a professional, other steps had to be made to really “get in” with the clients.   

To “get in” requires not only an investment of time both during, and outside of, regular business hours, but  money as well.  Maybe it is taking the client and his wife out to a nice dinner.  Maybe it is investing in a pair of box seats at the ball park or football stadium.   Maybe it is becoming a member of the local Country Club in order to take clients out on the golf course.  Maybe it is making strategic political contributions.  Maybe it is sitting down with a client at the local watering hole and sipping on some scotch & water.  Maybe you fund these options yourself, maybe your firm foots the bill.   Most of you “Old Schooler’s” out there know what I am talkin’ about; but I wonder if this is the approach that today’s, and future generations will take when it comes to developing the client?  

I suppose all of the extra-curricular activities shouldn’t matter when marketing a client, as the “proof-is-in-the-pudding.”  But in days past, though you may have the recipe for the best pudding, you couldn’t even gain access to the mixing bowl unless you played the game.  

I am certainly not talking about anything that you are not already aware of.  And this whole concept of course is not inclusive to the civil engineering industry alone, as it is played out through many professions across the board. 

Will  this way of doing business in the civil engineering industry continue to carry on from generation to generation?  Or have things changed?  

Is being part of the “Good Ol’ Boy” network still the M.O. of the most successful firms in your city?  And how difficult is it to break into this network and be successful for professionals who come from out of town, or out of the country?  How difficult is it for women or minorities to become a “Good ‘Ol Boy” ?  According to Wikipediea,  the “Good Ol’ Boy” network can be exclusionary.

I suspect that the “Good Ol’ Boy” network will contine to exist at many levels, but with the changing mentality of today’s generation, maybe the definition of what it means to be a “Good Ol’ Boy” will change as well.

However you cut it, there is an old business adage that will continue to remain true:

“All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.  All things NOT being equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”


Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues, Marketing, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Leighsah  |  February 21, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    The Good Ol Boy network will still be around, but the definition of that network will include facebook, twitter, skype, texts, IMs, blogs, shared Google calendars, twines, delicious lists and podcasts.

    I am a tweener, born in ’66. I am not a computer engineer, but do love my technology. The various means of staying in touch with each other and following what’s happening in the world and people’s lives make that network easier and easier to break into.

    I have returned to school to get a civil engineering degree. Though often I am old enough to be my classmates’ mother, because I know this technology and can communicate readily no matter the platform, I have been welcomed. I doubt that would be the case if I could only communicate on the phone or via email.


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