Do you have a Twitter handle, a blog page or a LinkedIn profile? For most people in construction, the answer will be no. But for a growing group of internet pioneers, online networking and social media are becoming a key part of doing business

The advantage is that online communications break down the usual limitations of business-to-business communications. Size and budget become inconsequential when any company with the time, imagination and inclination can build a sizable profile online. Geography is irrelevant when you can swap information and ideas with colleagues in different time zones. The time and effort needed to attend face-to-face networking events can be shrunk by participating in online versions. The public and media profile an individual normally needs before they are considered ‘expert’ on a subject can now be substituted by a well-read, opinionated blog.

Of course, a lot of online communication is fairly inconsequential, and the business benefits won’t be instantaneous. But companies that do engage in social media believe that, in a recession, any channel that puts their name in front of the construction public is worth pursuing. And when the upturn comes the companies that have networked online will be looking for business partners and recruits online.

Social media taps into our natural interest in the exchange of gossip and information. If information is now being shared on different platforms, anyone excluded from that is going to be operating with an information deficit. The openness and public nature of online netwroking may not suit everyone. But for the entrepreneurially-minded, it’s free, straightforward, so what is there to lose?