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Maybe I’m having a grumpy day. But these LinkedIn annoyances give me the rage

Yes it’s autumn. Yes the nights are drawing in. And I’m on a diet. And doing Septemperence. So there’s a teeny tiny chance I could be being a tad touchy today. But here’s 10 things that get on my last nerve on LinkedIn and put me off connecting or doing business with someone:

  1. Hashtags. This isn’t Twitter. In fact, just don’t share every Twitter update on LinkedIn. Different platforms, different audiences, different messages. I know LinkedIn are keen to get us hashtagging. But I am resisting.
  2. I don’t want to help you choose your profile picture – especially when it’s just an excuse to get compliments or show off your cleavage.
  3. I don’t want to hear your political views on LinkedIn. Chances are I don’t want to hear them at all. Ever.
  4. I don’t want God’s blessings or your religious views on LinkedIn either.
  5. It’s. Its. There. Their. They’re. Accept. Except. Passed. Past. Get your grammar right. And your spelling while you’re at it!
  6. Wacky job titles. You’re not a ‘Thought leader’ or a ‘Brand Evangelist’ or a ‘Marketing Rock Star’. You’re a consultant, brand manager or marketing manager. Don’t even start me on the gurus, ninjas and trailblazers. Apart from being totally eye roll-worthy, they will make you hard to find in LinkedIn searches. Unless someone is specifically looking for a Change Magician.
  7. ‘Inspirational’ quotes and memes. This isn’t facebook! Find out why I loathe these in particular https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/inspiration-schminspiration-helen-curry?published=t
  8. Too much, too often. Once a day is pushing it. More than one update a day has me reaching for the “remove Connection” button.
  9. Stop being proud. I don’t mean you shouldn’t be proud of your successes. Far from it. Pride is great. But starting every update with “Proud to be associated…” or “proud to be specified…” starts to grate.
  10. Changed your profile picture? Added a first aid certificate you gained in 1987? Updating your A-Level grades? Lovely! I don’t need to know about every change you make to your profile. I’m happy to hear about big changes like a new job, but I don’t need to know when you correct a typo in your Summary.

So please, for the love of Pete, change your settings so I don’t see it. Here’s how: Privacy and settings –> Privacy –> Sharing Profile Edits –> Toggle the button to “no”.

Oh that feels better. Sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest isn’t it? Now, don’t say I didn’t tell you!

grumpy

The prize that no architect wants to win

Very few things divide opinion more readily than architecture. Ask Prince Charles. The Carbuncle Cup, awarded (and only reluctantly accepted I’m sure) to the year’s ugliest building, is named after his famous comment about a proposed extension to the National Gallery being a “monstrous carbuncle”. It is awarded each year by architectural magazine Building Design to the building that is considered by a panel of experts to be “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months”.

This year’s winning (losing?) carbuncle was announced last week. It is Nova Victoria, a mixed-use scheme in London’s Victoria designed by PLP Architecture. The design is based on a triangular arrangement which, as a non-architect myself, would seem to be a spectacularly awkward shape to work with and to work in. I certainly wouldn’t want the office on the top floor of the main red-clad fin like structure – it looks like it would be hardly wide enough to fit a desk in.

carbuncle cup

The design is based on a triangular arrangement which, as a non-architect myself, would seem to be a spectacularly awkward shape to work with and to work in.

Nova bagged this award against strong (weak?) opposition including a new entrance for Preston station that looks like it was designed by someone whose set square had gone wrong, and an extension to a beautiful brick-built period house that could pass muster as a nuclear bunker built of Lego bricks.

Of course, this criticism of contemporary architecture began long before the Carbuncle Cup was launched in 2006. The Eiffel tower – “that hideous tower” – was widely derided in the 19th century as ruining Haussmann’s elegant low-rise city vision. And Gaudi’s masterpiece la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has been derided and criticised since building began on it in 1882. Doubtless Rome’s Colosseum and Athens’s Parthenon had their detractors when they were built. Fewer branches of the contemporary arts is as public – and therefore open to widespread criticism – as architecture. Much of architectural design is subjective and one person’s carbuncle is another’s beauty spot. So, while the Carbuncle Cup is perhaps meant in the slightly tongue-in-cheek tone that its title suggests, let’s hope it doesn’t deter architects – particularly young ones – from taking risks and building innovative new buildings.

Read more about the Carbuncle Cup here: Building Design Carbuncle Cup

Fire door lessons must be learned

Fire Door

The terrible tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower has once again highlighted the importance of fire prevention design and products in our buildings, both private and public.

My particular interest in this field is in fire doors. A correctly fitted and functioning fire door can help to suppress a fire by restricting the amount of oxygen available to it and will restrict the spread of fire – a closed fire-resisting door is designed to endure direct attack by fire for a specified period of time. This should slow and check the spread of fire through the building, gaining time for active fire protection resources to perform. It will also protect escape and continue to provide some protection for fire fighters entering the building.

In the immediate aftermath of the blaze, it has been reported that literally hundreds of fire doors are missing from tower blocks evacuated as a safety precaution in Camden alone.(http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hundreds-of-fire-doors-were-missing-from-tower-blocks-evacuated-in-camden-a3573551.html). To be honest this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Too often I see examples of fire doors which are either inappropriate or not fit for purpose, often as a result of lowest tender purchasing policies but often as a consequence of ignorance. And that doesn’t include the fire doors that are wedged and propped open that I see regularly on my travels.

It seems that the lessons of the last major fire in a social housing setting in London at Lakanal House in 2009 have not been learned. In that case – where six people tragically died in a blaze in a 14-story block – missing, faulty, ineffective and propped-open fire doors played a major role in the spread of the fire https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/28/southwark-council-fined-570000-over-fatal-tower-block-fire

It seems that the lessons of the last major fire in a social housing setting in London at Lakanal House in 2009 have not been learned.

After the trial of Southwark Council in the aftermath of the Lakanal House fire, Dan Daly, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements and are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe. We want them to take the opportunity provided by this court case to remind themselves of exactly what their fire safety responsibilities are under the law and to ensure that everyone in their premises is safe from the risk of fire.”

Since 2006, responsibility for maintaining fire and escape doors has been placed firmly with the building owners and operators since the introduction of the RRO (Regulatory Reform Order) which came into effect in October of that year. The RRO – which applies to England and Wales – covers the fire safety duties required to protect the “relevant person” – visitors, residents, staff etc. Building owners must show that they have carried out a risk assessment on their premises – and this includes ensuring that fire and escape doors have been specced and fitted correctly and, importantly, appropriately maintained. They must also be able to produce the documentation to show that the products are suitable for their application, proving that all parties have exercised due diligence in fulfilling their duty of care.

As the enquiries into this terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower progress, the role that fire doors did or did not play in the fire will doubtless emerge and the importance of correctly specified, installed and maintained fire doors in saving lives will, without question, once more become apparent.

Ten golden rules for your LinkedIn profile picture

(Or “You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression”)

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Remember that old dandruff shampoo ad? The one about making a first impression? Well research shows that first time visitors to your LinkedIn profile page will spend 19% of their time looking at your picture. So make sure it does you and your professional image justice.

Here are 10 easy rules to make sure your picture says the right thousand words about you:

  1. Actually have a picture. Nothing more off-putting than a half baked, half complete profile – especially one with the grey silhouette of doom. This is especially vital if your name is common. There are more than 50 Helen Currys on LinkedIn – I’d like to think you’ve got the one you were looking for!
  2. Use a professional shot. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but the difference that a photographer can make to how professional you look is immense. Plus, they will always get your best side!
  3. Head and shoulders please (back to that dandruff shampoo!) – not just your eyes. Or so far away I can hardly see you. On LinkedIn I’m less interested in your six pack and more interested in being able to recognise you at a networking event.
  4. Use a neutral background. You want to you be the star of this show, not the background.
  5. Be in a professional setting – not the pub. Or the beach. Or your bathroom. That’s for dating sites and maybe Facebook, not a professional networking site
  6. No selfies please! It’s not just my teenage daughters who find the selfie to be “soooo embarrassing!”
  7. Be alone in your picture – not with your partner, or kids or dog. I don’t want to have to work out by a process of elimination which one is you!
  8. Smile. Go on. You want to look approachable, friendly, and connectable.
  9. Make it a picture of you – not a beach, or a building, or, worse still, an avatar. Your company logo won’t cut the mustard either. LinkedIn is about personal connections (unless it’s a company page of course!)
  10. Make it current. Come on! Who are you kidding?

If you don’t believe me, have a scroll down your suggested LinkedIn connections. Take a long hard look at the pictures and ask yourself: is that a picture of a person I want to do business with? Then apply the same scrutiny to your own picture. If you don’t like what you see, change it!

If you want to help make you LinkedIn profile All-Star then call 01268 655541 and ask us how

If you want to talk to UK architects, you HAVE to be on Twitter

Want to talk to architects

I remember that the first PR agency boss I ever worked for said that architects were among the three most sold-to professions in the UK – have a guess who he reckoned the other two are…more on that later.

If your business relies on talking to architects then nowadays you have to talk to them where they are hanging out – and that’s Twitter.

Many construction products companies I talk to are sceptical. “Isn’t twitter just full of footballers and pop stars?” they say. But that’s simply not the case. It’s not all about David Beckham and Taylor Swift. Twitter is the place to engage with architects in a positive and proactive way.

Architects have always been a tricky group to target and nobody is arguing that the more established ways of interacting with them should be abandoned. But in the same way that the traditional paper catalogue has largely been superseded by digital versions and web sites, it’s vital to move with the times and interact on social media.

Nowadays architects are all over social media – like a rash. Predominantly Twitter but Instagram is also popular. Su Butcher, perhaps one of the leading experts on social media in the construction industry, often quotes research which says that 44% of architects are using Twitter for work. Not, as Su points out AT work to check the latest on the Kardashians’ love lives, but FOR work. (Incidentally, if you are on Twitter yourself, you could do worse than follow Su @SuButcher).

44% of architects are using Twitter for work. Not, AT work, but FOR work.

Think of it this way. Twitter is only a different platform for doing things that you are already doing in your business. It is brilliant for:

  • Building your brand and getting it in front of the right people (PR)

  • Searching for and engaging with potential customers (prospecting)

  • Engaging with existing contacts (customer service)

  • Driving traffic to your businesses and its web sites (marketing)

So don’t dismiss Twitter if your business relies on talking to architects. It’s here to stay. Embrace it.

And for those of you interested in the other two highly marketed professions…my old boss said it was doctors and farmers but I’m not sure how much science there was behind that assertion!

To find out how you can get started on twitter and engage with architects and other key target markets, give me a call on 07932332331

Helen Curry, Director, Foundation Media