It starts with real people
Having worked with a great many business owners and business development managers in professional services like accountants, lawyers and management consultants, I firmly believe that their approach to digital marketing and social media must mirror their traditional best practices for building the client base – and this has to do with real relationships with real people.
You could argue that relationships take time to build – so this is not a quick online strategy. This is true, but it’s not always about slowly getting to know people and gain their trust over time (though this is a valid and important consideration). A stand-out first impression can be made instantly, and this includes a certain level of trust and a readiness to work with you. Perhaps you’ve experienced an instant rapport or enquiry from a chance meeting at a networking event, or a quality introduction from someone influential, where the business just flowed. The same goes online!
The winning combination
So, when asked how do I create business opportunities online, quickly and effectively, I have to say that it’s rarely the email blast, the cold call, or the paid Facebook ad that gets me the new client. In fact, I spend little or no time and money on these tactics! For service-based businesses, I believe it’s a combination of:
- Face-to-face (and virtual) meeting, greeting, relationship building by acting like a human being and treating others like human beings – in other words, being real and getting offline where possible; AND
- Leveraging your time spent on #1 above by following up your coffee meetings, networking events, or regular chats with clients with online communication (particularly on LinkedIn).
This sounds simple and obvious, but the success is in the strategy and schedule: it’s all about planning and consistency – of brand messages, of target markets, of communication. Remembering all the time, you are a human speaking with humans, keeping it real. And in fact, few companies execute this combination really well.