Coaches, consultants, and other professionals know the value of creating networks for business growth, but let’s face it — walking into a room full of strangers is just plain scary, especially for introverts.
Everyone seems to know everyone else, and no one knows you.
Maybe you will meet two or three people whom you will probably never talk to again, let alone do business with.
Your only thought is, How soon can I leave?
As an introvert I forced myself to do it. I ran the gauntlet of networking events for years. I followed all the rules for working a room, made all the right small talk, performed the best-practice follow-up advice, and made a few friends — but got only one piece of business. One.
I wasted my time, money, and energy and hated every minute of every event. Yes, I knew that successful businesses are built on people: Whom you know, who knows you, and who wants to do business with you, but there had to be a better way of making those people connections.
I decided to start networking where I was comfortable — the virtual world. I used the strategies in this article to make those valuable connections. It took time, but I raised my visibility, gave value, and eventually ended up on the first page of Google when people searched for my name or tag line. My blog had than 100,000 views. I mined social media to create a presence. I got new clients and was asked to speak and do breakout sessions at conferences. Former employers and clients reconnected with me. I got referrals.
Here are the three strategies I used to build my business online — strategies you also can use to get steady clients without leaving home.
1. Mine for Hidden Gold
Your current clients are potential sources of new business.
- Offer them a new service or product that complements what they have already done with you.
- Ask for referrals or introductions to their colleagues who might benefit from what you have to offer.
- Suggest co-marketing a product or service where you each market to the other’s client list.
The key is to stay in regular, frequent contact with your current clients. When you read something online that you know a client will find valuable, share it with them, send links to your articles and blog posts, and ask them to participate in surveys.
The next step is to stay top of mind and be visible.
2. Raise Your Virtual Visibility
Focus on your market niche and build an online following with targets that audience by using LinkedIn, the premier website for virtual networking. Here are some tips to maximize LinkedIn.
- Make sure your profile is solution-oriented and not merely a description of your services and programs. Write it so that it shows your target audience how you solve their problems.
- Join affinity groups that are comprised of your target market and become active by posing questions and offering answers that demonstrate your expertise.
- Start your own group to build your network and get known in a wider audience than your existing contacts.
- Research LinkedIn for key contacts and industry experts you can add to your roster and send connection requests.
- Share valuable information and resources to increase your followers and become a thought leader.
- Use Facebook for business apart from your personal Facebook presence.
- Create an Instagram channel for business only.
- Tweet often about topics and trends your target market is interested in knowing and follow industry thought leaders.
- Blog regularly and share links to your posts across social media.
- Guest blog on sites that your target audience follows.
Now comes the most important step: Keep at it!
3. Rinse and Repeat — The Secret to Success
Virtual networking is an ongoing process that helps leverage your efforts, build a following, and become known as an expert in your niche — all without leaving your home.
As I said earlier, I did it and was successful.
What I didn’t tell you is that I stopped dead and became a void in virtual space; all my efforts faded away.
A family tragedy and a serious back injury sidelined me for almost two years. I was able to keep up with my existing clients, but that’s it.
I learned the hard way that you can’t stop the virtual train once it’s in motion. You must keep your visibility high and never stop providing value for your followers, or you will fall into the void. Now, when I create a new piece of content, I immediately create a second new piece that goes into my content vault for future use. I encourage you to do the same because life can get in the way of business.
That’s it. Just three steps to creating a virtual presence that leads to steady clients. The key is to start.
Ready, Set, Go for the Gold
So today, I’m where you are. Starting pretty much at Square One; however, I know I can get back on top. That’s why I’m writing articles for Medium, networking on LinkedIn, rebuilding my website, and rekindling my blog with the help of the amazing Jon Morrow and his Freedom Machine program.
The strategies in this article worked for me before, and I know they will work again for me — and for you, too. You can build a dynamic, virtual presence and grow a list of loyal followers who eagerly want to work with you.
Imagine what it will be like to have your business appear on the first page of Google when someone searches for just your tag line. Each step you take will bring you closer to your goal of having a viable, virtual business without having to leave home to network. Build your online presence, work your virtual network, and make offers your clients and potential clients can’t refuse.
Start by having meaningful conversations with people who are interested in you and what you have to offer. Save time, money, and energy by focusing on what matters most most for your business.
If you have questions or just need a gentle nudge to get started, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this article in your subject line.