Michael View

Has social media replaced prospecting?

07 March 2014

I was speaking to a group of business owners about successful ways to contact people and attract new business.

On top of my list was being introduced by an existing client who already likes and trusts me to one of his or her business colleagues. A personal introduction beats other methods hands down.

Then came networking at functions and events where my target clients congregate. These could be industry events, conferences or even school social functions. The main thing is to make sure the people you want to meet will be there, and not to try to sell them on the spot.

Next I talked about my success in creating my own advisory boards or brainstorming groups. These typically comprise a mix of half a dozen or so people from different businesses and backgrounds who meet perhaps every two months over coffee and muffins to talk about how they can help each other, introduce colleagues and stay in touch with what‘s happening.

Then I discussed alliances and how the right ones can lead to more business and support in a multitude of ways. As an example I cited successes with associations and business buying groups.

Another favourite ‘" Private Briefings, (my name for breakfast seminars,) followed; where I speak to invited guests about changing trends in business and how to capitalise on them. These are typically organised by someone who wants to add value to the relationship they already have with their clients.

What about social media.

At that point a member of the audience interrupted me and said, ‘Hang on, you haven‘t talked about social media‘.

He was right. Social media or more particularly, digital media is an important part of today‘s business landscape, but is it really a valid business prospecting tool?

What is the first thing you do when someone tells you about a new show that‘s coming to town? Google! Want to go and see the Melbourne Grand Prix: Google ‘Melbourne Grand Prix‘? It‘s that simple and it‘s that obvious. And if you went to the Grand Prix and enjoyed it, you may tell your social networks about it.

More and more businesses are making an effort to use social media and so they should. Like your website, it is where you need to be seen to be a relevant and a vital resource. And if you have an HR manager they‘ll already be using Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and other social networking accounts to scan for talent or maybe a prospective employee‘s past history.

So clearly you should at least be involved in the largest social networks, belong to forums and have at least one blog. Each of these digital strategies is a way of positioning yourself and your business to the world. For the innovative marketer there is the opportunity to create a video, or indeed multiple videos that are also relevant to your audience.

You also need a profile page on Facebook or LinkedIn. It will tell readers about your business, the people and its product and services. If people join your Facebook or LinkedIn groups, there should be an expectation that they will spread the word virally through that person's newsfeed.

Your website is a brochure to the world; this is an expansion of it. The principles are the same: people Google for information or people log on to your website. Social networks are another medium that is an increasingly important business communications vehicle.

But, do they replace prospecting? I don‘t think so, or at least, not for professional services businesses.

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