For many thinking of starting their own businesses, the fear of finding clients can paralyze them enough to sabotage their efforts. Cold calling prospects can make some of us break out in a cold sweat. One of the things that I learned early on in my business start-up days is that there are other ways to find clients.
When you have worked in corporate America for your entire career, one of the skills you probably didn’t learn was how to network. As a business owner, networking is one of the best ways to get clients. And today, adding social networking to the mix makes your ability to find business that much easier.
Learn how to network in person
One of the first things I did when I launched my business was to join BNI (Business Network International). Some people feel that it doesn’t work. But when you are starting a business, BNI gives you many benefits:
- Meeting new people
- Developing a support and sales organization
- Having a place to test your marketing message
These are really valuable to a startup business. And with it now being held virtually, you can work on your virtual meeting and presence as well.
The next thing I did was to take a course on networking. The course taught me the basic principle of growing your business, called the VCP model – Visibility + Credibility = Profitability. Dr. Ivan Misner developed this three phase relationship development process: Visibility – Credibility – Profitability or VCP, to help business owners understand how to generate profitable relationships.
- Visibility – Be seen otherwise out of sight, out of mind.
- Credibility – Develop the relationship so that people understand your value and how to refer business to you.
- Profitability – Cultivating relationship with the right referral sources will result in profitable business relationships.
VCP is a process, not a formula. So you may get visibility right but it is all about credibility. Once people know that you are an expert in your industry, they will begin to refer you. Until they have the confidence that you are good at what you do, it is their reputation on the line.
Works both Offline and Online
The principles of networking transcend to social networking. How does the VCP model work in social networking?
Building visibility and credibility using social media takes time but is worth it. It provides the venue from which you can create visibility and demonstrate your expertise. In many ways, it’s easier to develop this reputation online since the tools enable you to build your reputation on a daily basis. In person networking events happen frequently, but not 24×7.
Implement the Visibility – Credibility – Profitability process
Develop your content strategy
First you must demonstrate your expertise. Create a blog and develop a content strategy that gives you content that you can share and promote. Content needs to be quality and relevant to your target customer. Content marketing can work for many types of service businesses including remodelers, roofers, landscaping, coaching, financial services and many more.
Create your social media profiles
Choose the right platforms and create profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks that relate to your area of expertise. If you aren’t sure where your audience exists, test it. Or better, ask your customers which social networks they prefer.
Link your blog to your profiles and look for other opportunities to get backlinks. And if you are a local business, be sure to claim and optimize your Google Business Profile.
One thing that you can do if you offer services to homeowners is to ask your customers if they have a neighborhood Facebook group or other type of neighborhood directory. If they do, have them recommend you to the group and provide your contact details.
Get into video and podcasting if comfortable
Create videos and presentations and upload to YouTube of Rumble. If speaking is easier for you, create a podcast to share your knowledge and expertise. More people would rather listen and watch content than read. But in either case, put the content on your blog and summarize it in text. The content helps your visibility.
So why do we do it?
It’s just a whole lot more fun to pick up the phone and have someone on the other end go on about all the great things they have read, seen and heard about your products and services.
Plus prospects that come to you by way of your information machine, that have logically progressed down a path of education, are probably ten times more likely to be your ideal client. In addition, they will equally be more likely to become customers than those that you try to convince to buy from you.
Your marketing system can be one of the greatest ways to qualify leads. If a lead won’t go down your education path, that might be a red flag that they won’t be an ideal customer either.
What other ways do you recommend people get visibility and credibility using social media?