In a recent post, I discussed why I thought Facebook Groups were better than Pages for independent direct sellers. I absolutely LOVED the comments (you all have so many great ideas!!!) , but there was one thing that I thought was curious…some of the comments seemed to indicate that without a Page, you couldn’t find new prospects in social media. And nothing could be further from the truth. While Groups ARE an opt-in level for your business (as in, people join your group after you’ve developed a relationship with them, and they have specifically decided they want more information about your business), there are many online tools at your disposal to meet new contacts, in order to find new prospects for your business.
So today I want to talk about ways you can meet new prospects in social media, without spending your entire life in front of the computer. Keep in mind that you don’t need to do all of these. Focus on those that will work best given your business and schedule:
Groups related to the problems your product or opportunity solve are fabulous for finding new prospects for your business (for example, a group dedicated to decorating, quick and easy recipes, or working from home.) Keep in mind, however, that you must become a member of the community first. That means investing the time getting to know people, sharing tips and advice that are free, and building relationships with people. Once your new contacts in the group come to know, like, and trust you, you have the opportunity to invite them to join your group, or approach them privately with your products or opportunity.
Keyword Searches on Twitter
One of the greatest things about Twitter is the way it enables you to find new people who may be interested in what you have to offer. You can search the entire Twitter conversation stream in real time, and be notified whenever specific keywords are used. To get started, first define the keywords that your prospects might use. For example, if your goal is recruiting, they might use keywords such as “unemployed” or “work at home.” Then, go to http://search.twitter.com, or use a Twitter client such as HootSuite or TweetDeck and create search columns, and search for the keywords you’ve identified. Once you see who is using those terms, you can follow and begin to converse with those folks. Just be careful not to jump into your sales pitch immediately. Remember, it’s about building relationships first. Then you can share what you have to offer privately.
Conversations with Others
Another great way to connect with new people is simply to engage in conversations through your social networks. Tools such as Facebook allow you to see when people you’re not connected with comment on the posts of your friends. So engage in dialog on your friends’ posts, and see who you might want to connect with as well. Now this does not give you license to stalk people. But if you have a great conversation with someone, and want to get to know them better, send them a friend request with a message such as, “I had a great time talking to you through Suzie H’s post. Would love to connect on Facebook and get to know you better.” Then, build a relationship with that person, listen, and when appropriate, share what you have to offer.
Blogging (with Lead Collection)
Blogging is one of my favorite ways to connect with new people, and build a list. Once you have identified the content that your target market is looking for (remember, we meet them at their point of need and provide content they’re searching for that they can use right now without spending a dime), you can begin to write posts that provide a tremendous amount of value. If people like your blog, there’s a good chance they’ll subscribe to it, and share it with their friends. Be absolutely sure that you have a way for people to sign up for a newsletter on your blog, or have some other reason for them to give you their contact info (ebook download, etc.) Once people sign up for your list, then you have the opportunity to market to them more directly.
Let’s not forget that people you meet in real life are also excellent prospects for your business, and social media is an excellent way to help develop those relationships. I like to tell the story about how when my family and I joined a new church congregation, we didn’t really know too many people there. It was hard to get to know folks in the 10 minutes during coffee hour after the service. However one of the congregation members invited me to become a friend on Facebook, and pretty soon I was connected with many folks there. Suddenly, we had a great opportunity to get to know people and feel more included. We also had more to talk about on Sundays. Now think about how you could develop relationships with people you see only at the bus stop, or the ball game, or wherever else you run into people locally. How could connecting with people on your social networks enable you to get to know them better, and give you the opportunity to share your business?
Yahoo! and Google Local
Don’t forget local search engines as a way to help people find you as well. When people are specifically searching for your company, or the type of product that you offer, local search engines are a fantastic way to be found. (And that also goes for your local chamber of commerce website as well.) Find the places that local businesses are being advertised online, and be a part of it! So many people go online first to find what they need these days, that it really pays to make sure you can be found.
Social media is an excellent tool to help your business get found by the people that need what you have to offer. Of course, it’s most important that you take the time to develop relationships first. Then you can invite people to join your opt-in community (be that a Group, a newsletter, etc.) so you can provide more specific marketing messages for your business.
How do you find new prospects for your business using social media? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!