When connecting with people online, think quality over quantity. Rather than getting caught up in how many “friends” or “followers” you have, start paying attention to what you have in common with people. Finding a common ground and maximizing your contacts will help you establish a quality network.
Connecting online can be done with the push of a button, but leveraging these connections is the tough part. It takes time and effort, but it will pay off.
Our 3-Step process will guide you in creating valuable relationships from online contacts.
Step 1- Identifying your Markets
Target markets and target peers are two important groups that, if not already, need to be established. Ask yourself:
Who is my target market?
It is important to be clear who your target market is. It is common for businesses to have multiple target markets, for example a law firm who specializes in small business law and construction law.
If you have multiple markets, be clear about who you are trying to reach online. Social media messaging, blogs, articles, and other online materials should relate to one market at a time.
Who are my target peers?
Target peers are people who might be giving you referrals. Peers play an important role in helping you grow your network and fill your business with quality clients.
If you are a small business lawyer, your target peers might be financial advisors or a forensics firm. Target peers may also be attorney’s from another firm or location with a similar law practice. Start identifying referral sources who can potentially guide clients your way.
A quality network combines target markets and target peers.
Step 2. Connecting with People Online
Group discussions are a great way to connect online. Outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to search for groups of interest and groups in your area of practice. Do a search and join relevant groups that will benefit you.
Once you’ve joined, start participating! Make a post, review what others have to say, start engaging and adding value to the conversation.
Once you have commented you’ve created a two-way conversation. If people respond, don’t leave them hanging, reply back just as you would face-to-face. Being active in these groups will help you start establishing relationships and creating valuable contacts.
Step 3- Take the Relationship to the Next Level
Once you’ve established a relationship and connected with someone of interest, take it to the next level. Pick up the phone or schedule a live meeting to learn more about that person.
Whether they lead to direct business or have the potential to offer valuable clients, take the time to create a relationship that is beneficial for both parties.
The internet is a great tool for creating business contacts. Once you know who your target market and peer groups are, join relevant groups, actively participate in conversations, and start creating relationships with people that have the potential to be future clients or referral sources. Turning online contacts into professional relationships is a process that takes time and effort. Take this opportunity to grow your contacts, establish a quality network, and grow your business.