Prospecting for Larger Clients: The New Online is Offline

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On Christmas day, we finally got around to watching our favorite holiday cult classic. Set in the Midwest circa 1939-40, A Christmas Story chronicles nine-year-old Raphie’s quest to convince his parents that “an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle” is what he needs for Christmas.

After strategically placing an ad for the rifle inside his mother’s copy of Look magazine, Ralphie joins the family at the breakfast table where his father—The Old Man—is reading the morning paper.

“Did you hear about this guy who swallowed a yo-yo?” he asks his wife. “On a bet … some clodhopper down in Griffith, Indiana.”

“They write the silliest things in the newspapers,” she replies. “What do you mean ‘silly’?” The Old Man retorts. “That’s real news!”

Today, we say that about Facebook and Twitter.

In an article entitled Everything is Social so “Social Media” is Irrelevant, Mark Blackham makes the case that social media isn’t something occurring “over there”—rather it’s simply the medium we use to be social.

That’s why Google’s Panda and Penguin updates now take “social signals” into account, requiring SEO strategy and social media marketing be integrated. That means the old ways of obtaining backlinks are changing. Industry experts such as Andrew Shotland and Neil Patel recommend offline activities and promotion that lead to “natural” links, such as:

  • Hosting a networking event
  • Creating a scholarship program
  • Sponsoring an industry-related student club at a local university
  • Sponsoring a sports team
  • Joining a local business association or Chamber of Commerce
  • Running a contest or fund-raiser
  • Getting involved with the community or a charitable organization

In other words, you need to connect with your audience in the “real world.” The things we do there can affect the virtual one. (Could it be the two are finally merging? Or perhaps there wasn’t any division to begin with—except in our minds.)

So it seems that getting recognized offline can increase your visibility online. Which leads me to the topic at hand.

Using LinkedIn to Prospect for Larger Clients

Last week, I promised to tell you how to use your LinkedIn network to prospect for larger clients.

I lied.

Actually, I digressed, because I want you to realize an important fact. That leveraging your LinkedIn network to find larger clients means doing the same things you’d do if LinkedIn didn’t exist. Things like:

  1. Building a well-established professional network
  2. Having a highly-defined and targeted client
  3. Using your network to prospect them

Unfortunately, this fundamental misunderstanding of social media has led to a lot of bad advice. Most of what’s written about “How to use LinkedIn to find clients” fails in two crucial areas:

They neglect the idea of targeted marketing

How can you “find” someone when you don’t even know what they look like? You must define your target market.

They focus on creating a profile rather than a prospecting plan

As nice as your profile might be, it won’t send clients your way. Like it or not, the reality is, you must prospect for new business. Prospecting for new business is how you find clients.

So are you ready to use LinkedIn to leverage your online and offline marketing and promotional efforts? Then come back next week. I triple dog dare you.

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John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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