Social media has played a huge role in my career as a consultant. Events like the annual HR Technology Conference I attended in October make up a huge part of my marketing strategy for finding and connecting with new clients. For small businesses and one woman consultancies like mine, social media is a fantastic tool to reach a huge audience with very little cost. It is also scalable for larger companies who need to widen their approach and engage in a bigger conversation.
Twitter in particular is my favorite social network. Earlier this year Twitter surpassed LinkedIn as the tool of choice for sales professionals as their preferred social network for relationships and to build and engage leads. What social networking tool and platform that works for you will vary depending on your target client, industry and vertical you work and consult in.
How to Get Consulting Work with Social Media
So, how does a consultant sort through the noise and plethora of platforms and tools in the social media realm to create a successful strategy that will produce consistent results? After all time at conferences, when your potential clients are near at hand is limited. Here are some tricks I have learned that work for me.
- Start from your home base. The blogosphere was the birthplace of social media and still feeds most of the conversation. By sharing resources and content from a branded business and consulting blog you create a piece of online real estate that you own and control, which is not always true in the wider world of social media. It gives people a passive point of connection that you can drive prospective clients to for sales conversions. During conferences, shape your blog content around what’s happening to piggyback on the momentum.
- Engage in conversations that are already happening to get noticed and connect with new prospects. One great way to do this is with hashtags. Twitter is king when it comes to hashtags and using, or even creating the right ones can make you the belle of the ball. Be an early adopter and don’t be afraid to experiment, but when something works, keep it in your repertoire.
- Don’t forget your call to action. Just because this is social media, don’t forget it’s business. If you want to take your connections to the next level and have an opportunity to pitch them on your consulting services, you need to ask for a meeting. Remember they are probably being courted by more than one person with similar skills. Getting noticed and sitting back waiting for them is not enough. Your prospects could easily be poached by the consultant who hustles. Reel them in.
- Don’t mistake busyness and productivity. Social media can be a great benefit, but it can also just create a lot of noise. Even things that draw attention don’t always lead to sales. Stay focused on your message and maximize your time. That one on one meeting is where your focus should be and wasting time on social media can blind you to opportunities unfolding in the real world.
- Whenever possible, incorporate known branded hashtags that relate to your industry or business. My husband, the medical IT consultant, for instance, used the #chc15 hashtag for his communications during the Cerner User Conference in Kansas City. Not only will it make it possible to get found, it also signals that you are there and available for contact.
Social media is a great tool to build relationships and expand outside of your traditional network. It’s created both opportunities for personal and professional relationships.