getting-referrals-online

One of the most powerful ways to grow business is through personal recommendations and referrals, and as a result we put considerable effort in trying to keep in touch with customers and into stepping out for networking events and conventions. It is the personal touch that counts, but it does take time and hard work, and it is difficult to scale up.

However, there are two factors that should not be overlooked.

1. “Know” and “Know of”

People don’t necessarily recommend services or products they have personally tried. Humans are (generally) helpful by nature and if we believe that someone we “know of” might have a solution to someone’s problem, we’re right in there with the recommendations. It makes us look good and helps a friend. The point is, it is often enough to be known of to get those “personal” referrals, so putting time into building your visibility and reputation is rarely wasted.

2. The internet has the power to escalate

We live in the internet age; anything we do online is highly scalable so that with a little effort and little cash, we can reach far, far more people and so put our visibility on steroids.

Stepping out

In the opening paragraph I mentioned networking or face-to-face meetings as being our real life way to become known to people. The closest equivalent online is to be active in Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or to set up events that are promoted online.

“Networking” in groups and the importance of your online elevator speech

Networking online and in particular, in groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, can be supercharged when compared to real-life networking.

In real life you have an elevator speech, and a name card with which to tell your story – one person at a time; online you have a link what can lead to anything from a blog post to a video, PDF or PowerPoint presentation. And that link can be shared, and shared.

Whatever it is you are sharing, it should entertain, empower or educate (the 3 E’s of Engagement), all the while subtly selling the quality of you, your service or product. Ideally that bit of content should be hosted on a platform that you own, so that you can pick up visitors’ email addresses with an opt-in offer and take your relationship to the next level.

The additional and significant benefit of creating your own content is that the more content you create, the more present you are online and ultimately the more visible you will become, not only in the eyes of other online users, but in the eyes of search engines too.

Here are some ideas and tools for creating content to share while you are out networking online:

  • Slideshare.com – upload documents including PowerPoint presentations and PDFs, and share the URL. Slideshare is highly visible to search engines. Free.
  • AdobeVoice – for making quick videos. Free.
  • Canva.com – for infographics. Free (with paid options)
  • LinkedIn – long-form posts are equivalent to a blog post. This is a relatively new feature (the last few years). Free.
  • Your own website – Ideally your website should allow you to easily add content. Often this is not the case which, in my opinion, is a web design crime. We build our clients’ website using WordPress, an easy-to-use content management system. If you cannot easily add content to your main site, consider getting a blog in a sub directory, and/or contacting us.

Events

Events/classes/courses – paid or free, online or off – are a great way to network and get your name out there. The benefits are many:

  • By having an event, you have something to talk about in groups (see above), in your newsletters and on your social media platforms.
  • If you are presenting, it helps build your reputation as an expert.
  • It’s a low-commitment way, especially if the event is online, for people to step forward to get to know you before perhaps taking the relationship further.
  • Events increase your visibility, especially using platforms such as Meetup and Eventbrite, which are recognised and indexed by search engines. Even if people don’t attend your first event, there is now a record of this event online for prosperity. Keep building on that.

A smart way to make events more appealing is to team up with other businesses/speakers who serve the same target audience. If you can create a theme, all the better.

Here are a few resources:

  • Eventbrite – An events management platform that allows you to charge a fee for paid events, but is free to use if your event is free. Eventbrite also promotes events posted on its platform within its network. You can accept payments via PayPal.
  • MeetUp – Meetup is an online platform that makes it easy for anyone to organise a local group and organise “meetups” or events. Like Eventbrite, events are promoted within the network. There is a small fee for group administrators. You can accept payments via WePay.
  • Google Hangouts – This is an easy way to get a group of people together and perhaps run a presentation. You can fire it up using Google Hangouts On Air which allows you to live stream to a much larger audience. I use this with a front-end App to make the invitation and guest management process a little easier. If you are interested in this product, please ask me for more information.

Other webinar software: other names incude GoToMeeting (about US$49/month).

If you are looking for a real-life venue in Hong Kong check out VenueHub.HK. I can also recommend the Hong Kong Marketing Association venues as being economical and professional. But remember, you still promote the event online!

Powering it up with advertising

Possibly the best resource now available is the ability is to pay to promote a post – ideally one that contains a link to your website content – on Facebook or LinkedIn, or even through AdWords. Everyone knows that organic reach on social media just isn’t as viral as it used to be, but by putting a bit of money, as little as HK$300, behind your content sharing strategy, you can extend reach significantly. If done right, this can also be targeted very precisely so that you really do power up your presence online.

We offer workshops for Facebook and Google AdWords advertising if you’d like to learn more about powering up your online reach and reputation..

It is an effort to create content but often we create content every day when we answer questions or reply to emails from clients and prospects. Why not put that effort to work for you, put that content online so that it reaches not just one person, but potentially thousands. And that is the way to build your reputation online and get more referrals.

 Stand up. Stand out. Do it online. Get more business.

 

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