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Five Simple Steps for Using Social Media to Find New Clients

Basic social media platforms image shows icons for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Google Plus and YouTubeHave you met any business people lately who weren’t interested in finding new clients?

I certainly haven’t.

But I have met more than a few people who don’t actually get how social media can help them with this challenge.

And often enough, even among those who do have a sense of the potential of social media for lead generation, there is lack of understanding about just how to go about tapping into this opportunity.

These five simple steps provide a framework for using social media to find potential new clients via the social web and then begin engaging with them:

  1. Get clarity about your ideal client
  2. Survey existing clients
  3. Check in where the clients are
  4. Listen for concerns, interests and needs
  5. Share your knowledge

1. Get Clarity about Your Ideal Client

Social media provides new opportunities to identify our ideal clients and provides also some new learning and experimentation, especially for those not already comfortable with using social media for business.

Having a clear picture of our ideal client is essential if we are going to:

  • use our marketing time and budget productively
  • not be always settling for whoever comes along

This is basic foundational work for any kind of marketing, but taking time out to do it thoroughly is essential.

Our existing clients can help.

2. Survey Your Existing Clients

It seems to me that, one way or another, every book on social media and every social media consultant or coach tells us to find our prospects on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites, so that we can engage with them there.

Fair enough.

But how do we find them?

One strategy I recommend is to ask our existing clients what they do, what platforms they use, what networks, and how much, on the basis that there is a good chance others like them will have similar social networking patterns of behavior.

I work on the assumption that my clients will be happy to help, within reason, as they will want my business to do well.

Using a tool like Survey Monkey (free or premium) can help in collating and analysing the results of our enquiries (I believe in keeping such surveys simple and brief so that it’s not a burden or nuisance).

3. Check in Where the Existing Clients Are

Once we know where our existing clients spend their time and engage on the social web, we need to make sure we are there too.

We may be already signed up to the platforms and groups they are on. If not, we need to register, for the main ones at least. For most executives or other professionals, we should be able to cover a reasonable amount of the field from the platforms listed in my post from last April, Six Key Social Platforms for Busy Professionals: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Blog and YouTube (and note the recommendation there to not try and become proficient in all of them at once!).

With some ongoing experimentation, we should be able to get a picture of which platforms or networks are likely to be most helpful to our cause.

4. Listen for Concerns, Interests and Needs

Social networks provide priceless information to help us connect with clients and prospects. Once we have a sense of the places and spaces where our clients and prospects are likely to be we can begin to learn more about them by hanging out there ourselves.

The first thing to do is listen. Listen for what the conversations are and for what they reveal about the interests, concerns and needs of the people with whom you want to connect.

The second thing to do is listen some more.

Above all, we have to resist the temptation to immediately use these new channels of communication to broadcast about our products and services.

5. Share Your Knowledge

Once we have done some listening and developed a sense of the way people are communicating on a particular platform, say on a LinkedIn Group or with Twitter or other social platforms, we can start to share our knowledge and experience.

That does not mean diving in and declaring (however much and however justifiably we believe it) that we have just the product or service to solve their problem. If we do feel we have the answer they need, or at least an answer, and we have a sense that this will be all right to mention, then it is absolutely essential, for our ongoing credibility with the particular group, that we be transparent about the fact that this is our product or service, or – say – that we are affiliates (and thus stand to gain a commission).

What we can be sure of is that if, and as soon as, we start to look like we are just using the group to trawl for clients and not making any positive and reasonably disinterested contribution, people will tune out.

More positively, as we connect with the real concerns and issues of people in the group and offer help and suggestions where we can, people will become more receptive to learning about what we have to offer in terms of products and services.

Sometimes a mindshift is needed

I fully realize that, for many business people, this way of doing things will not come naturally.

But I believe it’s increasingly the way savvy professionals are going to be finding new clients.

And at the same time keeping “top of mind” for existing clients.

It’s all part of social selling.

Have you tried this approach, or something like it? Please feel free to share your experience.

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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  1. Thanks for the useful information,I understand using social media with clients but my question is how do I find potential clients with social media.My current clients are from direct contact.

    1. Darrell, thanks for the question. There are a lot of things you can do to find contacts with social media. Once you have clarity about the typical profile or profiles of the clients you would like to have – what I call your ideal client – then you can start to look more effectively for that kind of person on different social platforms and start studying their behavior, concerns etc., with a view to getting into those conversations as first a listener and then a contributor. For example, with LinkedIn, using the advanced search tools can help you find ideal clients in your own network, then look at what groups they are in, join those and participate.

      In this post, I’ve really focused on just one approach to this, based on the old saying that birds of a feather flock together. In other words, by studying your existing clients (and maybe people in your network who are not yet clients but you would like to have them as clients) you could work on an assumption that in discovering where they hang out on the social web (LinkedIn Groups, Facebook, Quora, etc) and injecting yourself into those places and spaces there will be a good chance you will find more like them. 

      Does that help?

  2. Yes , I am in the process of re-evaluating my services etc and not sure how to find new clients or for that matter who are my ideal clients.

    1. Sometimes what works well is to start from the negative. Write down the things you don’t want in a client (e.g. unreliable, negative personality, doesn’t listen, doesn’t pay on time, etc) and then list all the opposites to come up with the qualities and behaviors you like. Some people go so far as to give that “ideal client” a name (and if there are more than one type of client, several names/personas). 

  3. Good stuff here Des. I have an unfortunate quandary in that my main clients don’t participate in social media, that being the health care industry.  They might have a website, but they’re not active on any social media platforms, and thus I have to resort to the old tried and true but useless methods.  There are just some industries that won’t play the game; the weasels! lol

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