Social media might not be the first channel you consider as a way to grow your client base, but maybe it should be. If you think about it, social media networks are all about relationships. And what’s more key to your business than building relationships? 

That’s why you really can’t afford to ignore it. Today, 73 percent of people using social media as part of the sales process outperform their peers and exceed quota 23 percent more often.Those are pretty compelling numbers when it comes to sales. 

Where do you start?

Wondering which social media channel(s) to focus on? To start, I’d recommend LinkedIn. Everybody knows LinkedIn makes good business sense. It’s a gathering place for professionals, a place where members connect with companies and companies connect with each other. While some may discount it as an ineffective approach, many others would say it’s a land of opportunity. 

I personally questioned it. But a few years ago, I began to recognize its value. I’d been repeatedly reaching out to a key business prospect — phone, email and even a personal visit. No luck. So in exasperation, I turned to LinkedIn and discovered that one of my connections had a connection to the prospect.  Through LinkedIn, the door was opened and I stepped through it. 

What are the possibilities?

Through social media channels, you can:

  • Network with clients, prospects, industry experts and peers
  • Be a resource for clients
  • Grow your own professional brand
  • Provide benefit education, insights and information
  • Open doors and generate leads 

If it’s something you aren’t engaging in today, it’s time to start thinking about how to make social media part of your plan. Whether you use LinkedIn or some other social media tool, here are some tips for doing that. 

Do

  • Strengthen your social media profile. Just by adding a profile picture, you’ll increase views by 14 times. Adding the name of your industry raises views by 15 times. And including a summary boosts views by seven times, according to LinkedIn.
  • Post content regularly. Position yourself as a thought leader your connections look to for important insights. Share case studies, real-life examples and other valuable information.
  • Join discussion groups. They’re a great place to pose questions, create discussions and share insights, and they offer an ideal forum to spotlight your own expertise and make new connections.
  • Nurture leads. Most social media tools work well within a multi-channel approach to help you nurture leads. Use them as one way to follow up with clients and prospects after a meeting or a phone call. 

Don’t

  • Sell. Instead, concentrate on establishing connections. Engage and educate. Build trust and differentiate yourself as a valuable resource.
  • Used canned responses. Be authentic with your connections.
  • Mix personal and professional. If your plan is to use a particular social media channel for making business connections, stick to business on that channel. The same goes for your personal social media channels.
  • Expect all your clients to connect via social media. Build social into your marketing plans, but continue to customize service to your clients’ expectations. 

In addition to LinkedIn, which has broad application across all industries, consider branching out. Different industries and professions have their own social networks. For example, human resources professionals can connect via HR.com. Legal professionals connect via community.martindale.com. Search for networks that might be relevant to your clients. Other business-oriented social networks include Opportunity.com and Ryze.com. 

Maintaining a presence on social media is a real investment that can help you build your business. Social networks are no longer an add-on to your marketing strategy. They’re an essential ingredient.