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"Digital" Chamber of Commerce

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How to gain new customers using social media.

Jason Scott | September 3, 2014

By Jason Scott, MCLP, CSP

As many of you know, local Chambers of Commerce, Business Network International Groups (BNIs) and other networking associations have been great places to find new customers and leads for many business owners over the years.  In fact, many longtime Chamber of Commerce members rely solely on the referral network for new business.   Their involvement with these associations has created some long lasting relationships and referrals.  With more people online, we have a huge opportunity to apply the same traditional networking concepts in a “digital way.”  I have had great success with having new customers fall into my lap due to the commitment I have made online.

The key is spending time online where your buyers are having conversations. It is similar to how you would network at a Chamber event, but you engage with them in a digital way. 

Step 1: Identify the influencers in your service area (for example: local journalists, politicians, real estate agents, property managers, town administrators, business owners, attorneys, etc.).  These are people you would have been getting in front of at local networking events.  And these are people with whom you’d like to share your message.

Step 2: Now that you have identified them, follow them.  Follow them on Twitter and re-tweet their tweets.  Connect with them on LinkedIn and comment on their posts.  “Like” their business page on Facebook and be sure to give them a review, or comment on a post.  Subscribe to their blogs and comment on their articles.  

Networking event (Monthly):                   Digital Networking (always):

 

Smile and nod in agreement
on a comment another
member has made.

 

Tell another member of
a story you learned about
at the event.

 

Engage in conversation
with another local
business owner.



Tell others about a
promotion another local
business is running.       

 

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“Like” their comment online.

 


“Share” the content that you
feel is valuable to your
audience, from one of your
influencers.


“Comment” on a local
business owner’s post,
or ask them a question about
their business.

 

“Promote” a local business
owner by sharing one of
their promotions with your
followers.

 

Performing these acts of kindness, online as well as in person, creates relationships with your influencers that fosters sharing.  Being engaged with these people online boosts your credibility in their eyes and more importantly - in Google’s eyes.

I am not suggesting that “live” networking events no longer have value.  I truly believe they do.  However, you can frequently and effectively pass along your message with some of the same peers by engaging with them online.  For example while you are sharing others’ content and liking their posts, you might comment on how you “enjoyed the steak” at a local business owner’s restaurant.  That puts you on the top of that owner’s mind.  The restaurant owner will be flattered that you took time out of your busy day to comment on how good the steak is at his establishment and he is going to want to reciprocate.  The next time the restaurant owner sees a post from you about your business he will share with his followers, opening up your bandwidth to a whole new clientele.  

If you are doing this regularly with all the people you follow, you will be creating buzz around yourself and your business that will place you at the top of the list when someone is considering hiring a landscape professional.

 

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