A frustrated client of mine, who runs a law firm, had been witnessing over a number of months countless other professionals in law secure high-paying clients without putting much effort into cold calling or asking for referrals.
For those professionals, potential clients seemed to find them. And in the first initial meeting, the potential clients had already made up their mind to hire them for their services. They were convinced of that person’s competence before the meeting.
My client asked me, “How do they do it?”. With a little research online, it soon became apparent to me why those professional’s client attraction was so strong. They had significant online presence and positioned themselves as go-to experts in their industry.
When you run a business, and this is true for law firms, accounting practices or any other service based business, people won’t know whether you’re any good at what you do unless they have worked with you before or they hear about it from somebody else.
This might work fine if you already have a solid client base, a strong reputation and a large network from which you can pull clients into your business. But what if you’re new in your industry? What if you don’t have a large client base? What if you only have a couple of people in your network willing to refer you?
How do you get potential clients to know if you are credible and competent?
These are great questions, and if you’re asking these questions as a business owner then you’re already one step ahead of the others – congratulations for not being complacent or blindly optimistic about new business development.
Potential clients won’t know whether you’re any good at what you do unless they have worked with you before or they hear about it from somebody else.
The reality is, in the business world today, you have immense power to create the brand and reputation that you want. This was not so true ten years ago. Today however, if you can create a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, a Facebook account, or even a YouTube account, you have the power to become recognised as a go-to expert in your field.
It’s been done many times before and people will continue to do it for as long as the internet and social media exists. In October 2016, before LinkedIn was bought by Microsoft, it had 467 million users. In April 2017, this number grew to 500 million users. That’s 43 million new LinkedIn accounts created in a period of 6 months!
Looking at this number from a different angle, it’s 43 million professionals who in the last 6 months decided they want to start building their online reputation. Not all of these people will be business owners like you. But they could be your future client.
Do you have a presence on LinkedIn right now that will convince future clients you’re credible?
Or maybe your potential clients are more active on Facebook. As of December 2015, there were 50 million businesses using a Facebook Business Page. They clearly know that to connect with their clients, they need to have a presence on Facebook. Maybe your competitors are amongst them. Are you? In the way you want to be seen?
If you want to be a part of this growth, then the next issue you face is where to start. How do you develop an online presence so you will become recognised as a go-to expert in your field?
To get started, there are only three questions you need to think about:
Question 1: Where do your ideal clients go online?
What websites do they visit? Are they on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter? What Facebook groups are they a part of? What LinkedIn groups have they joined? Find out where your ideal client “hangs out” online and be present in those places.
Your presence on these platforms will build familiarity with potential clients. Familiarity is a concept my students in Business Etiquette 101: Social Skills for Success, Bestselling video course know all about. It’s part of developing the know, like and trust factor which is an extremely important concept all service-based business owners should master.
Question 2: What are your ideal client’s biggest problems or obstacles?
What do they find challenging? What problems do they want solved? If their problems align with your area of expertise, then you are perfectly positioned to be of help to them. You just have to let them know you’re there and available.
If their problems aren’t perfectly aligned with your area of expertise, but you feel you could help them, you might need a slight pivot with your service offerings. Improving your knowledge or training in a specific area can help you grow your service offerings and solve a wider range of problems for potential clients.
Question 3: Create content that helps solve a problem.
This is where most people stop. Either they don’t have the time to create content in the form of articles or videos, or they are reluctant to share any of their advice because they don’t want to give it away for free.
I completely understand this reluctance. But if you don’t have a large client base and you cannot get referrals, how are people supposed to know if you’re any good at what you do?
Giving away advice for free doesn’t mean you have to give away everything. It simply means that you give away a small part of your advice, as a teaser, making your readers or viewers want to know more.
Over time, this will help you build an online profile that positions you as the go-to expert in your field. If you’re lucky, people will come to you, already convinced that you’re the only person who can help them. If you’re not as lucky, you will at least have a solid online presence and portfolio of content that will make people you pitch to, more open to meeting with you.
Familiarity is part of developing the know, like and trust factor which is an extremely important concept all service-based business owners should master.
Becoming recognised as a go-to expert in your industry does take time. It’s not something that will happen overnight or even in a few weeks. It takes long-term planning, strategy and goal setting. At times, you might feel it’s useless, impossible and not worth your time.
But imagine it working. Imagine if in six months time, clients were contacting you out of the blue for your services. Imagine if in 12 months time, you’re being invited to speak at conferences and events, all expenses paid.
Imagine if your business and client base grew significantly because you are known as the go-to expert in your industry.
As the saying goes, you will not see change if you keep doing the same things over and over again. I helped my client think about how she would answer the three questions I asked you in this article. Her answers helped her refine and build her reputation as a go-to expert in her field. She is now attracting opportunities in her business that are new and very exciting.
I want you to experience the same results. I encourage you to embrace the power of the online world and start positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your industry today.
If you’re serious about building your brand as a go-to expert and you want the advice of a professional to help you get there faster, I am available for coaching from anywhere in the world.