As a business owner you understand how important it is to attract new clients to your business, one of the most rewarding and effective ways to do this is via community involvement. Community involvement can happen both on and offline, you can do both for the most impact, but if there is some reason you can only participate online that is fine too, the secret as with most things is to actually do something.
There are two types of communities you can get involved in to attract new clients, you can involve yourself in a community of your peers, or a community of your target audience.
Peer Groups To Attract New Clients
In terms of peer groups, there are peers with whom you are in direct competition and those who offer complementary services to yours. Both can help you attract new clients but the complementary group will be more beneficial to you because they are not direct competition. Consider this when researching any group you may consider joining.
Business focused groups, mastermind groups, industry focused groups and so forth all exist to help you educate yourself further and provide connections. You can get clients through word of mouth when a peer group member feels you would be right for a position because they have come to know you. Peer groups also offer opportunities for joint venture (JV) partnerships which can widen and expand your target audience.
Niche Groups To Attract New Clients
Target Audience or niche groups are the best place for you to spend your time because you can find groups full of your ideal clients. You can locate these groups by looking at local meet-ups in the area, searching for groups on LinkedIn.com, and searching for and joining message boards devoted to a particular niche.
The key making niche groups work is to join the group with the aim of giving and not taking, answer questions freely for them and let them come to see you as part of the group. Let your signature line (online) or elevator speech speak for itself, and do not try to sell your services at all, this may seem counterproductive but it is this distinction that really sets you apart and allows you to maximise all opportunities. You will attract new customers once they trust you and when they see that you offer what they want via your normal sharing mechanisms.
Understand the Pros and Cons
Be a free and open source of information regarding your business and your niche products and services. This is how people will get to know you and trust you and start seeing you as someone to refer to others or hire. There can be problems with choosing to spend more time in communities of your peers than in communities consisting of your niche audience. Doing so can result in a problem finding your ideal clients and being stuck in a bubble of competitors.
I personally have peers in my industry that I seek advice from and give advice to, these competitors have become friends and we share industry best practices, current trends and help educate one another, this is how I use peer to peer groups.
You want to focus most of your time in communities that are made up of your ideal target customer than with your peers but you want to also participate in peer communities so that you can become known as a community expert, also.
When I first started networking I was taught by my business mentor to go network where your customers go, that way you will find more. This is especially true if you take it literally and attend events with some of your actual customers as these people will reinforce your business and give live testimonials on how your business works for them.
Finally, when you join either type of group you want to realise that when you first join, you are the new person and you are unknown. No one is going to trust you immediately, whether they are meeting you in person or online. Take the time to get to know others before offering your services in any manner, and get to know the culture of the group. Let your business card or your signature line do the selling for you. Make participation your goal and you will attract new clients.