There are various ways you can attract new clients to your online business, but one of the most effective is through community involvement. Get your face out there and become known for helping others. Don't stress.
Community involvement can occur both on and offline. You should consider doing both. Why, you might ask? There are communities that exist only online and there are communities that exist only offline. You can be active in both for the best impact, but if there is a reason you can only participate online that's awesome too.
There are two genres of communities you can get involved with: 1) a community of your peers, or 2) a community of your audience.
There are peers with which you may be in direct competition and those who offer complementary services to you Both can help you get clients, but the complementary group is more beneficial to you because they are not your direct competition. Consider that when you get involved in any particular group.
Even your direct competitors can offer you an opportunity to gain new clients. For instance, if your competitors have too many clients, they can offer your services to their overflow clients. This allows you to get out there more and let your brand shine.
Business-focused groups, mastermind groups, industry-focused groups and so forth all exist to help you further educate yourself and provide meaningful, lasting connections. You can gain clients through word of mouth when a peer group member feels you would be best for a position because they have built a relationship with you.
Additionally, peer groups offer opportunities for joint venture (JV) partnerships which can widen and expand your audience. JV partnerships gained new popularity in 2015-2016. They seem to be an easy way to build your audience as a team yet shine on your talents and experience.
I've had the pleasure of being a part of a few JV and they have been a learning and profitable experience.
Audience or niche groups are an excellent place for you to spend your time. You can find groups filled with your ideal clients. You can locate these groups by looking at local meetups in the area via Meetup, searching for groups on LinkedIn, and searching for and joining message boards devoted to a particular industry.
What makes niche groups work is active participation. Jump in and answer questions for people and helps you to see you as a vital part of the group. Let your signature line speak for itself. Don't try to sell your services blatantly. They will come to you when they see that you offer what they want as you share your knowledge.
Understand the Pros and Cons
Be a free and open source of information regarding your industry. This is how people get to know you and build trust with you. You want to be seen as someone to refer to others or hire themselves.
Problems can arise if you spend more time in communities of your peers than in communities consisting of your industry audience. This can result in a problem finding your ideal clients because you'll be stuck in a bubble of competitors.
Choose to balance your time in communities that will benefit you and the communities. You want to focus on spending more time in industry communities that are made up of your ideal audience.
Regardless of which community you are part of, participate in so that you can become known as a community expert. Always provide value rather than simply being a taker.
When you join either type of community, realize that when you first join, you are a newbie and are unknown. No one is going to trust you immediately – whether they are meeting you in person or online.
Don't force it. Take the time to get to know others before offering your services in any manner. Get to know the culture of the community. Let your business card or your online signature line do the selling for you.
Make participation your goal and more qualified clients will be your reward.