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How To: Build Your Customer Network In 5 Steps

By:     Topics: Entrepreneurship,Get Web Traffic     More posts about:

Where do you find your customers?

It’s a valid question, so why don’t you put more thought into it?

You hear having a Facebook Page, being on Twitter, and writing a blog are all great supplements for your business.

You’ve set each of these things up, and even craft what you think is pretty good content, but still…

No one shows.

Believe it or not, your customers aren’t just “out there” floating around in the ether of the Internet. In fact, they might be closer to you than you think. You just have to start being a little more strategic about where you find them.

1. Go Down The Rabbit Hole

Everyone including your grandmother has a Facebook.

If they’re a little more savvy, they’ll also have a Twitter, and maybe even a secret Tumblr blog.

But what are the other lower-profile sites that are hiding your customers?

I’m not talking about the really well-hidden, backchannel type places (not exactly, anyway).  Instead I’m talking about social platforms developed specifically for a smaller group of people.

I’m talking specialized forums, blogs, and ::shudder:: yes, maybe even a celebrity gossip site.

It’s not always intuitive to seek these places and join in, but that’s exactly what you need to do in order to set up camp among the folks you need to talk to and hear from.

Don’t just rely on the top three-to-five biggest social platforms to be sufficient. Seek out your customers in the other places they’re active.

If you sell lighting equipment, find photography forums.
If you sell car parts, interact with car enthusiasts on Twitter.
If you sell Facebook Pages, get active website design blogs…

See where I’m going with this?

2. Stalk People

It’s 75% research and 150% practice.

If you’re trying to catch the eye of key players in your field, you need to know who they are and where they hang.

You also need to know how they interact with each other and how they expect to be spoken to. It seems simple, but if they’re not the type to call people “dude,” and you approach them with, “duuuude!” you look like a moron.

Use Twitter to “spy” on key influencers. Watch their tweets and get a feel for their sense of humor, their workload, and most importantly places where you might be able to offer a hand.

Many influential people will vent their frustrations, or make an offhand joke about something on Twitter, so if you’re able to either A.) offer help or B.) make them laugh, that’ll go a long way in building a relationship with them.

Same goes for your customers, at any given time you should be monitoring for “Keywords” that are related to your product or service.

Lend a hand to someone in need. (without being spammy!) Use what you find in their previous tweets to get a feel for them. Do this enough and you’ll begin to identify your “ideal” customers, so you can work only with people who you will enjoy working with.

3. Be nice to the “Little Guy”

There are no “little guys,” there are just differing levels of success.

Don’t expect that you’ll only ever need to speak to the major figures in your niche: networks are full of guys like you, and guess what? They’re the ones who make you a success.

Never forget that without the support of the average joe, there would be no big names, no key players. So, don’t be a jerk just because you don’t recognize someone’s name right away.

4. Shut Up, Just Listen

Before you start pushing content in your new networks, learn to listen.

There are tools available to help you scan the “chatter” of the internet – feed readers, alerts, keyword filters, etc.

Finding and utilizing tools that aggregate fresh content for you means you’re as well-informed as possible.

You can find and absorb content from others in your field, keep an eye on key players, and locate content belonging to other contributors that you don’t mind sharing.

Listening is always more important than self promotion. You can push content on others all day long and be ignored, or you can catch the eye of the folks whose attention you want, by re-sharing their information and helping them on their way.

5. Share Others, But Be Selective

Some folks will start following you before you’ve even said anything.

Others engage with you only if you’re a team player. No one will like you if you spend all your time massaging your ego… don’t be that guy.

Be a team player by interacting with other people’s work. Retweet it, share the link, “like” it, post it in a forum… you get the idea. Be vocal in your encouragement of other folks’ work.

Show them that you’re not just here to push your work down their throats.

When you do share, do it selectively. Three email blasts a day is too much… sometimes one a day is too much if your other conversations are lagging.

And furthermore, while you’re sharing selectively, be thorough.

If you’re going to talk about your own content, make sure you’re alerting everyone at close to the same time.

There are tools at your disposal, such as an RSS feed, that can be plugged into various profiles or networks so that your message is thoroughly saturating your networks without overdoing it.

If your RSS has posted on your behalf, don’t follow it up immediately with your own personal version.

Let your tools work for you so you can focus on building important relationships.

Bonus: Be Yourself

You have to interact.

You wouldn’t buy a cellphone from a salesman who stares at you blankly while you’re asking questions out loud in the store. So why would expect your customers to do the same?

There are literally thousands if not millions of articles on how to make money online using social media to assist in growing your business. What it really all comes down to is having a network of people who’s lives are better from knowing you. And in order to know you, you must be active.

Enrich people’s lives and help them acheive their goals, and they will remember you forever.

Try to push them into buying stuff from you, and you’re as easily forgotten as everyone else who tries to do the same.

No amount of tips, tricks or tactics can teach you how to be a good person, that you have to find within.

But the tips in this article will assist you to find the right people so you don’t end up staring at the computer screen waiting for money to appear.

What do you think? Anything I missed?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. Hi Tommy,

    What a fantastic piece, I think a lot of people do forget that there is lots of other social channels outside Facebook and Twitter. When I was designing full time used to surf the blogs and forums helped me find a lot of work.

    Thanks for a Great Post
    Joe 🙂

    • Thanks so much Joe!

      You’re right, and I think a lot of people forget that there is actually a lot more money in the forums, because they’re so specialized.

  2. Michael you have a wonderful Blog..I just got hooked up the first time i read your fisrst Article..Keep it up ..

  3. I’d add that the little guy might not always be the little guy. I got my first big break by helping someone out who later became head of internet advertising with a major company.

    • Great point!

      Some of my most loyal customers have been with me since the day I did a webinar with very little experience or money. But we’ve grown together and at the end of the day, that’s the most rewarding feeling in the world.

      What did you do to help out your “little guy?”

      • Basically, he emailed asking for us to list his website on our own (which was a tourist site with a directory subsection). His site wasn’t complete, but instead of turning him down I took the time to look at his site, make some suggestions, and suggested he came back when the site was finished. That developed into a friendship, and eventually a big advertising deal.

        Good to hear your story, too, Tommy. What’s your line of business?

        • That’s so awesome to hear. Even the little things can go a really long way.

          I’m an online marketing strategist and host of a youtube show called “Inside The Mind” I help different businesses form the exact right strategy for online marketing that plays to their strengths and improve their weaknesses.

  4. Michelle Fradella-Barfuss says:

    Awesome list of tips! I think you hit the nail on the head! So many people want to push themselves out on all the major social media sites, but they don’t take the time to really find out about their prospects, and they don’t hang out where the masses do.
    Thanks!

  5. Thnx Tommy for a wonderful post.

    I am a real estate agent and trying to get customers online but it seem to be not that fruitful via internet. I have twitter, facebook and blogger to get customers. But still I was not getting what I want.

    After reading your article I got to know that the main thing which I was missing is interaction. Interaction with people around you and among the people who are online like commenting on their statuses, tweeting them, liking their posts, commenting on a blog or a forum. Interaction with people is essential in every business maby somehow that person might be your customer in near or long future.

    I am quite new in online business and I have a long way to go. Thnx a lot for posting such wonderful post in incomediary. I love this website. I learn a lot from it.

    • Hey no problem 🙂

      A couple of tips for ya…

      1. Get off blogger and register your own domain, it goes quite a ways in building the trust of your site, and there’s a lot more value from hosting your own content.

      2. Have you tried doing video on Youtube? With Youtube being the number two most used search engine, there’s a ton of benefit of showing the property over video, and if done right, will give your viewers a great sense of who you are before they ever talk to you. Build trust in your prospect before you ever actually meet them. Pre-qualifying themselves makes making the sale a whole lot easier.

  6. Thanks for posting these tips. They seem logical once you’ve read them, but in reality are examples that one might not think of doing themselves. Love the “Go down the rabbit hole” line; it seems that when trying to promote a new blog with little traffic, you really have to find ways to flush out some interested readers.

  7. Great article Tommy… and yes did miss out a tiny little snippet. How do you go about finding the good person within? … now there’s something I can help you with! 😉

  8. ntathu allen says:

    Thanks Tommy..listening, listening listening..so important to do (offline and online–esp when you have children and work from home!) The key thing I am learning re internet and building your online business is to be open, focused and above all patient. It takes time to build mutually nourishing relationships and time to find your voice and niche and time to allow it all to flow and to assimilate the info learnt – thanks for adding to the puzzle

    • Patience is the key component that I think a lot of people forget.

      We hear all of these stories about “overnight success” but what we often don’t hear about is the years of grind these people went through in order to get there.

      If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your business all about?

  9. Great article.

  10. Cheptiony Mutai says:

    I like your bonus: Be yourself. I innitialy had the behaviour of pushing for my projects and not caring about the situation when I started by business 2years ago. And the results was NO BIZ coming on my way. Experience has thought me to have patience and befriend people before I seek for their support. People support to your business come naturally. I now have several customers who call asking for my services because of my ability to speak and understand their needs at a personal level. This is truly inspiring. Keep the good work.

  11. Judy Caroll says:

    Hi Tommy,

    Very insightful. We need to find out where our customers are and try to hang out with them. But I think it would become more simple and easy if we profile our customers first. What do our customers look like? If we know who our customers are, we know where to find them. And you know, there are all kinds of groups and websites online so we really need to select relevant groups for our business.

    Thanks again,

    Judy