How To Turn Local Social Networking Contacts Into Real Business Relationships

social media localIn his post, 7 Local Business Blogging Tips, Stanford Smith talks about moving the needle locally rather than globally.  It’s an interesting read, worthy of any lawyer looking to increase his or her client base.

As lawyers most of us are working in local practices.  We serve the same town, city or state in which we practice with rare exceptions.  In spite of that, most of the time you’re probably not keeping that in mind when you’re marketing online.

You connect with people all over the country, reasoning that social media is free.  Sure, the platforms cost nothing in terms of dollars out of your pocket but there is a huge cost in terms of time and opportunity cost if you’re using them properly.

Think about it.  You spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn each day, which comes to 1.5 hours a week.  That’s 78 hours a year.  If you bill out at $300 an hour, you’re spending $23,400 each year on LinkedIn alone.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending $23,400 on something there better be a positive return on my investment.

We can spin this for Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and the like.  We can use it for offline networking, too.

Use Google Alerts Aggressively

Put the names of your local connections into Google Alerts so you’re notified if they hit the news, then send them a link to the story along with your congratulations (assuming, of course, the story is a positive one).  Your email will remind the recipient that you’re around, and let them know you’re looking out for them.

Diversify Your Network

If you’re a bankruptcy lawyer you should connect with accountants, family law attorneys, criminal defense lawyers, and other “consumer-based” practitioners.  But you should also be looking at people who work in retail, hospitality, human resources, and the like.  These folks may not be sending you rafts of business each week, but people in these fields come into contact with more of the general public than anyone else.

Keep An Eye On Press Opportunities For Others

I subscribe to HARO, an email newsletter that lists reporters who are looking for sources for their stories.  If something comes up that may be a fit for a local connection, I forward it immediately to let them know of the opportunity.  Local businesses need all the press they can get, and it doesn’t take much for me to help them out.

Bring Coffee

Call a friend one afternoon and let him or her know you’re down the block from their office.  Offer to bring them up a cup of coffee.  It’s easier to take a few minutes in the office for a break than to drag yourself out to meet with someone, and there’s something nice about having something nice done for you.

As an added benefit, you get to see your contact’s office and make mental notes for future conversations.  For example, if there are a bunch of photos of your contact playing tennis then you know you should brush up on the latest tennis news the next time you speak.

It’s The Neighborly Thing To Do

Remember that people send business to professionals they know, like and trust.  Using these four tips, you’ll start to build a deeper bond with the people in your local community.  And that’s not just good for business – it’s the right thing to do.

Photo credit:  photopol