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  • Diana Schneidman

Can you reach your marketing prospects through social networking?

Lately I’ve been speaking to Rotary clubs about how you can start making money quickly as a solopro freelancer or consultant who works with corporate clients.

By and large, my audiences are currently employed. By definition, they are active in their communities and they network consistently. While there are a few retirees, most are executives or professionals. I’m seeing, for instance, community bankers, marketers, owners of local companies, chamber of commerce executives and IT people.

I’ve taken to administering a quick survey on web-based social networking during my remarks.

I ask for shows of hand as to how many are on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. (That’s three separate questions.)

Of course, results vary. But the most consistent finding is that these people are not on Twitter. Some people laugh kind of sheepishly at the question because they think they should be. But they aren’t.

LinkedIn and Facebook participation is higher but still often at less than half of the room.

(It would be interesting to pin down how they use Facebook—to connect with family and friends or to build professional ties—but that would make for a really long meeting.)

As I participate in varying degrees on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I see surprisingly few people who I can readily identify as corporate prospects for purchasing solopro services.

Furthermore, when these corporate people are on LinkedIn, they tend to have fewer connections than you would expect, given their employment in large companies and prominence in important industries. In other words, web-based social networking for career development takes a back seat to their ongoing workload and their other avenues to professional networking.

Of course, I participate in these online services more in support of my new business (helping people to start freelancing and consulting) than to sell my freelance writing services, which admittedly skews my observations.

Still, based on my preliminary “investigations,” it appears that if you are looking for corporate contacts as potential clients for your services, social networking may not be an efficient route.

Instead, many social networkers appear to be self employed or unemployed. So if this is your target market, the Big Three may be a great way to go.

If you are looking for corporate assignments, it’s not enough to be online. You must be highly strategic in how you do it—or even IF you do it—to enjoy success equal to the effort.

Originally posted 10-18-09

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