Does everyone know what you do? How do you remind them?
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I received an email yesterday that made me sad. It was from someone whose name I didn’t recognize, but I opened it because of the subject line. It was a plea for work. Apparently I’d crossed paths with this fellow at some point – me and about 40 other people whose names he put in the “TO” line. But let’s forget about this email etiquette breach. The important thing is this: He – let’s call him Joe -- was pleading for more business because things were too slow for him to keep his independent communications practice open.
What’s even worse is that about a month ago, a colleague of mine was looking for someone with the precise expertise that Joe possesses. At the time, I wracked my brains, trying to remember if I knew anyone who was an expert in this niche. A search through my brain, my database and LinkedIn turned up nothing. No Joe.
Joe did not come to mind. And do you know why? Because even though we’d crossed paths at some point, he didn’t keep in touch. He didn’t ask to put me on his mailing list. He never offered me a newsletter. He didn’t have a blog – not one that I knew of, anyway. He wasn’t active on LinkedIn. Oh, and I just checked: He has a Twitter feed, with about four updates in the last three months.
So after Joe and I had that initial interaction – whatever it was – for all intents and purposes he disappeared into the ether, from my point of view.
As independents, we are always at risk of disappearing. Or falling off the ends of the earth. Or whatever doomsday metaphor you prefer.
So how do you save yourself from Joe’s fate?
- First, of course, you have to do great work, so that clients will hire you repeatedly, and they will tell their colleagues about you.
- Publish a regular newsletter of tips and information of value to your clients and prospects. Invite people to subscribe to it. Don’t spam them!
- Start a blog; write posts related to your industry. Invite clients and colleagues to read your blog. Comment on blogs by people you admire.
- Start a Twitter account; follow people who are important in your field, and post your own helpful updates.
- Listen to podcasts related to your industry; submit comments to those podcasts.
- Curate content that would be of interest to your clients and prospects; link to this content in your blog and on Twitter. Do this on GooglePlus, too.
- Keep in touch with your clients on a regular basis by sending them a link to an interesting article or blog post that you’ve come across. All you have to say is: “Hello, Mary. I saw this piece in the Economist and I thought of you. I hope all is well. Please keep in touch.” That’s it. If you’re afraid of being pushy, don’t worry. You don’t have to be pushy.
The goal is to be top of mind so that you don’t have to send out a desperate plea as Joe has resorted to.
Don’t be him. Make yourself top of mind.
Of course there are many other marketing tactics that independents can use. But I think all of these that I’ve mentioned could have been helpful to Joe or to any writer, editor or communications or PR consultant. What would you add?