How To: Build Your Customer Network In 5 Steps

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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