With one-fourth of people's online time using social media, I wonder whether this makes any sense for consultants.
Social media, started as a person to person venture, has steadily morphed into a business to business enterprise. If the purpose is to be social and share information about yourself, then this seems an excellent way to both market your services as well as deliver them. Consider at a minimum the search capabilities of LinkedIn, the community building power of Twitter, the impact of many shared bookmarking sites, or the growing ability to create communities of interest. All of these work well for consulting firms and we should all have a social media policy as part of our overall business plan.
Although nothing replaces the personal referral, current and prospective clients find value in a professional presence and a more or less continuous contribution to the body of knowledge through discussion forums or posting of content in your area of specialty. This content must, however, be in the media locations related to the client's interests, not just those populate by other consultants. There are a lot of the latter and, while participation in discipline or consulting forums can be valuable for your professional development, leveraging social media for market research and to sell your services requires client-centered areas. If you can't find any, consider starting your own.Tip:
For a good perspective on how your consulting firm can use social media, see Consulting Firms Using Social Media to Market Their Ideas
in the August 2010 issue of Consulting Times
.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA