Relational Marketing to Boost Your Career Service
By Holly Hagan.
Marketing your career service requires “getting out there” both in-person and online. However, many career professionals are not comfortable actively soliciting business.
As a career professional who specializes in resume and LinkedIn profile development, my preferred method of marketing is relational. The focus is on spreading the word about my business by developing authentic relationships. This involves adding value for contacts by supporting them without the expectation of a sale in the near future.
If you feel that you would like to make the switch, try these relational marketing activities:
Networking and casual conversations
Join some networking groups to meet professionals in your area and refer business when appropriate. Meetup.com has many professional networking groups with varying levels of activity. Some groups are geared toward women entrepreneurs, and others are open to all. Breakfast meetings are a great way to get your marketing in, grow your network, and still have a full day of productivity. If you don’t like your options on Meetup.com, you can start your own meet-up group there.
Sometimes we are shy about telling people what we do. Either we feel pushy if we talk about our work, or we assume that no one wants to hear about it. Business Coach Hina Khan from the Khan Institute advises getting comfortable talking about what you do without attachment to outcomes. Take the opportunity to mention what you do when you’re meeting people. Don’t be pushy about it, but don’t downplay it.
Using Facebook for relational marketing
How many of your Facebook friends know what you do? There is absolutely nothing wrong with posting about your business or your achievements on your personal Facebook profile. I’ve received many referrals from my participation in Facebook because people have gotten to know me and what I do. When questions about resume writing or LinkedIn profile development come up, I’ll get tagged and people will ask me to address the question.
Start a Facebook business page for your career service. It’s free and easy to set up. You can use your business page to share news in the field and special offers, or post inspiring memes. Some experts say that you should post daily to your page. If you can’t make daily posts, don’t let that stop you from starting a page. Even weekly posts are better than having no business page at all.
Facebook groups are also free to setup and a great way to get a group of like-minded people together. You can invite your past clients and current prospects to join the group. It’s a way to keep your name and face in front of your audience and to provide value while doing it.
If you’re not ready to start your own Facebook group you can still make a name for yourself by participating in other groups. A great way to get comfortable sharing is with like-minded colleagues. Start with Career Professionals of Canada’s Facebook Group.
The principles of authenticity and providing value apply in Facebook. Your participation in groups should not be a sales pitch, but rather it should help people get to know you while you helping others with their questions.
Using LinkedIn for relational marketing
When it comes to keeping your name and face in front of your network, LinkedIn is another great place to participate. People turn to others for help when making a decision to hire someone. By securing excellent testimonials in the form of recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, you can help prospects validate you.
There should be no shame in outright asking your former clients to recommend you and asking them if there is anyone they know of, right now, who might benefit from your services. You can ask by calling them or sending an email. You just may be surprised by your past clients’ responsiveness. You could even ask for referrals as you close out each client project.
Writing LinkedIn long-form posts can establish you as an expert and add value to your network. Write posts about industry tips or your point of view on an issue. If you are unable to write posts, direct your efforts to LinkedIn status updates: further your reach by simply “liking” or commenting on a post.
A LinkedIn business page will let your business name show up in LinkedIn searches and legitimize your business in a sense. (Note: you will need an email address with your business domain name to be linked to your LinkedIn account in order to set up a LinkedIn business page.)
Other online activities for relational marketing
By regularly blogging on your website, you can establish yourself as an expert and make sure “Google” is aware that your site is active. If you don’t have a blog, guest blogging for other websites can help you reach a large audience and typically results in a back-link to your website. Back-links tell Google that your site is important enough for other websites to link back to it. This is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactic that can boost your online ranking. I have seen my own website move up on the search engine results page through consistent blogging.
Always respond to someone who comments on your posts and send a personal thank you message to people who tag you in other posts.
By emailing contacts on a regular basis, you can expand your relational marketing further. Start by building a list of expressly interested people by having a sign-up form on your website. You can email them on a semi-regular basis with tips, news, and special offers.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Google all have paid advertising features. I would suggest getting somewhat established in the unpaid marketing techniques before diving in to paid ads. After all, having a target audience is part of the key to success with paid ads. If you’re just starting out, you likely won’t have a defined audience quite yet.