7 Strategies for Finding and Engaging Qualified Prospects Online

by Kathy Mallary

The more connected you are with qualified prospects, the more likely you are to win ideal clients. If that's true, why is it that so many coaches struggle to find and connect with their target market?

You either believe that your target market is leaving a trail that leads you to them, or you believe you need to create a trail that leads them to you. The first way is by far the easier, quicker and more profitable of the two.

Here are seven strategies that can help you pick up the trail of your best prospects and win more ideal clients:

  1. Look for the 3 C's—concentrations, conversations and congregations. People in your target market share certain interests, and people who have common interests tend to gravitate towards each other and talk about the thing they're interested in. So your first task is to find these clumps of people who are talking about certain topics.
  2. Use keywords related to your target market to search the three general areas where people tend to '"'clump" together:
    • Online forums and virtual communities
    • Groups on social networks, whether focused on business or personal interests (or both)
    • Industry and professional associations, which often have forums or networking events for members
  3. Follow the leaders. Do a Google/Internet search for the more prominent thought leaders in your niche and pay attention to where they're showing up and participating, both online and offline (for example, public speaking events). Then follow them right into those nooks and crannies.
  4. Watch and listen before you jump into the conversation. Once you've identified a community or group, don't just barge in and start talking. Take time to look at the history of the conversation and follow a couple of active threads to see what folks are interested in. Then watch for opportunities to introduce yourself and contribute; offer encouragement and resources, move the conversation forward, share your perspective in a positive way, etc.
  5. Do NOT try to sell anything to the group, even if the community guidelines allow it. The people you meet online are not yet qualified to receive an offer from you—they haven't even taken the first step into your sales funnel (i.e., they haven't joined your mailing list). When you focus instead on building trust and relationship, your list will grow as if by magic.
  6. When you find a good group, don't be shy about asking about the other groups and communities people belong to. This is like following a vein deeper into the gold mine.
  7. Be both consistent and persistent. Put a structure in place so that you are searching for and participating in online communities on a regular basis. Don't stop after you find the first few places, or you'll get left behind as the market evolves. I have recurring tasks set up in Outlook that remind me to research and check in at various groups and forums. I invest time in research once a month and post/participate in forums and social networks every few days (more frequently on the more active groups.)

You can spend precious time and resources hoping that clients find you one by one, or you can be proactive and find a trail that leads you straight back to where tens, hundreds or even thousands of qualified prospects are buzzing about the very things that you love to help them with.

Happy hunting!

Kathy Mallary is a business development specialist who helps coaches get into high gear with both clients and cash flow so they can make a bigger difference and healthier profits. Get free resources for innovative coaching business models that expand capacity and add to the bottom line at www.spiritspring.com.

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