Your presence in the digital world can be an extension of who you are in the real world, says Marie Swift, president and CEO of Impact Communications Inc. in Leawood, Ks. “It can give you more ways to keep in touch and build the relationships,” she says.
Here are more ways you can improve your connections with clients and prospects on the web:
> Use links and keywords to boost your credibility
Linking your website to other relevant sites can increase your ranking in search engines. That makes your site easier to find online.
Swift recommends creating a Google Profile and a Google Places page. These are validating sites, which grab the attention of search engines. As a result, they will place you higher in search engine rankings when someone does an Internet search related to your services.
“Validating sites” are web pages that include your keywords (words or phrases, such as “financial planning,” that you enter to describe the contents of your webpage) and confirm your credibility as a resource.
Links to a Google Profile, an article you wrote or a website in which you are quoted are examples of validating sites. The more sites and keywords you provide to validate you — in a search for a “financial advisor,” for example — the higher your website will appear in a search-engine ranking.
> Use tracking tools to monitor your presence
Ever wonder if you’ve been mentioned in someone else’s website? Tracking tools can tell you.
Google Alerts sends notices to your email or an RSS (really simply syndication) feed, such as Google Reader, to let you know when your name has appeared somewhere online.
Use other online tools as well, such as Social Mention (www.socialmention.com), to track items that Google misses, Swift says.
Both tools are free of charge.
> Promote and protect your brand
Take action when you see your name or business appear online.
When you see positive information about yourself, Swift says, include it in your communications to clients and prospects — on your website or in a newsletter, for example.
If you discover some news or postings that are unflattering, take action immediately, Swift says. For example, if someone has posted a damaging comment about you and your business on a forum, contact the forum’s moderators to find out whether it can be removed. If the moderator refuses to remove it, write a carefully worded response (approved by your compliance department) and post it on the forum.
> Keep track of clients and COIs
It’s a good idea to follow mentions of clients or possible centres of influence on the web, Swift says. Doing so provides opportunities to build relationships.
For example, if you learn that an accountant you would like to work with has won an award, or that a client’s child won a baseball tournament, reach out to them and offer congratulations.
Swift says: “It’s just one more way to let people know that you’re paying attention to what matters most to them.”