Whether you’re a consultant, public speaker, trainer, photographer or other business professional, you want to find your tribe.
Your people. The ones who need the magic that you deliver.
If you’ve been in business for years, you’ve got it down. You already know where those folks hang out.
But when you’re starting out? Or shifting to a new business or career? How do you find the prospects, audiences and customers who will become your raving fans?
It’s a recipe of empathy and ingenuity, seasoned with research.
(For a backgrounder on using market research to find your target market, check out this free market research guide from Shopify.)
Let’s say that you’re an up-and-coming expert in cyber security (hey Scott!) and you’re looking for more presentation opportunities.
Your initial brainstorming list might include the usual suspects:
Those are the easy targets. People in the IT realm already know that cyber security is vital.
This is where the empathy comes in…
Put yourself into the shoes of other business professionals. Who should care about cyber security because it affects their roles and outcomes?
And now that you’ve got your expanded list of prospects, think about where you can find people in those positions, in large numbers.
1. Mine your network
Your richest resource is the people you already know. This includes clients, former clients, prospects, vendors, friends and family.
Ask them what groups they belong to.
What organizations would host a workshop or would invite you to present to their members?
What organizations might host a workshop for their clients?
What conferences can you pitch yourself as a breakout presenter?
But to make it really effective, you can’t send a bulk email to all your contacts. A few very close pals might respond to it, but most of your network won’t.
It puts a psychic burden on your friends and colleagues to do work for you.
The way to get the best results is to actually talk to each person. (Note: I hear you, this is incredibly time consuming. Deal with it. #Sorrynotsorry.)
Make it easy on your friends. Just ask what groups they belong to, ask a few follow up questions about the group or groups and do your own evaluation of whether it’s a good fit for you.
2. Local publications
Your local newspaper and city or regional business publications typically have community events calendars. (Most are available online!)
Scour them weekly to find events and groups.
LinkedIn is more than your online resume. As the world’s largest professional network, it’s a hella good source of business intelligence.
Let’s look at two ways to find your target market on LinkedIn:
Groups. Groups are LinkedIn’s feature that lets members who share an interest or profession gather online, have discussions and share information with each other. As a member, you can join as many as 50 groups.
First, go to your groups. You’ll also see a prompt to find more groups.
Use the search field to find Groups to join. You can search for groups to join using a keyword, company name or school.
Try searches based on geography (Ann Arbor or Detroit groups for me) or based on an industry or topic.
Review your contacts to see what organizations they belong to.
Start by looking at your Connections. If you’re looking locally, filter your connections by location.
Then look at each person’s profile to see what groups or organizations are listed. You might find groups or organizations listed in the Experience section, the Volunteer section, Organizations section, or under Additional Info.
And finally, you can see the LinkedIn Groups your Connections have joined as well.
4. Eventbrite and Meetup groups
Eventbrite is a web-based event registration. And Meetup.com is the world’s largest network of local groups.
You can search for events based on location, date or by using keywords.
As an example, on Eventbrite, I searched for “Leadership” and found 388 upcoming events in my area. I can look at each one in the search results, refine them further by date or geography or category.
I can also subscribe to get an RSS feed of those events, delivered to my inbox. Genius.
5. Trade or industry associations
A trade association, also known as an industry group or business association is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry.
Associations Unlimited, aka, the Encyclopedia of Associations, is a huge resource, but you may need a library membership to access it.
AU provides information on nonprofit membership associations and professional societies worldwide (20,000 international, 134,000 U.S. national, regional, state and local), plus IRS information on over 300,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations.
Sounds fantastic, right? 100,000+ groups, ripe for your services?
But there’s a catch. You can’t jump in and start pitching your wares.
Marketing to professional and trade associations means becoming part of the organization.
Go to their events. Meet people. Get a feel for the people who attend.
Volunteer for the organization. From taking registration at the door, to helping behind the scenes, volunteering within the organization makes you part of it, quickly.
Join a committee. You’ll get to know and create relationships with the key influencers quickly, while you demonstrate your value to the group.
Your fame boosting assignment:
This week, pick one of these five ways to find your target market and get on it!
I see your name in lights…