So it was about 3 years or so ago. Everyone was telling me I ought to be using Twitter and I’d created an ID and was tweeting “high value content” as well as engaging with my pitifully small number of followers.
And nothing much was happening.
No calls, no meetings, no clients, no interest.
But then I did something just for fun and the results shocked me.
As well as tweeting links to my own blog posts I’d been tweeting links to articles from other authors I thought were good. So in my field that meant people like Charlie Green, Mike Schulz, David Maister and Ford Harding.
Ford was doing some excellent blog posts back then and he and I had spoken a few times on the phone. So I decided to see who else was mentioning him. Pretty easy as he had a relatively unusual name.
I programmed the search into Tweetdeck and out came a few names of people also mentioning Ford. One of them had tweeted a link to one of Ford’s best articles so I retweeted it.
A few hours later and the guy had said “thank you” and retweeted one of my tweets.
We did this a few times over the next few days. Then David (‘cos that was his name) tweeted me to say “I see you like Ford Harding’s work – do you know him?”
I tweeted back to say we’d spoken a couple of times but never met.
And then I did a follow up tweet to say that I really should meet up with him next time I was in the US.
Since this was Twitter I had to compress my message into 140 characters and it must have got a little garbed as David thought I meant I wanted to meet up with him.
“Sure” he said. “Our offices are on the East Coast. Just give me a call or an email when you’re over and we’ll grab a coffee somewhere.”
So who was this David guy I’d accidentally agree to have a meeting with?
Turns out he was the global head of marketing for one of the world’s largest consulting firms (nestled firmly in the top 20 by number of employees).
Given I help consulting and other professional service firms improve their marketing, this was the sort of guy I’d have killed to get a meeting with.
The sort of guy you just couldn’t get through to on the phone or email. He was protected by attack-dog gatekeepers briefed to keep friendly advisors like me away from him.
And yet after half a dozen interactions on Twitter he’d accepted an invitation to meet with me.
My guess is that our common interest and his perception of my “good taste” when it came to marketing experts was enough to give him the confidence to accept a meeting with me.
But whatever it was, it was infinitely more effective than a cold email or call.
Now I’m not saying that this means you’ll be able to reach your ideal clients through dumb luck on Twitter like I did.
But if you put some strategy into it. Use tools like followerwonk.com or twellow.com to find your ideal clients on Twitter. Use private Twitter lists to keep tabs on what they’re doing. Interact with them. Retweet their best tweets. @message them with a sensible question or comment.
All the kind of great nurturing activities smart professionals and business people do to build client relationships in the “real world” – just translated into Twitter terms.
Do that, then suggest a call or a meeting, and the chances are you’ll get through to people you just never thought it was possible to reach.