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Prospecting is the lifeblood of any small business. Nobody knows that better than us financial professionals. And it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming and demeaning experience. When done well, prospecting is much more than selling—it’s about qualifying potential clients and building relationships.

Here are nine common networking tools that can be tweaked for better results.

Download a visual representation of the nine ways to generate leads here.

1. Web site

Unless your site consistently turns up in search results, it ends up being a resource only for the few who know about it. Generating leads through your Web site can be easier thanks to a number of free and inexpensive online applications. Consider integrating a newsletter feature into your Web site. Every request to receive the newsletter translates into valuable contact information you can use to spread your message. Constant Contact is a popular and easy-to-use e-mail marketing solution.

Another great way to generate leads through your Web site is to offer complimentary financial reviews using an automated online appointment scheduler. Time Trade (www.timetrade.com) allows you to specify available meeting times synchronizing with your Google Calendar. If a time slot is available, your prospect can book that time, with both parties receiving meeting confirmations.

Read: Social media engagement drives referrals

2. Social media

For the most part, many of the popular social media sites are free. That said, one paid feature that is worth a second or third look is a Business LinkedIn Account. Nothing spells power more than the ability to send InMails to third-party members; customize searches; and drill down to see if groups have your targeted demographic, or are present in your geographic location. Just these few features make an upgrade from the basic plan worthwhile.

3. Print and Web media

Are you seen as a leading expert in your field? Magazines and newspapers are always looking for volunteers to contribute articles. If you can open yourself up to a team of experts critiquing your work, there could be possible leads lurking.
The important thing in being seen as an expert is to rise above making mere sales pitches, and share relevant knowledge. If you don’t feel you can contribute a whole article, you could begin by writing a short personal blog, or maybe even commenting on other people’s blogs or tweets.

4. E-mails

Anti-spamming laws are making it increasingly difficult to communicate with leads and prospects. Even spam filters on e-mail accounts force us to look at other alternatives to get our message out.

There are many free services available to help you get around spam filters on e-mail accounts. Visible Gains (www.visiblegains.com) is one such service that allows you to e-mail your prospects a link that redirects them to a personal Web page where they can read or download the information you want to share with them. What’s more, you get an e-mail notification every time the page is viewed or the message forwarded.

Read: How to fire clients

5. Telephone

Picking up the phone is still the quickest way to gather information. But if you’re painfully phone-shy, hiring a lead generator to make your calls could help. Find a firm that has experience working with financial professionals.

This avenue can be very effective when you’re putting together an event and are targeting businesses. By combining the push communication method — when you consistently send information to your prospects so you’re always top of mind — with telephone calls, you can drastically increase your number of yeses.

An example of this strategy may be sending out a weekly or monthly message about an event.You can then follow up with a telephone call to your prospects. First ask them if they have received your message; secondly, confirm their interest. This follow-up strategy is essential to the entire push strategy process working.