Who Are You Trying to Reach Online? (Part One)

How often do you consider who you are trying to reach online?

It is a critical question, one that really deserves a week-long series of posts to do it justice. In fact, a broad answer to the "audience question" serves as a guide to developing and enacting any online marketing plan.

Here, in the first of two posts, is what I mean (jump down to "Action Items" if you’re in a hurry):

Who Is Your Online Audience?

First answer: people who know your name already (and are online to learn more about you).

One significant audience group – some of your warmest leads – will be those people who have heard your name (wherever, however) and are online to learn more about you. To evaluate you.

Count on the fact that they will search on your name. In this way, the first ten search results (the first result page in Google) become your new and critically important online resume.

As Stephen Fairley so frequently points out, off-line referrals will continue to be some of your biggest warm leads. The difference is: today more than ever, people have powerful tools to learn more about you once they do hear your name.

They will Google you. You can determine what they find; you can control the message. You’d be crazy not to.

First Step: Own Your Online Resume.

Truly, this is one of the easiest ways to begin an online presence; and so, it is where I suggest everyone starts. With minimal time commitment and cost, you can take possession of many of those results on the first page of Google, if not all of them.

There’s more to this than the obvious. Besides the worthwhile benefit of determining what people find when they want to learn more about you, this first step also has much broader implications. And that is why I consider it a road map. Later, when you take your online presence to the next level, many of the tools you’ve used to build a Google resume can become the channels, networks, and platforms that allow you to engage an even wider (and harder to reach) audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

"If you build it they will come" – one mantra of the Web’s early days. The fact is,  in most cases,  "they" did not come. And it is still true today: if you build a website or just one destination for your firm or professional service, you’re missing the big picture. The online landscape today – as defined by the likes of Google and social media – means that your "Web presence" is in fact an accumulation of all the places where you establish yourself, where your audiences gather.

5 Action Items to Control Your Online Resume

Participate on those websites and online platforms that 1) by nature of their popularity do well in Search, and 2) also happen to resonate with your ideal audience. Don’t simply pad your resume with warm listings. Choose where to participate based on what it says about you professionally and personally. To that end here is a checklist of some easy, first online steps to consider:

  • Start a Google profile
  • Start a LinkedIn profile (connect with friends, participate in groups)
  • Start a JD Supra presence (create a profile, post a document)
  • Start a Facebook business page and/or profile
  • Fill out your lawyer listing on Justia (as well as any other listing that makes sense to you)

Five easy steps, each taking mere minutes to complete. And you are bound to see some, if not all, start to appear in your Google resume.

A good start – five of your ten "online resume" listings.

Next. If you don’t yet have a website, do start one. Or, skip the site and go straight to a blog. Blogs and sites (although they require more of a time commitment) also do well in search. Important next steps – especially as you build your online strategy around engaging your new audience(s).

What else? Ask your blogging friends if you can write guest posts. Depending on the blog’s popularity, such opportunities can certainly influence what is found of you online.

Once you have claimed your name – once you’ve taken possession of the search results people see when they look for more information about you – turn to your second online audience: people looking for the type of service you provide who do not know you exist (but should).

More on reaching that important group in my next post…

 Are you on JD Supra yet? Start your online resume today.