We are currently living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). We have been preparing for this since the first computer was made and Bill Gates released the first version of Windows. This is probably why the adjustment to the 4IR has been a lot smoother than the adjustment to previous revolutions of this kind.
How do you go about building your online practice?
The Pandemic game changer
The transition to the 4IR was uneventful up until Covid-19 became a global pandemic. Companies were forced to close their doors, and those who did not have a digital footprint were hit where it mattered the most, in their pockets.
For these brands, and others who simply could not make the shift to e-commerce, the only option was to try and ride out the storm. This placed many companies in distress and has led to the Golden Age of Business Rescue and Business Turnaround.
These practitioners, like the distressed business owners, have been forced to sit back and readjust their business processes to fit into the current global paradigm. Building an online business has become a necessity rather than a quaint focus area that will supplement traditional business processes.
Hansel and Gretel networking
There are many ways in which a person picks up a lead for new business. In the days of physical, in person events, networking was a great way to achieve this. I have lost count of the number of articles I wrote in my journalistic career (which panned 14 years) that came directly from a lead that I picked up while networking at an event.
The Pandemic has had an obvious impact on this with virtual events and webinars filling this hole.
Does this mean that networking has disappeared? The path towards effective networking is a bit more convoluted than it was before, but that does not mean that it is non-existent. Current networking trends follow what I like to call the Hansel and Gretel Networking Theory.
If we cast our minds back to the story, Hansel left a trail of breadcrumbs on their adventure towards the gingerbread house in the forest. This was done in the hopes that they would be found by a search party. The same theory applies to networking; clients – and potential clients – are reticent to do business with a person who they do not know, and do not have at least some basic information about. This reconnaissance provides clients with their first insight into you as a professional. If they like what they see, they make the next move towards contacting you; if they don’t, they move on.
So, what do your virtual breadcrumbs (your digital footprint) say about you? Are your breadcrumbs professional enough, and insightful enough, for clients to make the next move to connect with you and network?
Another string to your bow
Having more than one string to your bow means that you are able to fall back on something if you are not finding any success with plan A.
A lot of professionals do not believe that digital marketing, and social media in particular, actively enhances their business or brand. This is a dangerous idea especially in light of the current industry trends. We are all aware of what happens in an internet minute, and we know that there is a definite gravitation towards social media.
This gravitation is being driven by a need and a change in consumption. People have always tended toward doing business with companies and businesspeople they can trust. In the past, this trust was gained through key interactions at networking events or business meetings over coffee, lunch, or a round of golf. Social distancing has changed this, and people are doing deep dives on the internet to find out all about you and your reputation as a businessman. The best way to do this is though social media because all this information can be collated or accessed from a central point.
The need being dealt with, we turn to the consumption. Social media has become popular because of a change in the way that the public consumes news. Newspapers and magazines remain popular for people who want to consume general news. However, if you want to access news from a niche market you must either scour the internet or go onto a social media platform such as LinkedIn and connect with an industry thought leader.
How is this a string to your bow? By positioning yourself as an industry thought leader, you build trust with those looking for it and you are seen as a trusted news source from those searching for news. The result of this is that you build a following (referred to as a digital tribe) that you can communicate with en masse and influence to do business with you.
There are two definite camps when it comes to digital marketing, those who see its value, and those who disregard it.
However, to completely disregard the value of digital marketing is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you put the time and the effort into building your online business, you will see results as consumption behavior continues to move towards an online model.
Your business is unique and there are some key questions that you will need to answer before you determine the ease with which you can build your online business. Can all your products and services be consumed online or is there a need to adopt a hybrid model approach? This will determine how you structure your online messaging. Will I need to improve my skills and possibly go through some training to effectively build my online business? Remember, DIY is only for people who are capable of DIY. If you are not capable, there are several courses that you can take to enhance your skill set. Alternatively, employ the services of a digital marketing professional.
Taking steps in the right direction will benefit your business.
Jonathan Faurie is the Founder of Turnaround Talk and Faurie Digital Marketing.