Steven Gabrielsen is the president of SLG Advising and came on the show today to talk about how you can build a book of business. He’s worked out some great modern ways to get leads and find new clients using social media and technology. With these methods, not only do you sell your services, butyou become an influencer in the process.

In this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Steven Gabrielsen discuss:

  • How Steven got started in the fields he’s in.
  • How he started his own firm.
  • How to use Linkedin to find potential clients.
  • How using Facebook Pages can help grow a client list.
  • How Steven moved from a sell model to an influencer model

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Becoming a Niche Influencer to Build a Client List

Many modern day accountants are moving away from the old ways of building a client list. These methods include word of mouth and email campaigns. Why don’t those practices work as well as they used to, and what new client-building strategies work?

Word of Mouth and Millennials

Younger generations are more keen on instant results. That desire isn’t just about a lack of patience. We live in a world that is faster-paced than ever before, and because of that, we need to see results faster than ever. It’s not that word of mouth stopped working. It’s that “word of internet” is much faster. New technologies create new opportunities. Social media opens up new avenues for building clients lists, avenues that can be much more effective than word of mouth these days.

LinkedIn and Email

But to use the internet in the best way, you have to be on top of what the different channels of the internet have to offer. LinkedIn is a good example. There used to be a premium feature in LinkedIn that would let you build up a list of contacts and export that list for use in email campaigns for client recruitment. Unfortunately, this really useful feature got pulled, but LinkedIn is still a great way to generate leads and build up a client list. You just have to do it by hand.

However, it may be even better to leverage social media directly rather than relying on email for getting new clients. Email campaigns are less effective than they used to be thanks to new inbox structures. The most popular webmail services can now move promotional emails out of sight.

In the face of changing email effectiveness and strong social media use among businesses on sites like LinkedIn, a new method of promoting your business is growing. This is becoming an influencer in your niche.

Becoming an Influencer

Most businesses use social media by adopting a sales-based strategy. Every direct message can be a sales pitch, much like email campaigns were a few years ago. But this may not be the most effective model.

What I’ve done instead is use an influencer model. I still use social media for client recruitment, but instead of simply asking for business I look for people who have questions and solving their problems. The results have been outstanding.

How can you start doing this? Think about the following questions:

  • How can your expertise help the people you’d like as clients?
  • What can you teach them that would save them money, whether they hire you or not?
  • How can you give more before asking for their business?

Then start looking through social media sites for people asking questions that you can answer. You don’t have to limit yourself to LinkedIn either. I’ve used YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to grow influence, among other social media sites.

If you give good information that solves problems, that creates content that people will want to share with your friends and colleagues. This is the modern-day word of mouth. The more people your content reaches, the more potential clients you have. And because you’ve helped them solve their problems, it creates trust in you and your brand.

How do you grow a following on these various channels? It does take hard work. Instagram, for example, requires a lot of time following people and interacting with them, and, of course, creating content that your ideal audience would want to see.

I have a weekly show on YouTube where I give financial advice to business owners and talk about topics like how to build a budget or how to organize your taxes. This free content is something that fills a real need many people have.

Double Down on Your Niche

There is another key you’ll need to make influencer marketing really work. You have to double down on your niche. Social media sites are open to far more people than an email list, so you have to focus on your niche to ensure you get their attention. Furthermore, by focusing your answers on specific niches you’ll gain much more attention among your audience.

I focus on two niches: gyms and real estate. I’m really into fitness and spend hours working out every week. Part of my Instagram campaign involves photos of myself working out. This shows my audience there that I don’t just market to gyms. I’m one of them. It makes the gym audience more likely to work with me because I’m passionate about the same things they’re passionate about.

Having a stronger focus for your content will help make it more shareable. Instead of simply talking about financial topics, can you get more specific? Can you talk specifically about taxes? Could you make content that helps the same niche of business that you are trying to help?

What if your niche is florists? What accounting needs might a flower shop have that other business don’t? Could you make videos or articles on Linkedin that help florists and only florists? Even though such content might seem overly specific, it also makes you unique and more searchable to your target audience.

Email campaigns do still have their place, but they simply don’t work as well as they did a few years ago. Social media is now, in my opinion, the best way to generate new clients and the best way to do that is through growing a reputation as a go-to source of information. If you can become an influencer and get people talking about your advice, you can leverage this new form of word of mouth advertising.


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