Getting leads online is surprisingly similar to getting leads offline. The know, like, and trust factor still applies. And once again, the more people know about you (assuming it's positive), the more likely they are to do business with you.
Here are two strategies guaranteed to bring you better qualified leads.
1) Personal recommendations or referrals
The easiest and fastest way to get qualified leads is by being highly recommended by someone your prospects already know, like and trust. So it's important to do networking and work at developing referral partners -- in the online world they're called affiliates.
These are people with whom you've established an ongoing relationship where they're confident in your services and willing to refer you.
Not sure how that works online? Here's some examples; they can re-tweet your Twitter posts, feature one of your articles in their ezine, talk you up in their blog, or post a testimonial on your LinkedIn page etc...
Anyone who walks through your door as a result of a referral is going to be much easier to sell to. Mostly, because they fit your ideal client profile, are ready to buy, and since you come recommended, they're ready to buy from YOU.
2) Become the expert and go-to person
The other way to get pre-qualified leads is through doing the things that bring you visibility, positions you as an expert and makes you the obvious go-to person. If you're doing this offline you'd:
Give talks, teach a course or hold a workshop for community or business groups.
Write articles and get them published locally, regionally, and, if you can, nationally.
Get involved in your community to gain visibility.
The idea is to give people an opportunity to get to know, like, and trust you. Find ways to share your expertise and knowledge.
To approach this concept online the concept is similar and it's also easier and potentially much faster to do. You may also have more control over how fast you can get results.
Here are a few things you can do:
Getting published offline can take some doing - however, online is a piece of cake since there are very few gatekeepers and you can get yourself out there very quickly.
On the other hand, there is also more competition, so you need to put in a some extra work to develop visibility. One article won't do it, and neither will ten. Ultimately, you want to build an impressive online presence so think dozens of articles.
In fact, there are countless article directories eager to publish your writing. Start with Ezinearticles.com, (the highest profile article directory) as well as other article directories for additional exposure.
Start a blog
Consistently add value to your readers by posting great content and marketing your blog. Use your bio in your articles to send readers of your articles to your blog and vice versa.
Social networking helps you share your blog and your articles with your online community. An easy way to manage all your social media is to use http://www.ping.fm
Gather leads from your efforts
This is the most important part. Unless you gather leads, you won't get much from all your efforts. So strategize ways to capture leads. A simple method is to create a lead capture form, and set it up on your blog and separate landing pages. There, you offer your visitors a tempting "ethical bribe" like a free audio, special report, top 10 list etc. to get them to provide their contact information and sign up for your newsletter.
Nurture your leads
And finally, once they're on your mailing list, work at building a relationship. Provide quality content for your leads to keep them engaged and finding value. Whether they've come into your pipeline from articles, your blog, referrals or even teleseminars, they'll see you as the expert if you continue to offer valuable information.