Most contractors get a lot of business from a surprising source: by networking with other contractors.
The process works something like this. If someone needs gutter work done then they probably also need work done on the roof, foundation, or siding. So the gutter guy passes on the name of the siding guy.
And while the siding guy is out there doing his thing, the homeowner might just mention that he or she is thinking about adding a fence. So the siding contractor passes on the number of a fence guy he knows.
So it’s clear that it pays to get to know other contractors. Once upon a time that might have been done at trade shows or Chamber of Commerce events. That’s still valuable.
However, in today’s increasingly busy, chaotic, and digital world there are also clear benefits to taking some of that networking online. For one thing, the online world offers you the opportunity to build relationships with more contractors in a shorter period of time.
You can also help each other increase web presence and visibility. For example, if you and another contractor start commenting on each other’s blogs you’re both helping one another build valuable backlinks which help you both increase your ranking in Google searches.
The referrals also don’t even have to be direct when you’re doing it online. “Mary the Homeowner” doesn’t have to mention her siding needs to “Gary the Gutter Guy.” She might just skip that and call Sam’s Siding because she saw Gary sharing a photo of Sam’s work on his Google+ feed.
Google+ and Twitter are both great places to start.
Focus on contractors in your local area. There are a couple of ways to do this.
One way is to just do a Google local search for any kind of contractor you can think of. You’ll get straight to each person’s website, where you’ll find their social media information. You can join them wherever they are.
Or, for Google+, you can just go in and run a search like “Minneapolis” + “Electrician” to see which accounts pop up. And for Twitter, you can use Twellow.
Twellow is a searchable directory of Twitter accounts. You’d simply enter the name of your city to get a list of Twitter accounts in your city.
You can also target other areas you serve, and cities close to your service area (their service area might well overlap with yours).
Simply scroll down the list, looking for other contractors. You should be able to find at least 20 people to network with, and that’s a great start.
Now it’s just a matter of putting in the effort.
Check out their blogs and comment on them. Share their posts and their content.
On Twitter, give them a Follow Friday shout-out. Be responsive and helpful.
Many of these contractors will reciprocate. You might find yourself starting some friendly, genuine conversations and getting to know one another. You’ll build trust.
Sooner or later, you’ll be the person they’re thinking of when they see an opportunity to make a referral in their field. And, of course, you need to be referring them, too.
This is the social side of social media and blogging. This is where you take a step beyond simply pushing content.
You enter a place where you can start building your business by building relationships, and that’s one of the strongest places you can possibly be.
Today’s Action Items:
- Find 10-20 contractors worth following in your service area.