Facebook has 1 billion users.  Twitter is now over 500 million.  Google+ has over 400 million (yeah, I had a hard time believing this stat too).  LinkedIn is closing in on 200 million.  Up-and-comers Pinterest and Quora are poised for continued growth.  Everywhere you look, new social networks are popping up.  But how reliable are they at generating steady business for an Executive in Sweatpants?  Is there a more direct path to winning business?  Let’s have a look.

“Traditional” Social is What You Make of It

I’m not knocking “traditional” social media marketing (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc).  As a marketer, I’ve witnessed first-hand how it can play an important role in a company’s marketing mix.  At a minimum, your social presence is a starting point for prospective customers to form an opinion about you.  Without a basic social media presence, it’s becoming more difficult to establish credibility.Leveraging Outsourcing Marketplaces

Allow me to provide an example.  When I launched the marketing for the Executive in Sweatpants brand, a friend introduced me to a highly influential person in the publishing world.  Unfortunately for me, I had only begun the marketing process (my @ExecInSweats Twitter profile only had a handful of followers at the time).  The publisher’s comment was something like, “The book looks interesting, but the brand doesn’t appear to be socially active.  Matt can call me after he’s established a viable social presence.”

If you’re looking to grow a home-based consulting firm, you have to convey legitimacy.  At a minimum, have a polished personal profile on LinkedIn.  Also, make sure your Facebook page doesn’t reveal any embarrassing facts about you.  I know for a fact that many employers look at your Facebook page when making a hiring decision.  (Deal with it.)  On top of that, it’s a good idea to be engaged in LinkedIn conversations.  Depending on your niche, Twitter and Google+ may also be helpful in establishing your credibility.

Social Media is Often Too Social

We know LinkedIn and other social sites can help build a positive perception.  However, how practical are they at helping you win new consulting gigs?  In my experience, you can waste a lot of time on social sites being “social” in hopes of getting noticed.  Millions of other users are trying the same strategy, thus watering down your message.  This is where project networking enters into the picture.

What’s “Project Networking”?

Social media sites start with a personal relationship and can occasionally evolve into a business opportunity.  Project networking sites, as I like to call them, conversely start with a project or business need first.  Relationships are established to fulfill that need.

As I discuss in the book, my preferred “project networking” site is oDesk.  In a nutshell, companies post their business needs as projects into the virtual marketplace.  Contractors (i.e., Executives in Sweatpants) review the open opportunities, apply, and the process develops from there.  Simple, clean, and the perfect system for winning new business.  (Learn all the secrets to building your online business by buying the book or downloading Chapter 1 for free).

Social vs. Project Networking

In summary, it’s important to keep a professional and active social media presence.  However, an aspiring Executive in Sweatpants should spend the majority of his or her time evaluating project networking opportunities on sites like oDesk.com.  In doing so, you can ensure your client prospecting efforts are efficient and effective.  Efficiency and effectiveness translate into a long-term work from home career.

Executive in Sweatpants is the book (published November 2012) from marketer and author Matt Keener.  The book is a how-to guide for launching a successful work-from-home consulting business and debuted #1 on Kindle’s “Home Based” business category.  Sign up to receive future blog postings sent directly to your email inbox or learn more about buying the book.

Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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