As a business owner, your clients come from a variety of sources.  You might meet some through your networking efforts, some might find your website, and others could be referred to you by past clients. But you may be leaving another source of referrals completely untapped: your peers may actually send new customers your way!

In fact, you should try to network with your peers. Think about it this way: If a customer asks you for something you can’t do, would you rather simply say no, or refer them to someone who can help them? Obviously you want to appear as helpful as possible, so that they will remember you in the future. Other people you know feel the same way.

Social connection on world map with people iconsBut your peers can’t refer clients to you unless they know who you are and what you do. That’s where your blog comes into play. You can use your blog to connect personally with with not only other professionals, but also your family and friends.  You can help them learn about your business, and showcase your expertise. If you do it right helps you make new connections and increases your referral rate.

The process for this type of blogging works just like any other blogging campaign, but you must keep in mind your target audience. Rather than trying to appeal to potential customers, you want to appeal to peers and those you already know.  You aren’t attempting to get their business, you really are just looking for their referrals!

“Peers” doesn’t mean just people that you already know.  It also means other businesses and professionals who are in fields similar to yours.  For instance, if you sell health insurance, you may want to reach out to health care professionals or insurance agents who sell different types of insurance.  Sometimes you need to get creative to make the right connections!

As always, remember that content is everything. Write engaging blogs that will interest others, highlighting areas of your business, and clearly defining the type of customer you want.  Point out the benefits you can offer, and how you can help people they know.

Then you want to contact your peers directly via email. Remember to address them by name, and invite them to read your blogs.

You should also establish social media accounts, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Join some LinkedIn groups, particularly ones containing peers in your field, and post links to you blog. This will help you to make connections online that will eventually transition into offline relationships.

Repeat that process with Facebook, making sure to send friend requests to peers in your general geographic area. Post links to your blog on both your personal and professional pages, and you will build a following. Keep in mind that Facebooks is overpopulated, and the news feed algorithm may not select all of your followers to view every single post. However, you can boost your posts so that a wider audience can view them. If you specifically want your peers to read your blogs, this is a great opportunity, because you can select the audience you want to view your boosted posts. This is the ideal way to be sure your peers are seeing the links to your blogs.

When you follow the above methods, you can be sure that a very specific audience is viewing your posts.

But how do you ensure that they will actually click in to read your blogs?

Remember that generating the right content is absolutely the key to your success. If you want your target audience to read your blog, then give them something they want to read! Consider the interests of your target audience, and make sure you are producing unique, interesting articles. It should also be conversational, casual, and easy to read. If one of your peers is surfing the internet on his lunch break, the last thing he wants to read is something overly dry and technical!

Aside from producing high quality, engaging material, remember that you should never “sell” an idea too hard. When people sense a sales pitch, they quickly back away. Your blog should offer useful information so that your target audience wants to come back for more. You don’t have to persuade them to believe you are knowledgeable in your field; show it to them through your blog!

Now that you’re producing the right content and attracting readers to your blog, remember to measure your success by the right metrics. Track your results using your analytics programs. Compare open rates for emails or click-through rates for internet traffic. You may begin to see a pattern emerging, and you will learn which topics are most valued by your target audience. Continue to hone your skills so that you continually improve your blogs and social media strategy

The internet and social media are still relatively young, and already we are spending hours per day on our computers, smart phones, and tablets. If you blog regularly and distribute your content via social media, you will gradually build a positive reputation in your field. Soon you will be making valuable connections online, which will lead to referrals and a booming business offline.