Welcome to Ask Kyla, an advice column for small business owners who want to practical steps for a thriving (uncomplicated!) business. Readers submit anonymous questions and get practical, actionable answers about marketing their online business, from Canadian marketing strategist and business coach, Kyla Roma.

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THE QUESTION:

Dear Kyla,

Do you have any tips for networking in Facebook groups, or finding good Facebook groups for my small business?

I’m in lots of Facebook groups that:

  1. Are for fellow service-based business owners (not all are necessarily my dream clients)
  2. Don’t welcome direct pitching except in super-overrun pitch threads, or
  3. Are centered on experts/coaches whose voices I appreciate but just don’t want to add to my content diet right now.

How do I network on Facebook without being spammy, or without going silent because I’m afraid of being spammy? 

Lots of people like to say “be of service,” but what does that actually LOOK LIKE, and how do I find groups where I can be of service in a way that helps me consistently attract high-end clients?

– Silent Not Spammy


OK, LET’S DIVE IN:
Oh my goodness Not Spammy, I HEAR YOU!

Facebook groups can feel like a world all their own, and because the rules and cultures vary so widely it can be a little intimidating!

There absolutely are places where you can connect with your dream clients (aka. the ones who buy your products and pay their invoices on time!) inside of Facebook Groups. I know that you’ve got what it takes to do that in a way that sparks genuine delight.

How to get clients on Facebook

When you approach Facebook groups with the goal of getting clients, or even through the lens of content marketing, and content planning, we can lose sight of the much bigger, longer-lasting opportunity: Building genuine relationships!

Building genuine relationships could help you to…

  • Build your network of people who refer clients to you.
  • Make one person’s day better (that matters!)
  • Find people who you can form deep, long-lasting friendships with.
  • Practice a low stakes way to get out of your shell.
  • Introduce a new friend to an old friend who would be happy to share their experience running a podcast, or writing a book, or completing another project on your heart.
  • Start a peer to peer mastermind or book club
  • Collaborate with a friend who works with your ideal customers or clients in a non-competitive way, so you can teach something to their list and grow your own.
  • Discover new music, if you ask for playlist recommendations. (Here’s my current work mix!)
  • Experience more spontaneity, chance, and delight when your days are feeling very similar #PandemicLife

They aren’t a magic wand that makes clients appear – but as you fold these relationship-building actions into your habits, routines (and hopefully your day planner too!) you make it exponentially easier to attract your dream clients, paying customers, and create more opportunities in your future.

Especially because most service-based business owners only need a few high-quality few referral partners to make a dramatic difference in their business and income.

As with anything, it helps if you know what you want, so you can be clear about what to ask for and how to find people who are aligned with that.

And most of the benefits of being active in Facebook groups are more indirect than direct – so if you need a quick cash injection, this probably isn’t for you.

But that said… what does being a great Facebook Group member actually look like?!

Ideas for facebook group engagement routines that attracts clients

I’ve made a lot of friends and have easily earned over $20,000 from customers and clients I’ve met through Facebook groups or have been referred to through Facebook groups. And that’s almost exclusively through being a well-known member in other people’s groups!

At the end of the day, the best networking is about creating casual, positive relationships with a personal connection. In other words – you’re making friends!

The 3-step process to attract clients and meet referral partners on Facebook:

  1. Find the right Facebook groups – Look for ones that are focused on topics that your dream clients or customers, and that are complementary to your niche.
  2. Create a routine to engage meaningfully in Facebook Groups – This is all about becoming a visible resource in the community. Think of this like becoming a big fish in a small pond- except instead of being seen as the “go-to” person in your town, you’re the “go-to” person in a Facebook group! (We’re on this step now)
  3. Get to know the person, and genuinely try to help each other. Ask for permission to move the conversation somewhere private, so you can get to know them. Then you’ll get to know them and see if you can help each other! And no, you should not pitch them or sell at them. More on that later!

Examples of high-quality networking and engagement in a Facebook Group (step two, above) can look like:

  • Engage with people about the topic of the group. Create new, on-topic posts with updates with opinions and questions. Reply to people who take the time to comment. If you’re not adding value around the topic of the group, you’re adding to the noise, and that doesn’t get anyone noticed in the way they want.
  • Replying to something meaningful that someone shares with a kind, useful Loom video instead of a comment.
  • Note when someone rad posts, and then go find them on other social media platforms. Follow them and comment, sharing how you found them, with something like: “Ah, I love it when I find other ________ group members in the wild!”. Comment on their stuff, and if they seem to reciprocate, eventually invite them to hop on a quick call and get to know each other. (Just get to know them, don’t pitch!)
  • Share that you’re looking for a few different types of business owners (Pick complementary business owners who work with your ideal clients.

    Example: If you’re a coach to business owners, you could ask for web designers, copywriters, and social media managers – since all of them work with your ideal clients) to create a blog post of great people who help your ideal customers. Ask people to drop their website in the comments. Create the blog post, and then tell them about it along with social media swipe content that they can easily share.
  • Ask people if there’s anything they’re being challenged with that’s inside of your area of expertise, and send them any resources you’re aware of that might be helpful.
  • Inside those groups, ask for unrelated recommendations that your people would be into. Best planner you’ve ever used? Any great anti-racism courses anyone’s taking?
  • Share that you want to start a free mastermind, or a casual group call. Ask if anyone else wants to talk about their businesses, and share what you’re looking for. BE QUIRKY AND SPECIFIC!

    Example: If you share that you want to talk with other “business owners who are intersectional feminists who wish they tried roller derby and use too many gifs” or “spiritual business owners who want to get things done… but would set fire to hustle culture if they could” you’ll be more likely to end up in the right room.

The obvious disclaimer here: Only do these things if they’re genuine. Don’t be a salesy, sleazy jerk! These are things that build your reputation over the long term, can increase referrals in the long term, and are an investment in the future of your business.

Ideas to build your reputation as a small business owner who is brilliant, kind, and easy to refer clients to:

  • Circle back and ask how people are doing. Almost no one does this, let alone doing it reliably over 1-2 years. If you do that, you’ll be in the top 1% of their business friends shortly.
  • Know what your goals are – but give them a back seat. Do you want to do JV Collaborations? Build your list? Get amazing book recommendations? Know who you should buy your next course from? The side benefits of having a healthy network of online friends are huge and go beyond finding your next client.

    Again: Selling to everyone you meet is wildly short-sighted and will work against you in the short and long term! Online business is one big small town and building your reputation is crucial, so if you don’t like selling that’s ok! Go make friends with your peers while you work on that comfort level.
  • Show people that they matter to you. Take notes. It doesn’t matter where – even a note in your phone contacts works great. Listen to their cat or dog’s name and write it down. Make note of their partner’s name if they mention it. Remember the names of their offers, what their current challenges are, and any courses they’re taking. Then ask them about it 2-3 months later.

    It’s so simple, but it’s an impactful way to demonstrate that you actually care. Sometimes I have a spotty memory. Sometimes my depression and anxiety mean I can’t remember the important things. For me, taking notes is a simple workaround that’s incredibly effective.
  • Make someone’s day. If you genuinely try to make the other person’s day better, you’re going to have a hard time going off track.

Need help finding good Facebook groups to find clients in? for online business owners:

  • Search for groups that a few of your ideal customers would be in! Find support or resource groups specifically for them.
  • Ask the people already in your network – which also counts as networking, by the way!
  • Check out the communities of podcasts you enjoy.
  • I have a post with 17 Facebook group suggestions for online business owners right here.
  • Look through the support communities for tools or courses that you use and adore. (Almost all of the best Facebook groups that I’ve ever been in are all for paid courses.)

What do you think the writer should do? What did you do, if you’ve struggled with something similar?
Did this remind you of something you would love to have Kyla’s take on? Submit your question or dilemma anonymously here