Combining online outreach with in-person workshops can allow you to communicate with a wide audience while forming personal, offline connections with potential new clients.

By Ginita Wall and Candace Bahr, Second Saturday Founders

Second Saturday workshops

Before the internet, attorneys and professionals from all fields were able to connect with clients through word-of-mouth referrals and human interaction, plain and simple. Give great service to one client and that client would refer you to someone else — who ended up referring her friends and relatives to you as well. Your marketing efforts might have consisted of speaking at the local Rotary and participating in community events where you could tell a little about yourself and pass out business cards. When the opportunity arose, you interacted personally with potential clients, telling them what you do and how you could serve them. Doctors also made house calls. Ah, those were the good old days!

Using the Internet to Facilitate In-Person Connections

Nowadays, social media and developing a web presence are the foundation of most marketing plans. We’ve heard from many attorneys that, through the internet, they are reaching many but connecting personally with few. Unfortunately, simply tweaking your website or adding content won’t give you enough leverage to create a ripple in the vast internet ocean.

I’ve found a solution. I get about 150 new clients a year in my solo practice as a financial planner/accountant in the field of divorce by utilizing the internet as an effective vehicle to draw people to divorce workshops where I can create strong in-person connections. It’s a strategy where old meets new: by presenting monthly workshops on divorce, I connect with people who are facing crisis and ready to take action – and I use the internet to reach people who might be interested in attending without investing much money or time.

It wasn’t always this easy. When I first began presenting divorce workshops more than 25 years ago, there was no internet and it was harder to get the word out and connect with potential attendees. But now, using the tools on the internet, I’ve completely “upped my ante” in getting people to attend, following up after the events, and staying connected.

Tips for Conducting Effective Online Outreach

My outreach begins with a website listing and a Facebook page, but those aren’t enough to draw people in. However, a $15 boost on Facebook reaches an additional 4,000 people in my area each month. I generate even more buzz by connecting with therapists and running free ads on Craigslist and Meetup. My efforts garner the attendance of 25-50 people at each workshop, where they receive information regarding the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of divorce. Mine has become the model for a network of divorce workshops that provide turnkey guidance for starting a new workshop, including online and marketing outreach.

The bottom line? The internet can be an impersonal vehicle for dispensing information or it can be an invaluable tool for creating connections. My divorce workshop has been the most rewarding part of my career. Internet or not, my decades of success have been based on the fact that I am directly in front of individuals in crisis who understand that I really care.

Ginita Wall is a CPA, CFP, and CDFA in San Diego. She is the author of eight books on personal finance and divorce, helped create the Focus on Forever program offered by the AAML, and received the Pioneering Award from the Association of Divorce Financial Planners. Her groundbreaking Second Saturday Divorce Workshop has become the model for a national network of divorce workshops.