At the last Professional Consultants Association of Central New York meeting on April 12th, our presenter, Levi Spires, talked about his goal of trying to get elected to the New York State legislature and how he used technology to try to accomplish that goal. Even though he was unsuccessful in his bid, he wasn’t far off while running against a 20-year incumbent, and felt that using the new tools available to him helped get him closer to his goal than trying to run a traditional campaign.

Some of the tactics he used were illuminating and cutting edge. For instance, he created postcards that he was able to send out to the populace with specific links on each one, so that he could track who had visited his site and what they were interested in. He used that information and other databases to then conduct a door to door campaign of those he felt might be ready to hear his message and, instead of giving them a broad based message, spoke directly to each person about their interests based on visiting his website.

Frankly, that’s both amazing and scary at the same time. While some people lament the loss of privacy most of us get on a computer, visit websites, and conduct searches without realizing that almost all of these sites drop tracking cookies onto our computer. They do this to advertise to us, but also to gather demographic information. That a mailing could result in that same sort of thing is disconcerting and brilliant at the same time. It’s disconcerting because of the simplicity of finding out who we are. It’s brilliant because one only has to send out a mass mailing once, then can focus on those people who actually responded to it.

Even at this time in history many consultants are reluctant to try to use a lot of online technology to conduct business. It’s not always easy to do for one reason or another. Some of us have clients who aren’t really online looking for what we have to offer. Some of us aren’t good at it, preferring face to face connections because you more immediately know what someone needs as opposed to phishing, if you will, without knowing what the audience might be responding to.

Regardless, there is no stepping backwards. One can decide to tread water, and if you’re older then it might work out just fine. However, if you’re getting into consulting at a younger age, and that’s considered as late 30’s to early 40’s, you need to be willing to put yourself out there in some fashion to help market yourself while reaching out to those who might be able to use your services. It’s a global world, even if you have a local business, and if you’re unwilling to have a website, blog, Facebook page, account on LinkedIn, or whatever else it takes to make sure you’re controlling your message, you allow your competitors to pass you by, and it’s always harder to catch up the later you get into the game.

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