I recently got in touch with a high school classmate of mine. Barb Girson is an International Direct Selling expert, trainer and coach who recently set sail with her own business called mysalestactics.com. We had a few emails back and forth and an interesting conversation about where we have been and what works in promoting out businesses.
I mentioned to her that Craigslist has been one of the best tools that I use to find new customers. Barb asked me about how I get it to work for me and also asked me an interesting question, “Would you consider this a networking strategy?”
My first thought that no it was not, but after pondering the question for a while I have decided that it is. I’ve met new people through the use of it and have used my networking rule of trying to offer something of value (free information) without expecting anything in return, so I guess it could be called networking.
Her next request was for me to describe the process that I used for this. I decided to write this post about it because I believe what Scott Ginsberg says “Writing is the key to all wealth“.
There are two methods that I use to promote my business on Craigslist:
First, I have written a series of advertisements that I rotate through several cities in my region in the “computer services” section. It is important to follow Craiglist’s rules by not posting too often and only posting these ads in the appropriate section.
I have seen many ads for different services posted in the “web design jobs” or “computer gigs” sections. Since these sections are for people looking to buy web services these ads usually get flagged and removed pretty quickly, but more importantly they are not read by the people who are actually in the market for their services. I know that personally I would never hire someone who didn’t understand or care that this was not the correct section to post their ads.
Second, the “web design jobs” and “computer gigs” sections are the ones that I need to be reading to find people advertising jobs that I can do. To read those I use RSS. Every Craigslist page has it’s own RSS feed and I can subscribe to those just like any blog and get these ads almost as soon as they appear in my feedreader. For that I use Thunderbird another great free Open Source tool. Not only do I get my email, Thunderbird brings all of my RSS feeds into it as well and I can read them just like my regular email.
Even though there is quite a bit of Spam on Craigslist using Thunderbird I can still monitor many Craigslist cities, have all the post sent to one folder and go through 30 or 40 posts in a couple of minutes. I currently subscribe to two feeds in well over 30 Craigslist cities and still only spend about ten to fifteen minutes a day working on it. I probably actually answer five to six ads a day and I have a general outline that I use for this. I try to personalize each reply to the individual city and request, but here’s the basic outline:
My name is Jim Lillicotch and I am replying to your Craigslist ad.
I live in Pittsburgh PA and have customers in (local city) and many other areas that are very satisfied.
For information about my business, I invite you to tour my blog:
Feel free to comment on any posts that strike your interest and contact me with any questions
Thank you for your consideration.
I have found that people posting these jobs on Craigslist tend to be bombarded with responses to their ads, but if I get a reply I try to find out exactly what their job entails and offer to be as helpful as I can. I have foud several customers this way and also a few good friends.