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Social Media: An Overlooked Business Development Tool

Mid-market deal professionals, from private equity professionals to investment bankers, often face the challenge of being perceived as simply a vendor to mid-market C-Suite executives – their services indistinguishable from their competitors.­

However, social media is increasingly becoming a tool to help overcome this misconception. Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog Inc., a social media solutions provider to the legal services sector, outlines in a blog post how attorney David Sussman is using social media to distinguish himself among his peers as a “value generator.”

O’Keefe cited Sussman: “We are reminded constantly that without value, we have no chance for business continuity.  CEOs and ‘C’ level executives want to be engaged and I refuse to be considered a ‘vendor’ to our client-partners.”  O’Keefe continued: “Sussman shared with his associates how using social media for less than a year has built his credibility and reputation.”

Some Mid-Market Professionals are Already Active on Social Media

Sussman, however, is not the only deal professional and advisor using social media.  This type of engagement is taking place already in the middle market – but it’s the exception rather than the rule.  Some forward thinking middle market advisors are actively engaged on a variety of social media platforms where they are attracting needle-in-the-haystack deals that non-social media engaged advisors won’t be.

Many of these social-focused advisors are relying on their blogging as a source of activity for their business-oriented social media engagement.  For example, mid-market advisors are using the content they create on blogs to actively engage online with C-suite executives and referral sources both nationally and internationally – thereby expanding their sources of deal flow from sources they might not be exposed to were it not for this considered online presence.

Among those investment banking firms that are already blogging are Allegiance Capital Corporation of Dallas, Texas, and Corporate Finance Associates of Laguna Hills, California.  Among private equity groups, New York’s Health Point Capital actively blogs.  And international law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP maintains Middle Market Money Blog, which provides “insight and guidance into legislation, regulation and trends to assist entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies address corporate finance and regulatory hurdles”.

Social Media Usage by the C-Suite Expanding Rapidly

These advisors have already recognized a very important trend: the use of social media by those who are the consumers of middle market corporate advisory services are expanding rapidly.

“Social media is emerging from its adolescent phase and is rapidly maturing”, reports social media analyst and advisor Jeff Bullas.  Indeed, “In 2010, the Fortune 100 were participating on social media but not to the extent they are now. The social networks were used for broadcasting but there was limited engagement. [Recently, companies] are having constant conversations with their customers and followers and creating vast amounts of digital content, reports Bullas.

Search Engine Journal provides a detailed infographic reflecting a “steep curve of the user growth rate in all age ranges and demographics, and the continuing pervasiveness of social networking into every facet of work, play and life in general.”

As these middle market executives and decision makers begin seeking knowledge through common social networks, the deal professionals with an already-established presence will reap significantly larger benefits than their slow-to-adopt competitors.

Who’ll be Next?

Mid-market advisors are increasingly turning to highly efficient social media channels like blogs to reach targeted audiences.  Social media is cost and time efficient, and allows busy mid-market professionals to secure more deal flow in less time and with less expense than traditional networking.

Importantly, mid-market advisors can customize their efforts with their own unique service offer and ideal potential client base in mind.  For example, you are able to share industry-specific articles or highlight successes of your portfolio companies. For those mid-market advisors not yet fully engaged on social media, the adoption process is quite simple and there are many advisors already engaged on social media that are well worth emulating.

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