Most of us are familiar with Twitter as a great communication tool, but perhaps not as familiar with its “Advanced Search” feature as an effective research and lead generating tool.

Read on to find out how you can use Twitter’s own search engine to build your client base significantly; through a process we call “active listening”.

Twitter is a virtual goldmine for businesses.

You can search for real people talking about real stuff in real time. If someone tweets a problem – which your business has the solution to – then you have a new lead and, potentially, a new customer.

Follow these three steps to find new customers for your business.

Step 1: Go to Twitter’s Advanced Search tool

Visit: http://search.twitter.com/ and click on “Advanced Search”.

Choose an area that your business serves, or an area where your target market lives.

Then type in the keyword(s) your target customers might enter into the search box (for example a graphic designer might type in a phrase such as “logo design needed” to find people looking for logo design), then wait for the magic… when Twitter really comes into its own.

Step 2: Engage

You should now have a list of recent tweets that relate to your search query. These “tweeters” could become your next paying clients.

So don’t just leave things there –engage with them!

Do something meaningful with the information, whether that means you follow, “favourite” or reply directly to the content of the tweets.

The key thing is to listen well so your reply is relevant.

The KISS (keep it short and simple) principle applies here too. And don’t be promotional at this stage – just be really helpful.

Keep in mind that not all tweets will be relevant for you. So don’t reply to everything – just pick the ones that look right for you.

Step 3: Close the sale

If you get a positive response from your actions in Step 2, aim to “keep the conversation going”. The objective here is to absorb any new leads into your sales process, taking them towards the ultimate objective of closing the sale.

Top tip: One thing you could do is send people to a free piece of content that helps solve their problem. For example, with us, we send people to a free 9 minute training video that goes through how to generate predictable leads each month.

If you’d like to learn more about generating predictable leads and sales appointments using Twitter, check out this video here.