Today’s post is by guest blogger, Deborah Shane of Train with Shane.  Deborah is an empowerment expert who specializes in career transitioning for women and provides sales, marketing and branding consulting.  She can be heard on her weekly on Blog Talk Radio. Take it away, Deborah!

It’s amazing what you can do online, for free, in terms of connecting with your potential and existing customers right now!  What’s really great is that it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s a great place to promote your uniqueness and your personality.

If you’re looking for a few things you can right now to reach out people, and connect with them, let’s get started!

1) Assure your business is listed!

One of the best ways to do this is with GetListed.orgGetListed.Org was launched in January of 2009 as a way for small business owners to learn exactly how their businesses are listed online.  They’ll assure you’re listed in some of the most important online business listings online, such as:

2) Ask some of your most passionate customers for a Google review!

Once you’re listed in Google (see Tip 1) send your best customers an e-mail asking them to review your business on Google.  Google reviews (and people saying they found your review helpful) are a very effective way to grow online loyalty and it even helps with your Google relevance — meaning it helps your web site rank higher in Google’s search results.

3) Join LinkedIn.com, and connect!

If you haven’t jumped on the Social Media bandwagon yet, LinkedIn is one of the most effective ways to reconnect with existing customers, and introduce yourself to potential customers.  What’s really cool is their “introduction” feature that lets you introduce yourself via a friend or associate.  LinkedIn will either work from your address book, or let you search for contacts and add them to your network.

4) Join PRLOG.org and Spread the News!

One of the most effective ways to create awareness online is to “spread the news” via a press release.  If you, or your company, creates news releases, it’s really important that you share them online in addition to sending them to your local, regional or national news outlets.

I’ve found that one of the best, free, online sites for sharing news is PRLOG.org.

News releases are a great way to go after “keyword phrases”.  In my case I might want to appear in searches for “marketing consultant”.  The trick is to optimize the title of your piece to match the appropriate keyword.  Instead of a typical news title like “Train With Shane Offers New Service”, I might use one like “Marketing Consultant Company, Train With Shane, Offers New Service”.

Do you have any other suggestions on free ways to connect with customers online? Be sure to share them with us!