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Buying a business: leveraging social media


The author is a business broker in the North Texas Region

So you want to buy a business.

How do you go about finding that perfect company?

Since you're here on you've got the first part of the equation down. Find online marketplaces where brokers and sellers advertise their information about their companies for sale. You can also use an old-fashioned search engine to point you in the right direction.

But beyond that, how do you find those listings that never hit the marketplace? How do you find the brokers in your geographic area that have the most listing activity?

And more importantly, how do you get on their short list of buyers to call when the company of your dreams becomes available? After all, the good businesses for sale go fast and you want in the door first.

Here are a few tips to leverage your buying profile using today's social media tools:

1. Twitter

Go to Twitter and look up #businessforsale and see what results come up. Try putting in other combinations with and without the hashtag (#). You should see a whole stream of tweets about various businesses for sale.

Now search again and refine it to your area. If you're using a Hootsuite or TweetDeck or other twitter managers, you can even save your stream for easy viewing all the time.

If you become a regular commenter, you'll set yourself apart from other buyers and keep yourself on the broker's minds when new listings come up

Now that you've found brokers who tweet, follow the business brokers who are tweeting about businesses for sale in your area. But don't stop there, comment when you see one you like.

Start a conversation with the brokers who are posting their listings online. They'll like it and you'll stand out.

2. LinkedIn

Search for "business broker" on LinkedIn. Several professionals should appear in your results, and probably only a level or two away from you.

Ask to connect with those professionals either directly or through one of your own connections. Even if they don't respond (some will not if they have a LinkedIn policy that they only connect with folks they know), you'll still be able to see their public information and find their websites.

3. Blogs

Now that you know their websites from their LinkedIn Profiles or their Twitter profiles, go visit these business brokers websites. If they have a blog, save it to your RSS feed or Google reader so that you'll be notified with every update.

Now this is important, start commenting on their posts in their blog. If you become a regular commenter, you'll set yourself apart from other buyers and keep yourself on the broker's minds when new listings come up. They may even contact you about a new opportunity before it hits their email distribution or their website.

4. Facebook

Many business brokers also maintain a fan page to showcase their listings and provide buyer education. You can search in Facebook itself, or follow the links on the webpages you found in steps 1-3. Be sure to interact with their postings so that their feed continues to show in your news stream.

5. YouTube

Believe it or not, lots of business brokers are posting videos on YouTube now. You can get quite the buyer education just by watching videos!

Search on the broker's names that you gathered in steps 1-4, as well as searching for "buy a business." Be sure to add comments and ask questions! Business brokers love to know their efforts are worthwhile.

Good luck and happy searching!

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