Social media platforms like Linked-In and Twitter are tools; but vital ones. Technology is getting better at making these tools easier to use. Many aspects are free.
I have found that most of my successful small business clients understand that core content of a base web is the preeminent feature of social media, but from there, effective networking is also a strong contributor.
You must network a core content and let it do the work for you, building connections around it like spokes on a wheel. Don't think only of Linked In, but expand your efforts to grow connections to other venues as well and use your core content to create synergism.
I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a web site ($10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name) containing the basics of entering and succeeding in the venue as well my books and articles on the subject for download via Box Net (also a free application)
The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid repeating myself over and over to new business clients and still keep myself available for specific inquiries and problems.
I linked everything together on "Linked In" and began answering questions at the "Answers" feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well. The Adsense Feature added cash flow. Roughly 30% of my clients began coming via Linked In or Linked In related networking.
The result has been heavy traffic, good efficiency in supporting in excess of 5000 counseling cases and virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for a non-profit organization.
Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in.
Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will have their ear.
When the dialogue begins to revolve around a specific scope of work that can be identified, quantified in terms of hours and a schedule, reduce these details to a quotation and ask the client to consider it.
Remember to quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him.
Above advice courtesy of Kenneth Larson from SmallToFeds