Social media websites are wonderful platforms. In addition to providing a venue for you to position yourself and your employees as experts in your field (through articles on blogs or periodic newsletters), social media can also help you acquire new clients – a key requirement for building your business.

Reuters tells the story of Mitchell Rock, a senior vice president with The Rock Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He has gone from evenings of working the crowds at networking events to scanning through LinkedIn group pages for users who may be planning to sell their businesses.

The switch to social has paid off, the news source reports, as The Rock Group earned 28 percent of its revenue through this strategy last year.

How do you capitalize on the networking and client acquisition opportunities that LinkedIn and other professional sites offer? Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokeswoman, told Reuters that salespeople need to get into their ideal clients’ mindsets when looking for groups to monitor and join. Look for specific subsets of that client demographic, such as working parents, and read their discussions to determine what concerns your products or services could help them address, Canfield added.

Doing this homework can provide insight on your target market’s needs, wants and values. It will be highly useful later, when you’re appealing to a prospect’s value proposition during a pitch.

While it’s vital to mine your existing clients and contacts for introductions to prospects in their networks, this strategy may be less effective when you’re trying to break into an entirely new market or are just starting out as an entrepreneur.

So what about cold calling? Do you still use this tactic when trying to build up client capital? Do you still think it’s effective?

More firms in the financial services industry, most notably Morgan Stanley, have begun training to teach their staff how to use social media, according to On Wall Street. While the trend is still in its developmental stage, the source notes that the channel could become the norm for client acquisition and engagement in the next few years.

Lauren Boyman, head of social media at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, told the site that she predicts the cold call will die out entirely. “If you’re a new advisor just starting out in this business, sitting down with a phone book is not going to bring you the success that it did 10, 20 years ago,” she added.

As you get into social media, it will be important to be committed, diligent and most of all, patient. Think of it as a long-term investment and visualize it as another component of your marketing strategy.