Most of my traffic comes from Google, and people following me on Twitter, Facebook etc, tend to be people interested in seeing what I'm doing/saying rather than people looking to hire me. Word of mouth and 'who you know' is what brings most of my work.
Maybe I'm missing a trick here, or being naive, but I view having a website as something like an electronic business card or brochure. What I mean is, I don't look to that to generate business, but rather, as an immediate way to show work etc. to those I already have some sort of connection with. That connection may be vague or it may be longstanding, built over years, but my point is that it's more about enhancing awareness with those who are already aware to one degree or another.
Also, and I don't mean this to sound sniffy, but if I were looking for a designer or web designer, the last thing I'd do is trawl the net for 'a good deal'. And as a designer, I'd be skeptical of a potential client who used google as a means of finding a designer.
That said, sometimes one finds amazing talent/solutions/opportunitied quite by Internet surfing 'happy accidents'.
S'pose it's always good to be open and flexible though. :icon_smile:
Most of our enquiries come through our site. We do get recommends but it wouldn't be enough to cover our overheads and we've met some really nice people and helped some new businesses get up and running at the same time from 'cold' leads from the website. Perhaps you are missing a trick because a lot of people wouldn't know who to ask to recommend a web or graphic designer.
A lot of my work has come via forums as opposed to social networks as such - I think you can get a better connection with people online with forums than you do on the social networks, particular when, as Paul says, on something like Twitter the people following you tend to be people interested in your work like other designers as opposed to prospective clients.
I get a lot of interest from my website and feel that generally Facebook has become a way of bookmarking it/my company in a different way to simply bookmarking a link to my site on a browser.
Folders or lists of bookmarked websites are quite dry and easy to forget (unless you deliberately sit down and click through them), whereas Facebook (or Linkedin) offer that reminder in a more immediate way via an update email to their mailbox or when they log in online.
Nothing is wholely right or wrong and a strong 'presence' is important however/wherever it is.
Work for me doesn't come from networking or from forums as these tend to be small/low budget clients wanting the earth but not willing to pay for it.
My site shows a scope of the kind of work and sometimes more importantly who I work(ed) for and because many are household or well known within their sector, it acts as a kind of reinforcement/reassurance as to my credentials.
Facebook/Twitter etc. can be a bit 'I've had a sandwich for lunch' or can be a very 'Look at ME!', but I think handled well and in a style that is suitable for the company it represents can be an excellent way of getting news out there.
Facebook and Twitter seem a bit frivolous to me (I'm largely unimpressed by online social networking in general) but I do use Linkedin to try and firm up any new contacts. I work for a few biggish businesses (i.e. with large numbers of employees) and, although I have a main point of contact in each, I get the odd random request direct from other people inside organisations via internal recommendation. Each time a new person comes along and I've completed a job for them, I make a note and send a Linkedin network invitation a month or so later to try and keep myself in the frame for any further opportunities. Whether people coming back (they often do) is down to that or not I can't really say but its any easy, low-pressure way to maintain some sort of presence (I'll also ask people if they wouldn't mind writing a recommendation for my profile once the relationship is an ongoing one).