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Anti-money laundering expert turns to social media to boost business reach

Thanks to the communications technology now available for both small businesses and individuals, today's entrepreneurs have a huge advantage over entrepreneurs of the past.  A company can conduct business globally without ever leaving the building, and individuals have unparalleled scope for working out of home offices. Social media and other Internet resources also make it easy for customers to find their perfect vendor or service provider from anywhere in the world.

Ross Delston, an attorney, consultant and anti-money laundering compliance expert, has built a global consulting business from the comfort of his home because of the Internet and related technology. “In the beginning, when I told people I was working from a home office – this was back in 1994 – they thought I was looking for a job. Now, they say to me, 'Gee, someday I hope I can work from a home office,' ” Delston said.

As a sole practitioner, Delston has built an impressive list of clients, from the World Bank and IMF to foreign governments looking to tighten their anti-money laundering procedures. Although Delston still travels extensively in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, in recent years, he has also been able to build client relationships around the world without needing to visit clients in person. “It used to be that to do a video call I would go to the client’s offices and they'd have a special conference room set up. One day my older daughter said to me, 'Dad, why do you go all the way downtown at six in the morning for a video conference when you could be sitting at your computer?' And then a year later, I'm doing a meeting by Skype,” he said.

The Internet has provided Delston not only with a convenient way to communicate with clients, but also a way for new clients to find him. “My latest series of engagements is acting as an expert witness  on anti-money laundering compliance, and, of course, I ask the lawyer calling me, 'Where did you find my name?' The answer is either Google or LinkedIn,” Delston said. “Social networks that started out being more social than business are catching up on the business side, so that LinkedIn has become a major force. I've spent hours every day building up my LinkedIn network to more than 4,500 at the moment. Very time consuming and yet who would have thought that you could do client development from your home office, without moving from your desk chair?”

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