By Liz daRosa @lizdaRosa
This is the third in the series on starting your own #Smallbiz. This step probably involves the most Action and Boldness on your part. Here is when you actually take your Brand and bring it to market (i.e. start telling people about what you are doing) and that can be nerve-wracking! By telling people you open yourself up to criticism (she can’t do that!), disbelief (she’s going to do what?) or even dismissal (she’s crazy!) There are many other reactions you may run into as well however you need to be Bold & Resilient and Own your brand and smallbiz endeavor. If you don’t who will?
Step 3. Own It & Grow Your Network!
When we truly own an idea or concept we passionately represent it and share it with others. Here are some ways to ‘own’ the brand for your smallbiz and grow your network.
Network & Get Something/Give Something Back: Remember for those of you who like me, don’t like the typical ‘mixer’/happy hour there are many other types of networking. Before you identify the right places to go make sure you Understand your market and then you can target your efforts. Here are some examples of networking opportunities where you can Own & market your new smallbiz and get something or give something back: 1) a Professional/Industry Association: CEU’s, professional development opportunities, participate in committee work; 2) Volunteering: Any type – it will make you feel good while doing some good!; and 3) Word of Mouth: Our friends want to support us but we need to tell them what we are doing/planning and give them a business card & link to your website. The best part about the Word of Mouth is you are going about your normal day but showing your excitement for your brand.
Network & Social Media: Regardless of what type of smallbiz odds are good you will need a Social Media Marketing Strategy to reach your customers/clients. Without using social media you are grossly inhibiting growth before you start. You are probably already on LinkedIn so that’s a great start – this is an excellent professional platform to ‘market your smallbiz’ and yourself doing what you already do – search LinkedIn for opportunities. You’ll need to adjust your profile and how you search but you are already comfortable in this platform.
Another social media ‘no-brainer’ is your own website – this can be FREE and should be while you get off the ground. Unless you have backing from venture capitalists you need to be budget conscious so take the time to seek out free items for every part of your small biz roll-out. Search for “free blogs” the reason I say blog versus a website is the FREE element, haven’t you been paying attention? A great blogging platform is intuitive and has a professional look and feel – no coding experience necessary!
I chose a WordPress site, it’s an industry standard as one of the best blogging sites – and it’s (essentially) free. You will need to devote a few hours to set up so it has the look and feel that reflects your brand but once that’s over quick & easy to submit a post & go-live! You can even update the template with relative ease. While I’ve been harping on FREE, I did cave and pay $99 to have the ‘word’ WORDPRESS removed from my URL (to start it was https://lizbeardmoredarosa.wordpress.com) but now it has a more professional appearance (it’s http://lizbeardmoredarosa.com). It was well worth the $99. You can choose to pay $29+ for ‘higher’ end templates but there are a wide-variety of free ones (I use a free template). I’m not advocating WordPress over any of the others, just sharing my experience.
You may think ‘I don’t want to be a blogger, that’s not the focus of my smallbiz’ – I understand, think of blogging as free commercials. You don’t need to write a blog post everyday or even multiple times per week (or at all) you just need to have posts that are consistent, have quality and are meaningful for your smallbiz. If you are passionate about your smallbiz idea and mission it shouldn’t be a problem coming up with ideas for posts. (I’ll have specific examples & ideas on this later in the week.)
Let’s move from your FREE website (it has a URL so it’s not just a blog) to Twitter. With only 140 characters it’s essential to be concise, convincing and engaging in your tweets. You’d think that was easy but it’s not! As someone who initially joined Twitter to capture moments from my road races, I’ve branded myself Your Career Coach and already attracted new clients (YES!) and professional contacts. I’m also expanding the reach of my brand, Your Career Coach, beyond the readership of my blog/website. I admit that if you told me 6 months ago, I’d be active on Twitter, I would have laughed at you, but it WORKS. It takes a huge time commitment to begin with but you quickly learn ways to be more effective & efficient. Tweeting grows your brand, extends the reach of your smallbiz and allows you to engage with a variety of professionals you may not have ‘met’ otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of hashtags that aren’t focused on professional endeavors, but you need to find the ones that resonate with your smallbiz and use those in your tweets. Through the use of targeted hashtags I’ve exchanged ideas in tchats (Twitter chats) in real-time and found thought-leaders that are accessible and eager to network with me. I’ve found due to the asynchronous nature of tweets, frequency of real-time tchats and DMs (direct message feature) that overall, I have developed closer professional relationships on Twitter than I have on LinkedIn.
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are some of the other social media platforms that may be in your social media marketing strategy. At this point, I’m not on these because my Strategy has me ‘master’ ONE then move to another. I started on LinkedIn, moved to a blog and now I’ve worked my way to Twitter. Next, I will add Instagram to my social media portfolio followed by Facebook. Keep in mind that the mission and goals of your smallbiz will guide (really ‘dictate’) how you proceed in social media and how aggressive you make your campaign. Once I make the successful move into these platforms, I’ll let you know the bumps and benefits.
This networking list isn’t all-inclusive but it’s a great starting place to Own your smallbiz and give it a kick-start. As always if you want a free opinion I’m just an email, call or tweet away! If you want to talk on a deeper level about kick-starting your smallbiz let’s set up a free call to see if working together will help get you closer to success.
Your Career Coach, Liz
About the Author: Liz daRosa is busy shaping her brand, Your Career Coach, Liz. Her Social Media Marketing Strategy can be seen on: LinkedIn where she is a “Career Blogger I Transitioning Military Coach I Smallbiz Coach”; her Blog/Website where she focuses on “Helping You Successfully Navigate Career Transition Challenges” and on Twitter where she is “a #Blogger I #CareerCoach to People in Transition I Global #Speaker I Join the #meGoal challenge I #Smallbiz Coach I #Leadership Coach. She helps professionals shape & market their personal brand to reach beyond their success goals.