Giving your small business an online presence means more than simply putting up a website with your company’s address and phone number. It means setting up a virtual authentic version of you and your business, with a welcoming, informative website, social media platforms and email marketing strategies. This is authentically connecting online.

So, I am two weeks into a six-week committment I have made for myself.  One hour a week, I am meeting with Kemi Sorinmade of the Growth Studio.  We are reviewing “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” as presented by John C. Maxwell.

write it down - make it happen

One thing that Kemi mentions over and over; “If you write it down, it is more likely to become a reality.  Just by writing it down, it seems to be internalized.” So, I have decided to blog about this experience. This is a tool to help me review and internalize the content I am ingesting at these meetings. Read more

I had a lovely chat with Gina over coffee this morning. Gina and I are of similar mindset. We both have a passion for helping small businesses grow by providing those administrative services around their websites and social media presence that most small business owners do not have the time to do. Each of us has come to our area of expertise via varied paths and a number of incarnations.

It seemed fitting, then, after our conversation this morning, that on my way home from the coffee shop, I listened to a wonderful piece running on NPR by Kelly McEvers. Workers Should Be Prepared to Start Over in New Jobs. 

Baby boomers have held 10 to 11 jobs  by the time they reach age 46.

Baby boomers have held 10 to 11 jobs by the time they reach age 46.

Kelly had asked folks to list off some of the jobs they’ve had in their lifetime. It was evident that most of us have held many – and varied – jobs in our lifetime.  It is also evident that the folks who are willing to learn new skills, open themselves up to new experiences and make connections are the folks who will best adapt in times of economic challenges.

I am often inspired by the members and friends of the Women’s Business Network of SE MA.  So many of the amazing women in this group have re-incarnated themselves a number of times over. Many of them have left very comfortable and lucrative corporate positions in order to increase their job satisfaction. During a recent group activity, the question was posed: “Would you take a million dollars and be told you could never work in your current field again?” The woman to my left had a very strong reaction to that question. “Never”, she answered, “Aligning my passion with my business has been priceless. I can’t think of anything else I would ever want to do.”

I am reading similar stories on a blog I recently started to follow: “Career 2.0” by Amanda Orr and Lisa O’Donoghue-Lindy. Here, they share stories of women facing adversity, facing huge life changes, following their passion, helping others, and so much more.  Once again, and over and over again, I am awed by the power of women. I am awed by their ability to adapt, to support each other’s growth, to understand the value of education, networking and continuing growth.

All of this made me think about all of the jobs I have held in my lifetime (so far)

  • babysitter
  • counter help jobs (pharmacy, health-food shop)
  • visiting artists coordinator
  • dietary aide at a nursing home
  • lab tech for high pressure liquid chromatography components
  • lab tech, supervisor and quality control manager at a dairy plant
  • water testing technician – home water filtration systems
  • MOM
  • discovery toys consultant
  • nutritional analysis labeling consultant
  • personal advocate for a disabled person
  • science program coordinator at a local children’s museum
  • custom tote-bag designer
  • memory quilt designer
  • birthday party consultant
  • personal administrative assistant – realtor
  • owner – susan finn online – helping small businesses with their online presence.

I am ever so curious….  What jobs have you held in your lifetime?  Which were your favorite? Your least favorite? Which one gave you opportunity for the most growth?

Please leave your comments below or take my 8-Question Survey.  

Results will be published in a future blog.

Using the Power of You.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Social Media and Personal Branding, there are loads of folks who want to learn what you have to share. Your followers are interested in watching you follow your passion for your area of expertise. By sharing interesting articles (including your own, as much as possible) you are establishing yourself as a resource for others who want to learn more about you and your business

Content Curation – What is That All About?
Content curation is the process of making your way through the vast amounts of content available on the web to then be able sift, sort, arrange and present it in a meaningful and organized way.  You will want to be choosy to pick the best content that is important and relevant to your own community. Often, curated content may be organized around a particular theme.

personal brandingCurating great content can help you as a  small business owner establish yourself as a thought leader, a valuable resource within your spheres of online presence, thus strengthening your personal brand.  You essentially become the “go-to” authority for issues or topics related to your industry.

By curating relevant content, you develop the ability to serve up frequent content which then increases your opportunities for interaction, which can help exposure over time as you strengthen your online personal branding.

This means that you will need a number of reliable sources to turn to for access to interesting and appropriate articles.

There are many tools and personal favorite methods for collecting articles that are relevant to you and your business.

Here are my current top 6 content curation sources and tools. Read more

personal-branding-resource

Where to begin?  You have started your own business.  You’ve invested in a website to highlight your product or service.  You may have even begun to add content to your website to help visitors learn more about your product or service. How will you develop a social media online presence for your personal brand?

As I mentioned in the previous blog, Personal Branding for the Small Business Owner, personal branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you unique and relevant and allows you to differentiate yourself to your target audience. Your online relationships will grow through the sharing, liking, and commenting on posts from people you have identified as influencers and/or evangelists. But what will you bring to the party?

Be the source!

personal-branding-resource

Be constantly on the lookout for great pieces to share that relate to your area of expertise.  Find websites that relate to your industry and bookmark them, or follow them on social media, or sign up to receive their newsletter.  When experts in your industry, or related industries, share their great content and you think that folks who follow you on your platforms might be interested in it as well, share it with an insightful comment of your own. Let your audience know what you liked (or disliked) about the article.  Let them know where in the article they might find the information that will help them with whatever challenge they may be faced with.

Schedule your posts out. Read more

personal branding

Most of the people in my networking circles are solo-preneurs, small business owners. Realizing that a strong online presence will benefit their business, they often ask which social media and networking platforms would be the most benefit to their goals. Although they have just used those exact words, “Social Media Networking”, many remain hesitant, almost adverse, to actually putting themselves out there to be “Social” in order to “Network” on the “Media”. Often I hear these words: “I don’t want any of my personal stuff out there” or “I don’t think what I have to say matters online”. As a small business owner, your personal brand and business brand overlap on social media, whether you want them to or not.

personal branding

For a small business owner, the single most important part of building a personal brand is to be exactly who you are. Be authentic. Be genuine. (But Better!)
I say “But Better” because the online persona that you will build for your professional self gets to benefit from planning. It gives you time to edit your thoughts and offerings. Read more

In the 10 years that I have been with WBN I have been an artisan, a birthday party entertainer, a multi-level marketer, a quilter, a database manager, a graphic artist, a technical support staff-person, a computer files organizer, an electronic e-newsletter designer, a social media manager, an event planner, a website project manager, and a 6-foot tall monkey mascot.

Women can do that.  

Of course, men can do it, too.

But this piece focuses on women as a reflection of my 10 years of having the great honor to collaborate with an outstanding group of women.  These women work together in a variety of platforms to inspire, educate and motivate each other to be the very best they can be in their personal and professional lives. Read more

On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, Tricia White, VP of Creative Marketing for Fun Enterprises , facilitated a roundtable discussion on Social Media Marketing at HarborOneU, 131 Copeland Drive in Mansfield. This panel was a great opportunity for small business owners to gather their questions about social media marketing and ask some amazing experts to weigh in.

Her panel guests:

1. Erin SweeneyOwner of Erin Sweeney Design. She is a graphic and WordPress website designer. She is experienced in website design and implementation, visual design, business branding, search engine optimization and social networking.
2. Lucille FisherOwner of Sage and Savvy Marketing. Lucille is a marketing strategist who helps businesses improve their social media footprint. She also helps companies work through software programs that can better integrate business processes with marketing.
3. Susan Barron Finn Owner of Susan Finn Online and Founder/Director of the Women’s Business Network. Susan is a social media specialist who works with small businesses to better improve their social media reach as well as data base systems and e-mail marketing. She helps companies improve their brand online.
4. Tammi JacobsenOwner of Tammi Jacobsen. She is a seasoned social media expert who teaches businesses strategies for social media marketing. She is a passionate blogger who works with companies on strategies as well as time management.

Topics covered ranged from branding and web design to social media networks, strategies, tools and search. Small businesses examined their marketing strategies and began to identify pain points. Attendees left the workshop with questions answered and with viable strategies for improvement. Read more

social media divasI spent this morning in the Kensington Real Estate conference room, (Thanks, Sheryle) Happy to be at the opposite end of the table from the donuts, cruellers and candy,  I sat back in appreciation, once again, of the unique learning, networking and sharing methods of a group of women who are life-long learners.  Jumping from subject to subject, we covered topics that ranged from cooking apps for our phones (BigOven.com )  to admiration for ‘paperless’ office techniques (Evernote, Cloud Computing, iPad, DotLoop) to planning Google+ Hangouts.

The Social Media Divas are an amazing group of women that decided, three years ago, to work together as a marketing team to help grow each other’s business using social media. Working as a team means knowing. liking and commenting, sharing.

Today’s questions and conversation.

How do I keep up on my blog?  

  • Use your recording feature on your cell phone to record text while you are driving home from work
  • Schedule a block of time each week and use it solely for this purpose (suggested 2 hours)
  • Ask for guest bloggers to send you some content on their specialty

Naked Brand

Getting the corporate structure to get the concept of social media.  Bolocco CEO tweets – if its too cold in one of the branches, he responds immediately.  Pepsi, UnderArnour, Zappos are other companies who have an active and responsive social media program. The culture in business  has changed.  The consumer wants to connect with the Brand.

Employees as an extension of the social media team

Engaging on Google+, LinkedIn, Vine – as each employee wants to be involved in social media – give them a new avenue.  The beauty of Google+ is its easier to use the circles so that you can control the group that sees each post.

“People will support that which they help to create” – Aileen McDonough, 3am Writers

Every time the “Divas” meet, we jump from subject to subject with incredible speed.  Each of us brings to the table a new question, a new tool, or a new observation to share with the others.

As a solo entrepreneur, it is extremely helpful to set up systems to make certain that we have an opportunity to share ideas, frustrations and new knowledge with like-minded people.  I feel incredibly fortunate to be included in this group of electric women.

A recent post by marketing wizard, Seth Godin, is entitled EMPATHY TAKES EFFORT.  Seth says that when we imagine what it must be to be like someone else, that we expose ourselves to risk.  I think his message is that by putting ourselves in someone else’s point of view, we may be shaken up and out of our own comfortable way of seeing the world.  We might feel uneasy if we have to take into account factors we ordinarily choose to view differently, or ignore altogether.

I have addressed this issue in the past and have referred to it as looking at the world through a different window than the one in our own “house”.  This can be true in a physical sense – truly – I am often made aware of how just sitting in a different spot, looking out different window, can completely alter a view of the same object.   It may also be true in the personal, human sense.  I am always amazed at how one topic can be viewed so differently by so many people.  Political views, religious views, views about child-rearing – and my personal haunt – views about the value of housekeeping can vary by exactly how many people are involved in the topic at the time.   Our friends, our neighbors – jeez, even our own families – look through the windows of their own self and see one issue quite differently than the next person.

I think that without an effort to bring empathy to your self and thus, to your work, you are setting up walls which impede many opportunities to learn and grow and connect.  These walls, created by lack of empathy, seem to also create anger toward and distrust of others who do not look out of your window.  By understanding the window through which someone is viewing their situation, and by adjusting our own lenses to bring in a closer version of their view, we can better work toward completing a project at hand.

I agree, Seth Godin – It may “be easier to walk on by, to compartmentalize and to isolate ourselves. Easier, but not worth it.”

This is Great Stuff!

The Big Promise
A post this morning by marketing maven, Seth Godin, gave me a double take – at first, I thought that his piece on small promises was meant for us to take note of all the little things we say that we are going to do and make sure to DO THEM. But, then, when I read it again, the following line struck me.

“The big promises of transparency and care, of design and passion, of commitment and stewardship–we ought to be demanding more of this. “

Well of course….. That makes so much sense. This is my goal for all of my clients. My clients are hard-working, honest, giving people who provide meaningful services. They care deeply not only about their clients and customers, but I have found them to care deeply about their employees, as well. We work together, through their online platforms to create a strategy of transparency and care – to publicize their passion for their business and their commitment to their employees. This their big promise to their customers. This is my big promise to my clients.

Thank you for the post, Seth.

Read Seth’s full post.

This is Great Stuff!

Email marketing helps us create attractive email communications with a professional appearance.  It allows us to stay in touch and help build strong  relationships with customers.  In many ways it is better and much more effective than regular email.

1: Send personalized emails to as many contacts at one time as you would like:     Email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo and others may restrict how many emails we can send out at one time.  Most services do not have the capability of personalizing individual emails.  ( I know its automated, but I do still enjoy when the email I open starts with “Hi Susan” )

2: Boost customer communication:   Email newsletters are fast, inexpensive and attractive.  You can send them more regularly than paper ones.  Third party email marketing puts you in in-boxes more accurately than regular email. You will be able to avoid spam filters so that your message is seen by more people, allowing you to stay top-of-mind with folks who enjoy hearing from you.

3: Get more referrals, more easily.  Third party providers make it easy to forward your emails to other people. This way, your engaged customers get to give their friends a risk-free introduction to your organization.  Then it’s easy for those new friends to sign up for your mailing list from a button on your website.  With regular and meaningful communications from you, these new prospects become your new loyal customers.

4: Track your open and click-through rates:   I love this part.  You get to see who opened your emails and who shared them with their friends and colleagues. I get a kick out of checking out who clicked which links in the emails.  That part helps me to understand what folks are really interested in reading about.  It helps me to tailor my content in order to get the best response.

5. Easy database management.  Most third-party email services offer tools to help you easily manage your contact database.  Their service automatically process opt-ins and opt-outs.  Your list can easily be segmented to allow for more targeted marketing.

Email is the lowest cost way to stay top-of-mind with clients, prospects and candidates.  Besides being cost-effective, it delivers immediate response and is highly trackable.

I have had experience with a number of email service providers: MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact, Swiftpage.  Each has its pros and cons.  Which one to use?  Well, that’s a topic for another day.

If you are ready to get all of those business cards out of the boxes, drawers or Rolodex files and into an easy-to-use contact management system to send targeted emails, I will be happy to help !    Email ME !

This is Great Stuff!

Read more articles about Email Marketing.

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constant contact email marketing  Let Me Help You Build Your Email Marketing

I think LinkedIn company pages are fantastic.  But now, they’re even better.

linkedin logo

Recently, LinkedIn Company Pages got a makeover – and I love it!   The pages still have basically the same functionality, but the look and feel of the pages has changed and, in my humble opinion, got way, way better.

Company Updates and the Products/Services sections of the page are more predominant. The Products/Services tab is my favorite tab in all of LinkedIn.  I just love how you can break down the elements of a company and add details, photos and videos. I think it is a great way for someone to grab a more in-depth understanding of your company.  This is a great place for your LinkedIn contacts to leave their recommendations, as well.  Haven’t set up your LinkedIn Company Page yet?  This Hubspot article may help.

Did you know?  LinkedIn now allows you to target the followers who you would like to see your company updates.  Read more about targeted updates

The new cover image that highlights your company/brand at the top of the page is another great opportunity to push out your company’s brand image and, perhaps, a message.

LinkedIn describes itself as ” the world’s largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.” 

 This is Great Stuff!

Check it out….and remember to Link In with me while you’re at it.