Networking is a great way to build your business and build relationships with other entrepreneurs. When you network with other people, you build the know, like and trust factor. You will meet people that will either be in your target market or people that can refer you to your target market.

suggested reads for empowering entrepreneurs

Here are this month’s picks of helpful articles for empowering entrepreneurs.

1. 6 Reasons Why Authenticity is the Key to Success

authenticityAuthenticity means not acting like someone else, voicing your own truths. Don’t be pressured into decisions or judgments by outside influences. Trust your heart & gut instinct.
Read more on Addicted2Success. Read more

Not the easiest thing to ask – but it could just be one of the most useful tools you can implement when building online presence.  Think about it.  How often have you hired a service provider without obtaining at least one person’s opinion?  My guess is that you have not hired even one service provider without finding out a bit more about that person either through people you actually know, or through online reviews. It only makes sense that we want to know ahead of time if the person we intend to hire is easy to work with, knowledgeable in their field, reliable, shows up on time, completes the job at hand, provides value.online reviews build online presence

Asking clients for a review or a testimonial can be considered an integral part of your customer workflow.  You will find that your happiest clients will be only too happy to recommend you and your services, they might just need to be reminded to actually go ahead and write one.

It would be prudent to ask your client for the review shortly after finishing a project for them, or having completed a lengthy session. You will want the quality and the details of the care and expertise that you put into the experience to still resonate with the client. This will help them design the recommendation with pertinent details.

I, personally, would not recommend the use of a third-party tool to gather your reviews. How incredibly annoying it is to receive a ‘bot’ generated request for review from someone you have barely dealt with.  And it is even more annoying to keep getting reminders to send someone a recommendation.  Agh!  Turn that off!

So, what is the best way to request an online review of your product or service? 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

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!

hear moreFor 8 years we have been encouraging the members of the Women’s Business Network to create, refine, rework their “Elevator Pitch”.  With only 30 seconds to introduce themselves in a network meeting, we wanted to make sure that they had their message clear and ready to go.

The article I read this morning by Seth Godin just made this concept so incredibly clear and meaningful to me.  It’s not a pitch – We are not going for the 30 second sale – We are beginning a story that just needs to be continued.  Seth  says  “The best elevator pitch is true, stunning, brief and it leaves the listener eager (no, desperate) to hear the rest of it.

I love this concept and can’t wait to share it.
There…..I  did.
This is Great Stuff!

Read the whole, short article by Seth.

Just got back from our monthly meeting of the Women’s Business Network of SE MA (WBN)    A curious thing happens every month when I attend these meetings.  In just 2 hours I become re-invigorated and optimistic about the direction my business is taking.  I find I am surrounded by support, encouragement and wisdom.

Our icebreaker question for the ‘casual networking’ portion of the meeting was: “How did you get started in your current work?”  It was fascinating to listen to the different stories in the room.  How many of us started out in one thing – sales, corporate, teaching – and then, life took a turn of one sort or another and led us to where we are now.  And each one who told their story ended it with “And I love what I am doing now!”      A phys-ed teacher turned travel agent has visited places all over the entire world.  A sports psychologist turned special-ed attorney gains satisfaction from helping children receive services they need, the minister – who everyone in her life except herself knew she should be a minister – who now realizes that her ‘call’  – everyone’s ‘call’ is  “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”   Well, I am not sure about the what the world’s deep hunger means….but maybe it’s our own individual world.  Maybe it’s that when each of us is fulfilled by the work we do, we are better able to support our families, friends and co-workers – our individual worlds.

My ‘call’, apparently, is to be a connector.  My friend, Lori, told me that years ago, right after she finished Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.  She knew before I did that the role of connector should be the path I take bring me satisfaction in my professional life..  Tricia knew it too when she invited me to join her and other tech-savvy women for a ‘think-tank’ to share ideas on how to best utilize social media to grow our business.  It took a while for me to figure it out. YES!  I am a CONNECTOR !

Now, I get to spend my days helping business find their online presence by setting them up with online listings, social media strategies and contact management systems  to help them connect to and stay connected to their clients.

The WBN fulfills my need to connect people to services, resources and other people who will somehow help them in their personal or professional life.   In the hour or so that I’ve been back to my office since getting home from WBN, I have seen two of my members form a new friendship and sharing begin on Facebook.  One member was inspired by another icebreaker question:  “If you could be reincarnated as any person you actually know, who would that be?”  This member was moved to share a blog post about her how her mother’s strength, determination and love influenced her throughout her life.

The WBN has a focus on helping members get to know and support each other on both the personal and a professional levels.  Through initiatives such as the “Icebreaker Series”, “Rotating Lunch”, “Online Advisory Circle” and other “Break-Outs”, we are building platforms and bridges to finding new ways to market, administer and grow our business.

This is Great Stuff.