How Social Media Pays Off for Small Businesses

Most small business owners have little or no spare time. And, when I provide presentations to local chambers of commerce or other organizations, I always stress the importance of using social media as a tool to boost their businesses. And, at the same time, I feel like most small business owners in the audience are thinking one thing, “How am I going to find time to add that to my to-do list?” Well, I am here to tell you that you must find a way to do it.

Social media usage does pay off for small businesses. How do I know this? I am a small business owner myself—a small business owner without a multimillion dollar marketing budget. That means I have to be creative and smart when it comes to finding new clients and promoting my business. I have found that using social media has paid off – literally – in the form of dollars and cents. And, social media has allowed me the opportunity to promote my services throughout the country.

One example occurred with LinkedIn. Someone that was a ‘connection of a connection’ posted a status update that she was searching for a new freelance writer. I sent her a message via LinkedIn and told her about my business. My message was professional and included a link to my website. She contacted me and asked for an estimate. I was able to secure the account and recently completed my first article for the new company.

Another example includes following the appropriate people on Twitter. One of the people I follow hosts an online radio show and was seeking guests. I sent him a message mentioning my knowledge of human resources, resumes, and interview skills. On November 6, I was the featured guest Drive ThruHR! Not only did I get to discuss my services with an entirely new audience, but now I have an MP3 file that I can use on my website to promote my business.

Both examples have helped my business grow and prosper. And, more importantly to my own bottom line, neither of them had any out-of-pocket marketing expense. So, social media does pay off for small businesses. Join groups, follow people that may be able to assist you, and be willing to ask questions. The bottom line with social media is this: you need to pay attention to others’ needs. They are asking for your help – you just need to listen!

Finding Time to Implement Social Media

If you are a sole proprietor or own a small business, you may have already discovered something: there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all necessary tasks. There is too much to do and not enough time to do it. And, to make it even more complicated, everyone is joining various social networks and encouraging you to do the same. How will you find that for that?

First, you need to find the time to implement some type of social media into your business. And, keep in mind that what works for one business may not work for your business. This means you have to investigate others in your industry, discover what they are doing, and modify that to make it work for you.

After you have made some decisions regarding how you hope to use social media, you should start slowly. I recommend this because entering the world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools can be overwhelming. If you are not familiar with social media or have little experience in this area, then just choose one. Decide which social media tool will provide you with the “biggest bang for your buck” and focus on that one. Then, put a plan in motion to slowly utilize other social media sites in the future. Based on my own experiences, I would recommend starting with one, using it for three months, and then introduce the next social media tool.

Next, make a plan and stick to it. If you just open your social media account and don’t use it, it won’t do your business any good. So, if Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons are slow at your business, then use those time blocks to work on your social media updates, statuses, and offers. By keeping a schedule, you are more likely to be consistent and focused.

Finally, if you need assistance with social media, then be sure to ask for help. In fact, there are people that help other businesses get started with social media and can even maintain your accounts. Contact Feather Communications if you are interested in finding out more about this option. Best of luck as you start your social media journey!

First Steps in Completing Your LinkedIn Profile

First Steps in Starting a LinkedIn Profile

If you have decided to start a LinkedIn profile, you are on the right track to making important connections within your existing networks and beyond. The important thing to remember is that LinkedIn only works if you actually use it. Part of ensuring you are using LinkedIn means that you need to complete a profile.

When you start filling in your profile, you will notice a percentage that represents how complete your profile is at that particular time. Profiles that achieve a 100% completion rate tend to rank higher on searches within LinkedIn. You can certainly start your profile and then finish it at a later time; however, I encourage users to think about what they want to write and finish it during a specified time period.

Next, you will be encouraged to upload a profile picture to your LinkedIn profile. My LinkedIn profile page has a very professional photograph; please remember this when completing your profile. The photograph on LinkedIn is very small—you want it to represent you at your very best. Personal photographs are appropriate for personal networking; however, LinkedIn is used for more professional purposes such as job seeking, connecting with groups, and representing your business.

Finally, remember that words are key components of your LinkedIn profile. Make a list of words that appeal to people in your particular areas of expertise. Utilize these words when writing your profile. For example, describe your areas of expertise, mention job positions that may be of interest to you, and describe your reasons for joining LinkedIn.

My LinkedIn profile summary is listed below. Because I want to use my LinkedIn profile to promote my business, Feather Communications, you will notice that I have used key words that pertain to the writing and communication industry. Search LinkedIn and view profiles to discover what will best represent your industry, your organization, and, ultimately, you as a professional.

With over 12 years of management and communication experience, I decided to begin Feather Communciations in January 2008. Since that time, I have enjoyed working with and writing for a variety of clients, including local, regional and national publications. I have already worked with several clients in Australia and hope to continue my business’ international expansion. Through my experiences, I have given numerous presentations on business communication, e-mail etiquette and freelance writing.

Four Tips for Successful E-mail Communication

With the frequent use of e-mail as a communication method, it is important to remember to remain professional and not fall into the trap of being too casual. Here are four easy ways to ensure your e-mail communication stays professional:

Tone. Re-read your message to be sure it conveys the tone you want to set. Is the message urgent? Congratulatory? Questioning?

Conciseness. Businesspeople are busy. Don’t add extra words if they are not needed. Keep your e-mail messages brief and to-the-point.

Pre-empt questions. Think of your message from the recipient’s point-of-view and try to answer questions before they are asked.

Use specific subject lines. Rather than title an e-mail “Question” or “Response,” be specific with the subject line. Your recipient will be more likely to open the e-mail if he or she knows what it is about.

Utilizing these techniques on a regular basis will put you in professional e-mail mode. Eventually, they will become just another part of the e-mail process and you will be deemed a successful e-mail communicator.

Feather Communications to Present LinkedIn Seminar at Western Dairyland

On Tuesday, March 15, Feather Communications will present a seminar at the Western Dairyland Business Center in downtown Eau Claire. This presentation will cover LinkedIn and the vital importance it can have for your business and personal connections.

The title of the seminar, “Networking Successfully with LinkedIn,” tells the story of the presentation. In order to network successfully with LinkedIn, you have to use it. Simply being on the site is not enough. The session will cover why LinkedIn is important and the vitality that networking brings to your life. Attendees will see an example profile and learn how to build their own profile. Topics covered will include updating your status, joining groups, and connecting with people. Those who attend this presentation will also receive a handout they will complete during class; the handout will assist attendees with planning their LinkedIn profile.

Much of my business has come via social networking sites, including LinkedIn. This seminar is perfect for those individuals who do not have a LinkedIn profile or maybe have one and have not used it to its full extent. Join us for this worthwhile event and learn how to harness the power of social networking through LinkedIn. I hope to see you there!