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!