June 3, 2016

What is the best way to promote my or I should say their business online?

The answer is it depends. In most cases the answer will be “it depends”. I say this because in most cases you have to gather more information before you can really give a good answer. But here are some things that I’ve found to be true.

First off, make sure you have a website. Don’t rely on something like Facebook alone to market your business. You need a professional website and I don’t mean using Wix or Weebly or any other do-it-yourself web designing tool. They are great sites but they also will have their name at the bottom or YOUR site. If you can code, do it yourself. If you can’t, hire a professional. There are two things to think about with a website – form and function. How does it look and does it function for the type of business you have? For example, if you have an online store, let’s say it’s a site where you sell widgets. If you don’t know what a widget it, it’s a pretend, made up thing that is used as an example of something you create or sell. If you sell widgets, and you have customers that will be ordering a lot of different widgets at one time, make sure your website if quick enough to handle the order and secure enough for the monetary transaction. I’m going into more detail than I want in this example but hopefully you get the idea.

Another thing is that you want to be consistent. If your business provides content, you want to meet your deadlines consistently. I make sure each new episode of my podcast is available each week on the same day at the same time. Do you get your mail about the same time every day? How about your newspaper if you’re one of the people that still likes to read a real paper and have it delivered to your door? Be consistent.

Another way to promote your business online is to tell a story. Some of the best stories that you can have are testimonials from your satisfied clients and customers. What if you’re just starting out and don’t have any clients or customers? Do you have friends or family that have tried your product or service that can give your testimonials? If not, how about telling the story yourself about why your product or service is great. And make sure that’s you’re being as honest as you can.

You’ll also want to keep it simple. Don’t overproduce your website or content about your product or service. Don’t make it cluttered or make things hard to find. Look at other websites in your industry or niche for ideas. But don’t be a copycat. Use them as a launching pad for ideas.

And lastly, make sure to create relationships with your customers and clients based on honestly, dependability, and service. Remember your word is your bond, keep your promises. That’s an old saying.

How can I get better at networking?

Sometimes you have to be like Nike and just do it. If you’re shy, this will be a challenge. Many people hate going up to a perfect stranger and starting a conversation. It’s hard. But with a little practice it just might get easier. Go to a local networking event, pick someone in the room that’s wearing something that you like or your favorite color, and go up to them and say, “Hi my name is fill in your name. I feel so uncomfortable going up to a perfect stranger at these events and making conversation. But I noticed that your tie is purple which is my favorite color, so I thought I could break the ice by saying, I like your tie.

See that wasn’t so difficult. Ok, maybe it was. But it will get easier and I can almost guarantee that that nervous feeling starting a conversation with a perfect stranger – yeah, that will never go away. Haha.

If you’d like to learn more about public speaking or just speaking in general, let’s say for your 30 second elevator pitch, find a local chapter of Toastmasters. It’s a great organization that helps people learn speaking and leadership skills.

As for online networking, you should be able to get some great ideas from Linkedin. Look for groups that focus around networking and join them. Make sure, however, that the group is active. Some groups have a lot of members but no one ever says anything. And make sure that you’re active in the group as well. Ask a question or answer someone else’s question. All networking is about community so become a valued member. Add value to the group by your participation. You may also find referrals in groups. You never know.

How do you find a business partner?

What’s your niche or industry? Is it a common one or very nichy? Let’s say your business is website design. Is there a local community college or school in your area? If so, you can contact them and ask how best to xxx

Let’s say your business is marketing for non-profits. Find conferences or events where you can pass out your business card or attend sessions and let people know that you’re exploring the idea of creating a partnership. The most important thing is to do your homework. When you find someone who has potential to be your partner, check their credit and their work history. Make sure you have the same goals in common. Find out all you can about why they want to be in a partnership. If someone asks you to join their organization as a partner, do the same homework to educate yourself on their business. And above all, if you do join or create a partnership, get it all in writing and consult an attorney. In other words, protect yourself while you’re in the partnership and after the partnership is no more, if that happens down the road.
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