When it comes to building your own business: what is more important than any MBA or college education? Networking.
Finding, communicating, and connecting with others, friends, family, acquaintances, partners, clients, communities…you need to reach out and spread your wings. Get involved and get noticed.
I’ve been trying to do a lot of this lately and it has been paying off.
One such instance is between me and clinical psychologist Dr. Rob over at ShrinkTalk.net. We have been exchanging a lot of e-mails lately discussing the origins of happiness and our talks resulted in this feature over at his site. It was really an enlightening exchange – I really believe we touched on some key points – and there has been some insightful participation in the comments section too. I recommend you check it out.
Last week I also got to have an in depth conversation with an NLP practitioner. His name is Martin Lanzas and he is especially fluent in “Time Line Therapy,” an NLP tool first designed and popularized by Tad James. I’ve been aware of this technique ever since I first read James’ book on the subject back in my freshman year at college, so it was great to hear Lanzas’ practice of it and how he applies it when working with clients. He really knows his stuff, we even discussed some aspects of marketing since we are both aspiring entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a site built yet for his services but I will definitely keep you guys up to date on this stuff in the future. Lanzas seems especially competent at handling anxieties, limiting beliefs, and habit changes.
One of the biggest means of networking (especially on the internet) is through e-mail. Almost every website and blog has a contact page, and in many ways this is the most popular way to first get in touch with someone.
In some cases, I have had readers e-mail me asking me questions or giving me compliments. I am usually more than happy to reply. I check my e-mail about 3-4 times a day and I try to respond to anyone who provides me with any serious comments or inquiry. Spammers stay away! (not like that has ever stopped them before haha!)
Whether it is bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious or social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and FriendFeed I try to get involved in as much as I can. If you are interested in adding me on any of these accounts please go to my networking page for a complete list of links.
The key to being successful in social media is to be consistent but not overbearing. This means participating, but not outright spamming or flooding the site with your links. It takes balance and some time but from my experience it is the only way to get people to give a shit about your product.
Ask yourself, “What is the value others get from following me?” You need to find a way to provide value (whether it is insightful tweeting or friendly conversation on Facebook pages).
In the business blogosphere I always see people saying, “It is all about building your list.” Apparently most clients and potential purchases originate from people who are interested enough in your message to join your newsletter. I don’t personally use my newsletter for attracting sales, but I do use it as an important tool for marketing and building loyal traffic.
One key to building a list of emails is to offer a free product. I did this with my free ebook and it nabbed me a significant amount of new subscribers. It is also nice to set up something like this because even people who subscribe simply out of interest for your site will be greeted with a “free gift.” Something which is definitely a nice sentiment.
Another thing I would like to add is about how to keep readers on your newsletter. Your newsletter needs to be filled with content that readers can’t just get on your site; it has to offer some extra value. What I do is I like to share related links from other websites and blogs. At the same time I give a quick summary of some of my latest whereabouts.
My newsletter is mostly about sharing links but you don’t have to go that route. I’ve seen other successful newsletters focus on just providing extra content, like in the format of an exclusive article. Whatever it is you do with your newsletter make sure it adds value and doesn’t become quickly viewed as spam. That is why I only send out two newsletter a month.
Blogs another great way to spread your wings. Not just blogging (which I highly recommend for almost any business that has to deal with people) but also visiting other blogs, leaving comments, and participating in conversations. This also means connecting with other blogs through guest posting and interviews.
I consider creating this blog a very important step in creating my own business. It gives you a tremendous power to build readers and interact with them. It is also a way to build expertise in a field you have no prior recognition in. It is a way to take up space in your niche and be noticed, especially if you combine it with other marketing mediums.
Marketing through YouTube has become a recent exploration of mine. One thing I really like about it is that it is “personal” – people get to see how you look, how you speak, and how you act. I feel much warmer inside after posting a video then writing out a blog post. Don’t get me wrong, writing words is cool and its a great way to describe big ideas but I prefer the simplicity that comes from just turning on a camera and letting your ideas flow stream-of-conscious. I think this is a great way to add personality to your site period.
Consider it. I know I will definitely be working with this one more in the future.
For those who don’t know, Skype is a software application that allows you to make free voice calls and video conferences over the internet. Apparently it can be a popular tool amongst businesses, even large corporations. I just recently downloaded it and I have been using it to communicate with some readers and friends. It is really effective and easy to set up. I also know some businesses that provide their services over Skype (such as some form of consulting or counseling – which is what I will be working with more in the future – so this is definitely not only a powerful networking tool but a business tool in general).
By the way, my Skype name is “Steven Handel” – feel free to message me if you see me on. We can audio chat or something!
Recap And Final Thoughts
Anyway, these are some of the things I have been doing to promote my blog so far. One positive thing is I haven’t spent any money yet, and yet I have already reached my goal of breaking a U.S. rank in the top 100,000 on Alexa.com.
Hopefully this is something I can sustain. As you can see I am always trying to expand in new ways so who knows where this growth may lead me. The sky is the limit.