Client Relations through Social Networking

It’s incredible how quickly social networking has become so integrated in our lives, but a majority of people do not use it to its full potential.  Using social networking to help grow your business and allow you to be successful is pretty simple and inexpensive compared to other forms of reaching out and advertising.

There are many benefits to using social networking to reach out to current and potential clients.  Since computers and automated systems have taken over a majority of the customer service process within companies, it’s a major benefit to show that you are still a REAL PERSON working with your customers.  Social networking is a superb way to let your clients know that you are a real person and to interact with them.

Interacting with clients through social networking allows them to feel that they are getting quality one-on-one attention.  Psychologically, people want to feel that their needs are being met and they are valued by others around them.  With social networking, you can build those relationships with your clients and are able to show that they are worth your time and energy.

Many people are on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networking sites), so take advantage of that.  Don’t rebuild the wheel; use the networks that already exist.  Inserting your name and your business into a network that already exists and functions successfully will save you a lot of frustration and energy.

Another major advantage is that you are able to just post a status (or even a tweet, which is 160 characters) to reach out to your entire network at once.  A lot of people even have their social networks connected on their phones, so you will be able to reach them at any moment in time, no matter where they are.  With a website, you will have to have someone who understands HTML coding/Wordpress (or something similar) and it takes a lot of time to update every time there is a change.  It doesn’t take much time at all to write a sentence or two and send it to your entire network at once.

There are so many types of social networking and so many ways to use them.  I have already talked about Facebook and Twitter, which are the more popular forms of social networking.  Another way to incorporate social networking is to make a blog page.  You can write articles relating to your business and/or industry that would be beneficial to your potential and current customers.  It is a great way to show up in search engines and spread your name to more people.

You can also link your different social networking outlets to each other, so people are able to just click on a link and go from your Twitter account to your Facebook to your blog to your website, etc.  A blog is a great way to compliment your website.  Websites tend to stay the same because it takes a lot of time and effort to change them.  It is not cost-effective to be changing it on a daily or weekly basis.  Having a blog gives you the opportunity to give a current update on different things you are doing or share your thoughts on particular issues relating to your business/industry.

Since so many people already use social networking, use it to your advantage!  Take the time to initially set up your different outlets and to update them regularly.  Putting in that little extra effort will help to set you apart and allow you to stand out to potential clients.

30 Days to Successful Networking

You have spent a lot of money and energy to advertise your business, but nothing seems to build your client base or reputation within the community!  You want to scream at the top of your lungs from the tallest building or pull your hair out from frustration (or maybe you already have).  The problem with those particular options is that it still won’t build your client base or reputation.  🙂

However, I have a 30 day solution that will help solve those problems, and it only takes a few minutes of your time every day!

You’ll either want to print this out so you can refer to it daily over the next 30 days, or else go through the next 30 days and note each one in your daily schedule.  Either way, just jump in and follow the 30 day plan outlined below, and you’ll be well on your way!

Day 1. Introduce yourself to three new people today.

Day 2. Send an email to two people in your network to keep building that relationship.  Ask about a common interest, their family, etc.  Make sure it’s genuine.

Day 3. Ask a family member or friend about their day, and be genuinely interested and actively listen to their response.

Day 4. Make a list of five things you have to offer others.

Day 5. Listen to someone tell you a story/talk about their day without interrupting or giving advice.  JUST LISTEN!

Day 6. Find two things you have in common with another person.

Day 7. Write down the top ten things you want to gain for yourself/your business through networking.

Day 8. Today, introduce two people to each other (either because of a common interest or you feel there is a benefit to them knowing each other).  Connecting people is a great shortcut to growing your network more quickly, because you soon become known as the person who knows everyone, and who everyone knows! This builds your credibility and authority big time!

Day 9. Smile at five people today.  You can then introduce yourself and begin a conversation, when appropriate. Do it again tomorrow. Make it a habit.

Day 10. Go to a networking event.  Your goal should be to meet and get to know at least three new people.  This allows your network to grow by three (and you gain access to their networks as well).

Day 11. Put seven to ten business cards in your wallet or purse.  It’s a good idea to always carry at least seven business cards with you EVERYWHERE! You never know when you will want to hand one out.

Day 12. Look up one article related to your business every day.  If it would benefit someone else in your network, share it with them as well that day.  This opens the opportunity for them to send you an article that may be very beneficial.

Day 13. When you hand out your business card to at least 3 new people today, hand each of them two or three cards. When they say “Oops, you gave me an extra one (or two)” just smile and say “Yep, you can share that one with a friend who could use it.” 🙂

Day 14. Call three people you know today, chat with them, find out how things are going in their world, and towards the end of the conversation say something along the lines of “I don’t know if you can help me out or not, but who do you know that …” and fill it in with what kind of referrals you’re looking for.

First off, people love to be able to “help you out” and secondly, using the phrase “Who do you know…” rather than “Do you know anyone who…” puts their brain into a different gear. When you say “Do you know anyone who…” their brain searches for an answer quickly, and the answer to the question is either yes or no. Most typically the answer is “No, I don’t know anyone who…”   However, when you say “Who do you know?” their brain goes into a different search mode, looking for the answer to the question “Who?” rather than the immediate Yes vs. No, so they’re more likely to come up with an answer.

Day 15. Today create a calendar of holidays that you want to send out professional greeting cards to your friends and associates. Include at least one different and obscure holiday that would be unexpected.  http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/index.htm

Include more than one during the year if that’s your personality. For example, in September there’s “Talk like a Pirate” Day. J Be sure to include any holidays that relate to your business – like Sept 16 is Working Parents Day and January is National Hobby Month and June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day.

Day 16. Today make a plan to mail out 5 Thank You or Gratitude or Thinking of You cards per week.  That’s only one per workday.

People love real mail that’s not bills. It will make you stand out because people don’t receive letters or notes or cards anymore now that email and texting is so prevalent. And it will reposition you at the top of their mind again.

Day 17. On your computer, create a simple card for your obscure holiday(s), or better yet, have your teenager do it for you. 🙂

Day 18. Buy a box of business appropriate cards for the next holiday that’s coming up within the next month or two. Maybe Halloween/Thanksgiving/Valentine’s Day/Easter/Fourth of July/Cinco de Mayo/etc.

When you are preparing your 5 thank you/thinking of you cards per week, go ahead and prepare and address the next upcoming holiday card as well as the obscure holiday. Keep them each in a separate stack. This way, the week before the holiday, you have a stack of cards that you can just stick a stamp on, and mail out.

People will be pleasantly surprised, because they don’t expect to receive a card. They’re impressed that you thought of them, and you stay at the forefront of their mind. This system will set it up so that at least 3 times a year they are getting an unexpected card from you when other people aren’t sending out cards to them. (1st the Thank You/Thinking of You card, 2nd the next upcoming holiday, 3rd the obscure holiday.)

Day 19. Instead of sending Christmas cards, send Thanksgiving cards. They don’t get lost in the pile of other holiday cards that the recipient gets, it stands out, and it comes before any of the others start showing up in December.

Day 20. If it’s too late for Thanksgiving cards, send out Happy New Year’s cards. Again, it’s different; you stand out. It doesn’t come in the sea of other cards…And it impresses them that you took the time and energy and that you’re thinking of them.

Day 21. Start your own group around your interests and business. If you’re a caterer, you could start an “Simple Entertaining at Home” group that meets once or twice a month whereby you talk about easy ways to entertain, have parties or get-togethers, and/or simple entertaining food ideas that make you look like you spent a fortune and slaved away in the kitchen. Since people who entertain a lot are your ideal audience, becoming visible and developing credibility in that circle of people will help build your business and allow you to network with potential clients and give you an instant referral network that can tell people how great you are at what you do.

Day 22. Make a daily/weekly plan.  Write it down!  It only takes 10-15 minutes to write down your plan for the week, but it holds you accountable to get those things done.  Pick one of these tips for each day, and write down which one you are going to do for the week.

Day 23. Write down 5 goals for your business that you want to accomplish by this time next year.  That gives you 365 days to reach those 5 goals.  Pin them to your bulletin board; tape it on your mirror; write them in your planner; keep them where you will see them every day.

Day 24. Take your 5 goals and write down a couple things you can do to reach those goals or use networking to your advantage.  Again, writing it all down helps you put your plan into action!

Day 25. Use 5 new peoples’ names today.  For example, if you run into one of the parents of your kid’s friends, start the conversation with their name.  You meet so many people throughout your day that you may not remember every single person you meet.

Remembering someone’s name shows that you have taken an interest in them.  They will feel like you listen and have paid attention to them, and you will form a stronger networking bond with that individual.

I think it was Dale Carnegie who said something like “The sweetest sound to someone is their own name.”

Day 26. Let another person “win” today.  We have all been in some sort of group setting where the answer to the problem seems so obvious, yet everyone is talking around it.  When they finally get to the answer and decide it’s the best option, they all want to claim that they came up with it.  Let them!  Enjoy the process and know that the end result is what matters.  People will think of you as a great asset to the group rather than the person who just brings negativity.

Day 27. Give someone a “compliment sandwich” today.  Knowing how to give feedback to people you associate with is sometimes very difficult, but it needs to be done.  Whether it is your professional or personal network, here is a great tip to get started.  Start with a compliment, but you must be sincere: “That video that you used really helped to make your point.”  Then, you give the feedback/criticism: “I think you could have been more interactive when speaking to the audience though.”  Finally, you end with another sincere compliment: “Overall, it was obvious that you love sharing your expertise about the topic.”

Day 28. Make a Facebook/Twitter page for your business.  Social networking is a free and easy way to start building a network quickly for your business.  If you already have one, look to see if any information needs to be updated.  All it takes is someone clicking the “Like” button on Facebook or the “Follow” button on Twitter, and you have access to that person.  You can post status updates and tweets about anything.  People are all about the Internet, but Facebook & Twitter are two sites that still allow that personal touch.  It allows people to still feel like they are doing business with another person rather than a computer.

Day 29. Start liking or following other pages.  Choose 5 new pages to like/follow today.  A friend of mine is a photographer, but she is just starting out.  She has “liked” some other local photographers’ pages, and she has gotten some great advice from them.  Also, if one photographer is booked or needs a second photographer to help out with a particular event, my friend has been able to take advantage of those opportunities.  This gives her experience and sample photos to display and build her reputation.

Day 30. Reorder your business cards, because by now, you should have given away nearly all the ones you had. Now’s the time to tweak it and make changes to it to add the oomph and power to your card that will allow it to be more effective for you.

Here is a bonus:

Day 31. Do it all over again for the next 30 days, starting with tip # 1 again!

I guarantee that if you follow this 30 day plan, by the end of a month you’ll have met a ton of new people, but more importantly – a lot of new people will know who you are and what you do.

If you’re ready to turn those everyday conversations into lifelong clients and referral sources, you’ll want to order my “Turn Conversations Into Clients” in-depth training program.  Check it out at

http://abetteryoucoach.com/products-services/c2c/ and see if it resonates with you!

Make it Great!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below sharing your most successful networking tips and stories with us. Can’t wait to hear – Please share!

Seven Networking Tips

Do you know someone who landed a job because they knew someone that already worked at that company?  Did you grumble that it wasn’t fair or that they should have had to go through the same laborious process as everyone else?

Sounds like a little sour grapes to me. But there is a secret…

The secret is networking.

Knowing people and having connections is imperative to your success.  The concept related to the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory” is very relevant to showing how humans naturally network in their everyday lives.

I have put together a list of seven tips to help you network successfully.

1)      Keep building on that relationship.

It is not very effective to meet someone and begin a professional relationship with that person if you have no intention of keeping in contact with them.  The purpose of networks is to help each other in different situations; that is not possible when you lose contact.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Out of sight; out of mind”?  Keeping in contact with your networks and building on those relationships helps to insure that both parties will be there when the other needs some type of support from the relationship.

2)      Give more than you take.

I am sure that at some point in your life, you have had a friend that is always taking from everyone around them and never gives anything in return.

You know exactly who I am talking about…  I’m sure you have had that friend that calls you constantly to complain about their “big dilemma” of the week.  Being the positive friend that you are, you talk through the problem of whether they should wear the green dress or the purple dress to the party this weekend, but then they rush off the phone before you get to tell them the good news that you are getting married!  They never take the time to inquire about what’s going on with you. How frustrating!

Those types of friendships are draining and usually don’t last.  Don’t be that type of networker!  Networking is not just about what everyone else can do for you.  It is in your best interest to be the person who gives more, because people will be more likely to help you when you need to take a little down the road.

3)      Professionalism is key!

In order to form a professional network that works for you, it is crucial to keep it separate from your personal network as much as possible.  You want to be known throughout the community and with your client base as responsible and trustworthy in order to build a positive reputation.

You may also like to go out with your friends for drinks on a Saturday night.  In general, people do not link alcohol to responsibility and trustworthiness.  It is very important to draw the line and keep these two networks separate from each other in order for your personal network to not have a negative impact on your professional network.

4)      Focus on what you have to offer others.

Along the lines of giving more than you take, it is important for you to focus on what you have to offer others in your network.  If you have a lot to offer, people will begin to recognize you as the sought-after “go-to” person.  They will begin to ask for your advice and rely on you.  This can also help get your name and positive reputation out there… Sounds to me like free advertising!

5)      Go out of your comfort zoneTalk to people everywhere!

You never know who you will meet when you just start talking to people.  Think about this tip the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed because the lines are so long and you are in a rush, start a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you.  You never know what may come of it.  They may just be a nice person to talk to while waiting in line at the grocery store, or they may be your next customer… Who knows?!

6)      Be open to meeting new people and hearing their story.

Just talking to a new person may not be enough.  In order to really get to know someone and add them to your network, you must be willing to hear their story.  Everyone has had different experiences.  In fact, I remember hearing a saying that goes something like “Learn from other’s mistakes because you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

This saying can also go the other way—you can also learn from other’s success stories. So learn how to ask a lot of questions and be genuinely interested in the answers. They will actually think that you are the most fascinating person they’ve met, because even though they did most of the talking, they’ll subconsciously be “falling in love” with you because you’re actually listening to them, and not interrupting them and not trying to one-up them like everyone else that they have a conversation with. They’ll find it refreshing and you completely loveable, even though they might not even recognize why they feel that way about you.

7)      Find common interests.

It’s not very effective to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking for something.  In fact, that person will probably not even be interested in getting to know you.  Your best bet is to try to find common interests to build a foundation for your relationship with that person.

Being genuine in wanting to get to know the other person allows you to form a relationship and be memorable to that person. And again, the easiest way to find common ground is to ask them questions about things that you are genuinely interested in. So the weather or their family or something on their desk or mantelpiece may not be the best topic of conversation if you don’t actually care about listening to them talk about that. Even though you asked, your disinterest will definitely show.

With that being said, being memorable and standing out (in a good way, of course) is one of the major reasons why it’s important to network successfully.  It’s important to get your name out there with a positive reputation to back it up, but it’s even more important that people REMEMBER YOU!!

WordPress: The Best Business Blog Hosting Platform Out There

Last week I briefly went into some of the benefits that having a business blog can hold for you and your business.

Although there are a number of perks that come hand in hand with maintaining a blog, it truly is one of the best measures that you can take to humanize your company for your target audience. However, you want to make sure that the blogging platform that you choose allows you to showcase your strengths.

So is there one blog hosting platform that is better to use than others?

In my opinion, the answer is YES!

WordPress is the cream of the crop when it comes to blogging.

“Why?” you may ask…I’ll tell ya!

The first thing that you need to know about WordPress is that there are two different versions: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Although they have a lot of similarities, there are a few differences between the two that are important to understand before creating your blog.

WordPress.com is a website where you can create your blog, and your blog address is going to be a wordpress.com address. In other words, not at your own domain – not at yourbusiness.com. This impacts your ability to brand yourself.

So WordPress.com is good for bloggers who do not have their own website/domain. It allows you to create and maintain your own site on their platform.

However, if you already have a website, which as a business owner YOU SHOULD, wordpress.org is a better choice for you. Not only does downloading the software version allow you to use it on your own website, but it allows you to use your own custom domain name or url as well.

This is extremely beneficial with respect to SEO (search engine optimization) and it will make it easier for people to both find and remember your site.

Aside from that obvious benefit, there are many other reasons why I recommend WP as a blogging platform as well.

For one, it is 100% FREE. Why pay money for something when you can get it for free? Especially when it offers essentially everything you could ever need for your blog.

Oh, and…it is constantly being updated and enhanced to better meet your wants and needs.

Compared to most other blog hosting platforms, WP is super versatile. You can customize it to fit your needs and business in a number of ways.

One of the first things that you do after you install your new WP blog on your domain is to pick a theme or template that will be the base of your blog. This is the visual layout of your blog, which of course needs to be attractive and engaging and represent who you are and how you want your audience to perceive you.

Not only are there thousands of premade themes – many of them free, and some of them paid – but you can create your own if you have the skills, or you can outsource the task to someone fairly cheaply on oDesk or http://www.fiverr.com/ if you like.

With most pre-designed themes, once you have installed it, you can customize it by putting in your own pictures and ideas.

What’s more, if there are certain aspects of a theme that you don’t like – say the contacts form- there is usually a plug-in (or add-on) that will allow you to change it. There are thousands of plug-ins that are easy to install and that serve as easy to use tools to help you create your ideal blogging site.

You also have a lot of choices about the organization of your blog site. You can choose which widgets – which are essentially helpful tools – that you want to incorporate in your sidebar.

If you blog often, it would be a good idea to include the archive widget, which allows readers to pick a month and see which posts you have written during that month.

If you are familiar with a lot of other websites that you know would be beneficial to your readers/clients, you can include them in your blogroll.

Again, one of the best things about WP is it is so customizable and can be manipulated to showcase you and your business in exactly the way that YOU want it to. It does require a degree of expertise to design new templates, etc., but as long as you don’t want to go too design-crazy, the basic functionality is easy to use.

Although the steps and concepts that I described above may sound complicated, WP is set up in a way that is really straight forward, and easy to use and understand.

Trust me, when I first decided to install WP in order to create my first blog, I was terrified that it was going to be overwhelming and that I would have to hire someone just to set everything up the way I wanted it. I am not exactly the most tech-savvy person when it comes to website design and coding and all of that jazz.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have gotten some help here and there. BUT, for the most part I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the whole thing was, and I’m confident you will be too.

And of course, that means it’s easy to train my interns to use the blogging platform as well – that’s important because they generally come in with no WordPress experience at all.

Another bonus is that when you are confused or have questions, WP has some great resources available to clear them up. WP has a huge archive of tutorials that cover a ton of different concepts.

If you don’t understand how to install a plug-in, all you have to do is go to the search bar, type in what you need to know, and a ton of articles will show up that will cover everything you could ever possibly want or need to know about plug-in installation.

It makes solving a problem really easy and it can be done in a snap.

If for some reason you can’t find what you need to know in any of the tutorial articles, the WordPress team is at your disposal as well. All you have to do is join the forum, which takes about two seconds, and then post your question. You can expect a reply within a day or two.

They are the techno-geniuses, and are there with the very specific purpose of helping YOU. When I was having a difficult time understanding the process that I would have to go through to change some visual elements of my blog, they not only told me what I would have to do in order to make the changes, but were very willing to provide coding help. Their confidence and willingness to help allayed my fears, and strengthened my own confidence.

The main dashboard is extremely straightforward, and it will notify you automatically if there are new comments for you to moderate or if there are any updates for the software or plug-ins. You can easily access every aspect of your blog site from the dashboard.

When writing posts, there are a number of options for you. You can either save your writing as a draft, schedule it to be posted at a certain date and time, or post it on the spot.

The tools bar at the top of the post makes it simple to add pictures, videos and hyperlinks to your post. And what’s more, WP uses the same shortcut commands as Microsoft Word does, so you don’t have to learn any new methods in order to quickly customize and change your fonts.

Another advantage to WP is that it is very SEO friendly. Not only is it keyword oriented, but WP make it really easy for Google to rate your content. The “category” option for each of your blog posts, the ability to name your links, and the inclusion of keywords makes it much easier for Google to find your posts and to rank them higher on search results pages.

Overall, WordPress is an awesome blogging platform. It exceeds expectations where many other blogging platforms are lacking.

So if you feel like you want to incorporate a blog into your business website, keep WordPress.org and their downloadable software on the top of your list of blogging platforms.

Do you have any WordPress stories of your own? Are there things that you just don’t like about it? Let me know your thoughts by clicking on the talk bubble icon on the upper right hand side of this post or by leaving a comment below.

Take the world by storm – why not? It’s yours!!

Make it Great!

If You Own a Business, You Need a Business Website!!

When you want to find an answer, learn about something or someone, or find a place in your area, where do you go?

TO THE INTERNET!

And more specifically, probably Google. The number of people who use Google on a daily basis to find answers to whatever question or need they may have is MONUMENTAL.

Although many searches conducted on Google these days surely focus on Kim Kardashian’s not so surprising divorce or other newsy bits, millions of people search for local businesses or services as well. For many, the internet has become an easier and more convenient version of the yellow pages. People go to find the address of your business, to view a list of services you provide, and to just overall check you out.

So why on earth wouldn’t you take advantage of the internet?!?!

Like all marketing strategies out there, creating a website that represents your business is about getting your name out there and gaining more recognition from potential clients. In a virtual world, internet marketing can hold substantially more power than word of mouth. It can absolutely help you gain more clients, and quite literally puts you on the map (Google Maps that is).

So what kind of benefits can having a website hold for you?

First of all, it will simply increase the number of people who know about you. When people search for whatever service you provide in your area, and your business pops up, you will gain more attention than you would otherwise. Even if people don’t click on your specific site, just seeing the name of your business could help – because when they hear it in the future it will sound familiar to them. When people know and recognize your name, they are much more likely to trust you.

Familiarity breeds respect – at least from a business branding aspect.

Another benefit of having a site is that when clients like your services and what you provide, they have a specific place to refer their friends to. If your friend told you she went to this great massage therapist, but did not have any more info, would you go?

Maybe, but maybe not.

What if she told you she went to this great massage therapist and here is the website where you can find out more?

When you check out the site, you see it’s nicely designed and easy to navigate with some attractive pictures; you have a price list and list of services provided there, and you start to get comfortable. At the website you also have all of the contact info, and a number of previous client recommendations are showcased.

Are you more likely to go to that person next time you need a massage?

ABSOLUTELY!

Because you’ve started establishing a level of comfort and whether you recognize it or not – at least on a subconscious level – some trust.

Having that extra info available to whoever may be interested in seeing it makes a world of a difference as well.

Not only that, but it substantially increases your credibility. Nobody wants to go to a dump to get anything done. By showing that you are professional, and that your place of work is clean, bright and welcoming, you will automatically increase interest. People don’t like to leave that kind of thing up to chance.

Think about it, if they are doing an online search, it is because they are looking for something more than just a name and address. They want to know whether they can trust you or not, and if you can give that to them through your website, more people will come to you.

A business website is a place where you can showcase yourself and your services. It is a place for you to show how you are different from the other people who offer the same services as yourself. It serves as a reminder to those who know you, and a friendly suggestion to those who don’t, that you are there and that you want to work with them. It is personal, yet professional at the same time, and should make people want to go to you.

If done correctly, a business website can increase your success considerably.

Next week we are going to focus on Global Entrepreneur’s Week. Not only is it a week that celebrates YOU and YOUR achievements as an entrepreneur, but it serves to inspire an era of change for the better. After this special week, I will come back to the concept of a business website and focus on the essential parts that should be incorporated into your business website in one way or another.

Hope to see you then, and make it a great week!

SEO: Turn Your Website Traffic Light Green

Have you ever seen those vendors on the side of the streets selling home-grown fruits or vegetables? Have you ever stopped at one? There is a good chance that you’ve probably driven right past it without stopping. But why? These people have certainly put more love and care into the cultivation and distribution than anyone who sells to grocery stores. They have undoubtedly used less harmful chemicals in the process. They are generally friendly and more than happy to answer any questions you have about the products. Their products are often substantially less expensive, and in my experience, much tastier. Aren’t these all things that we look and hope for? So… why don’t we stop?

Here’s my theory: There are a few reasons. One: It is less convenient than going to the grocery store where you know they will have whatever you want. Two: It is difficult to find them when you are really looking for them, and if you don’t need whatever they are selling at the moment, then you probably won’t stop to get it. Three: You really have no guarantee that what they are selling is quality or worth spending your money on.

The same concepts apply to your website and its traffic. People get online to search for something that they need. They use search engines because they are convenient, and generally you can trust the top results to be good quality and very helpful. Although you may provide better services or be more knowledgeable than whoever falls into the top search engine results position, potential clients are much more likely to go to their website for the same reasons you buy most of your fresh produce at the grocery store and not at the roadside stand – it is easy; they know that they will get at least some of the answers that they need; and they are guaranteed a certain level of quality. And on the off chance that someone does come upon your site, if they are not specifically looking for what you offer at that very moment, that person will probably pass you by without a glance back in your direction.

This is where SEO comes into play. Through the utilization of certain SEO tactics, you can ensure that the search engines index your website on a lower page. The higher you rank on the search engines, the more visible you are and the more convenient it is for the searcher, the more traffic you will get.

Simple as that! Well…kind of…but it is really important.

 

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, almost always referred to as “SEO” in the online world, has to do with the visibility of your website. In a nutshell, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo send virtual spiders through every site on the web, and based on specific qualifications incorporated into an extremely complex algorithm, essentially rank them for certain keywords. When you do a search on a set of keywords, an index of websites appears. The higher your website is on this list, the more traffic you are going to get because you are more visible to potential visitors. SEO plays a tremendous role in the amount of traffic that you get to your website, and is something that you MUST take into consideration if you want to be more successful. And let’s be honest…who doesn’t want that?!

How you can increase your website’s SEO:

There are a number of steps that you can take to increase the SEO of your website…

One surefire way to ensure that you have at least some content that appears on the first search engine results page is to make a Google profile. Your Google profile will not only say a lot about you, but will contain links to your websites, and will thereby increase traffic by at least a bit to those sites. As I mentioned in my last blog post, it guarantees that your profile is a first page result IF and ONLY IF someone does a search on your name. So this is a great option if people already know who you are, and will help you some either way, but is not the most effective way to increase website traffic.

On Page Optimization is another way to increase your website’s SEO. On page SEO is basically all of the things that you can do with/on your own website to help a search engine understand what your website is about and to index you higher.

One of the most important on page strategies is good use of KEYWORDS. The keywords that you use should be relevant to what you write about, and should be words that your target audience is likely to utilize in searches. It is important that you not only use good keywords frequently within your website or blog, but insert them in the titles and tags as well. If you only use them once or twice throughout your site or blog they are just words, not keywords. Your keyword should be incorporated into your URL as well.

Another tactic to increase your on page optimization is making sure that each of your pages LINK to other pages on your site. The more links you have to each page, the more likely the search engine spiders will find all of them. That being said, do not link each page to every single page on your website.

Updating your site regularly ensures that the spiders are going through it on a regular basis. Other than your homepage, you pages should link to one or two other pages. If you are using WordPress for your website, you can install the GoogleXML Sitemap plug-in. It maps your site in a way that makes it much easier for Google to navigate.

Lastly, if you have an advanced understanding of coding and website design, which I most definitely do not, you can alter your HTML coding to increase traffic to an extent.

Off Page Optimization tactics will help increase your SEO as well. Off page SEO is basically all of the things that you do outside of your own website/blog to bring more traffic to your site. If you do not use software that automatically submits your sitemap to search engines, SUBMIT it yourself.

Creating BACKLINKS to your website can make a huge difference.To do this, you can either pay exorbitant amounts to have other sites link back to your site OR you can make your own backlinks. To do so, all you have to do is leave a relevant and quality comment on a blog and include your website URL in the contact information. More often than not there is a place to include your URL when you are filling out the comment form, but if not, you can include it under your name or title within the comment content itself.In general, the more links to your website, the higher your Search Engine Ranking will be.

Joining and updating SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES is another great tactic. You can make links that point back to your site while gaining credibility and traffic.

Another one is ARTICLE SUBMISSION. Submitting articles (about things that are related to your passions and what you do to be of service to your clients) to article directories can help increase your traffic and SEO.

Off page SEO is a bit more complicated, but basically, you want to get your name and work out there and create as many links that point back to you and your website as possible.

SEO is not as complicated as many people think. Even incorporating basic SEO tactics in your marketing strategy can make a big difference.

So go out and some of these things, and turn the traffic light to your website green!!

If you have any other SEO tactics that you feel have worked well for you, or any question, I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment by clicking the bubble on the top right hand side of the post if you are looking at it in archive format or by filling in the comment information below the post if you are viewing the individual post.

Thanks

And go out and make it a great week!

Social Media: Marketing Yourself to the Masses

Social media networking sites have become HUGE over the last decade. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google + have gained MILLIONS of users and followers. Virtually everyone over the age of 16 is connected to the world through at least one network or another. As such, social media networking sites have become ESSENTIAL when it comes to marketing a business.      

What is so unique about social networking sites?

Social media has revolutionized the process of marketing your business. The main thing that makes social networking sites stand apart from other internet sites is the clear advantage in numbers. Facebook alone has hundreds of millions of members. These networking sites allow business owners to reach far more people than they could before, and through just ONE site.

Another huge advantage that social media has over other websites and web marketing strategies is that it really allows you to showcase your personality and focus on how you differ from the masses. In a human centric society like ours today, clients want to work with someone that they trust and someone that they feel can understand and relate to them. Social media sites are much more personal and often much less formal than specific business sites. Although both are essential to the success of your business, your social networking profiles should focus more on who you are and what you stand for and your business site should focus more on your services and your business. It is all about creating deeper connections and more credibility.

Social networking sites have many other advantages, including the facts that they are extremely simple to set up, very fast and easy to manage, require only very basic computer knowledge, hold a ton of information and are almost all 100% FREE. There is no other marketing strategy that can boast all of the same benefits. That being said, it is important to realize that social media networking is not the only means that you need to implement in order to create a successful business.

It is just ONE of the MANY important steps in marketing yourself and business.          

Top Four Sites you MUST Join:

Of course I’m never going to tell you that you’re absolutely required to do anything, because it’s your life, your business, your choice…but let’s call it a strong recommendation…

1.  Facebook Facebook is the top social media networking site in the whole World Wide Web at the moment. It has more followers and is visited more often than any other site.

It is unique in that it supports a number of pages and features that other sites don’t. There is an info page that allows you to write a little bit about yourself and introduce your business and vision behind that business. On your main page you can write and post different statuses and post links to pictures or articles that you like. You can add a profile picture and create separate picture albums that best represent you and your business. You can add an unlimited number of friends, and can gain an unlimited number of followers.

Now, you can subscribe to different RSS feeds and follow them through your Facebook page. There is a notes page where you can create posts that pertain to what you are about. Your homepage is complete with a news feed that allows you to view the most recent and most pertinent posts that your friends have made. There are thousands of apps that you can add to your profile. If you do not want to maintain a separate profile for your business, you have the options of creating a group or business page as well.

The options almost seem limitless, and are growing every day. If you are only going to join one social networking site, it should be this one.       

2.  Twitter:Twitter also allows you to create a personal profile complete with a section that introduces you and your life. Rather than collecting friends, your aim is to gain “followers.” These are people who have subscribed to your feed and who have found what you have to say interesting and engaging enough to want to come back on a regular basis.

Twitter is essentially a microblogging service that allows you to make short and frequent posts about whatever you would like in 140 character bursts. It is also extremely popular, and a great way to distribute your thoughts and ideas to the masses. It is less diverse than Facebook, but serves its own purpose very well.

3.  LinkedIn: LinkedIn is unique in that it is a social networking site that focuses specifically on business. Rather than using it for social networking in general, people us it mainly for professional networking.

It is used worldwide and has millions of subscribers. Rather than friends or followers, you maintain contact through “connections.” These are people that you know, invite, or that add you that have interest in your page. It also allows you to create or join interest groups.

You can use it to post or find jobs, people and business opportunities through mutual contacts and recommendations. You can add pictures and view others’ photos. Unlike the above sites, this one focuses less on personal information and should be used to really promote your business and set you apart by highlighting your differences, strengths and specialties. It is another important resource for marketing your business and getting your name out there.

4.  Google Profiles:Google profiles is an important part of Google + and extremely new in the social media network (it was launched in June of 2011). However, it is quickly gaining more and more popularity and members.

One thing unique to Google Profiles is that you can create your own profile, and in doing so you insure that your profile is displayed on the FIRST page of Google search results when someone searches you by first and last name. That in itself is a very strong incentive to become a member.

There are sections specifically designated to introducing yourself, listing your occupation and introducing your business, adding pictures, gaining friends and joining circles, and displaying links to sites that you support or like. You can attach a blog to your page, and/or post articles that you have written. And lastly, you can connect your profile page to other Google offshoots that you use; such as Google Buzz, Google Mail and Google Blogger.

By creating a Google + account, you can join and partake in hangouts (group video chats), use the messenger function that allows you to chat with other members of your circles via SMS like messages, create sparks which allows users identify topics that they are interested in sharing with others, and recommend specific site by clicking on the “+1” button. It is becoming an increasingly important resource for business marketing and is continuously being added to and improved.

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Marketing:

DO create a profile for at least all five of the most popular social media networking sites. In order to reach the most people possible, it is important to join multiple networking sites. Just joining one will not be nearly as beneficial.

DO update them regularly. If you put the time and effort into creating a profile, and then do not maintain it, you will come off as lazy and as if you do not really care. You need to update each of your profiles on a regular basis. I’d recommend starting off with 30 to 60 minutes a week engaging with people on your social media profiles. If you have more time than that, great. But don’t feel like you have to put priority tasks on the back burner for multiple hours every week just to get your social on. J

DO encourage suggestions and conversation from your followers. By getting to know potential clients and how they think, you will better be able to relate to them and their needs and to use that information to better serve them. Along with that, DO be open to suggestions. Sometimes one of your followers will come up with a brilliant insight. None of us know everything, and getting an outside view or opinion could very well help you improve, especially since it’s easy to get myopic and stuck inside of our own frame.  

DO act professionally and DON’T write about inappropriate things or subjects that do not pertain at all to your business life. Your Facebook statuses should not focus on what you ate for dinner, but should announce business achievements or revelations.   

DO present your readers/followers with your passions and the vision behind what you do.

DON’T discuss controversial topics on your profile. Although it may help some people to relate to you, it will also cause many to discount what you have to say and to never look back

DON’T mix your personal life in with your business life. If you have a personal profile within a social networking site, make sure that it is both separate from your business profile and that your personal profile is private. As much credibility as you can create through a business profile, you can destroy it just as easily if negative elements of your personal life become public. Nobody wants to see pictures of the person that they have entrusted their money and life to drinking or making a fool of themselves. They also do not want to get pulled into personal drama or situations. 

In conclusion, I recommend that you join social networking sites to help improve your visibility and credibility. Just remember why you’re doing it. I promise you won’t regret it. Social Media is such an important and powerful tool to reach huge numbers of people and to gain substantially more clients. 

Tell us about the benefits you’ve seen from using social media. We’d love to get your perspective, and you can leave your comment by clicking the bubble icon on the top right hand side of this post.

Thanks, and make it a great week!

 

“Old School” Marketing vs. “New Age” Marketing: Is it really out with the old and in with the new?

“Old School” Marketing vs. “New Age” Marketing: Is it really out with the old and in with the new?

“Old school” marketing, otherwise known as offline marketing seems to have taken a back seat to internet marketing when it comes to marketing a business, product or service. As a heart-centered entrepreneur does that mean that you should completely forgo your “old school” marketing tactics and just focus solely on internet marketing?

My answer to that question is no. Let me tell you why.

“Old school” offline marketing techniques such as cold calling, placing an ad in the newspaper, or in person social networking may seem to have been replaced by things such as internet sales, advertising online and social networking websites, but these “old school” tactics are still just as important to your marketing campaign as they were before.

Just like any marketing tactic, internet marketing only reaches a certain amount of people. Though most things in this world can and are done through the internet, not all people use the internet daily. There is even a small category of people who don’t use the internet at all, especially when choosing a new company or service provider to go with. By just focusing on internet marketing you could miss an entire group of potential clients.

On the other hand, internet marketing is too effective and efficient to not do. So my advice is this: use internet marketing alongside of the “old school” marketing techniques. This way you are reaching the largest number of prospects.

As a passionate service provider which do you focus more on – offline promotion or marketing or internet/online marketing?  I would love to hear your thoughts. To leave a comment just click on the comment icon in the top right corner of the post, or click the link that says “comments” below.

Make it great!

Theresa