I have been thinking about the SheBreathes Balance collaborative. We all know that the SheBreathes Balance & Wellness Studio offers a full (so full!) menu of ah-maz-ing workshops, classes and open-office times. So, that’s pretty awesome. But really, when you think about it, the real magic that happens at SheBreathes is the connections that people make while they are here.
If you are a small business owner who has made a commitment to running your business with a sincere and open heart, I applaud you.
But – here’s the important thing to remember:
In order to offer your unique skills and talents to those who will benefit from them (while sustaining your revenue) you really, really have to commit to running your business as a business.
One of the most common pieces of wisdom more experienced business people will share is that business networking is the quickest and most effective way to successfully growing your business. We’ve all heard this: “People do business with other people they know long before they’ll do business with people they find through an advertisement”.
It’s the Know ~ Like ~ Trust Concept.
Your local networking efforts probably should not be centered around trying to making direct sales. (Although, clearly, direct sales would logically occur as a result.) Through local business networking you build your professional connections. The networking activities help to establish trust. New business through new opportunities is inevitable. You will increase your own personal knowledge while learning about others. And, do not forget about that golden nugget: word-of-mouth advertising.
As the founder and long-time director of the Women’s Business Network of SE MA (WBN), I was able to see how members use a collaborative group to grow their relationships and, subsequently, their businesses. Each member may find a different aspect of their membership to be more valuable than another member. Members who take advantage of the face time opportunities, as well as the social media, inbound marketing and other online presence building opportunities that the networking group offers, have experienced real, measurable and constant growth in their business. It is truly up to each individual to work each aspect if they are to experience the relationship-building results that will bring them business growth.
The SheBreathes Balance Collaborative Membership offers a variety of opportunities to help members grow their business.
Monthly Collaborative Meetings:
Many members enjoy attending these monthly meetings. Offering both informal networking and formal presentations by members and business experts, they foster opportunities to network with other businesswomen from the region and to introduce ourselves and our business to the group. For some, the opportunity to have 30 – 60 seconds to stand up and tell us their name and a bit about their business is exactly the reason that they have joined this group. They will use this part of the agenda to take note of others in the group that they would like to invite to a ‘one-on-one’ to learn more about in a quieter setting. In addition to the exposure we receive for our business, we benefit from the personal advice and mentoring of other women in business. SheBreathes Collaborative members operate a variety of businesses and run the gamut of experience from “highly seasoned” to “just starting out”. They belong to many other networking organizations that we all can learn about and join as well.
Write a Blog:
Writing some content for the SheBreathes Blog will help you in a few ways. This is an opportunity to help the SheBreathes current and future audience learn more about your ‘special sauce’ – that is – what makes you different than all the others – what’s your ‘voice’? Once you are published, the SheBreathes community members, spearheaded by Jennifer Gulbrand, will help to share the content through their own channels. One other benefit to writing for the Blog is that you gain a valuable “inbound link” to your website. Google loves that stuff.
Teach a Class – Make a Presentation – Lead a Group
This is a wonderful opportunity to spotlight your ‘zone of genius’ and to offer your talents/skills to the SheBreathes community. Jenn is super-helpful when it comes to helping you plan and promote a workshop.
Offer Complimentary Office Hours
What better way to help people get to know about the gifts you have to offer than giving them a sample taste?
Participate in Seasonal Vendor Events
These are a great way to spotlight your products. They also offer another opportunity to network with and connect to local business owners to increase your community and your reach.
LOOKING TO CONNECT?
Many network members are in the practice of using social media to continue to support each other’s marketing efforts. Members “like, comment, and share” others’ posts on personal and business Facebook pages. They also have the opportunity to build relationships through a closed group page on Facebook. Be sure to connect and engage with each other on LinkedIn. Members are encouraged to follow each other’s business pages on Facebook and LinkedIn. The idea is that the more that you know about someone else’s business and online presence, the easier it is to share their info with your own circles. In addition, the more that you engage with another member on social media, the more you feel connected to them, and they to you.
Work it! Your networking contact list is a great place to get started. Do you have an email newsletter? Encourage members to sign up to receive your newsletter, and request that they share it when possible. Are you and your business on social media? Go through the SheBreathes Collaborative list to find all the other members and connect wherever possible – as your personal profile AND as your business profile (where appropriate). Do they have a blog? Read some of their work to become more familiar with what they do. Share it with your contacts when you are moved to do so. Comment on their blog whenever possible. Consider a collaboration in which you offer guest blog opportunities or include each other in one of your blogs. Have they listed their birthday? Make a note to connect with them. Did you recently read an article you thought they’d like? Email it to them with a kind note.
There are so many more ways to keep in touch with your network members other than your monthly meeting.
It seems to me that in a networking group, just as in so many areas of life, you will get out of it what you put into it. If your goal is to simply introduce yourself with a tagline or elevator speech, then you can certainly stick with that and hope that people will remember you.
If, however, your goal is to develop a circle of dedicated supporters, then it is a good idea to use the inbound marketing, casual networking, social media, workshops, and other opportunities that are made available to you, in addition to introducing yourself at meetings.
You have the advantage of being able to be top of mind with each and every member of your networking group if you are doing something regularly to remind them about you and your business.