5 Ways To Promote Your New Small Business

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a client who’d recently sold his brick-and-mortar business, moved to a different state, and started a new consulting business. He asked me for advice on growing his practice at the new location.

Here are 5 ideas I shared with Jack, for promoting his small business online and/or “in real life.” Even if you are not new to your business or town, this can be a helpful checklist for promoting your small business.

1)      Leverage your friends and family network! Draft a 1-page letter with an update about your move / new business and what type of opportunities, projects, or clients you are looking for.  Send this update personally by email, social media, or good old “snail mail” to everyone you know.

2)      If you belong to an alumni network for your college, graduate school, or a past employer, tap into the local chapter to send out your announcement and request as well. People who have worked with you in the past will most likely be willing to help you out. Be specific in your request: ask for introductions to local business groups, business contacts, or other ideas for getting in front of your ideal clients.

3)      Check out your local Small Business Development Center or Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations welcome new members and have events that you may be able to attend for free or for a small fee. Bring plenty of business cards and start networking!

4)      Go on LinkedIn and update your profile, so your connections can see your new location and business. Every time you make a change in your profile, your contact are notified automatically. This is a very easy and “passive” way to get your name in front of more people.

5)      While on LinkedIn, search for groups in your new town or industry. For example, if you just moved to Seattle and are looking to meet accountants, just start typing “seattle accountants” into the “Groups” search box, and you’ll get a few matches. Join the groups that seem relevant and active, and post a short introduction (don’t make it too “salesy”) there as well.

As always, I recommend being clear and specific about your ideal client and project. The more specific you are, the more help you will receive! 

My 3 Favorite Online Tools For Small Businesses

As a mostly virtual team working in multiple time zones, we have experienced more than one breakdown in the communications process. Missed deadlines? Check. Wrong version of a file sent out? Been there, done that. But with the help of these 3 tools below, we’ve improved our project management process and productivity.

Thanks to cloud-based computing, these powerful tools are now available to small businesses at little or no cost.  So, without further ado, here are my top 3 must-have small business tools:

Google Docs: do you find yourself sending multiple versions of the same Word document or spreadsheet back and forth? The days of “version control” – i.e. keeping track of changes and edits – are over! Google Docs is automatically linked to your Google username (which is what you use to log in to Gmail, YouTube, or any other Google services). 

To get started, upload a document to Google Docs, then choose your permission levels, and share with the people who need it. In my Google docs, today have a spreadsheet with over 700 editorial items for a client project, a draft contract for a new client, and even a schedule of volunteer duties for my son’s kindergarten class!

I find the Google docs works best for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.

Bonus feature for your inner geek: if you and another user are editing a document at the same time, you can see their cursor move and watch the changes in real-time!

Basecamp: how do you manage dozens of tasks with different deadlines and deliverables? How do you know when your developer fixed an important bug? How does your web designer know which project is the top priority? After testing various email label/tagging solutions, I discovered Basecamp and have never looked back since! You can setup all your team members (and even clients!), projects and notes and never lose track of a task again. The basic plan is free, there is a free 45 day trial, and full-feature plans start at $20/month.

Bonus feature for your inner geek: Basecamp is a great way to keep your own to do list. Who doesn’t love crossing things off and seeing that long list of “completed” tasks?

Bonus business geek feature: the founder of Basecamp, Jason Fried, jasonfried, writes one of my favorite columns for Inc Magazine (yes, I read that magazine obsessively cover to cover every month!)

Dropbox: is your email inbox flooded with huge attachments? Are you sending images or large documents back and forth? Here is the version control problem again – which version of the logo was approved by the client? Which list of social media posts is the current one? Dropbox to the rescue! Just sign up (basic version is free) and install Dropbox (takes about a minute), then choose your sharing options. Does a client need access to all their images? Does your lawyer need access to your contract template? Setting up custom permissions is a piece of cake.

Dropbox is currently offering up to 2 GB of storage space for free. Additional space is available for a fee, or if you refer new users. By the way, feel free to use my referral link if you choose to sign up! 

Bonus feature for your inner geek: back up all your important files and pictures to Dropbox! Use it as your virtual hard drive.

I hope you find these tools as helpful for your small business as I have.

Now, what fun things are you going to do with your free time now that you are sending fewer emails, losing fewer attachments, and missing fewer deadlines? 

And, feel free to share favorite small business productivity tools via comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

1-Minute SEO Check For Your Website or Blog

SEOGetting to page 1 of Google takes months of consistent and thought-out steps. Sound overwhelming?  

There are many things you could do daily to increase your SEO, and some take more effort than others.  Start by taking ONE step today.

Here is a simple one you can do today: check the Title of your website.

This sounds almost too simple, yet many sites (including my own after it was redesigned!)  have no title or use a default title that does not tell Google very much about the content of the site.

WHY

If your website was a book, the tag of your home page would be the title on the cover. And that’s the first piece of information search engines review when they decide how to categorize your site.

WHAT

Using my site as an example, “Lana Goldenberg” is fine for a title, but it doesn’t include my keywords!

I am changing it to “Lana Goldenberg: SEO Consultant, Small Business Consultant and Marketing Speaker.”

I was going to make it more fun and use phrases like “online visibility guru” or “small business marketing diva,” but according to my personal SEO advisor, aka the Google AdWords tool, 40,500 people a month search for “SEO Consultant” and only 880 type in “online visibility.”

So I let the numbers tell my story and go with the perhaps boring but well-accepted phrase “SEO Consultant.”

HOW

If you are not sure what the title of your home page is, a quick low-tech way to check is to search for it in Google.

how to find your site title using google

In the search results, the first line (the part that’s hyperlinked) will contain your title. To update your title, ask your webmaster, or, if your site is in WordPress, go to  the Settings Menu, and select Site Title.

3 Quick Ideas to Boost Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedInI am honored to have my tips included in a Patch.com article about LinkedIn.  It’s not every day I get mentioned in the same article as President Obama!

Today I want to share 3 quick ideas for boosting your LinkedIn profile. Each of these takes about a minute to implement, so you really have no excuse to put it off. 

As a bonus, I will share how LinkedIn helped me get featured in this article.

 

 

1) Optimize your headline. If you do nothing else, take a minute now and click “Edit” on your LinkedIn profile. The first area you are able to edit is called your Professional “Headline.” This is your 120 character elevator pitch! Don’t forget to include your search keywords here! 

2) Post an update: LinkedIn now has a status update field, which means you can use it the way you use Facebook or Twitter – to communicate in real time what you are working on, or to ask a question. Not sure what to say? Check out my 5 Non-Salesy Social Media Post Ideas

3) Write a recommendation for a colleague, employee, or vendor you’ve worked with. Having recommendations in your profile increases your LinkedIn visibility. By proactively writing a recommendation for someone, you are improving your karma and the chances that you will receive a shout out in return.

   

BONUS: in August I was visiting family in San Jose, CA. Before my trip, I used one of my LinkedIn Groups to find a women’s networking event in the Bay Area. At the event, I met an editor from Patch.com, who was covering the event. When I got home, I of course, found Rachel on LinkedIn and connected with her. A few weeks later, she called me when she needed a resource for a story on LinkedIn in light of President Obama’s Town Hall.  

Now that I’ve mentioned LinkedIn a dozen times in one short blog post…you know what to do, right? For your bonus tip, go find a professional group on LinkedIn that matches your interest. Your strategic connections and future clients are just a few clicks away!

Do you have a LinkedIn success story? Leave me a comment – I’d love to hear it!

5 “Non-Salesy” Ideas For Social Media Posts

Are you tired of talking about yourself? 

Promoting your business is an important reason to use social media, but your readers and followers probably don’t want to hear Buy! Buy! Buy! from you every day.  Continue reading