The Importance of Online Communities For Business

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein. When it comes to sharing business content with your online communities, offering information to others that is of value will ultimately make your business successful.

There are many reasons why being a part of online communities contributes greatly to the success of your business.

  • Universal exposure: As part of an online community, you are able to reach people around the world and it is as though you are all in a room together, interacting on issues that are important and interesting to all of you. It is incredible that you are now capable (through social media) of reaching numerous people at once from one location. This allows you not only to market your business easily and successfully but also lets you do a large number of other things connected with your business. Remember that connecting with your online communities does not mean that you should be giving those people a hard sell. You should be sharing valuable information with them. You are educating the other people in your online communities about what you do and what you offer. You are allowing them to get to know you and your business.
  • Learning from others: As a member of an online community, you have the opportunity to learn new ways to market your business from other marketers. You should take advantage as much as possible of the expertise of other people who are members of your online communities and put their principles into practice, where appropriate.
  • Strategic partnerships: You will have many opportunities to form strategic partnerships with other members of your online communities. There will be a lot of synergies between you and others and if you find that your skills and expertise compliment those of people in your online communities, you should approach them and see how you can work together most effectively. Of course, you cannot form business partnerships with people unless you get to know them and they get to know you. Nobody will partner with another person unless they trust them and find them to be credible.
  • Make the most of your online communities: Remember that you need to market yourself and your business through your online communities. Make sure that your online profile is complete, which means that you need to include more details about yourself than your business. You should include a statement about your business but a more comprehensive discussion about your business offerings will occur after you have posted and syndicated your content.
  • Choose your online communities wisely: It is important to choose your online communities based on the members with whom you want to interact. It is not enough to choose an online community based solely on a demographic, ie, a geographic location or an age group. You should be very selective about your communities and make sure that the other members in your online communities have enough in common with you and your business and are really excited about interacting with you online.
  • Build your online relationships: It is very important to continue to develop relationships with those people with whom you interact online. A good way to do this is by continually sharing information with them that you feel they will find valuable and that will help them in some way. Not only will your online connections want to interact with you but they will also speak favorably about you to others online. The more comfortable and the closer your relationships with them become, the more opportunities you will eventually have of selling them your products and/or services. Make sure that you make the effort to not only establish the relationships but also make sure that you maintain them for the long term.

Conclusion

Being a member of online communities for business and continually establishing and maintaining online relationships is critical to the success of your business. With the extreme popularity of social media, many people are excited about interacting and developing relationships with others whom they feel they can trust and who they consider experts in their industry. At the heart of your success is the human element. Once people really get to know you and you get to know them, they will want what you are offering and will gladly tell others about what you are offering too.

Leadership Tips – Small Business Requires Faster Decisions

Introduction

This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage.

My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations. The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time. I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented. As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker.

I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story. It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers.

My First Small Business

I opened a small personal services business. It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop. It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me.

For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily. We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up. There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay. I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door.

Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little. Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual. The people were not as upbeat as they had been. When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job. I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment.

Want to know what was really going on? My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors:

  • Criticizing staff in front of customers
  • Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
  • Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means

The Damages

I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem. The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back.

When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager. There were only two problems:

  1. I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
  2. There was collateral damage. I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager.

Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager. An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.
This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.

Online Marketing For Business

Online marketing for businesses can seem to be a daunting task. If you are a business owner and want to increase the profits and exposure that your business makes by using online marketing it can be difficult to know exactly where to start.

In this article I am going to show you that using online marketing to promote your business does not need to be either difficult or expensive. We will discuss how easy it is to get a website set up to promote your business, how to get targeted visitors to your website and why you need to use your website to collect the email addresses of your customers.

It is easy to set up a website to promote your business online. You do not need an expensive site that costs thousands of dollars. All you need is a simple website consisting of one to five pages. This website just needs to tell your customers a bit about you and your business and what goods or services you provide. It needs to tell your customers how to contact you and where you are located.

Once you have set up your website you need to get people to visit it. This can be achieved by adding your website to directories and by using social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Your website should be search engine optimized so that people will see your business listed on page one of the search engines and visit your site first rather than the site of one of your competitors.

You need to collect the email addresses of your website visitors so that you can send them details about any offers you have, or new products that they might be interested in purchasing. You could send them a regular newsletter that will keep your business in front of them when they open their emails. Then when they are thinking of purchasing a product or service it will probably be you that they turn to as you have already established a good relationship with them by using online marketing for your business.

In conclusion, if you are thinking of promoting your business using online marketing you can easily do this without too much expense or effort. You need to get simple a website set up, get targeted visitors to come to your website, when they are on your website you should try to get their email address so that you can keep in touch with them. There are several good books available which can show you how to effectively market online. Or if you do not have the time to read a long book then obtaining a short report on online marketing for business would be the next best thing.

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