My original intention with my Pop! Marketing Communications blog was to post at least once a week, if not more, on Marketing, Social Media, and Public Relations related topics. And then I got too busy working to update the blog or tweet. How is that for bad practice for a new business? On the other hand, I can’t help but be a little (okay, a lot) happy that I have so much work right now that I haven’t had time to spend on the site. I still hope you’ll visit from time-to-time, and I hope to be able to sneak in the time to make this site a valuable resource.
I have had time to reflect on what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to building a business, or at least what has worked for me. And it is 100% related to the people I have met, online and off.
1. Build a network first. Provide a product or service second. – In June 2009, I knew I was unhappy in my current job situation. I also knew somewhere in the back of my mind that starting my own little company was definitely a long-term goal, but it seemed impossible. So I started a blog. Travel, Wine, and Dine was never meant to make me a full-time professional blogger; its sole purpose, on a professional level, was to help me become part of the food, wine, and travel communities in Boston and around the world. I went out every night to every networking, professional, or blogger event I could find, even when the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone or mingle. Like many other bloggers who have gotten new jobs, book deals, or started companies, I was able to leverage this live and ever-changing online portfolio to my advantage in finding work that I wanted. It took years, and it wasn’t easy, but being consistent pays off.
2. Content, content, content – Speaking of consistency, there’s a lot to be said about creating content on a regular basis to help grow your profile in a certain area of expertise, experience, or knowledge. Having something to show, a project or site that has required work and time, backs up the “I like food and wine and want to work in this area” concept and makes a person look more serious, committed, and professional, along with demonstrating a go-for-it desire.
3. Be part of the community – comment, share, support, repeat. No matter what industry you want to build a business in, you are never going to be successful, especially in the day and age of blogging and social media, if you just show up and expect people to fall all over you and offer you opportunities. Whether you are writing about wine, building houses, or hoping to be an advice columnist, establishing yourself as a trusted source absolutely requires being involved in a community of professionals, semi-professionals, enthusiasts, experts, etc. Let’s face it, as the world gets bigger, it has gotten a lot smaller, many thanks to social media. Comment on blogs if you want to get the blogger’s attention, “Like” Facebook pages, help promote others’ content by sharing links. Offer to guest post or help out in some way, or ask a few questions. In my early blogging days, really unhappy at my job and with a huge desire to take the next giant leap, I came home almost every night and commented on dozens of blogs. I spent Friday nights literally commenting on about 50 new blogs. In the long term, it was not sustainable, but it got my links out there, taught me a TON about the industries I wanted to work in, and helped people find unknown little me. Most communities and industries are welcoming to newcomers and happy to provide support, but the old saying “one hand washes the other” definitely applies.
4. Promote your business, and know when enough is enough. – Especially in an age when everyone seems to have a Twitter account and Facebook page, there is the temptation to fall prey to the “Look at me! Look at me!” syndrome. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all come down with this affliction at one time or another. We want to be seen and heard, but we live in a collaborative culture where cold calling and impersonal press release blasts can be a downright turnoff. Know your audience, build relationships with them, and offer them something that is relevant to their needs or wants.
The bottom line, for me, at least? Engage, engage, engage, and when you think you can’t engage any more, engage again. And then follow up.
Thanks for reading. If you have a business tip or site to share, I would love to feature it!