I remember when I first left Pittsburgh with $814 and a dream of becoming a mover and shaker in the world. It’s hard, especially when you’re first starting out and don’t have a big budget.
In my case, I didn’t have a budget, period. The first step feels like the hardest one, and it is to get yourself noticed. The term for that these days is branding. Connecting with your customers and establishing a name for yourself is a make-or-break endeavor for small businesses.
Here are three ways to do that:
- Get on Facebook. If you haven’t joined the social media revolution yet, you’re missing out. Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited website in 2010, according to The Washington Post. It’s free, and it’s the perfect way to get connected with people who can help you. They key is to be engaging; post links to interesting stories, comment on other people’s posts, and use Facebook to gain insights and feedback into the marketplace you want to conquer. It also helps build relationships; you’ll be amazed by how many people you run into, whose faces you recognize from following them on Facebook or Twitter.
- Network all the time. When I was first launching Icon B., I attended every networking meeting I could find. I bought tickets to A-list parties and functions, and made sure I always had plenty of business cards with me, should the conversation turn to business. Then a funny thing happened; these casual contacts quickly became familiar faces, and they started introducing me to more people and asking me to more functions. My circle of friends, acquaintances and business contacts rapidly grew. Googling “St. Petersburg, FL networking” will bring up a list of organizations you may want to join.
- Develop your personal brand to complement your profession. I know this seems like common sense, but many professionals don’t realize they’re being judged all the time. How you treat a server at a restaurant, what you say about that good-looking person standing nearby, and whether you “adjust” the ball while playing golf all speak volumes about you and your ethics. People want to do business with professionals they respect and admire; don’t jeopardize that by a careless comment or action.
These three ways to meet people and convince them to do business with you won’t cost you much, but refusing to do them will absolutely cost you clients and opportunities. And when you’re a small business looking to grow, you can’t afford to miss out on opportunities to make a positive impression.
Brandi Kamenar is the CEO and Creative Director of Icon B. Marketing & Publicity Group. For more strategies and ideas, visit www.icon-b.com, or follow Facebook/IconBPR and Twitter/IconB.