Image by: Rob Owen-Wahl
By Alex Webb
As a woman business owner, it is important to find new and creative ways to meet other like-minded women to network with. Of course, you can gain new business and increase the number of contacts you have by passing out more business cards, going to networking events, or attending conferences, but if you can think of something unexpected, you could get a bigger boost than with all of those other methods combined.
Let’s discuss two stories of how other women business owners found creative ways to increase their business’ reach, as well as talk about how you might be able to incorporate those strategies into your own business.
#1) Have Fun With Social Networking
As we all know, maintaining a strong social media presence is a necessary part of the business networking process. But just being on these sites is not good enough. If you want to truly use them to network yourself and benefit your business, you have to use them in a way that gets people’s attention. Let me tell you about a woman who did just that…
Barret Swatek was the star of “My Two Fans,” an online comedy series that ran in 2009. The series had no money for advertising, but had to get the word out about their project. Swatek decided, on the advice of a friend, to start a Twitter account for, and started tweeting as, her character, Kate Maxwell. The account is no longer active, but the account helped her find, and connect with, her audience. She also followed (and, I hope, interacted with…) businesses and people that could relate to her character and the show. She followed dating sites, single women, and girl-power groups.
You can do something similar for your business. Here’s how: Create a “character” for your business and give her her own twitter account. Give her a story and some background so that she is tweeting with substance; so people will want to follow her. Give her some sass so her tweets catch people’s attention and are more likely to retweet her. If it was me, I’d make her be a little off the wall. I’d have her say things that the “main” twitter account would never say. She could also interact with the main account in a humorous way, to create some interest and buzz.
– Keep it clean
– Keep it relevant to your business
– Don’t overuse hashtags (this is a huge pet peeve for most people)
– Give your character her own Facebook and Instagram accounts, too
#2) Network Through a Team
Have you heard of Glogster? Not too many people have. It is a social networking site that lets you create interactive posters, called glogs, for free. (The word glog comes from “graphics blog.”) The developers of the site came up with a great way to network with their community. They created a group of super users that they call “Glogster Commandos”. These commandos are charged with the job of helping them make decisions about the site.
So how does this help you? Think about your business. Depending on what type of business it is, could there be a way for you to have a similar program? Could you develop your own group of people to be your own little networker bees? (See what I did there?) If you can, develop a network of women who can give you insight into your business, help think of promotions, give feedback about branding, promotional materials, and even website layout preferences. These people will turn around and be ready to go out and talk to their friends, family, and coworkers about your business. They’ll be so excited to be a part of the team that they’ll probably gab about it to every hair stylist, waiter, and carwash attendant they come across.
– Give your networker bees a say, but not ultimate power
– Make their “job” fun and exciting so they’ll talk about it to other people
– Have your webmaster set up a section on your website so it is something the public can view (you should aim to make it a covetable position)
– Don’t let your networkers stray. Give them little polls or jobs at least a few times a week to keep their attention.
Do Something Unexpected
These are just two examples of how creative networking can help a small business. Of course, every business is different, so there are hundreds of different ways to incorporate new strategies, but I hope these stories left you inspired. Spend a few days thinking about it and I bet you will think of at least a dozen ways that you can reach out to people in unexpected ways.