Entrepreneurial Marketing: A Trilogy

One of the reasons I love to interview entrepreneurs here is because I so strongly relate to them. I consider myself an entrepreneur just as much as I consider myself a freelance writer. Target Apple. Image courtesy of stock.xchng®My grandparents loved to promote their wares (antiques and jewelry) at flea markets and they owned a few companies at various points in their lives. They were definitely the first entrepreneurs in my life!

What’s the one challenge that all entrepreneurs face? Marketing. Whether you love marketing yourself or consider it your biggest struggle, it’s key to your survival. This isn’t something that only writers must do – every business owner and creative freelancer must master getting in front of potential customers.

With that in mind, I’m doing a special three-part post, geared at marketing for non-writers. Of course, that doesn’t mean writers can’t use these tips. If you’re reading these posts and have tips to share, please do so in the comments!

Part One: Social Media Marketing: LinkedIn

LinkedIn_LogoThe key to successfully leveraging social networking is to know where your customers – and prospective customers – are. For example, it’s a fairly widespread opinion that teenagers are not on Twitter. If teens are your target market, then you’ll be wasting your time trying to connect with them there. Here are a few sites to help you research: socialmeditoday.com, emarketer.com, and socialenginewatch.com.

Since LinkedIn and Facebook are two of the most popular sites, I’ll provide marketing tips for them both. From the seminars I’ve taken and the research I’ve read, it’s fairly likely that at least some of your customers are on one or both of these sites. Today, let’s focus on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn

Strictly professional, LinkedIn is an excellent resource for building your network and staying in front of them. Make sure your take time to fully create your profile and secure recommendations. Those are the basics. If you need help getting started, go directly to Help.

What most people don’t realize is that LinkedIn can help you market yourself on a weekly basis through the “Network Update” email that most members opt into. Are you subscribed?

To check:

  • Go to “Account & Settings” (upper right hand corner)
  • Choose “Receiving Messages” (under Email Notifications)
  • Under “General” look for “Network Updates” and make sure you have clicked on the option for “Weekly Digest Email.”

Okay, so now you’re subscribed. How do you market yourself with LinkedIn’s own email? Easy.

At least once a week, answer the question “What are you working on now?” It’s located on your home page, directly below Network Updates. (See the screen shot below.)

LinkedIn-Screenshot_What-Are-You-Working-On

These updates are included in the weekly Network Update distributed by LinkedIn each week. If you need help remembering to do this, set a weekly reminder on your calendar.

Tips for making the most of your LinkedIn updates

  • Keep it positive. Having a really bad week? Force yourself to find something good to share. For example, a project I was really inspired by was postponed indefinitely because of the client’s budget. It was a big disappointment. My update that week? “Jesaka has an unexpected opening in her schedule for next month. Let’s talk about that revamped website copy you keep meaning to do.” Someone did contact me to do just that.
  • Be specific, but don’t name names. While some clients may love being in your spotlight, others may prefer you keep their projects confidential – even if they don’t spell it out. Being specific is a great way to show potential clients the kind of work you’re doing. Example: “[Your name] just booked four weddings in June as the photographer. Brides-to-be say they love my use of outdoor lighting.”
  • Share your accomplishments. Were you just mentioned in a magazine article or interviewed for a website? Share the link in your update. Maybe you weren’t named, but your work is featured somewhere (e.g. you took a couple’s engagement photo or did the hair for a local designers revamped website design). Share those links, too. No links? Still share. Example: “[Your name] just finished creating a table setting and menu design for a women’s business networking luncheon.”

Groups on LinkedIn

Joining groups on LinkedIn is another way to expand your network. It’s also a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. Here’s how to make the most of your involvement with groups.

  • Be sure to join a local group. I’m a member of two Denver-based groups and I find them both extremely valuable. It helps me stay up on business trends in Colorado and hear about networking events close to home.
  • Look beyond your industry. If you design dog collars and you only join LinkedIn groups for dog collar designers, you aren’t going to expand your customer base. Sure, it’s a good way to network with your peers, but are they going to buy your dog collars? Probably not. In this case, joining group for veterinarians and retailers would be a fantastic way meet potential new business contacts.
  • Show your expertise. You can do this by participating in group discussions and answering questions posed by other members. You can also post your own questions – just do so with caution. For example, if you ask something basic, such as “how much do I charge for my service?” that could brand you as a newbie. A better approach would be to post a short item about industry trends you’ve spotted and invite others to share their observations.

What has worked for you on LinkedIn? What’s your favorite tip for this professional networking site?

Part Two of this post will feature other social networking sites, including Facebook.

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