Posts

LinkedIn Strategy: How to Get Your Employees to Use LinkedIn to Benefit Your Biz

Any professional has likely heard about LinkedIn and even created a profile on the social media platform. However, with the wide reach of over 562 million users, LinkedIn is a valuable tool that should be utilized to promote your business. Below are ideas about how you can help your employees to use this platform not just for their personal needs, but to benefit your company:

Become Authority Figures

To set your company apart from the competition, an effective way is to facilitate your employees to becoming authority figures in their respective niches. LinkedIn is a platform that can help with this goal, allowing employees to post articles and blogs on their profiles.

A marketing expert can write about the latest trends, while a mechanic can write about tips on preserving a car’s value. When online viewers search for keywords related to the content, they read the articles and start to form trusting relationships with your employees.

If your team members can become known in their fields for their authoritative and informative content, you will improve your brand recognition and attract new customers.

Network

To find new clients, business partners or investors, you should encourage your employees to network. LinkedIn makes this objective easy by promoting online networking that transcends time and location constraints.

Your employees can join industry-specific groups where they can join conversations and make important connections. They can search for specific individuals and reach out to them on the platform.

LinkedIn Showcase Pages allows employees to create pages that highlight a certain area of the business, and then share that with a target audience. For example, if your business needs an investment to explore franchising opportunities, you can create a page that reflects your earnings and profits, as well as goals, and share that with interested investors.

If your team members are encouraged to make connections on LinkedIn, your company can leverage that for business opportunities.

Recruit

Increased competition has made it challenging for some businesses to recruit and retain employees. LinkedIn can offer an advantage to your HR department in this regard.

LinkedIn makes it easy to search for candidates based on their current position and experience. Instead of posting an ad on a general career site, such as Indeed, you are able to do a targeted search and view detailed information to make faster and more informed hiring decisions.

LinkedIn Career Page is another option for candidate searches, helping prospective candidates come to you. The Jobs tab on this page lists current openings as well as insights from current employees about the company and their positions.

The Life Tab helps candidates determine if your company would be the right fit for them. This tab offers photos and videos shared by your employees as well as any written content that can be shared about your company culture.

This helps your business share benefits that candidates can expect if they join your team, and allows your hiring managers to connect with potential employees on a more personal level.

There are multiple opportunities that LinkedIn offers that can benefit your business. Some of them, such as promotion and marketing, may require a financial investment. If you need a partner that can help you grow your business, IOU Financial is ready to help. We work with small business owners to help them finance their goals. Contact us today to learn more about our easy and fast loans of up to $300,000.

3 Excellent Online Communities for Women Entrepreneurs

Women in the U.S. are taking their careers more seriously than ever before as well as the necessary steps to become entrepreneurs. Since 2007, there are 45% more female-owned businesses—which currently employ 9 million people in this country.

Although women have been making significant progress in the business world in recent years, it is still mostly run and controlled by men. As such, females need their own communities to help them with the motivation to succeed, resources to start their own business and support to meet the challenges head on. The following online communities are great choices for women entrepreneurs:

Chic CEO

This community targets those females who want to become entrepreneurs, or are in the first stages of developing their ideas. A common barrier to the process is fear and the belief that they can’t do it, so Chic CEO provides resources to help women conquer their fears.

The site offers tutorials and advice from actual business owners that is easy to understand and follow. Check out the following resources:

  • 3 Day Chic Start: an online tutorial that focuses on customer service and brand development
  • Business Plan format guide
  • Blog
  • Resource Center that recommends books, interviews with other professionals and more

Yes She Can

As the name itself suggests, this online community empowers women to follow their dreams and live up to their full potential. This site targets female Los Angeles business owners and professionals, sharing local events, stories, advice and resources to empower females.

Started by professional writer, Lydia Mack, Yes She Can offers several cool features:

  • Sole news source for female LA entrepreneurs
  • Calendar with hand selected events, such as conferences, lectures, meetups and workshops to help women advance in their careers
  • Weekly newsletter with strategies to improve both the personal and professional lives of women
  • Monthly meetups where members meet on the first Friday of every month to network and share their thoughts and advice

Note: Although this group is Los Angeles based, it is a great example of local groups throughout the country. With an easy online search, females can find meetups and meetings in their areas.

Lean In

This organization was created by Facebook’s Founder and Board Chair, Sheryl Sandberg. Named after a book she wrote, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, this site is dedicated to aiding women in their quest to follow their ambitions.

They accomplish their goal in three ways:

  • Create Circles, where over 37,000 different groups of women meet throughout the world to discuss their objectives and create plans to succeed
  • Create awareness campaigns to educate the public about important issues surrounding the success of women, and men’s role in this process
  • Create tutorials, videos and discussion guides for both men and women on helping females succeed in the business world

If you are a female entrepreneur who has a great idea for a new business, but lack funding, turn to IOU Financial. Our company is committed to helping both men and women follow their dreams and ambitions. Contact us today at www.ioufinancial.com to find out about our easy business loans of up to $300,000!

How My Business Can Give Back (While Still Being Financially Responsible)

Giving back to the community is a wonderful thing, just on the face of it. It’s also a way for a small business to show its ties to the community, attract new customers and increase networking opportunities. Your marketing should see a boost when you enhance your reputation and brand recognition by publicizing your social responsibility. The great thing is that there are many ways to give back without breaking the bank. Here are 10:

  1. Collection jar:

    Here’s an easy way to start. Put a collection jar on your counter for the charity of your choice. You can post a sign next to it saying you’ll match all contributions one for one.

  2. Referral program:

    You can team up with a charity or nonprofit by giving a set amount when a customer refers a new customer. For example, you might give $25 in the referrer’s name to your local no-kill pet shelter with each referral.

  3. Sponsor an event:

    This is a great way to get a huge amount of recognition in the community. It need not be expensive, especially if you team up with other businesses. Consider events like a 10K walk, where you donate water bottles to participants.

  4. Encourage employees to volunteer:

    Give employees some paid time off each quarter to volunteer at worthwhile causes. Programs like Habitat for Humanity gladly accept folks to volunteer for a few hours, a day or more. By participating in this type of initiative, you might find it easier to recruit and retain quality employees.

  5. Buy from your small business neighbors:

    Get together with your other nearby small businesses to promote local buying. This directly helps the community by supporting local businesses in their quest to fight off the big chains that dominate the landscape. Your group can print up signs and post them in your storefronts promoting local buying and naming the participants. You can also leave positive reviews on social media.

  6. Offer a play area:

    Parents are more likely to shop in your store if you set up a play area where they can deposit their young kids for a while. Even a few minutes of relief will be much appreciated by parents, who likely will become regular customers even after the kids grow up and leave home.

  7. Participate in community events:

    The key here is to print up T-shirts for you and your employees to wear at local events, like a highway flower planting or car wash to benefit the local high school.

  8. Adopt a highway:

    Speaking of highways, contact your local authorities about adopting a stretch of highway. It doesn’t cost much, and they will put up a sign seen by tens of thousands each day that recognizes your contribution. That’s cost-effective marketing!

  9. Sponsor a school sports team:

    You choose the amount of money to contribute. Maybe you decide to pay for shirts or caps with your logo on them. Then you can take out local printed ads announcing your sponsorship and wishing the team well. Parents will be impressed.

  10. Start a charity drive:

    Think about a book drive for the local library, or a food/clothing drive for the less fortunate. Alternatively, join in on an existing drive, perhaps a soup kitchen or toys for tots. Even a small contribution will be greatly appreciated.

 

The Introvert’s Guide to Networking

Today we have a guest post from Misty Mega, Head of Accounting Education and Programs at TSheets. Check out her tips on how introverts can better network below!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Raise your hand if you’re an introvert. Yep, me too. As a fellow introvert (with some extroverted tendencies), I find that networking doesn’t always come easy. Do you find yourself being very shy in groups where you don’t know anyone? I definitely do, and sometimes I would rather not be in that situation than make the effort.

But I force myself to meet people, no matter what. My trick is to find another person who is alone, instead of walking up to a large group and trying to become part of the conversation. As hard as that can be, I’m always glad that I did, so I’m sharing not only how I enter a conversation, but how I embrace my “why” — why I invest in relationships.

Start With a Handshake

Daunting as it may be, we need to step out of our comfort zones and start shaking hands. In today’s search for time, we need to focus on why we invest in relationships.

There are many ways for introverts to shine and network — both in person and online. Introverts are known to go deeper into relationship building with fewer people, so they enjoy quality over quantity. And building out our networks is an outstanding way for us to save time.

Take Advantage of Online Social Networks

When you build a network of individuals you trust and respect, the network becomes a lifeline that can help you cut down on research and troubleshooting. If you are not in a Facebook group with other people in your profession, find one and join one now!

In each of the groups I’m a member of, I’m continuously amazed by the responses people get when they need help. When they ask a question, they are flooded with responses from people who can either help them figure out the solution or tag someone who can. Not having this resource puts you at a disadvantage.

We need to step out of our boxes and shoot for a handful of quality, incredible people who you can offer support to and who, in turn, can be supportive. Having this network adds tremendous value to our lives.

Ask the Right Questions

Asking questions isn’t just about getting the answers you need. It can also be about getting the answers that other people need. To build effective relationships, we need to discover what motivates people and what they are trying to accomplish.

Every individual who starts a business does it for a reason. Sometimes it’s financial freedom or freedom to be their own boss, or it’s to provide their family a better life. In the same way, you need to figure out what other people’s goals are, and then dive deeper.

For example, when we ran our own business, my husband and I had a good relationship with our accountant. We spent long hours chatting with him every other week when we picked up our checks for payroll. However, he never asked us the right questions, and we never knew the right information to communicate.

If he had asked us, “What’s keeping you up at night?” we would have said we were staying at the office until 3 a.m. entering our sales invoices and receipts into QuickBooks because our point of sale system wasn’t integrated.

We would have told him that we were doing payroll by hand, calculating all of the minutes and verifying hours every time. We would have said our inventory is done on paper and it would be nice to be able to scan things in. He could have then saved us hours of frustration by recommending products that would have saved us both time.

The lesson I took from this was that when you ask a client questions about their business, they are happy to answer. If you find areas in which you can influence a client’s business, you’ll create a customer for life.

Be a Positive Force

Lastly, I want to focus on the power of positivity. The moment you begin to speak, people can hear in your tone if you are happy to hear from them. If you sound unhappy to hear from them, they will feel like they are bothering you. If that person is a client, they will stop calling you. If they’re a peer in your profession, they will be less likely to reach out to you. If people don’t feel comfortable asking questions, they won’t. Meaning that you won’t learn enough about them to be connected, solve a potential problem, or make that sale.

However, if you foster a relationship of open communication with boundaries, you will develop a great network of like-minded professionals, your clients will be happy to call you, and your team will be empowered. The power of positivity will save you time and boost your business.

Step out of your comfort zone and build your network, invest time in your customer relationships, and have a positive and open communication policy.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Guest Post: About the Author

Misty Megia, Head of Accounting Education and Programs at TSheets, has over 20 years’ experience in market strategy, project management, public speaking, corporate branding, and channel marketing. In 2015 she received CPA Practice Advisor’s Most Powerful Women in Accounting Award. Connect with Misty on LinkedIn.

 

Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

Networking is important for all business owners, especially small business owners, because it provides opportunities to generate new business and leads, meet VIP clients, approach investors and get important advice and mentorship. Having access to the right people in your industry can open doors and help you grow your business faster and more efficiently than doing so on your own.

However, some small business owners encounter roadblocks such as lack of time or money and being too shy or intimidated to approach people at events. The good news is that networking is always possible with these tips!

Prepare an Ice Breaker

Many people are naturally shy, which is why it may be very intimidating for them to approach a big name client, possible partner, or mentor at an event. The problem is that there is no point to attend these events unless you proactively choose to network.

Even if you are not a social butterfly, you can effectively approach and start conversations with strangers by preparing icebreakers and elevator pitches. An icebreaker is an effective way to engage with another person without diving right into your pitch. You can follow up on a recent speech, inquire about the person’s reasons for attending the event, or make a comment about the weather or food.

Once you have managed to start a conversation, you will need to get to the point quickly so you don’t lose the individual’s attention or have them turn to speak to someone else. This can be easily done with an elevator pitch, which is a minute-long description of who you are, what your business is and what you hope to achieve by talking to this person.

Invest in Business Cards

Networking doesn’t only have to occur at official events; you never know when you can meet a potential client, investor or business partner! This is why it is imperative to make and always carry business cards to hand out to those you want to get in contact with in the future. Plus, a business card makes you look more professional and serious than simply writing your email or phone number on a piece of napkin.

When deciding which business card to create, you can go the traditional route or attempt to make your card stand out from the rest. Consider your brand and the image you want it to portray to others when designing the cards, remembering that your brand image needs to be consistent across all of your marketing materials. If you own a tax accounting firm, you likely will need to create a more conservative card, while a young tech company or a baby clothing boutique can afford to be more risque with their design.

All cards need to contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Phone number(s)
  • Email
  • Website
  • Address

However, they don’t need to be limited to that information — you can include photos of your products or services, a motto and even a short call to action (CTA)!

Utilize Social Media

You may not be aware, but you can connect with important players in your industry without ever leaving the confines of your business! The truth is that technological advances have made it easier than ever to join online groups, ask questions and communicate with others through a computer or handheld device.


While LinkedIn is a platform typically associated with finding work, it is also the most popular professional networking resource, connecting over 433 million users in more than 200 countries worldwide. Once you create a profile on the site, you can connect with others by importing your email contacts, or manually entering a person’s name or email. Once you make connections with your contacts, you can view their connections, creating a networking circle with very little effort!

Additionally, LinkedIn has many online groups dedicated to specific industries and careers. The members of the groups ask questions, provide advice, hold forums and even organize offline events!

Other social media platforms, such as Facebook, can also serve as beneficial resources to connect with important business contacts online.

There are great benefits to networking, especially the connections and knowledge you can gain from attending conferences, setting up exhibits at tradeshows and traveling to award ceremonies and other events. If you need financial help to afford these networking strategies, turn to IOU Financial! We specialize in helping small business owners grow their businesses with loans of up to $300,000! Plus, if you just found out about an important conference, you don’t need to wait weeks for approval, as we can provide a loan in under 48 hours! Click here to find out more!