As a small business owner who has done this type of business on and off for the last ten years, I have struggled with promoting my own business. I have no such issue with promoting myself for a career – for instance, when I was still in Corporate America, I was very good at promoting myself, my accomplishments and tying it in to finding the next step of my career. I was an expert at the bragalogue in regards to my career and how working as a team member / team leader was instrumental to getting to the key accomplishments that were highlighted on my resume.
But, as a woman and a business owner, I cannot promote my team in my bragalogue because, I am it. So it becomes a challenge for me to promote my business because it seems unnatural for me to say, “Look at what I did…” because so much of my career growth and trajectory was as a project manager when you cannot do anything alone because you need to motivate and rely on your team to succeed.
So I have felt unprepared now as I relaunched this company to really do the elevator pitches I am so fond of and I have now been “coached” and “coaching” myself on stepping out of my comfort zone and promoting my business – and hopefully without being a jerk about it.
One of the key ways I try to avoid being a jerk is to lay off of the bragalogues in this case because it can be too top heavy because I am my only employee. Instead, I try to promote and package myself in terms of the multitude of free advice that can be found on my blog as the first step to getting people interested when giving them my business card. Then I discuss how I could help their family or friends who are looking for their next step, if they are interested in hiring me and I always offer friends and family discounts for referrals. If I did not have a friends and family pricing program, it would be even harder to hand over business cards to my acquaintance or friend because you do not want them to think you see them as a "customer" because you have actual human relationships with them.
A major way I have been building my business though is through the referrals and word of mouth of current clients. And I have mostly found those current clients via social media, my blog and some in person meetings. I send thank you notes to each of my clients and include my Vistaprint Swag - some magnets for their fridge branded for my company as well as a small stack of business cards for them to share, if they want to, to friends and family. I am also using more video based content and even Instagram videos and pictures to tell the story of my entrepreneur life and how I promote my upcoming seminars has been more structured on what I can do to help the participants more so than anything else and I hope that will lead to lots of participants this November for me to meet in person. Check out one VLOG example below. I am working on a vlog on this topic, too so check back when I update the post.
So as I am stepping out of my comfort zone, I am getting some great advice, some potential clients and at the end of the day as an educator, I am just happy if I am “teaching” someone something new to help them move ahead in their careers or as an entrepreneur.
What do you think of my promotion advice? Do you struggle with the same things as I do? Happy Hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen