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5 Way Small Businesses Can Stay Connected During Covid

Podcast, Small Business

In this episode, we talk about 5 ways small businesses can stay connected during covid. Through the unexpected and challenging times of Covid, it can be difficult to connect and feel a sense of community – so we have some suggestions to help you stay connected! Join us in this episode as we explore the hidden opportunities and abundant choices to help nourish our communities as well as our businesses within them so we may maintain connections that will encourage growth and unity in the communities in which we live.

1. Join Facebook Groups & Why
2. Local Online Meetups
3. Build Own Community
4. Reach Out To Previous Clients – Referral Bonus
5. Social Media

The works is changing rapidly for small businesses.

With the ever changing world right now, so many people are having to change how they do business, change how they live life, decide where they want to dedicate their energy, because we have such limited energy.

Today we are going to discuss the idea of connecting during COVID As a small business or entrepreneur. Again, the world is really shifting, and so many people don’t even know what’s going on.

Sometimes businesses are open, sometimes we’re not – some businesses do this, some businesses choose to do that. There are so many new variables to navigate as a small business.

Two years ago, we didn’t have all of these things to navigate. We lived and we navigated life pretty openly. People still had to navigate the world kids (or no kids) and jobs as well as losses and daily challenges. Things came ebbed and flowed, that is how it is living life.

An epidemic can change everything, we might not know it yet.

Yet, we didn’t have an epidemic, we didn’t have something that was a global crisis affecting our community at large. It has added a very high stress level to being a small business, even a big business, even just being a person, it just adds a whole other level of stress to living your life.

Metaphorically, we all have a bucket we fill daily, weekly and monthly with the things we can handle. Some days it fills up slow and other days it fills up quicker than we expect it to. when the bucket starts to overflow that is when we knew we hit our limit.

You can only fill your bucket up so much before it’s just too much. And I’m sure everybody’s experienced this in life where you’re just like, Ah, it’s too much.

Now, many people’s buckets are half full or even overflowing with all the things they have to manage with covid that even normal life circumstances and overflow ones bucket quickly. We are starting every day with so much more on our plates as human beings.

Before we start the day we’re already exhausted from just figuring out how to navigate the world. So I want you guys to think about that. And be aware of it. And be kind to yourself and understand that you’re already starting every day with a high level of stress.

Taking care of yourself is the first step, but it okay to still feel overwhelmed.

Even if you take care of yourself by exercising, eating right, getting good sleep and doing the best you can. All of those things are important to keep your stress levels down.

Even with all that self-care, so you can’t not be affected by what’s going on in the world, it’s almost impossible to overlook – it is everywhere. No matter where you go and what you do, you have to make decisions based on yourself and other people.

It doesn’t matter what you believe.

And I want to be clear about this.

It doesn’t matter if you believe Covid is real or not or what you think about the vaccine, none of it matters because no matter what your belief is, you’re still having to navigate a very strange, new and confusing world. Like it or not.

Since there no choice but to navigate this new world it is my hope these tips can help your small business. A small business’s connection to the world has greatly changed from not being able to go into offices and spend time with our colleagues, to how we’re having meetings that are mostly digital.

Navigating how we’re wearing masks or not wearing masks, and we are unable to see facial expressions, which makes it complicated.

Five ways that you as a small business or entrepreneur can stay connected

We all are having a hard time navigating the world of communication, we’re doing the best we can and we have definitely done a lot of adapting. I think we’re doing great, but I wanted to give you you five ways that you as a small business or entrepreneur can stay connected, because we need connections as small businesses and entrepreneurs but we also need connection as humans, just a human need just a human need.

We need connection. So let’s go ahead and jump in.

1. Join Facebook Groups & Why

The first way that you can get connected is through Facebook groups.

There are so many different types of Facebook groups, and they can be dedicated directly to the type of business that you are doing. You can even go the route of connecting in groups that might not have anything to do with business or networking.

You never know the connections you might find. For example, if you enjoy gardening for fun you can join a group of gardeners and meet new people – not every connection needs to have an agenda. Sometimes organic connections without a purpose yield connection you never knew might benefit you or your business in the long run.

I’m not saying go to a gardening group and start selling your services. Remember, when we create connection, and we join things that we enjoy. We never know the people we might meet which can change our life.

Connections are important to our health and well-being.

If you are looking for business and networking connections for your business, there are Facebook groups dedicated towards business and networking. Often you can, you know, share your service or product.

Start Connecting Locally

There are tons of different Facebook groups that are dedicated to different industries, as well as general Facebook groups that are even within the local vicinity of where you live. You can always look at what is available for your city or even your area.

I live in Oregon and I’m a part of groups that are focused on the Pacific Northwest. You could also look at places like East Coast or Midwest. You can also just look at groups focused state or city wide.

Those are ways to navigate Facebook groups. Give it a try!

2. Join Local Online Meetups

Meetups are a wonderful way to connect with people. I know a lot of people used to go to real meetups and that is still happening from time to time, but you can also go to online meetups. Online networking is exploding!

So many people find it easier to just hop on a computer than commute – especially small business owners who are already stretched too thin.

If you’ve been in small business long enough, or you’ve been an entrepreneur, I guarantee you someone has tried to get you into a networking group. If you find a good match – they are very beneficial.

Many of the typical groups aren’t meeting in person anymore or have found a hybrid option. As around to friends if they know of any groups, or there is a website called meetup and they often have a lot of options on there.

You can even start with your local Chamber of Commerce. I have joined two local chapters here, Eugene Oregon Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Oregon Chamber of Commerce. I am also honored to be a part of the Technology Association of Oregon. Look around and I bet you will find something that fits your vibe.

Also, meeting online can be done by Zoom, Google Meet as well as other platforms. Zoom is free for 45 min, but Google Meet is completely free, there’s no time limit, you can be on there for four hours if you want. So that is a free option.

The reason why I’m telling you this is because the next suggestion is perhaps you would want to start a group yourself, maybe you have something interesting to share.

3. Build Own Online Community

Do you have an idea for a group? Build your own community. You can make groups where people do co-working sessions, brainstorm or become accountability partners to help you get motivated to making certain things happen in your business.

There are so many different ways to create a group. There is a wide variety of options to create a group for small businesses and entrepreneurs and get together. You don’t need to have a big group. It doesn’t have to be 20-30 people, you can have a group of five people, and it can be super beneficial.

Even just knowing 5 people, then you are connected to the people they are connected with, etc. A small group can do amazing work together.

Also when joining a group or creating a group you start to build trust and loyalty, which means the people in the group are more likely to refer you to their friends, family and people that they know.

Quick Tip: If you host a Zoom meeting they cut you off at the 45 minutes mark and ask you to pay if you don’t want that to occur. If you like Zoom more than Google Meet, there is a trick. You (and everyone else) can sign right back on with the link and go another 45 min. If you don’t want the hassle, Zoom is about $14 a month.

It’s not super expensive, but if you want to cut corners because we’re all trying to save money here, especially people that are owning their own business, that’s a great way to save money and still meet up and people without having to pay.

4. Reach Out To Previous Clients – Referral Bonus

The fourth tips is reaching out to past clients with referral bonuses. Now, when I say this, I want to be clear that when doing this, you have to know the people that you work with, you have to have a good relationship with them.

It’s important to make sure that this doesn’t come off tacky, or that you look like you’re trying to use them for a referral. This is a touchy one, but it can work with clients that you have solid relationship with that you know won’t find this approach icky to them.

If you work B2B then this will be a bit easier since referrals are more welcome in the business world as well as asking for them Here is an example way to approach someone:

Hey Betty, I’m looking for some new business and I enjoyed working with you. Since we have a good working relationship, I was wondering if you might refer me to people is someone brings up needing it looking for a service like mine. For the kind mention, I would gladly give you $100 For every referral.

If you are still working with a client and are needing additional income, you can also offer some of your services or discount to them in exchange for referrals.

In life, reciprocity is important. It’s important for us to have reciprocity and not feel like we’re being used.

It’s sometimes hard to ask for things that we need, right? Sometimes we have to ask or we’re not going to get what we want because people don’t know we are in need if we don’t ask.

People might not know unless you tell them.

People might not know that you’re looking for new business, or perhaps you’re struggling a little bit financially. You don’t have to share that part of it. You can offer the fact that you are looking for new business and leave it at that.

If you always seem busy, people might assume that you have no time for anybody else, so sometimes you have to make it obvious.

In my career I had had times like this where I was struggling and when I mentioned being open for new clients to people they said that were shocked because I seemed so busy. I have also had clients say that they had a referral for me but was wondering if I was too busy.

And they may not even refer somebody based on just that idea alone. And I’ve had that happen quite a bit. That’s why I bring it up, I can’t tell you how many times I’ll have somebody send me a message and say, like, I don’t know, if you’re interested in X, Y, or Z, but I know you’re really busy.

Sometimes have to reach out and let people know that you are open and you are available. But remember, again, it’s reciprocity, reciprocity, reciprocity, makes sure that you’re giving back to other people, at least as equal, if not more than they’re giving to you, when you’re doing an exchange like that.

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5. Connect on social media.

And the fifth thing is making sure that you are connecting on social media platform. I know no one loves social media marketing (psst: we do), I know that I can’t tell you how many clients that I work with, that we talk about marketing, and social media is the bane of their existence. They hate it with a passion.

If you don’t love it, and you can figure out a way to pay somebody to do it for you, I would encourage you to do that. As a business you can’t just sit there idle, it affects so many things.

For example, if you’re not doing things on your Facebook page, and you’re not doing things on Instagram, then that’s going to negatively affect your SEO strategy.

I know that that correlation might be odd to you. It actually is really important and it’s something for you to think about.

As a small business myself…

When a businesses social media is being active, shows that they care and that they are legit business, that you are making connection with your community and your clients. That you’re actively answering questions and that you’re providing value. Google favors this. Google favors when you are connecting authentically to your audience.

And as a small business myself and a digital marketing agency, since we have so many referrals we don’t actually need to market on social media. However, as a company that does SEO, digital marketing, websites, branding and social media marketing – we understand that by us not showing up on social networks, we’re losing social proof and validity. Even if the majority of clients are referrals.

Social media marketing is a key part to keep moving, keep your SEO and rank higher (one of the many tips) in good standing and to keep people connecting with you.

You never know, if somebody mentions your name to somebody else, they might not go to your website. They may actually go to your social media, that is a default for most people and if your social media doesn’t show any activity, if your social media just looks dead. People are going to look at your business as something that’s probably not alive and thriving.

How can I put good content out there?

How as a small business owner or entrepreneur, can you put content out there that is valuable, and shows that you are thriving and you’re available? By making sure that the content that you’re putting out there also us not self serving and helps the public in some way.

You have to make sure that you’re answering questions for people and that you are answering their problems. People come to you to have their problems answered. So how do you answer those problems in social media posts?

How do you let people know that you can help them with the thing that they are struggling with or need help with?

It’s always great to hear from a company about the amazing things that they do, but wht people really want is and answer to a problem.

Bad Example: We are lawn-care specialists, we’ve been in business for 25 years. We have a 5 star rating and so awesome work.

Good Example: We love to help people take care of their overgrown lawns or out of control weeds. We can send you over a specialist for a free consultation and get started right away if our bid fits your needs. We’ve been in business for 25 years and have a 5 star rating.

So think about the problem your business solves for people when posting and sharing on social media. People want to know what you can do for them and they will be more apt to invest in your business.

Remember that social media is not all about posting and waiting for something to happen.

You must interact with people on your page as well as other pages. By doing this there are more opportunity to be seen by your local community. This can help you gain traction and visibility for your business.

Those kinds of connections are important and we want to connect with other businesses that have social proof, that show that they’re connecting and part of the community.

Businesses that show that they’ve done a good job, and they’re there to answer your questions and solve a problem for you.

In conclusion.

It is my hope that this helped you gain some new ideas about how to connect as a small business during challenging times. It is hard for everyone right now and if we stick together and help each other out – we will get through this. Hang in there.

Aunia Kahn, Rise Visible CEO

Aunia Kahn is the CEO of Rise Visible. With 24 years in the industry, she is a highly sought-after digital marketer, strategist, designer and public speaker. Rise Visible was named a Top-Ranking Woman-Owned Digital Agency by Clutch and is a certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBE®). Kahn is also an internationally renowned artist and photographer and has been in over 300 exhibitions in 10 countries; at places such as SDAI, iMOCA, and the SLAM. She founded Create for Healing, is the host of the Rise Above Be Visible Podcast and a contributing writer for Better Marketing and Just Creative. She been featured on Yahoo, Prevention Magazine, Authority Magazine and Entrepreneur on Fire. She also identified as a disabled business owner in STEM surviving and thriving with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Type 3), MCAS, Dysautonomia, POTS, PTSD, etc.

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