Why Blogging Is Critical for Small Businesses

Are you a blogger?

Well, I have been a little slow to realize it, but I am.

I resisted this term to describe myself for a long time. I mean, I have a blog, and I do write the posts that show up on it, and I have repeatedly heard others refer to me as a blogger … But I’m not one of those people who blogs because they love to write (I don’t). Or because I have an incredible circumstance or experience that I’m dealing with that is valuable for others to learn from. So I just didn’t feel like the term fit. I’m a business owner.

And you may be sitting there, thinking that you run a business, not a blog, just like I did. Or perhaps you have clients you work with, and you’re trying to get them to blog, but they keep telling you they’re busy running a business, too.

Here’s the deal: I blog because I run a business. I blog to build my business. No matter what your business is, blogging is something all small business owners must do to build their businesses. It’s the secret weapon to shutting out your competition. And it’s not hard to be effective if you follow some blogging for business best practices.

I had the pleasure of sharing these ideas in a talk I gave this past weekend at WordCamp Detroit. WordCamp is a conference that brings together WordPress designers, developers and users (bloggers) to share all there is to share about this powerful platform. Many thanks to Deborah Edwards-Onoro and Anthony Montalbano for organizing such an amazing event!

Deborah even put together a Storify post of my talk. Many thanks to her for being such an awesome note-taker.

 

story “WordCamp Detroit 2012: Use Your Blog to Build Your Business” on Storify] 

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Twitter Therapy: Tapping Into the ‘Me, Too’ Community

I had the pleasure of joining 30 diverse, inspiring and talented “characters” who spoke at the Canadian debut of the #140 Characters Conference in Kitchener, Ontario on September 15th. What an amazing experience.

This conference, unlike most others, invites the speakers to share their stories–something honest and significant that helps everyone who hears the story to relate and connect. In doing so, the conference (which has certainly also become an entire movement, started by Jeff Pulver, its founder) makes possible in real life some of the magic that happens via Social Media.

If you’re looking for inspiration, information, and connection, you can watch all of the videos from the conference (each is about 10 minutes long) on the #140ConfOnt’s YouTube Channel. It will certainly beat out anything else you could find to watch on TV tonight.

My talk was all about how Twitter would have been a better alternative therapy to the anti-depressants I was prescribed during my bout with Post Partum Depression. I explain how surprised I was to find such a helpful, caring community on Twitter when I shared some of the tough stuff I was going through. I call it the “Me, too” community because I found that every time I tweeted something honest, whether it was good or bad, there were others out there who could relate and were happy to tell me they understood and supported me.

Are you participating in the “Me, too” community? Do you share your challenges, triumphs and mistakes on Social Media? Do you connect and relate with others who do? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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How to Grow Your Business on Social Media

I had such a great time traveling to Grand Junction, Colorado, to be the keynote speaker for the Mesa County Women’s Group last week. The topic was: “Your Business in a Social Media World: What You Need to Grow and Prosper.”

I was delighted to have a full room of 150 local entrepreneurs and working women looking for some advice about how to build their business by building relationships on Social Media. Members of News Channel 5 and The Business Times were kind enough to cover the talk. Below is the article by Phil Castle of The Business Times in its entirety. And you can watch the video clip of Channel 5’s coverage by Josh Moser by clicking here.

Lara Galloway keynote speaker on Social Media for BusinessSocial media success shares advice on how to prosper

by Phil Castle, The Business Times

For Lara Galloway, social media is fun, rewarding and nothing less than the source of nearly all the business for her coaching firm.

Galloway estimates that she’s developed contacts with more than 95 percent of her clients through Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites on the Internet.

“It is fun. It is social. But there are some amazing, important connections going on out there,” said Galloway, a work-at-home mother of three in Michigan who founded Mom Biz Coach.

Other entrepreneurs can similarly prosper through social media if they focus on building relationships and helping customers rather simply pitching products and services, Galloway said during a presentation hosted by the Mesa County Women’s Network in Grand Junction.

A “mompreneur” who’s literally made it her business to help other women blend family and work priorities, Galloway has developed a large following on social media, especially Twitter. Forbes magazine once included Galloway among 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.

Galloway said the Internet and social media are parts of a dramatic shift in the way consumers search for products and services. Consequently, businesses have to change the ways they market those products and services. While such traditional marketing techniques as advertising still work, they work even better in conjunction with social media, she said.

Consumers no longer respond in the same ways to promotions that push features and benefits or efforts that try to convince them to make a purchase, Galloway said. Consumers prefer instead approaches that relate to them and engage them while offering specific solutions to their problems, she said. “People need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.”

Consumers also welcome opportunities to interact with businesses, to offer their opinions and develop relationships.

To that end, Galloway offered 10 steps to using social media to prosper.

The first step, she said, is for businesspeople to put their best foot forward. That includes offering help and answering questions as well as listening more and talking less. “Be a real person,” she said. “It’s easy.”

The second step, Galloway said, is to “find your people” — identify and connect with potential customers who are likely to make purchases.

Social media sites offer ample opportunities, she said, since they connect like-minded people with similar interests. Moreover, the potential audience is huge: If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous country on the planet.

One of the goals of social media should be to cultivate relationships. Quoting Seth Godin — the entrepreneur, author and public speaker — Galloway said businesses should strive to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers and customers into salespeople.

It’s also important to provide good content through social media sites, whether it’s timely tips, answers to questions or other relevant information.

Businesses should join in on those conversations on social media, but refrain from explicitly promoting products or services, Galloway said. “It’s more about conversations than pitches.”

Social media sites also offer businesses opportunities to listen and learn what customers are saying and what they want, she said. On Twitter, it’s possible to follow the short messages called Tweets on a given subject simply by using a few key words. “It is perfectly reasonable to eavesdrop on social media.”

When discussing products and services, it’s important to explain how a business can solve a customer’s problem rather than tout features or advantages. Businesses that are successful in solving problems turn their customers into a voluntary marketing army, Galloway said.

Businesspeople shouldn’t be shy in talking about their work, though, whether it’s sharing challenges and successes or asking for help, she said. “Become a relatable human.”

Businesspeople also should become a “regular” in joining in on social media sites on a regular basis. Galloway recommended that businesses spend at least a minimal amount of time on social media sites on a daily basis. “Fifteen minutes a day is better than nothing.”

Finally, Galloway advised businesspeople to “pay it forward” by praising other businesses on social media when they experience good service or have purchased good products. “Pay it forward will always pay you back,” she said.

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The Importance of Social Media Marketing – My Latest Speaking Event

Yesterday I was honored to Keynote presenter to the Mesa County’s Women’s Network at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Colorado.

The luncheon presentation was on
Your Business in a Social Media World – What You Need to Know and Prosper.

My passion is in teaching women entrepreneurs to be more successful in their businesses, so having the opportunity to speak to this group of motivated women business owners about the importance of social media marketing and how to use Twitter as an advertising tool was fantastic!

Here’s a look at the interview I did for NewsChannel5!

 


Do you need a speaker at your next event?
Check out my Speakers Page for more information.

 

 

 

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I’m speaking at Blissdom Canada!

The first ever conference focusing on women and Social Media in Canada is happening in Toronto next month, and I’m delighted to be a part of it!

If you haven’t registered yet, run grab your seat now at BlissdomCanada.com.

I’m going to be in my element speaking as part of the panel on Work/Life Balance: Peaceful Coexistence Between Life and Laptop. As a mompreneur committed to making her family priority #1 while running a successful business, I have spent many hours of my life coaching women who are trying hard to have the best of both worlds. It’s tricky, but it CAN be done!

Are you planning on going? Please drop me a comment below so I can be sure to connect with you when we’re there! And if you have some particular challenges you’d like to hear the panel address, share them and I’ll bring them up.

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Learn Something New This Weekend

I’ll be taking part of Shawna Seigel’s New Life Event weekend of webinars, and thought I’d let you in on it 🙂

Shawna is passionate about training and education for small business owners and throws a huge learning party once or twice a year. Starting at 4pm ET today and continuing through Sunday night, Shawna’s New Life Event will offer a total of 30 webinars covering tons of online business topics. . .all for free!

The idea is “to breathe some new life into your business.” You could use some new ideas, right? And maybe you’d like to win some prizes? Shawna is giving a ton of stuff away. Read all about it on the website when you sign up.

Read all about the speakers and topics AND REGISTER HERE!

P.S. Yours truly will be speaking on Sunday morning at 10am ET on “How to Add BlogTalkRadio to Your Marketing Strategy.”

Don’t miss out! Register now by clicking here. Hope to “see you on the webinars” this weekend.

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What if you stopped trying so hard?

Everyday, I get an email from a guy named Mike Dooley who offers inspirational messages. Some days, I feel too busy to read them and simply delete them. Other days, it’s like he has somehow been able to read my thoughts and sends a perfect message at just the right moment.

Here’s the message I almost deleted this morning:

Stop thinking that you have to make it happen, Lara, and let it happen… That you have to be better, and be yourself… That I’ve ever judged you, and be free.

What stopped me in my tracks this morning was that this is the exact message I decided to use for a keynote speech I’ve been asked to deliver at a Women’s Leadership Conference next year. And I just came up with this yesterday afternoon.

Since I don’t believe in coincidences, I’m taking this as a sign from the Universe that I’ve chosen the perfect topic. I’ll be talking about authentic leadership, and how the first step is self-acceptance.

Crazy things happen when we accept ourselves–we become a magnet for others who want to accept themselves, too. And all of that has nothing to do with being perfect or better than others.

Photo credit La Bella Sandra Photography
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