I asked my friend — heck, she’s like family — Becky McCray, if she was interested in writing a guest post on Successful-Blog. My motives were clear and simple. I think she’s brilliant at everything small business. She wondered what topic might interest. I tossed her an idea and at the same time, our mutual friend Chris Brogan tossed her a similar idea. Being the brilliant thinker she is, Becky devised an artful plan that involves three connected blog posts — one here, one on Chris’ Blog and one on her own.
That’s a plan I can support fully! So without taking further time, I present the first of the Becky McCray master Trilogy.
Social Networking and a Small Town Business – Why Bother? by Guest Writer Becky McCray
Small town business is an interesting challenge. You either target people in your local area and hope that’s enough, or you reach outside for customers and work to get enough attention.
If you’re targeting outside your local area, there is no question. Social networking is a top way to reach beyond your geographic boundaries. If you’re looking for local people as customers, you might be tempted to think that social networking is not going to work for you. WRONG! More of your potential customers are online than you realize. More importantly, marketing is only one reason for using social networking tools. I can think of four other big reasons to invest the time and effort.
To expand your horizons/perspective
The world is an unbelievable place, and technology finally makes it possible to connect with the people in it from almost anywhere. People have different perspectives, based on their life in a big city, in another country, or just in a different industry. If you don’t participate in the online world, you’re not going to get to meet these people who could help you cross-pollinate some new thinking.
To connect with vendors and other partners
Buy local campaigns notwithstanding, social networking means expanding your choice of service providers and partners far beyond your local people. Professionals and service providers of all kinds, and from all over, are active in social networks. If you stay out of social networks, you’ll never build those relationships, so you’ll have to rely only on the local accountant, web designer, and printer for all your needs, even if they aren’t all that great.
Face it; you don’t know everything. But you can find people who know about what you are needing to learn right now. When you are building friendships on Twitter, you probably don’t ever think about the fact that @susanreynolds is a jewelry artist, or that @mikeg1 knows about home schooling. But if you aren’t reaching out, you’ll never have the chance to ask, “Who here can help me with writing a magazine query letter?” (That would be @sheilas!)
To feel connected
My favorite reason for social networking from my small town: feeling connected. Being online can’t replicate the feeling of an in-person conference like SXSW or SOBCon, but it helps. Bunches. It’s like the best of a water cooler at a company of terrific people you picked to interact with, to bounce ideas off of, or just to catch up with. If you are staying out of social networking, you are missing the number one reason to do anything: the people.
What are your reasons?
These four reasons are just a beginning point. What other reasons do you have for investing your time in social media? This question is open to everyone, whether you are from a small town or a big city. But if you are from a small town, shout about it in your comment!
Sounds great, but how do I do it?
Need some starter moves to help you get online and building relationships? I’ll be presenting some Social Media Starter Moves for Small Town Small Businesses at ChrisBrogan.com tomorrow.
Becky McCray writes about small town small businesses at Small Biz Survival.
You really are a master.
–ME “Liz” Strauss