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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Local Businesses Can Take Advantage Of The Internet

A Cost-Conscious Workshop For Successful Small Businesses

Spring 2010 Networking Event, Arlington Business Council

Main Ideas
What is the core creative idea that will engage your audience?
Platforms are just amplification.

The Internet is a network of computers.
The World Wide Web is a network of links.

Do you want to control the platform, or control the conversation?

How you use the internet depends on what you want to do. Whatever you want to do, chances are someone else has already done it. R&D means Research and Duplicate.

My Incoming Education

Search Engine - Take the time to learn how to use your chosen search engine. I subscribe to nine Google blogs to learn how to make the most out of their tools. Last night I saw developers searching on Twitter.

Email - The great communicator. You can quickly reach most of the world from your email. I have 6 accounts in one Gmail window because Gmail has the best spam filter.

Blog Aggregator - Replaced my newspaper. I use Google Reader, part of Gmail. I subscribe to 67 blogs. That list is posted on Through The Browser.

Getting Found
I have two free web sites, Sales Lab and I am not a programmer, and I built each in four hours from a cold start. They each come with 50 free email accounts and other goodies.

I have two free blogs, Sales Lab Posts and Through The Browser , where I post twice a week. Figure a good post is 5 paragraphs, ten sentences. Started last September, now more than 85 posts.

I have a free LinkedIn page. My linkedIn strategy is explained in Web 2.0 in Three Paragraphs.

When I change the status bar on my LinkedIn page, I notify over 500 LinkedIn contacts and automatically notify my Twitter followers.

To get my message out to my world, I am active in 25 LinkedIn Groups and a half dozen targeted Ning social networks.

When I write a blog post, I also post it to the groups I think will be interested. A full post goes to over 80,000 people. See Building Your Social Media Platform.

What Else Can You Do?
John Battelle, one of the leaders of Web 2.0 recently posted an update of his 10 year old Database of Intentions. The first concept of DBoI was what people asked search engines. He has expanded that to “What I Want,” “What I Buy,” “Who I Am,” “Who I Know,” “What I’m Doing,” and Where I Am” (or “What’s close?”).

For a chart of the top companies answering these questions, search for Battelle Database of Intentions Chart - Version 2, Updated for Commerce.

For an even grander view of tools you can use, see The CMO’s Guide to: The Social Landscape.

I don’t agree with all the choices on either graphic, and my needs are not your needs. They showed me the bigger opportunity.

What’s a small business to do?

Get email. Learn to use it. I favor Gmail as it is excellent quality and free.

Build a website you can fix yourself. Websites get better, not finished. I favor Google Apps Standard Edition as it is free and requires no programming.

If you’re a local retail business, become a Yelp guru. Yelp shows where you are and what your customers think about you. I found my barber on Yelp and he’s the best barber I have had in a decade.

If you have a business-to-business operation, get a LinkedIn Page, get 500 contacts and some recommendations.

I have 28 LinkedIn recommendations and I like them so much I copied them to my website so people I am not linked to can see them.

Join LinkedIn groups and other social networks that interest you. Start by reading, then write. Let other people read what you write. It doesn’t hurt and good feedback is wonderful.

Other Thoughts
“Hunh, Hell! Do Something!”

The new tools, the most advanced tools, that let you take advantage of the benefits of the Internet are mostly free.

These tools are “social,” so tell your
friends what you are doing. Get their help and opinions.

When you need help to do something, ask a search engine. The answers are there. The trick is which question provides the right answer.

When you are building your cyber-empire, keep a pad of paper handy. Note your ideas, your passwords, your user names, your questions.

When you get frustrated, take a break. Much of the stress is because when you try something on a computer you get an immediate response. Relax!...Rejoice! Resolve to have fun, don’t blame anyone or anything when you don’t understand, because you will be ashamed when you do understand.

In 1995, on my first website, I realized, “Websites don’t get finished. They get better.” I liked that so much, I put that on the website.

In The Mythical Man Month, Rick Brooks writes, “Software is the ultimate art form. You can make anything.”

Was this good for you? Please comment to tell us what is the best thing you learned from this presentation. (Handout)

Thank you!

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