Being Socially Challenged
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Being Socially Challenged

by
Melanie Boylan

Being Socially Challenged 

I was tasked at the beginning of my business to be more social – that meant putting ME out there.  I wasn’t entirely happy about this initially, actually for quite some time - but I knew it had to be done. Some people do legitimately feel they don’t have time to do this, others prefer not too.  Either way you are holding yourself back from achieving your ultimate goal of making a profitable business if you don’t. 

Why Should I Put Myself Out There? 

If you’re a Sole Trader or Small Business Owner it is something seriously to consider.  Most especially if you don’t have a product.  In this case you are your business!  People need to find a way to connect to you and by making yourself accessible it can make you relatable.  You don’t have to put all your personal information out there for airing but you do need to let your audience know what you stand for as your business.  If you have a zany personality and bounce about all over the place then there will be a cross section of your audience that will thrive on this.   Potential customers can see you in action and understand what fires you up and what problems you can resolve.  You become integrated into their lives instead of a number on a push pad on your phone (like so many businesses are these days). 

How Do I Do It? 

Professional Headshot This can be extremely squirmtastic but a necessary evil all the same.  I would personally use the opportunity to get some head shots inside and outside if possible and definitely go with a change of clothes. Make sure they get some wide shots too.  A lot of people like to add wording around their image for maybe motivational or promotional purposes.  These can be added to business cards, flyers, presentations, speaking opportunities and of course to the About page of your website! 

Network 

I know I should really be an advocate for social media alone but in truth, meeting people in real life is still more responsible for your business growth.  I can be tough to break into a network initially though, especially if you’re not used to going into a room full of people who all seem to know what they are doing!  A lot of is confidence and attitude.  Perfecting your “elevator pitch” and working out what your audience is actually looking for from you.  Only time can help with this, listening is the key though. 

Getting Support 

I wouldn’t have lasted without the valuable help of my friends and family of course!  However, the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) were also instrumental in preparing me for my business.  I completed the Start Your Own Business course and that really set me up, as did several follow up courses I completed and the massively subsidised Mentoring they offer. Depending on the size of your business you may also need to look at loans and funding.  They can direct you to the right teams and partnership.  I know some people don’t want to look like they can’t cope and not be able to manage to set up their own business.  Trust me, these people can save you so much time if you just approach them. 

Acknowledge Your Weaknesses and Embrace Your Strengths 

By this I mean, you can’t know everything straight away.  No one did!  We all make mistakes and have to push through them.  Sometimes when you are social media you can foul up, it is only human.  Remove / delete / apologise if needed – but move on.  There is so much more going on in peoples lives that your mistake won’t be on their radar for very long.  It may also remind them of the mistake they made online!  No one is immune! 

Grow With Your Business 

Accept over time that your personal image and business message will change and transform over time.  Ensure that you keep this change in direction and image up to date and your audience won’t be thrown when they meet you in person. Just by putting these few things in place can make the necessary difference to your business and create ambassadors who will about and share your business with others. 

Your business is not just what you do, it's what other people SEE you do!

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