In the beginning…
Both the “Feature Friday” Conference Call and “The Better Together Approach” connect to The Business Connection - South Florida’s fastest-growing, free, business networking organization. The Business Connection got its start less than five years ago when a Palm Beach County resident named Bryan Daly decided to invigorate his financial services business through business networking. He began by setting up a LinkedIn Group and growing that group’s membership. Then, one day he decided to invite the members of his LinkedIn Group to meet him for coffee at a local restaurant. He called the get-together a “coffee meetup.” Approximately, five people showed up for that initial meeting. Today, there are nearly a dozen coffee meetups being held weekly in restaurants in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, Florida. When you total the number of LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups and Meetup Groups associated with The Business Connection, you come up with approximately 21,000 people. No dues. No fees. No mandatory meetings. Just great business connection opportunities with like-minded, professional people.
Expanding The Business Connection
Within months of starting The Business Connection in Palm Beach County, Bryan Daly meets up with Jeff Manz - a computer repair guy with a masters degree in marketing. Jeff wants to take Bryan’s business networking idea to Broward County. It was during this early expansion period that the duo decide to create a weekly virtual coffee meetup - a conference call early on Friday mornings called “Feature Friday.” The conference call is so named because it features small business entrepreneurs giving elevator speeches. The conference call is recorded and shared online as a podcast.
Soon it became apparent that this idea of a business networking group requiring no dues, fees or mandatory meetings could prove beneficial way beyond two counties in South Florida. In short order, there are suddenly Business Connection Linkedin Groups popping up all over the USA. As The Business Connection Coffee Meetup network begins to take on considerable growth spurts, it becomes apparent to both Bryan and Jeff they no longer have time to manage the demands of their financial services business and the weekly conference call. But, at the same time, they know they do not want to see this good idea die. And, that is when they asked me to take over as the host.
Before long, I come to realize that “Feature Friday” is more than I could handle all by myself. I needed a partner, a co-host - someone who could add unique value to every conference call. I wanted the conference call to be an educational experience in addition to a virtual coffee meetup. I wanted the audience to get an education in social media. And, I believe I found the right person for that job in Eileen Brown of Derby, Kansas. I had known Eileen for nearly a decade online through the Ryze Business Network.
“Feature Friday” goes ONLINE in a big way
For me, this whole idea of business networking revolves around the idea of third-party endorsement. You simply have to find ways to LIFT other people up in the marketplace - not just yourself. It is a real pay-it-forward paradigm. And, that means demonstrations of value and true caring are mandatory. You have to feel it. You have to see it. Otherwise, you will not believe it.
When Eileen Brown came on a co-host of “Feature Friday,” she truly transformed the conference call experience - both in the way it feels and the way it looks. In rather short order, she made the Linkedin Group associated with the conference call - “The Better Together Approach” - look visually appealing. Then, she talked me into getting a domain name for my business and connecting the Linkedin Group to it. And, that was just for starters.
Eileen is the one who came up with the “Feature Friday” Participant Wall of Fame idea. She saw the need to reward people who participated in the conference call on a regular basis. As a professional web designer and a web consultant, Eileen understood that there needed to be a website base for both growth and management of a tribe. Yes, LinkedIn is important. Yes, Facebook is important. But, you still need a online home base whose content cannot be taken from you. (Unfortunately, that was a hard lesson for me to learn. But, I learned it from Squidoo.com rather recently. I had 80 Squidoo lenses/blogs - which represented eight years of hard work - deleted from my Squidoo account because I refused to continually update them with fresh content. Squidoo implemented a software program that simply deleted all of them overnight.)
Eileen is currently working on a special library that will enable group members download high resolution graphic displays ads for use in printed publications.
Making optimum use of “Feature Friday”
The standard procedure for being on “Feature Friday” has always been just making a phone call and placing a PIN number to be allowed into a conference room to give an elevator speech that gets recorded and used as a podcast. The current phone number and PIN is as follows: Phone: 530-881-1212, PIN: 937-155-356#. I also ask that people planning to attend the call register their intent using the big carousel block and the Sign-UP message at “The Better Together Approach” Linkedin Group.
However, that is the old news. Here is the new news: Going forward I recommend people also have their computer on and a window open to the both “The Better Together Approach” LinkedIn Group (www.budurl.com/BetterApproach) and this website (www.synergistic-business-marketing.com) to better reap the educational benefits of being on the conference call. I also recommend that individual businesses script their 60-second spoken commercial with help from the Google Chrome Store’s Countdown Timer. Edit your written script so you can easily deliver it within 60 seconds. Be sure to include a specific referral request. Providing a specific phone number and asking the group members to call up that specific person to attend a coffee meetup. That should work quite well as a third-party referral. It is non-threatening and potentially a double win arrangement.
If you have ever listened to any of the “Feature Friday” podcasts you have no doubt encountered quite a lot of “dead air” space. This problem is being corrected initially by editing the conference call BEFORE sharing it publicly with the world. However, at some point, the conference call will be transformed into a slideshow video, thanks in part to Brainshark.com, which specializes in merging pictures with audio files and freely creating a slideshow video.
Making optimum use of “The Better Together Approach” LinkedIn Group
“The Better Together Approach” LinkedIn Group has long been a great place to start Discussions and post Promotions. But, the BEST way to promote a Promotion is via a VALUE TWEET. Unfortunately, many people are still not taking full advantage of this wonderful innovation. So, here again, are instructions:
1) Go to the Discussion Area and click the radio button for a Promotion.
2) Click in the first textbox so that two text boxes show up on the screen. But, post ONLY in the first textbox.
3) Post a clever question to which you or your business is the answer. For example, “Who is the best roofing contractor in Broward County?”
4) Follow that question with the word “See” and website link that provides the answer to your question. (I recommend shortening the website link using www.bit.ly.) Follow the website link with a period.
5) Click Send. You are done posting the value tweet to the Promotions section.
6) Now visit the Promotions section and click the value tweet you just created. Highlight and copy that tweet (Ctrl C).
7) Go to your LinkedIn Home Page and paste the tweet (Ctrl V) in your LinkedIn Home Page Textbox and SEND. That makes a wonderful LinkedIn update - something that you can do not only for yourself, but other members of the Linkedin Group. It really is a win-win paradigm.
A better boost for business in the Connected Economy
While it would be nice to think that your value in the marketplace and mine is based upon what we know we can do, the reality may be quite different. Instead, it may be based on what people decide to believe about us. And, whether what other people choose to believe is correct or not, our life may indeed be negatively impacted by that belief. Not everyone also gets it right. But, everyone is connected in today’s Connected Economy. Therefore, it behooves each and everyone of us to form a “tribe.” Indeed, every person needs a tribe of believers. Yes, you need a tribe of believers in your true value to the marketplace to help prevent becoming a victim of the naysayers, the unbelievers.
Resources like those provided through The Business Connection, “Feature Friday” and “The Better Together Approach” LinkedIn Group can make building a tribe and achieving the goals you set for yourself less difficult to achieve. Use those resources wisely.
Lamar Morgan is a small business columnist and collaborative evergreen marketer. Through his firm, he creates marketing tools that do not get thrown away. To learn more about Lamar's background, visit his LinkedIn profile. To learn more about his company, Synergistic Business Marketing, visit his LinkedIn company profile. To learn more about SBM's "Better Together Approach, " visit Synergistic Business Marketing - Marketing Florida & The USA with Lamar J. Morgan.