The Pursuit of Online Entrepreneurship
Podcast Episode 031 – The Key to Online Business Success
The Key to Online Business Success
Hint: It’s Not Your Offer!
At the onset of building an online business, it can be so tough to know where to spend your time. What’s the most important thing you can do to help your new business succeed? Should you focus on creating an amazing offer? Sure, but that’s not the biggest thing. Should you work on growing your list? Definitely super important, but that’s still not it. Should you show up often on social media? Probably, but that won’t be enough without the key I’m sharing with you today.
Having been a business owner in the online space since 2015, I’ve learned a good bit about misconceptions around what it means to grow a business online. Though it’s certainly not true of everyone, a lot of people assume that since their business is online, it will take off and be an overnight success. Maybe that happens sometimes, but those rare “overnight success” stories are definitely the exception, not the rule.
The truth is, growing your online business is a long-term game—one that requires a lot of perseverance and strategy. If you want to be successful as an online business owner, there’s one thing that I’d wager will get your further than almost anything else. The KEY to online business success:
That’s right! Just one word. But you know what? Your success as an online business owner depends on it. When you remember that you’re interacting with a real human being and act from a place of service, your customers learn to trust you and your business grows. Today, we’re more connected than we’ve ever been, and yet, we can all feel pretty lonely sometimes. Why? Because many of the interactions we have online come across as shallow, fake, or curated. When you keep it real, honor your customers, and treat them the way you’d like to be treated, they’ll remember. They’ll keep coming back to do business with you, because they’ll trust you.
If you’re just getting started with your online business—or if you’ve been at this for awhile but can’t seem to get the results you’re looking for—I’ve got just one major piece of advice for you: Focus on creating genuine connections in the online space.
Here are a few of my go-tips for forming authentic, genuine, lasting relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and potential clients online. For the purposes of this conversation, we’re going to focus on establishing relationships via my go-to social platform, Facebook, but these same ideas can be easily applied to other platforms as well!
1. Make Yourself Available
Is your Facebook profile set to private? Even if you don’t want to do this long-term, it’s great to make your profile public for a short time. You’ll be able to accept lots of new friends requests, and you can change your settings back at any time if you’re not loving it.
2. Start a Conversation
Once you’ve made your personal profile public, ask a simple question. Keep it short, simple, and relevant to your area of expertise/interest. Once people start answering, engage, engage, engage! Respond to questions, leave thoughtful comments, and don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions.
A few sample questions you could start with:
- What’s the worst thing about ______________?
- What are you using to _____________________ ?
- I’m new to ________. What’s your best tip for ____________?
Since I’m a business strategist, I asked those questions like this:
- What’s the WORST thing about having an ONLINE business?
- What are you using to manage your projects?
- I’m new to IGTV. What’s your best tip for getting folks to view/watch?
People LOVE sharing their opinions, and if you ask the right questions, this can be a golden opportunity for you to build relationships and generate conversation.
Based on your friends’ responses, segment your Facebook friends by type: friends, family, and entrepreneurs. You can do this by creating a friend list based on interest and adding someone to the appropriate segment when you respond to their request. One word of warning: Never add new friends to categories with a lightning bolt beside them. They’ll receive a notification that you added them to the list and a recommendation to update their page with that information.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up & Branch Out
Once you’ve started building these connections, don’t be afraid to follow up on them! If someone responds to your question on your profile, shoot them a message with a really simple opener. DO NOT use this as an opportunity to sell. Rather, just try to continue the conversation. For example:
- “Hey Mary, I appreciated your response to my question about _______. I had a follow up question: ____________? Let me know your thoughts when you get a chance.”
- “Hi Rob, I really appreciate your input on my question about _________ and I was wondering: What’s been your experience with ______________?”
Just as you should follow up with people who communicate with you, you should also branch out! Start asking questions in Facebook Groups, Instagram Stories, on your Facebook Business Page, and anywhere else that makes sense. Create different questions for each platform so your audience isn’t seeing the same question over and over again.
If you notice that the same people are continuously interacting with your posts and answering your questions, it’s okay to send them a friends request! While I wouldn’t recommend cold-requesting people just because you share the same group, friending folks with whom you’ve had several positive, non-salesy interactions is totally okay. You should aim to send out 5-10 new requests each day, with the requests spread throughout the day.
Once someone new has approved your friend request, DON’T:
- Immediately try to sell to them or pitch your services
- Ask them to like your Facebook Business Page
- Send them a message saying hello and/or continuing your conversation
- Ask them questions about topics you both care about
Be friendly and form a genuine connection
4. Nurture Your New Relationships
The power of online engagement is in your ability to connect with people CONSISTENTLY. Posting consistently will increase your post visibility, and increasing your visibility will inevitably lead to growth within your business . . . But it all starts with cultivating awesome relationships.
When you nurture your online relationships and show up as an expert in your industry with a heart for service, you’ll:
- Enjoy steady income
- Be able to survey your peeps when you’re developing new products or programs
- Learn to leverage other marketing techniques to serve your audience
- Feel excited to create new products KNOWING your audience is interested and excited to buy
- Stop doing #AllTheThings because you’ll be taking fewer, more impactful actions
- . . . and so much more!
I hope you learned a lot from this week’s blog! For more information on any of the points above, be sure to listen to the full episode above. Before you go, be sure to scroll down to the comments box and tell me: What’s one way you make sure to connect with your audience online? Also, if you haven’t subscribed to the podcast yet, I’d appreciate it a ton! It takes less than 30 seconds and ensures that you’ll never miss an episode. 🙂 Just CLICK HERE when you’re finished here and hit that “subscribe” button. I thank you for showing up for me, for yourself, and for your business. Talk to you next week!
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