Women’s Business Bistro

Recently I have been involved with a project called the Women’s Business Bistro, based out of Portland Maine. This project was started by Candace Hawkins, and has come to fruition with the help of Deb Strout and Jill Deering, from Freeze Frame Photography.

The focus of the Women’s Business Bistro is to help support and showcase Maine women and their businesses giving them a platform to share their ideas and their expertise with one another. The first stage of this project is already underway, comprising of short video interviews, about 3 to 5 minutes long showcasing different women and their businesses. Each business owner describes what they do, why they do it, and what advice they have to share.

Through this project, they hope to interview and help promote up to 100 different Maine women. There will be a YouTube channel, a website, and a blog for starters. Then they hope to develop this into training material, webinars, networking opportunities, and speaking events that all help promote and develop women owned businesses and entrepreneurship in women.

Thursday evening Candace and Deb hosted a networking event, where they brought the participants together for an initial screening of the interviews that have been completed so far. This was a great opportunity to meet the other participants, see the interviews, and hear about the progress and direction that this project is taking. I was very impressed by all of the interviews, my own included, and look forward to seeing more from this project.

If you have questions about the Women’s Business Bistro or would like to get involved, contact Candace Hawkins at candacehawkins54@hotmail.com.


Social Media for Business: Get Ready

Why should I use social media for my business? How can I use social media for my business?

When approached by a business owner that has never used social media, the following questions are a great place to start;

  1. What is your reason for using social media? Here are some great reasons;
    1. Brand Building – using Facebook Business pages, Twitter, and YouTube, a business can share their image and their story with anyone and everyone
    2. Relationship Building – using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, a business (and its staff) can start conversations with current and potential clients or persons of influence, this will strengthen relationships
    3. Sharing Expertise – LinkedIn Answers & Groups, a Blog, Facebook, and Twitter are all great places to share your knowledge and position you or your business as the expert in your field
  2. What are your goals? Here are some great goals;
    1. Increase website traffic – by including links back to your website or blog in your posts and updates, you will increase your traffic
    2. Increase Sales – by build relationships & sharing your expertise, people will begin to trust you and come to you when they need to buy
    3. Increase followers – by be interesting, authentic, and transparent, you will attract people who have similar interests or need your help
  3. Who is your target market? Here are some things to consider when thinking about your target;
    1. Businesses vs. Consumers – Twitter and Facebook business pages allow you to connect with people that you haven’t met yet, where LinkedIn and Facebook personal pages require some level of acknowledgement
    2. Professionals vs. Families – LinkedIn allows professionals to share, review, and recommend each other based on specialties and experience, while Facebook is about sharing your personal life with ‘friends’
    3. Local vs. International – LinkedIn and Facebook have groups that allow users to talk with other users about a similar interest regardless of geographic location, however the premise of some groups are the location itself (for example; Maine Entrepreneurs, Facebook Maine, etc…)

These questions help to determine the social media sites and services that are most appropriate the business, and they get the business owner thinking about social media as another networking avenue to be incorporated it into their marketing plan.

For more information about social media and to get help using social media in your business, contact Kathrine Farris at Office Solutions ME.

App of the Month – Meetup

Our application of the month this month is Meetup.

MeetUpMeetup – the Meetup application allows you to access meetup.com on the go. Meetup is a site that helps people coordinate meetings, both business and/or personal. Meetup allows you to search for local meetings that may be happening in your area and join other individuals that have similar interests. It also allows you to share and comment on meetings. Meetup is great for those event organizers and/or people who have moved and want to mingle.

Cost: FREE

For more information on Meetup, feel free to contact Office Solutions ME!

5 Best Features of LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn is designed for business networking and sharing. This makes LinkedIn a very different type of Social Media platform from sites like Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn allows professionals to connect and interact on a professional level.

Some of the best features of LinkedIn include;

  1. Resume – LinkedIn is a great way to show off your experience and education! Not to mention any awards you may have received or associations that you may belong to.
  2. Recommendations – LinkedIn allows people to post public recommendations for you and your services. These recommendations are specific to a company or position and can be of great value to your profile.
  3. Groups – LinkedIn groups are a great way to associate you with others in your field or geographic area. Groups are also a great source of information and networking.
  4. Events – Linked In allows you to publicize events to your network and collect RSVPs. It also allows you to search for local events and events that others may be attending.
  5. Links – LinkedIn allows you to publicize links to websites and twitter accounts at the top of your profile. In addition, LinkedIn has applications that allow you to link to other sites, such as word press, drop box, Slide Share, and more.

For tips and suggestions on how to best use and establish a LinkedIn profile, contact Office Solutions ME for a personalized consultation and tutorial.

Also feel free to view my LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn profile of Kathrine Farris

Social Media for Maine Business

We have been using social media to help promote Maine events, educate about the usefulness of virtual assistants, share information, and meet people for over a year now and have found it to be quite successful! However, there are key elements to utilizing Social Media in the state of Maine… follow-up, consistency, quality, and meeting in person!

  1. Follow-up – Make sure you respond to inquiries, comments, and new connections in a timely manner. Don’t leave people hanging. (Smart phones are a huge help with this)
  2. Social MediaConsistency – Don’t give up. It’s about building awareness, and relationships that doesn’t happen in a month or two. (The definition of consistency can vary from site to site)
  3. Quality – Think of the golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”… don’t post items that you wouldn’t read yourself, and consider reposting news and information that would help others.
  4. Off-Line Networking – Mainers (in general) still want to meet you! They still want to sit and have a cup of coffee, and get to know you as a person, before they will do business with you, or suggest that anyone else does.

The most value that we have gotten from Social Media is the opportunity to meet and connect with more people, more quickly. Social media is a great platform for sharing news and information. But, when our followers and connections recognize us at local networking events, it’s an invaluable advantage. With that being said, it’s helpful to use an avatar (picture) that actually looks like you!

If you would like to find out about local networking events, visit our Maine Networking Calendar!

If you would like more suggestions or help setting up your social media profiles, contact us!

If you have your own comments or suggestions for others, please post!

5 Tips for a GREAT Networking Event!

Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!

With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, what makes a GREAT networking event? What makes an event worth your time? And what should you be sure to offer at the next event you host?

Here are 5 aspects that I look for in a GREAT event;

  1. Attendance – First thing’s first, you need people to show up, in order to have a great networking event. Getting the word out about an event is essential. Post it on any local calendars that are available, send out e-mails to your contact list, and use social media to promote your event.
  2. Atmosphere – The venue needs to be easy to find, welcoming, and have ample open space to allow for mingling, but there should also be seating for those that prefer it.
  3. Diversity – The attendees should come from diverse industries, to encourage and promote sharing of information and interesting topics.
  4. Mingling – Attendees should be encouraged to meet new people. If this does not seem to be happening, then the coordinators should take initiative to introduce people or offer some form of activity that encourages mingling.
  5. Food and Beverages – While the quality and quantity of food and/or beverages can vary greatly, depending on the time and place of the event, there should be something available to help attendees fill those moments in between mingling.

I found all of these factors at two local events that I attend regularly; Maine Successful Thinkers and Maine Freedom Networking! You can typically meet and greet with dozens of local business owners, walking away with at least 15-20 business cards from people who you had meaningful conversations with. Plus, they are fun to attend!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!

Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and read our earlier post for more information about how to be a great networker!

5 Ways to Network like a Pro!

Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!

With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, it is important to make the most of each event!

What can you do to make sure that every networking event you attend is worthwhile? Here are five tips to help you maximize your networking opportunities;

  1. Mingle – Work the room! Catch the eye of someone you don’t know and introduce your self. A good way to do this is to give someone a compliment, but be genuine. Make a goal for yourself to meet at least two new people at each event you attend!
  2. Exchange Cards – Bring plenty of business cards! Create a system for easy card access and exchange. For example use one pocket for giving cards and the other pocket for collecting cards. Be sure to look at each person’s card when they hand it to you, this will help you to remember the person and their name.
  3. Introductions – Use your connections to help others! Make sure you introduce people who you know or even just met. This helps increase the effectiveness of the event and increases the chance that they will do the same for you. It also helps to include at least one fact about the people you are introducing. For example where they work or what their hobby is. This demonstrates your listening skills and lets others know you are paying attention.
  4. Invitations – Invite others to attend events with you! Let clients, coworkers, friends, and who ever else would be interested know where you will be. This allows you more opportunity to (re)connect with people you already know and be introduced to people you don’t know.
  5. Follow-up – After the event, be sure to follow-up with the people you met. Send them an e-mail, write them a note, connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, whatever your style is, use it. Don’t let your time go to waste, stay connected!

And although it should go without saying, avoid drinking too much at networking events. When you’re uncomfortable or anxious, it’s easy to over indulge, but this is when it should be avoided. You would hate to make a bad first impression.

If you are looking for local places to network in Southern Maine, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!

Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and we look forward to seeing you at local events!