A Startup Success Story (and Facebook played an active role!)

Ok, it’s late and I am up too (again) late but before I sign off for the night: I “gotta” share this story that ran in the San Francisco Business Times for a couple of reasons that have me beaming and I hope you can feel my enthusiasm leap off your screen:

September 25, 2009 — The San Francisco Business Times featured How Fast Time Flies as its Startup Spotlight (read the story!) Web site helps weave memories into digital scrapbooks .

A pleasantly surprised How Fast Times Flies founder recently shared it with her Facebook circle (of which I am gratefully part of.)

#1 Cathy Biddy Bennett was once upon a time a high school classmate of mine and well I don’t think any of us of the Santa Catalina class of 1983 figured back then (as we headed off to college) that for some, our fortunes would be made via the internet. Were we even conscious of it as we chose Liberal Arts degrees and pursued careers in medicine, finance, law, teaching and other fine fields?

#2 Real Relationships and Strategic Alliances played a significant role in catalyzing this success story. And trust and collaboration paid off big time.

#3 Utilizing Facebook successfully helped build a brand and generate interest that became sales and more sales:

“Ecom also built Bennett a Facebook presence in January 2009, and the business took off.

Prior to Facebook, How Fast Time Flies had about 11,000 members. Membership more than doubled within six months. Bennett now advertises on Facebook, has a Facebook application and a dedicated fan page.

“That medium is so, so powerful,” Bennett said. “I didn’t get into it at first because I didn’t think my customers were there; I didn’t think moms were there. And, yeah, they are.”

Cathy very gently, genuinely and tactfully used first her personal page and later her business page to showcase some of the cool things that customers had created. I watched as time passed that she got a little bolder, but remained understated as well, in her posts to share wins and wows. And her way “of being” herself, clearly attracted even more interest and customers.

No hype, just honest and genuine enthusiasm from Cathy the person (and the proud business owner), sharing customer creations month after month and contest winners as voted upon by the community. I recall one time months back, she unknowingly double posted only then to apologize for the duplicate posting. I suspect no one minded the double take. For her authenticity always shines through for me.

Using social networks like Facebook or perhaps one that is more targeted, such as Greenwala, a newer network established to champion all things Green will increase awareness of you as individual or cause or company over time. Facebook is for everyone AND within the entire population are the tribes we identify with also.

More specialized social networks may be easier to locate by online searches and they may have fewer members BUT at least you know they are more than likely receptive to you and your values and offering. The question may be how many active profiles in different communities can you consistently cultivate and participate and contribute to? A dormant profile within a community could send a mixed message, so being discerning about where you spend your energy seems a valuable dialogue to have.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to “over think” a Social Media Strategy. In fact, over thinking it could backfire sometimes. Authenticity trumps strategy time and again and good finds are naturally shared through friends and family and groups and now, social networks. So imagine that you have a good thing that simply needs to be more easily found. God bless the entrepreneurial cheerleaders” who created first newsletters, then websites, and now populate their blogs with the great exciting things they have found as they journey the web or the physical world.

Social networks allow for you to reach out, as yourself, be yourself, and be more easily discovered (if you are ready to be). Planning your involvement professionally and tactically is important, like the foundation of a home is. And genuineness rings true and clear where posts and pitches are concerned. And responsiveness when one can be, builds rapport naturally.

One of my favorite phrases is “Social Media is Straight Up Honesty.” –Francisco Rosales, of SocialMouths.com

And for as long as I have seen Cathy posting on Facebook as the mom and friend and business woman she is, I have felt her gentle spirit in every post and comment and share. Inspiring in me a desire to use her company’s fun service (aka patronize her) and let my circles know about this cool way to digitally beautify and share photos with others.

Good Product/Service I need/want + Generous/Gracious Leadership + Values that Align with Mine = Gets My Attention and Business!

I celebrate this former classmate’s enterpreneurial success and again gently encourage all you who are waiting to join in Social Networking, as the meaningful channel it is to grow personally and professionally and organically over six months, one Facebook post at a time, with some strategic and well-timed ads to attract new followers (per the article).

CONGRATULATIONS Cathy.

How Fast Time Flies for those who enjoy digital scrapbooking what a concept!

Today's Reason I LOVE Facebook

Today marks the second time someone found my posts and my profile compelling and reached out to connect after “reading up” on me and what I care about. I have been mighty transparent too, for that is how I like to be.

I’m thinking, wow, this social media channel works wonders.

And today marks the second time that next round of dialogue took place off line, by way of some nearly old-fashioned technology. Yes, we spoke on the phone. And it was a rich and satisfying conversation with a promise of follow up and some collaborating.

You know what I like better than people’s photos and posts and comments and quips and quiz results? The sound of their voice in an interactive and real-time dialogue. Filled with fresh energy as ideas are lobbed back and forth and again. Or better still the satisfaction of beginning a dialogue, and making a plan to further connect.

Technology aside for a moment, I experienced Facebook today as an unknowing professional matchmaker.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or (Fill In The Blank): pick your bridge and cross over to meet up with that fine new colleague and fellow travellers.

Social Media and CRM: Best Practices reveal…

I remain curious. Deeply curious.

Are you among those who have acknowledged that Social Media is here to stay, will continue to offer diverse and dizzying options and must be embraced sooner than later?

And are you willing to take on learning what you need to be in the game?

Tuning into the 140TC the Twitter Conference in Los Angeles these past few days to catch some live media streams of panels, I was “struck” by several important and potent observations and thoughts by up and coming Social Media personalities and well known names championing Twitter in particular.

1. The technology and tool that Social Media is, IS emerging and will be for some time. Great ideas continue to be developed and offered, to the point, that it could easily be overwhelming to some. I have a client with a low threshhold for new information so we take one bit at a time. The point is she has her toe in the water.

*Are you one those who is not an early adopter and don’t quite get why it’s such a big deal already?
*Who do you personally know who could mentor you? Start here for your own well-being.

2. The sky is the limit…and there is a wealth of creativity and intelligence being accessed as new companies bloom and launch and become known virally at break neck speed.

*What is on your Social Media wishlist?
*Ask and you may receive or find out it exists!

3. Maintain existing technology and strategies: these are worth keeping part of the strategic plan. And as people transition from “more traditional” email campaigns, e-newsletters and forums and Yahoo groups, adding Social Media to the Big Plan is important too. Remember when auto-responders and email marketing was new? And you mastered that in time right?

And, if it feels overwhelming, and small transitional steps are more realistic, consider seeking the assistance and support of a colleague who is in sync and adopting early. Or reach out for some support from an evangelist that resonates with you.

One network at a time and a dose of consistency as you authentically share your self can have an impact. And if you don’t let it be known what you are up to and what you care about HOW CAN WE FIND YOU?

You may be the next best solution someone needs; someone who needs to be aware of YOU. Let’s get you started with being found.

This might seem to be obvious, but is it? What energy are you giving your business every day?

Reprinted with permission and originally published by Krysta Gibson September 21, 2009

When you think of your business, what sort of thoughts are you thinking? Do you bless your business or do you curse it? “Of course I bless it,” I hear you thinking. But, do you? Do you consciously bless your business every day and whenever you think of it during the day?

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the daily operations of what we do that we don’t even realize we are not blessing our business. Worry does not bless. Being upset does not bless. Boredom does not bless. Unconscious busyness does not bless.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of your work day and consciously bless your business and every aspect of it. If you have a retail store, take a few moments to walk around, look at your stock, and send it blessings. If you are a counselor, healer, or bodyworker, take a few moments to look at the chair or table your clients use and bless them. Look at your own chair and desk and computer, phone, iPod – whatever items you use in your business, and bless them. If you advertise your business, take a few moments to bless your ads and ask that they attract the right people for you.

Ask that anyone who contacts your business be blessed, that happiness, joy, and prosperity flow to them and through them. Ask that you be led to provide the service you are here to give and that those who need what you have to offer will find you easily and effortlessly.

Taking a few moments to do this puts you in a balanced and receptive frame of mind and it shows your business that you are a willing partner in your own success.

If you’re in Seattle Wednesday, drop in and say hello when I’m at East West Bookshop – I’d love to see you!

Have a fabulous week!

Krysta Gibson
Flowing River Consulting
425-356-7237
krysta@krystagibson.com

Krysta Gibson is an author and speaker and the publisher and co-editor of New Spirit Journal. She has been on her spiritual path her entire life and brings an eclectic blend of experiences and ideas to her consulting work.

I am by profession, a Marketing Specialist and in particular a student of Enrollment. In other words I am a Watcher, who Listens, a Reader who takes notes and bookmarks notable websites and their authors. And I probably subscribe to far too many newsletters and feeds, but I do it, for it serves me, as it also impacts my productivity some days (grin…)…like today.

And the point is this research (I am always doing), allows me to serve my clients and colleagues, as I am on the look out for the trends that work, and the great wisdom circulating the ethers, the internet and the blogosphere.

Thanks to Facebook and a friendly common denominator I came to connect with Krysta Gibson and have the good fortune to commence a working relationship with the New Spirit Journal and The Washington Holistic Chamber of Commerce . Week after week Krysta Gibson offers thoughtful reflective and down right practical wisdom on business and the spiritual nature of business. I asked for permission to post her latest column, fresh in my Inbox and she graciously said yes, I’d be honored.

Why reinvent the wheel when making others aware that the wheel exists is a simple elegant solution? And being an advocate for great advice (for life at large and business) and sharing it with others is what I do as naturally as breathing. To pass along wisdom is fun and rewarding.

I took a moment to honor and bless my workspace and found a new energy to commence projects for the day. Thanks Krysta for the reminder of what is not always obvious and easily forgotten as it exists before your very eyes. I’ll take as many reminders as I am offered to reconnect with gratitude and presence while I am working in service to my clients.

Deborah – Catalyst and Enrollment Specialist

How are you using Social Media?

I’m curious. I truly am. Are you on board yet or are you still waiting till you feel comfortable?

With all the advice being given by self-proclaimed SEO and Social Media experts, are you clear on the basics of how to get started with Social Media and what to do to “organically” and in a manageable and sustainable manner attract the attention you want and need and desire?

I am a “gently vocal” advocate for people embracing Social Media and being consistent in their participation on chosen Social Networks. And there are more than enough options to be affiliated with: from the Facebook’s to more specialty networks created through user-friendly apps like Ning. Perhaps there are seemingly already, too many? And the abundance of choices makes it daunting to dive in?

Does Facebook scare you? But you know you best get on board at some point? Perhaps you promise yourself, you will once your website is just how you want it? Or your Blog is populated with hearty content?

May I suggest taking baby steps. Make them as small as you need to. Don’t post personal material if you prefer, but once your personal page exists, well set up that Fan Page for your business and do some authentic posting, catalyze some discussions, and pay forward the good work and posts of others because it is the FUN and right thing to do.

It was quoted in a teleclass offered by Julia Stege of Graphic Girlz: Creative Marketing Solutions, that 87% of marketers are using Social Media but only 60% began in the last few months. And the average amount of time spent on Facebook by a user was 20 minutes a day. There is still time to be an early adopter! Ask a friend to help you get established and oriented at the very least. And yes, these are all simply suggestions, but I wholeheartedly advocate what has been good for me personally and of late my marketing business.

Imagine that you have a collection of buckets before you. These buckets represent your core revenue channels and you’ve determined what percentage of your annual income you want to come from each “bucket.” So it follows that each bucket deserves the time it requires to be producing the results and the revenue you strive for.

For example, if you are keen to have your products found and purchased, be it books, CDs, downloads etc, marketing effort and energy must be directed intentionally toward promoting “your products.” And therefore time must also be appropriately devoted to services offered, events, classes and any other designated “bucket.” And with consistent, intentional attention your “buckets” will be brimming with desired results. And, thank you Nancy Juetten of Main Street Media Savvy for sharing your metaphor for your success.

So let’s apply this notion to your marketing plan: again what are the “buckets” you are willing to pay attention to with consistency and heart?

Okay, so you don’t quite have the obsessive passion for blogging like some and Social Media intimidates you a little, but ask yourself if you can’t be found easily, or found at all…?

A quick and important aside on my belief about business and abundance: there are always more than enough clients for all those offering services and products. You are someone’s desired service provider, teacher, school, author, speaker, artist, and so on. Recession is a state of mind we agree to.

For years my mantra: “Speak well of yourself, for your deep mind is always listening” has been posted in my workspace as a constant reminder, I choose my state of being.

I am but one of many evangelists encouraging every person in business I know to be present in Social Media outlets and be consistent in your way. The bright and squeaky wheels get the grease don’t they? Not all of us will post daily. But can you at least commit to bi-weekly or weekly?

CASE IN POINT: A client I have been supporting for three years with enrollment and registration and marketing support agreed recently to create a Facebook profile as well as a business page. And she admitted it was not something she was comfortable with but she trusted my gentle insistence. Thank you!

Three weeks later and a dozen posts or so, she declared in a weekly call we have, “I like this Facebook thing.” She had reconnected with dozens of friends, some colleagues and attracted some new followers.

She was having FUN with it as much as we were using it to share business news. We aren’t concerned with attracting a multitude of followers overnight, but we are interested in building a community in conversation that shows up and takes note of upcoming trainings and support calls. And feels like sharing worthwhile offerings with people they really know.

I find Social Media fun to engage in most often daily. I love spreading good news and inspiration and practicing random acts of kindness for my growing Facebook clan. What I used to do via email and personalized invitations to friend’s and client’s events, I now can do more broadly but just as personally.

If you are shy about getting started because technology unnerves you, I just know there is someone more than willing to jump start you and give you an easy tutorial. And when you see that it can be fun to instantly share great news with your whole group in a single post, I bet you become a Fan too!

May we all be blessed with courage and gumption and enthusiasm when we most need it, so that we can be found and engaged by those who need us.

What exactly is ENROLLMENT all about?

Call it what you know it as: consultative sales, business development, recruiting or affiliate marketing support. ENROLLMENT involves being advocate, champion and evangelist for both the client in search of a solution and the professional services or product being offered.

Since 2002, I have officially been a student of the Art and Science of Enrollment. And I am happy to remain so, as I strive always for further mastery of enrollment, in an ever changing market place.

And I believe, we need to be able to do for ourselves (or at least understand), what we may prefer to have others do for us at some point. At least to understand it as best we can; and be consciously choosing to outsource the critical tasks as a growing small business of any size. Outsourcing sales tasks when you aren’t passionate about direct sales tasks will grow your client base more quickly and fill the offerings with more of the right and best people and end-users.

Is it sales? Yes, but more than sales.

Is it coaching? Yes, but more than coaching.

Is it easy? Yes, sometimes but not always.

Is it hard? Yes, sometimes but not always.

Is it rocket science? It can sure feel like it in the beginning.

Like any talent we are given or have and skill we aim to master, over time what feels complex becomes divinely simple activity. We’ve all met those people who make it look easy, yes? As natural as breathing?

Breadmaking, knitting, playing chess, table tennis, even learning to walk and talk took hours of practice and some amount of struggle. Sales skills CAN be learned, coaching CAN be learned, and enrollment too CAN be learned. At which point if one chooses not to do it for themselves, it is a choice made based on wisdom gained from direct experience. And there are some that just seem to have a knack for it. And sometimes it is a brilliant business choice to delegate to a “champion.” Kings and Queens and Noblemen had champions, why not we of the modern era?

When I figured out what I wanted to be doing and how I wanted to BE while doing it, and then realized this was “me being me,” while working, many things got easier. Including identifying right work for myself and I have never looked back.

It is for me, essentially, about knowing inside/out what is being offered–but not talking too much about it at first. It is about asking a key question and listening FIRST to what the prospective participant is seeking for themselves. There is always a pivotal, inspiring and telling story behind every inquiry. It is from there that I aim to have all my dialogues. –with Presence and Authenticity.

And much like Macy’s in Miracle on 34th Street (the original being my favorite) I do not hesitate to help a person find the best fit for themselves. And often times that leads them back to what it is I am representing anyways. Funny how that works! And better still how it is appreciated by the client.

Is it a numbers game? I suppose it could be said that it is a numbers game– too. But if I had to choose between a big list of unknown prospective participants or a smaller list of thoughtfully referred individuals, I’d take on the short list first and imagine more saying yes to the offer sooner and with more ease.

And of all the ingredients in a successful enrollment conversation I say it’s how and from where one listens. In all cases I lead with my heart and engage my head later in the conversation. No new wisdom here, but a humble heart-based reminder from a marketing specialist who loves championing others!

That adage of “do what you love and the money will follow” is true where there is consistency and congruency and effort.

I’d also suggest a twist though on the best practice. Be a true believer in what you represent and listen deeply to whom you are talking to and it becomes clear–very easily– if there is good match to be made.

And while all inquiries might not be enrolling on my/your timeline (or that of my client’s) it is my experience that eventually they may and many do; if the relationship I begin with them initially is nurtured with authenticity and gentle consistency.

So if you know you would rather “swim with sharks” than do enrollment by yourself, by all means engage a “champion” and focus on what you do best in all the ways you are poised and confident and exuberant. You may find you also get better at enrollment conversations, knowing someone else also has your back.

And again, the money follows as a natural by-product and better yet, recommendations and referrals as well.

May we all be blessed with recognizing great opportunities that suit us and be able to say yes first to ourselves, as we say yes to what is being offered at the magic moment.