right for you?
Rhonda Abrams is the
president of The Planning
Shop, a publisher of books
and software for entrepreneurs (
IF YOU’RE IN BUSINESS, you’ve got to communicate with customers and prospects. It used to be
enough for a small business to market its services
with e-mail, advertising and public relations. Now,
an increasing number of customers turn to social
networking tools. Should you?
To help you decide, here’s a guide to social networking sites as they relate to your small business.
Twitter. Twitter’s the Internet darling of
the moment, allowing users to send very short
messages (limited to 140 characters) known as
“tweets.” It’s a good way to keep your name in
front of people who have some connection or interest in you or your business. For instance, I tweet
about things I think small-business people would
find interesting or sometimes amusing.
LinkedIn. Unlike all the other major social networking sites, LinkedIn is aimed specifically at business. I’ve found it useful to search for consultants
and contractors, and to identify people in companies I hope to do business with. It’s also become a
major source for posting job openings. If you’re a
consultant or headhunter, or sell business services,
you definitely need to check out LinkedIn.
Facebook. The heavyweight of social networking in the U.S., Facebook is great for keeping
in touch with people you care about and finding
people you’re out of touch with. I love it for seeing
what my family and friends are up to, but I don’t
use it much for business yet.
MySpace. Once the leading social networking
site, it’s lost ground, but it’s still a huge draw, especially for teenagers. It’s good for building support
for certain types of business, such as bands and
other music-related companies.
You Tube. Businesses have discovered this is a
great way to provide information to prospects and
customers. Why not make a video of the products you
sell or of you describing your services (or video testimonials) and easily upload them to You Tube? Then,
you can direct prospects to You Tube to check it out.
One thing’s for sure: Social networking is here
to stay. Get connected. Send me a tweet! C
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “connection.”
At Online Edition, search
“Rhonda Abrams” or “social networking.”
PUBLIC RELATIONS is one
of those elements that
claim they don’t
have time or
budget for. Yet
it’s a key factor in
the success of any
business, and you
don’t have to have
a dedicated department or
spend a lot of money to
practice savvy PR.
A new book, Strategic
Public Relations: 10
Principles to Harness the
Power of PR, by Costco
members Jennifer Gehrt
and Colleen Moffitt, co-founders of Seattle-based
Communiqué PR ( www.
Andrea Carlos, offers solid,
simple tips for putting
together a cohesive plan.
The book claims, “Many
CEOs have begun to see PR
as the prime contributor to
the success of any business, and you
don’t have to have
a dedicated department or
many of the fees the SBA
charges for its guarantee on
small-business loans, such
as those under its 7(a) and 504
programs. In addition, the SBA is
increasing the loan amounts it
will guarantee—up to 90 percent
of various loan programs.
Through a key component of
ARC, the U.S. Treasury
Department will boost bank
liquidity by purchasing small-business loans in the secondary
markets. The $15 billion from the
Treasury will primarily be used
to buy loans and thus free up
lending by community banks,
credit unions and other small-business lenders.
Since banks depend on the
secondary markets for liquidity,
a local community bank may
now be more willing to lend to a
business because it will have
confidence that the U.S.
ARC money for small biz
THE WHITE HOUSE recently
announced a $15 billion, multipronged plan designed to help
ease the credit crunch affecting
so many businesses and their
owners. One portion, the
America’s Recovery Capital
(ARC) loan program, offers
deferred-payment loans backed
100 percent by the Small
Business Administration (SBA).
ARC loans of up to $35,000
are guaranteed by the SBA for
viable small businesses that
need help making payments for
up to six months on an existing
qualifying loan. These loans can
give small businesses some temporary financial relief to keep
their doors open and get their
cash flow back on track so they
can maintain existing jobs and
ultimately create new jobs.
The recently announced program also reduces or eliminates
The 10 principles explained
in the book are:
1. Sell PR to key stakeholders within your company.
2. Select your PR team
3. Know your target audiences and how to
4. Leverage emerging
trends and technologies.
5. Develop a strategic
6. Craft a compelling story.
7. Build media relationships
for strategic advantage.
8. Maintain an open information flow.
9. Measure and merchandize your results.
10. Keep your PR program
relevant over time.
For more information on elements of the ARC
program and how to apply,
visit the SBA’s Web site, www.
sba.gov, and click on or search
“Economic Recovery,” then
click on “Local Resources” to
access a host of resource partners, including participating
lenders.—Mark E. Battersby
will be a
the loan in
The book is full of compelling examples and practical advice for any company
looking to improve its standing with its community and
customer base. C