So over the Christmas Holiday, I saw a commercial for Open Forum, a community run by American Express Open which is the business aspect of AE. I thought it was a cool idea, and decided to check it out. My first thought is that it would be another forum/community where people just posted whatever and the answers that came back were more of comments, but not of any substance.
Boy was I wrong!
As a small business owner, I am always looking for ways to expand my customer base and reach new clients, but, like most busiensses, I have to do it on a pretty small (if any!) budget. I know a lot of others have this issue, so I started reading some of the questions on Open Forum posted hoping to find what I was looking for. There were lots of Q/A on the topic, but none that really pertained to my business as I market more to other businesses rather than individuals. I decided to post my own question on a whim, not even expecting a response.
Here's my question:
I've received some great, creative responses from other business owners around the country, mostly encouraging me to get more involved in my community and being visible. This is something I have done a little bit of in the past, but definitely not as much as I should. More than anything, it got me thinking and it encouraged me to start asking more questions to the people who I already knew.
What kinds of groups do you belong to in the community? What types of people do you meet? How do you network?
These questions seemed so silly, but unless you actually ask, you'll never get an answer. By asking the questions, you also let the people you're asking know that you are interested in these things. Now that people know I am looking to get more involved, I am starting to get more and more invitations to networking events and groups within the community. It's awesome and I have been completely amazed.
On top of all of this amazing feedback and networking, one of the community managers of Open Forum, Jen, reached out to me about my post. She has since featured my question and interviewed me about myself and my business. Her helpfulness and customer service has gone above and beyond anything I would have ever expected.
If you run a small business, Open Forum is a fantastic resource that I highly recommend. It's real advice from real small business owners. They have great topics, questions and blogs, and keep things relevant and up to date. If nothing else, just explore a little bit like I did! You never know where it might lead!
What types of questions would you have for other small business owners?