Are you creating a new year plan for your small business? If you are like most entrepreneurs, your plan includes a full list projects, strategies, campaigns and promotions requiring investment of your time and budget. As you reflect on past successes and look towards the future, don’t forget to plan for activities which nurture the “soul of the business” – you! You cannot do your best if you are “running on empty” – here are a few suggestions to fill your tank with energy.
1. Increase your social networking participation and expand your professional circle of contacts with Groups. Thousands of business and professional groups have active memberships on Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning focused on every conceivable topic and business segment – you will surely find one that suits your interests. Once you join groups, participate! Listen and learn from other experts. Giving freely of your expertise as a mentor is a heartening experience and helps build connections with other professionals (and generate leads). Linked In has a remarkable Answers section where you can ask a question which is open to the millions of LinkedIn professional membership for their collective wisdom.
2. Join a Twitter Chat. A Twitter Chat is an open virtual meeting uses the micro-blogging platform Twitter. I make chats a part of my weekly routine and have become connected with a great group of professionals and small business owners throughout the world. You can find a live chat on a large selection of areas of interest such as business branding, marketing, social media strategy, and other small business topics. A spreadsheet list of Twitter chats is located at http://bit.ly/7QYqrZ.
3. Commit to your personal development with web-based education. Every possible level of education is available to the small business owner. Community colleges and universities have an amazing array of credit and non-credit courses. One of my favorite sources of high quality online education is www.ed2go.com which provides a wide range of small business classes which augment online instruction with group forums for interacting with other students and facilitators.
Webinars (web based seminars) can be found on any topic, personal and professional, and are provided by consultants, technology vendors, government and small business associations. Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks provide listings of business events sponsored by their millions of members. Don’t worry if you can’t make the scheduled class time – most webinars are recorded so you can participate at your convenience. Nurture your body and business soul at the same time – download a webinar or podcast to your MP3 player and go for a walk.
4. Create a virtual Mastermind Team. A Mastermind Team is a small group of non-competing entrepreneurs who meet on a regular basis to support each other’s businesses with advice, constructive criticism, and encouragement. Meetings can easily take place using software such as Skype, GoToMeeting, or similar web-conferencing options.
5. Hire a business coach. Regular phone meetings with an accountability partner fully dedicated to your success and willing to act as a confidential sounding board regarding strategic thinking, issues resolution, or decision-making is a tremendous gift every entrepreneur deserves.
There are countless ways to leverage the internet which contribute to your personal growth, reduce feelings of isolation, provide inspiration, and increase your sense of contribution to the world at large. But, it’s not enough to simply join a group or sign up for a class. You need to make your personal and professional development a priority – show up and engage!