Compatible Collaboration: How to Pick Your Perfect Partner

How to Pick the Perfect Business Partner

Compatible Collaboration: How to Pick Your Perfect Partner

Collaborating with a fellow solopreneur is a great way to expand your business and explore new platforms or markets -- without all of the pressure of trying to figure it out on your own. But partnering up with just anyone can make for a collaboration that brings more stress than success.

When you’re on the hunt for the perfect partnership, keep these essentials in mind.

Where to find a collaborator

While you could bump into your collaboration soulmate while walking down the street, there are two places in particular I recommend looking for potential partnerships.

1. Online communities: Membership communities like One Woman Shop are a great place to connect with like-minded business owners who are open to collaborating on a business or marketing idea. This is especially powerful when the group brings together solopreneurs from various fields and areas of passion or expertise. (Editor’s note: Just look at what OWS members Jill and Julienne recently brought to life!)

If you’re not yet a member of a community like OWS, free Facebook Groups are another great place to connect with potential partners. Chances are there’s someone whose posts have caught your eye, and if you’ve felt the spark, they may be the person to ask.

2. Group courses or programs: When you’re in a group course and interacting with the rest of the students either in a private community or on group coaching calls, keep your eyes open for potential collaborators. While you and your cohorts are developing a specific skillset alongside one another in the program, you’re also sharing your individual strengths and passions, and there could be a perfect match in there for an idea you’ve had brewing.

Of course, those aren’t the only places; they just happen to be my top recommendations. Here are a few other places to meet business partners:

  • Social media: Stellar Instagram shots or witty Twitter banter could lead you to a good match
  • Real-life networking: Making small talk and exchanging business cards at a conference or event can lead to partnerships
  • Your business community: A subscriber to your email list may impress you with their responses and engagement
  • Your social circle: Friends or family could be a great fit -- just be aware that mixing business and friendship can create high stress situations

Collaboration compatibility

Once you’ve set your sights on a potential partner, it’s time to do a bit of research and reflection to determine if you’ll be a good fit, and if the signs are pointing to a profitable collaboration. Here are the three must-haves for a strong match:

1. Balanced skill sets: If you and your potential partner are both bringing the same skill sets to the table, your partnership is going to be rocky. While your combined expertise may trump any and all competitors, you’re going to be left with some serious skill gaps that will create extra work and stress for both of you. Your best bet is a partnership where your skills will complement one another’s. Even then, you’ll inevitably have gaps, in which case outsourcing will be key.

2. Similar styles: Branding is important, and goes beyond the color palette you use and the funky fonts on your site. It extends into your language, communication and tone -- and is designed to attract more of the clients you love working with. A collaboration will struggle when there’s a big difference between the tone of your business and your partner’s. If your presenting style is upbeat and bubbly, and you partner with someone who communicates with a brash, in-your-face tone, your audience is going to be 1) confused and 2) turned off by one or the other of you. This leads to poor sales results and frustration for both of you.

3. Aligned expectations: There is a vast variety of projects that you can collaborate on. Blog post exchanges, webinars, courses, even full-on joint ventures or new companies. So being on the same page when it comes to what the vision is for the project (World domination? A fun side gig?) as well as how each of you will be investing when it comes to time, finances and energy is important. The saying is true: You can go farther when you go together...but with the caveat that you need to have agreed on the destination ahead of time.

Picking that perfect partner

In the rush of excitement of launching a new partnership or collaboration, it can be tempting to skim over the research and reflection on whether or not you’ll be compatible. True -- some of the must-haves can be managed or massaged with clever contracts and strong communication later on, but spending some time assessing the strengths and challenges your collaboration will face ahead of time can save a lot of heartache and frustration down the road.

Have other tips for finding the perfect partner? Share with us in the comments below.

How to Become a Certified Woman-Owned Business (And Why You Might Want To)

solo business logistics

This year, I set some pretty lofty business goals for my solo social media business. One of them: Diversify my clientele by adding corporate clients.

For me, the challenge of creating community and engagement around big, faceless corporate giants is one of the most fulfilling parts of running a social media management company. But approaching them? Not so easy. When reaching out to potential corporate clients, I know I need to bring my best game.

What becoming a certified woman-owned business is all about

Becoming a certified Woman-Owned Business not only creates credibility, but also creates opportunities for female business owners that they may not otherwise have access to. For me, it was a huge step toward the confidence I need to approach my dream corporate clients.

Certification can be obtained through a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, and a host of state and local government agencies. I chose to pursue certification through the national Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). While the City of Chicago offers a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification as well, a more national scale was a better fit for me because of the clients I’m targeting. For your business, a local certification may be the tool you need to set yourself apart in your specific region.

Ideal participants in certification should:

  • Be part of a business that is at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by a woman or women
  • Have a target market that includes corporate America
  • Be U.S. citizens

The WBDC promotes Woman Business Enterprise Certification as a tool to help women-owned businesses “get in the door” of large corporations. While not a guarantee of business, the WBE Certification is recognized by over a thousand major corporations and government agencies in the U.S. This is ideal for my business where, although I appreciate the benefits of working with local clients (like randomly popping into their offices with coffee and donuts for staff), I also have the flexibility of working remotely with clients.

Approaching corporate giants with a certification shows that you’re invested and serious -- a perception that solopreneurs may struggle against.

Who certification isn’t for

Not all One Woman Shops will benefit from certification. Namely, business owners who prefer to work strictly with solopreneurs or small business clientele most likely won’t be able to realize the full benefits of obtaining certification.

The process + timeline of getting certified

I gave myself three weeks to make this happen. There’s not a ton of information readily available about certifications and so I had to conduct a fair amount of research on my own. Over the span of those three weeks, it took about five hours of research to grasp the different types of certifications, which organizations offered them, and what the benefits of each were. The WBDC doesn’t offer application assistance services, but they do have a help line for application questions. I also reached out to various entrepreneurs for feedback and advice.

The WBE application is two-fold. In addition to gathering required documents, you must also register for and complete an online application. The online application is only good for 90 days, so make sure you have your documents before registering online!

Getting organized was my most time consuming feat. I didn’t feel comfortable just throwing documents into an envelope and sending them off. I wanted to present my application in a way that reflected my business as professional and thorough. It took about a week and a half for me to gather the required documents. I had to request copies of prior year tax forms through the IRS, hire an accountant to write an opening balance sheet and get my Sworn Affidavit notarized.

The WBE Certification contains six categories of required documentation:

  • General Information
  • Owner Eligibility
  • Financial Structure
  • Personnel
  • Management Information
  • Governance Information

I made title pages for each category, and behind each title page were the corresponding documents. I then nestled my entire application into a sliding bar report cover. The way I organized my application information is not a requirement, but I thought it would be convenient for the personnel reviewing my application.

Once submitted, it can take up to 90 days for your application to process. Keep this in mind if you’re seeking certification within a certain timeframe. Be sure to go through the documentation requirements with a fine-tooth comb. If you’re missing something, you run the risk of pushing your application to the end of the line, prolonging the certification process.

Tips to make the process smoother

When I first began researching WBE Certifications, I scared myself to death. I was overwhelmed with the six-page list of documentation I needed and ended up putting the project off for another week. When I finally worked up the nerve to tackle it again, I started small. I had no idea what an opening balance sheet was, but I knew I could print off my resume, make a copy of my state-issued driver's license, birth certificate, and DBA license, and in about 15 minutes I checked off four required items needed to complete my application. Start with what you know.

Here are a few other tips for making the process run smoother:

  1. Most organizations that offer certification will likely provide you with a list of required documents and/or another form of checklist. Print them off. I went through the doc requirements with a colored Sharpie to make note of what I had and what I needed. I then created a separate checklist of what I needed and a labeled file folder to keep all of my required documents in.
  2. You may need to solicit the service of an accountant or lawyer to help you with some documentation. Make a note of that as soon as you go through the requirements, and reach out to them in advance. It may take them time to fulfill the service you need for your application.
  3. Other documents you may be asked to provide are your business history and resume. In some cases, your biography does not suffice as business history, so you may have to write one from scratch. Keep in mind that a resume should cover related professional experience — so leave out the dog walking hustle you had during summer breaks, unless of course it relates to your business.
  4. Find an accountability partner. The depth of documentation required is highly dependent on how complex your business is -- based on factors like employees, partnerships, incorporation, and more. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. I knew committing to document my experience to share with other women in business via One Woman Shop (what you’re reading now) would keep me accountable and committed to my deadline.
  5. Most organizations that offer WBE Certifications do not offer application assistance. For business owners in the Chicagoland area, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offers application help through their Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Reach out to business assistance centers in your area for help (think Small Business Association). If they don’t offer the service, they’re likely to direct you to one that does.

Is it worth it?

A tedious application process and walking away $350 poorer must come with real benefits, right? Indeed, it does. Aside from the confidence it gives and the proof to your potential clients that you are a legitimate organization, certified Woman-Owned Businesses have exclusive access to a database of corporate partners, and those partners have access to your business information.

When I turned to a business group for advice on becoming a Women Business Enterprise, Jameeda McCoy, CEO of Belle Up Maternity weighed in on the benefits of certification: “The purpose of certification is that certain contracts (especially government ones) require a specified level of WBE participation, so large companies looking to bid on projects will often partner with smaller companies that are WBE-certified to do a particular job on the project.”

Christy Echols, President and CEO of Paragon Development Group, also added: "Reach out to organizations with a supplier diversity program (business programs that encourage the use of historically underutilized businesses as supply vendors) and target those companies with your WBE. For service-based businesses, WBE's love doing business with other WBE's!"

At the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Director Alex Alcantar reviewed my application with me. Although Alex assured me that my application was solid, he did explain to me that certification is only a first step in securing contracts. “You’ll have to work hard, market yourself and chase opportunities even after certification. Opportunities won’t just fall in your lap because of it.”

How to get started today

If you think a Woman-Owned Business certification is right for your business, start with a Google Search for Woman-Owned Business Certification + your city and state. A quick search will bring up city and state certification programs, and their associated costs.

One Woman Shops: Have you thought about applying for Woman-Owned Business certification? What’s holding you back? Tell me in the comments below.

The 4 Building Blocks of your Solo Business’ Security Strategy

When we start following our dreams of building a business, we get emerged in the flow. We are inspired and excited about this new chapter in our life. We are flooded with enthusiasm and joy. And then, we get really, really busy. There is lots of work that needs to get done in so many areas; many of them we never had to do before and are just not familiar with.

Security matters is one of those areas. For a solopreneur, security often isn’t top of mind until their website is hacked or a computer dies and leaves a big black hole.

To put it bluntly, there is no miracle way to absolutely prevent an attack or accident from ever happening, but there are some solid steps that can be taken to minimize your risk of having a security issue leave a negative impact on your business.

There are four basic building blocks that make up a business security strategy:

  • an awareness of keeping your website protected from common security threats
  • the habit of creating regular backups
  • the responsible use of cloud data storage applications, and
  • the use of secure passwords

It’s never too early to start putting these steps in place. Let’s dive in.

1. Apply website security

Making sure a website is protected against common threats is a key step in establishing a business that’s seen as trustworthy. Many entrepreneurs understand the urgency behind this topic, yet they lack the knowledge of how to implement basic security features on their websites.

A fair majority of websites are run on WordPress today, which is fortunate as the software is pretty safe in and of itself. However, there are always possibilities for hackers to access other people's WordPress applications, from themes to plugins. And it most often has to do with users not taking the required steps for an appropriate security setup.

Reasons for this are manifold. Not being very tech-savvy and not knowing how to get started is one cause -- but let’s not let that be yours. Here are some steps I recommend to everyone in order to close commonly weak security spots:

  • Delete the default admin user from the system: the “admin” user is the user -- that is, the account that has the username “admin” -- that is most commonly attacked by hackers. Not having this username in your system at all closes a security hole. To remove this user, I suggest you create a new user with administrator rights first, and then delete the admin user. To create a new user, go to Users in the WordPress menu and click on Add New. Provide name, password and email for the new user, and choose the role Administrator. Now, log out of WordPress and log in with the newly created user. Go again to the Users menu and then All Users. You can now delete the admin-user from the system. (For an in-depth tutorial, go here.)
  • Create a strong password. We’ll get further into what makes a solid password below.
  • Secure your login screen. There are phases from time to time when WordPress sites all over the web notice massive attacks. An excellent way to protect your site from bots that try to enter your site by massive brute attacks is to install a plugin that puts some sort of captcha onto your login screen.
  • Keep your WP software, the theme and the plugins up to date. The best way to maintain a secure application is by updating all the components your website is made of. Keep an eye on the little update notification in the top left area in your WP dashboard and apply the updates as soon as possible.
  • Delete unused/inactive plugins and themes. This is also a common entry point into WordPress applications. Remove the pre-installed themes from WordPress (if you are not using them) and delete plugins that you don’t really need.
  • Install one or two security plugins and follow their instructions to secure your site. There are a handful of very good plugins that will take care of security threats on your website. WordFence Security is the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress, and even its free version is pretty powerful. Other recommended security plugins are Sucuri Security, iThemes Security or Acunetix WP Security.

2. Create regular backups

Even though it's not that rare of an event that a computer's hard drive or external hard drive dies or a website is hacked, it's surprising just how many businesses don't get into the habit of backing up their data.

In your online business, there are basically two areas that could be affected by a digital calamity: your computer and your website. Having a backup on hand that can replace a corrupted website or a dead hard drive is an incredibly valuable thing.

Here's what I recommend for every solopreneur or online business:

  • Invest a few dollars into two external hard drives (1-2 TerraByte each)
  • Commit yourself to a backup schedule: run computer backups on a weekly and monthly schedule (one hard drive for weekly; one hard drive for monthly backups)
  • Get familiar with a professional backup software that you can schedule accordingly (TimeMachine is great for Mac computers)

What applies to backing up your computer's files is also true for your website files.

Your website is the central spot of your business. Developing the habit of backing up your website won’t take away the risk of any one of the imaginable ways your website data could suddenly be lost, but it will make recovery an easy option.

Running backups is a different matter depending on which platform your website is run on. If you have used a website builder (e.g. Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace) to create your website, you might be bound by the website's builder rules. I recommend contacting their support hotline to find out how backups are handled, and how much control you have over what is happening with the backups created. It's often a disadvantage of website builders that the users are not in control of their own data.

Working with WordPress allows users to take steps on their own with little effort to backup their website's data. The best option is the installation of a plugin that can schedule backup runs and store them in cloud storage or locally on a computer, such as:

  • BackupBuddy - $$ - A popular, premium plugin that lets you backup your site and easily schedule upcoming backups. You are licensed to use the plugin on the number of sites mentioned in your plan. You get access to premium support forums, updates, and 1GB of cloud storage to store your backups.
  • BackWPUp - Free - A plugin that is extremely easy to use and allows you to schedule automatic backups according to your site's update frequency.
  • UpdraftPlus - Free - The #1 most installed WP backup plugin with a 4.9 star rating (out of 5).
  • VaultPress - $$ - A subscription-based service from the makers of WordPress that offers automated, real-time cloud backup solution starting at $5/month.

3. Cloud data storage

Cloud services are amazing: They allow us to save our data in a very convenient way, and make our files accessible everywhere and anytime. Using services like Dropbox, Google Docs or Box to store our data offers more effective and collaborative working routines that weren't possible before.

But let’s also be aware that by using them, we give up several layers of control.

Being realistic here, none of us have the time to study vendor policies, so making an informed decision is a tough thing to do. But you can put certain parameters in place to protect yourself. I recommend you use a multi-faceted strategy:

  • Don't save anything in the cloud that contains confidential data for yourself or your business
  • If you really need to store some of your confidential files online, either encrypt those files before uploading them, or choose a file storage service that provides secure encryption to protect your files. SpiderOak and Wuala are both secure cloud storage applications that encrypt your files before upload. All you need to do to encrypt your data is have a solid password available; both storage applications encrypt your data before upload. Witkit is another data storage, but also a collaboration platform with highly sophisticated security features that uses end-to-end encryption for all your data.
  • Don't use the same password for all of your cloud applications and apply a safe password strategy (see below)

4. The art of creating secure passwords

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of passwords to memorize for the dozens of applications we all use.

Here’s the sad truth, though: when Adobe got hacked and the list of passwords circulated, the amount of accounts using '123456' or 'password' as their choice of security was amazing. When these lists circulate in the dark web, together with the associated email addresses, it is all too easy to connect the dots and use the same combination on other web applications.

To prevent your personal accounts being hacked and your business being affected by it -- and vice versa -- it makes sense to invest 10 minutes to learn about a password strategy that is safe. This technique creates safe passwords that are easily adjustable and easy to remember.

Here's how it works:

  • Choose a long-tailed word first, that preferably cannot be found in any dictionary. The purpose is that it cannot be figured out by trial and error, so it's time to get creative and have some fun here. (Mine below: BananaTeahouse)
  • To add an additional layer of security to it, add a 2-4 digit number (to be placed at the beginning, end or middle), as well as one special character and at least one capital letter.

Example: "73BananaTeahouse%". That is your password basis and all you need to remember for now.

  • Next, set up a rule of how to implement parts of the website's domain name into your master password, so you know which password goes with which site. For example, use the first and second letter of the site name and add it to your password basis. Optionally, you can also add up the number of letters in the site's name and add it to the end of your password.

Example: if you were applying this to a password for Dropbox, then your "individualized" Dropbox password would be: '73BananaTeahouse%dr7'.

You can, of course, make adjustments to the letter and number combinations, or even include a simple mathematical series instead of a number if you are good with mental arithmetic. But surely, with this method you can quickly and easily create unique passwords for any service you use, and can be assured you have handled the password part of your business' security strategy with the appropriate responsibility.

Take a multi-faceted approach

A business’ security strategy is all about the preservation of the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of your information.

Many solopreneurs are not aware of potential security risks and therefore don’t prioritize the improvement of their online security for future business growth. Managing these risks by developing the habit of applying website security, creating regular backups, and using responsible authentication techniques, are solid steps toward protecting your data. The most dangerous thing you can do? Disregard potential threats. There’s no better time to start mitigating your risks than today.

How To: Gather Testimonials From Past and Current Clients

Testimonials. Raves. Reviews.

Call them what you want, but know that they all boil down to one thing: social proof. Proof from past and current clients that you do what you do as well as you say you do. (How’s that for a mouthful?!)

It’s this social proof that can make or break your solopreneur marketing. Consider when you hire a contractor to work on your home, or are searching for a great new restaurant to take your friend for her birthday: I’m willing to bet that nine times out of ten, you’ll scour a review site to make sure the person or place is as good as their marketing makes them look. Agree?

The same happens when people are searching for the solution you provide. They land on your home page, check out your about page to see who you really are, and maybe hit up your blog to get a better feel for your expertise. But before they hire or buy? They’ll want to read reviews.

That’s why, whether you’re brand new to a side hustle or are a seasoned business owner, it’s incredibly important to collect testimonials and use them effectively on your website and in your marketing. Read on to get started.

Who to collect testimonials from

Consider the services and products you offer. For example, I’m a copywriter. So naturally, I’ll look to my copywriting clients to provide testimonials about my copywriting skills and conversion rates. But, I also provide other ways of helping fellow solopreneurs and One Woman Shops. Each time I offer a service or jump on a “pick my brain” call with a fellow solopreneur, I immediately follow it up with a gentle ask for a testimonial.

This could go on -- if you’ve released an ebook, you’ll want to solicit reviews from readers. If you’ve built and facilitated a course, you’ll want to garner testimonials from participants. You get the idea -- take all of your services and products into account (including what you’d like to offer in the future), and make a list of people who can provide a testimonial for each.

And remember: testimonials don’t have to be limited to your current client base. Keep your past clients in mind when you’re making your list.

Then, it’s time to make the ask.

How to ask for a testimonial

There are two goals when devising your process for testimonial gathering:

1. Make it ridiculously easy for your client.
2. Make it ridiculously easy for you.

Sounds great, right? Here’s how you get there:

Create a template. No matter how many services or products you offer, you can build a few standard templates to be used over and over again. You’ll want certain things out of your testimonials, but remember -- your clients can’t read your mind. That's why it's important to create templates that prompt them for the exact information you’d like. Here’s an example of what mine might look like for my Copy Power Hour:

  • What was the biggest benefit you received from your Copy Power Hour?
  • Based on what you got out of your Copy Power Hour, how will your business’ copy change?
  • Would you recommend the Copy Power Hour to a fellow business owner?

I’m only looking for my testimonials to be about 100-200 words, so I keep my ask to three questions. For you, this might look different.

Templates are a great way to systematize how you ask for testimonials. (Click to tweet this!) Creating a few different templates tailored to your different products and services sets you up for easy asks when the time comes. And the real bonus? It makes it easy on your clients to answer specific questions and provide you feedback.

Load it into an easily replicable form. Once you’ve developed your set of templates, get them set up in an easy-to-share form. For me, that means loading them into Typeform. (I highly recommend it!)

The beauty of using a form generator like Typeform, Wufoo, or Google Forms, is that you can easily link to the form over and over again, and the software will gather the results and generate reports for you. Each time someone fills out a Copy Power Hour testimonial form, I get a beautifully organized email from Typeform with the answers, which I can then copy and paste into a testimonial on my site. Voila -- you’ve just made it easy on yourself.

Save an email draft that you can personalize when the time comes. The final step once your templates are turned into beautiful forms: distribute. Again, the goal here is to keep it simple on your part. To continue with my example, this means saving an email draft in my inbox labeled “Copy Power Hour feedback.” Just a few hours after our session, I’ll send a quick follow up to the client with a summary of our session, and a link to the testimonial form.

For products or services sold on a grander scale, you might have a campaign set up in your email client that automatically goes out once they’ve purchased or completed something. Consider the best process for your biz, and make it happen.

Make testimonials work for your business

Word-of-mouth and referral marketing are the bread and butter of gaining new clients at very little expense. Asking for testimonials means purposefully gathering that word-of-mouth and referral marketing so that you can use it to work for you.

Stay tuned: we’ve got a post coming up soon on how to effectively use the testimonials you’ve gathered throughout your website! For now, make your list of past and current clients, develop your forms, and start making your asks.

How To: Find (Almost) Any Email Address, Part II

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

Awhile back, we posted a clever little trick for finding (almost) any email address. We're back today with a few other hacks that you can use in case our first method doesn't work for you.

  1. Google "email," where is the URL of the person whose email you want to find.
  2. Google " AND (contact OR email)." This will often return results for pages or posts that include the person's email address.
  3. Search for the site URL on to find the email address of the site owner. This will only work if they don't have domain privacy enabled.

How To: Embed a Tweet on Your Blog or Website

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

You know when you get a tweet that absolutely makes your (rainy) day and you want to be sure that as many people as possible see it so they know how awesome you are...but they're not all on Twitter?

Enter: embedded tweets.

We talked all about social proof in our webinar on personal branding- embedded tweets are a great way to drive home the message that your clients, customers, and followers have positive things to say about you.

Social Media Examiner has some other cool ways to make use of embedded tweets: to back up an argument or statement you're making on your blog, embed conversations about your services or products (for example, we might embed the search "#onewomanshop"), or get buzz going for an event you're organizing.

Here's how to easily embed tweets on your blog or website:

  1. On the tweet you want to embed, click More

how to embed tweet2. Click Embed Tweet

embed tweet3. Copy the code in the pop-up box

embed tweet on website4. Paste the code wherever you want it on your site- try putting it into a text sidebar widget, on a page, or within a post

embedded tweet in sidebar widget

5. Admire your awesome new embedded tweets!embedded tweets

How To: Get Introduced on LinkedIn

As freelancers and solopreneurs, we love to use LinkedIn to build and maintain our professional network, but we understand why many people don't see a ton of value in it- especially if they're only popping up a profile and then stepping away. In our opinion, LinkedIn's Get Introduced feature is one of the most underutilized functionalities of the site.

Wondering how it works? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make use of the Get Introduced feature:

  1. On LinkedIn, search for the person that you would like to be introduced to- maybe it's a potential client, partner, or contractor
  2. LinkedIn will tell you how many shared connections you have; click this green link to see who you are both connected to and make sure that you feel comfortable reaching out to one of themget introduced on linkedin
  3. Click the down arrow to the right of the Connect button, then select Get Introduced
    get introduced on linkedin
  4. Choose the person you (Person A) would like to have introduce you (Person B) to your target (Person C) when LinkedIn asks "Who should make the introduction?"
  5. Write a clear, concise message explaining why you would like to be connected to Person C and why you think Person B is the best person for the job
  6. Voila- you'll soon have a direct connection to Person C- and you've unofficially been given the seal of approval by Person B!

Wondering what to say in your request for an introduction? Here's what we might say:

Hi so and so,

Hope you've been doing well! I saw that you are connected to so and so and I was wondering if you would mind introducing us here on LinkedIn or via email. I've been following his/her work in xyz and would love a chance to connect with him/her directly!

Thanks so much,

Your name

grow your community online

How To: Make Your Facebook Photos Bigger

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. 

You're scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see a small thumbnail -- and then you scroll further and see a big, bold photo that grabs your attention -- which are you more likely to click on? If you're like us, the big photo will naturally draw your eye. So, as a small business owner working to spread the word about your brand, why would you stick to using small thumbnails that people will likely pass over in their newsfeed when you can be using stronger, bigger visuals that actually capture attention?

Here's how to leave those thumbnails in the dust and replace them with attention-grabbing images!

  1. First, find or create an image (ideally 403px by 403px) that you would like to include in your Facebook status and save it to your computer
  2. On your Facebook page, insert your desired link under “Status." Facebook will automatically pull in a thumbnail from the link, like this:

how to make facebook photos pop

Yikes! Do not post yet- we've got to fix this biz up. Click the x in the upper righthand corner of the box that contains your new link:

how to make facebook photos bigger

Click “Photo/Video” then “Upload Photos/Video” like this:

make facebook photos bigger

Find the photo on your computer that you would like to upload to the Facebook post and select it.

increase size of facebook photo on timneline

Click “Post” then voila! A big, pretty image, like this:

example of a big facebook photo on timeline

Much better, huh? If you liked this trick, spread the word by clicking to tweet below:

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How To: Find (Almost) Any Email Address

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

Ooh, do we have a good little trick up our sleeves today! You know those times when you've searched all over someone's website only to come up blank on an actual way to contact them? Maybe they've hid their email address to prevent email overload or maybe they just overlooked the fact that it's nowhere to be found. Either way, if you're dying to make direct contact (tweets, Facebook messages, and repinning their pins doesn't count here!), then read on.

Use this trick to make contact with potential partners, establish a relationship with a hot shot in your industry, seek sponsorship from a company, or recruit a contractor.

Note: in order for this to work, the person must have an email address tied to their domain. So, you wouldn't be able to find a Gmail address- the person must have registered [email protected].

Here are step-by-step instructions for finding (almost) any email address.

  1. First, find and note the domain of the person you want to contact
  2. Plug the following formula into Google: "*" (that's quotation mark, asterisk, quotation mark, the @ sign, and then the domain you want to search), then search
  3. Scroll down the results pages until you spot what looks like a valid email- it might be the the person's name, [email protected], [email protected], or something else (f this doesn't work, there may be no email address registered with that domain, so you'll need to find a different way to make contact)
  4. You now know that you've found a valid email and can use it to contact the person directly!

Megan of Flawed Perfection Jewelry has graciously let us use her website and email address as our example. Let's say we want to to contact Megan about a partnership- if you pop over to her contact page, you'll see that her email address isn't listed. If you're hellbent on finding her email address, try this: Google "*" and note the link from about halfway down the page:

little email address trick

Aha! We now know that Megan uses the email address [email protected] and can get to work on contacting her!

Was this trick helpful? How are you planning to use it?

P.S. We did a follow up post on other tricks for finding email addresses if this one doesn't work!

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How To: Insert Social Media Icons into Your Email Signature

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Did you see our snazzy email signature back in the day (before Sara joined #TeamOWS)?

how to insert social media buttons into email signature

We're not trying to brag -- we just thought you might like to know how to incorporate social media buttons into your email signature in order to let your email contacts -- whether they're potential clients, customers, or hires- know that you're active on social media.

Here are step-by-step instructions for inserting professional but fun social media buttons into your Gmail email signature (the steps for other email providers are very similar):

  1. Log in into your Gmail account
  2. Hover over the "gear" icon and select "Settings"
  3. Under the "General" tab, scroll down to the email signature box
  4. Under your name and other contact information, select the "Insert Image" icon
  5. Find social media icons (Canva has a great list of 49 sites where you can find free icons and both Icon Archive and IconFinder have good selections. You can also Google "free social media buttons"). Be sure to examine the copyright license to avoid any infringement before using any icons you find
  6. When you find social media buttons that you like, choose a size (we recommend 32 x 32) then right click on the image and select "Copy Image URL." Go back to your email signature and paste the URL into the "Add an Image box." If you are satisfied with the image preview, click "OK"
  7. Next, highlight the icon you just inserted and click the link icon (the one that looks like a chain). Here, input the URL that you would the user to go to if they click on one of your social media icons- for example, for a Twitter icon, we would enter
  8. Be sure to test the link. If problem free, repeat the process for all social media icons you hope to include.
  9. You're done! Sit back, relax, and know that your email contacts now have an easy way of connecting with you on social media

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