We originally published this article on Alignable. It’s since gone viral and has been a featured article for over a year now. If you’re wondering “What is Alignable?” we hope that this guide will help you, too!
(Not to brag or anything *blush*, but we’re the most highly recommended business in Raleigh!)
If you are a small or local business that’s just joined Alignable, welcome to the best business tool of your life. My business partner and fiancé Jeff and I use Alignable to connect with local business owners and support their digital strategy needs. We’ve found that business owners are more willing to chat and meet up through Alignable than they are through Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. It’s more efficient than drop-ins, cold calling, paid advertising and physical networking for our business. We’ve met some of our greatest clients, but on top of that, Alignable has allowed us to become connected to amazing opportunities in our local community. For us, that’s Raleigh, NC.
The Big Step One: How We Succeed
Alignable is only as great as you make it. My first day, I spent hours poring over our profile, filling in every section, storytelling and tagging and picture-adding. We filled out our products and services with relevant images. We added personal pictures to the gallery to show that we’re real people living in the same city. Jeff and I each created a profile under our business. And then, finally, when the profile was perfect, we started to add people in our area that we thought we could help.
The Big Step Two: Local Online Networking
Use the “My Network” tool to find business owners in your area
You can click “category” to sort businesses by industry. I used this tool to focus lawyers, doctors, landscaping, HVAC, etc. It’s especially great for when you want to target a seasonal business.
Clicking the “new businesses” tab ensures that you are reaching out to active profiles.
I don’t typically type up a personal message until a business owner friends me back. The premade Alignable messages are too cute not to use! Once they connect, I know they are interested in a relationship. I pull up their website, “like” them on social media, and gather enough information that I can send a personal message. I send a kind, honest and short note out, usually asking to grab coffee at a local joint. (Everyone here loves coffee.)
Import your contacts from LinkedIn or your email address book to find more friends you know. These don’t count as “used” connections either.
Utilize the forums. This is a GREAT way to get your name known in the community, both online and offline. Spend some time coming up with a well-thought-out response, and you will have people continuing to thank you and ask for your business throughout the year.
We use our out-of-network connections to connect with local towns, rather than expanding our reach nationwide. We operate in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, but we only live in Raleigh! Out-of-network connections allow us to connect with business owners in nearby towns, too.
Once you’ve connected with a bunch of businesses, start a promotion. Alignable will alert your entire network!
Recommend Your Favorite Businesses! (They’ll probably return the favor)
It’s nicer to recommend businesses than just asking for them to recommend you, but remember, you still want to be honest! Only recommend businesses you can truly vouch for because your opinion is a reflection of your own business. Here’s your chance to say some really cool things about your favorite local spots and services.
Why We’ve Succeeded
You know that saying: Never, never, never give up? Jeff and I are on Alignable every day, adding new businesses in our area and welcoming them, responding to forum posts and being a resource in general. It was a no-brainer to upgrade to Premium: one lead a month covers the cost and then some (and our efforts give us many more than one). Our premium status allows us to reach out to tons of local businesses.
Final Advice and What We Learned
Alignable was created to be a simple tool that brings business owners together. After you connect with them, it’s up to you to take that connection to the next level to make a relationship and maybe even a sale. Like many things in life, you get out of Alignable what you put into it. Try spending three hours one day personally connecting with local business owners. I guarantee your schedule will be filled for the next week, and you’ll unlock amazing opportunities and relationships in your community.
Have a question? Can you now answer: What is Alignable? Comment below!