Creating social capital for business is something I wouldn’t say that I am new to, but the wording was just never presented to me this way until hearing Kevin Kyom of Tech Ranch Austin speak last year. Kevin is a brilliant man that’s pushing the notion of being a part of an ecosystem community, bootstrapping and being passionate about what you’re pursuing in life. You can say we hit it off because of having many things in common when it comes to the entrepreneurial community.
One of the top questions I get asked is how did I fund my business? My father helped me a lot when starting out. Not with a loan, but he gave me the freedom to try this journey by covering my bills for a while – very blessed in that area. However, it still meant I had to work to earn money or I would be in a cubicle doing something I hated. This is where social capital came into place with my business without even knowing it was that.
I believe in word of mouth for growing business in general. Also, lifting others up who need help and connecting individuals that might need them. This is something I personally take seriously.
Social capital is thinking of your network having a value of sorts – not measuring it based on monetary status, but the connections it can provide and how they can help lift each other up to get what they need. Think of social capital as six degrees of separation to help your business reach new heights.
Here are some of the ways I used social capital for my business to grow over five years in business:
Imperfect Concepts started out as an online commerce resale boutique. I knew NOTHING about having my own business. I sold on eBay all the time but my own website, not so much. I used the social connections of bloggers in the Dallas area that had online stores. They connected me with website designers and developers. Someone local sat down with me and actually worked me through dreamweaver, iWeb and a couple other programs at the time.
Needing more customers I enlisted my social media capital by asking everyone I knew who had blogs to write about me. Literally I emailed almost 200 bloggers that I “knew” to connect me with their readers. I ended up with 40+ interviews because people were willing to share my story on their platform. Through this, I made amazing connections with several woman.
Landing A Lawyer
Before launching, I met Brian Cuban on twitter by engaging on some random local Dallas topic at the time. He was my first lawyer of sorts, he guided me and helped me understand the business world. He also made connections for me with others in the Dallas area and beyond.
College Speaking Tour
When living in Atlanta I wanted to go on a tour speaking to college kids about the life of being a young entrepreneur. I simply tweeted what I wanted to do and some people RT it on their timelines. A girl at Southern Methodist University sent me an email saying she saw it. She loved what I was doing and said she wanted me to speak for the SMU fashion department and that she had friends at other schools. Through her, I made connections at several schools in Texas and got paid to speak to them about my life, journey and how they can do it to.
Through Rocquelle, I was connected to Indiana of Adore Austin who also runs Texas Style Council conference. One simple introduction was the tipping point for my consultation firm. In addition to the site numbers doubling within one month, it has continued to grow ever since that speaking engagement. I was then connected me to Emmiliese of Gumroads who helped me understand how to sell my eBooks. I also made connections with squarespace and several women who have been clients almost a year.
Lifting One Up
Through Kevin I found about this Christian Entrepreneurs in Technology meet up. We went around the room saying our names- request- offer. I said I was looking to gain more exposure to help women business owners. Chris, one of the guys at the event came right up to me. He works with Code For The Kingdom and shared some amazing ideas. He said I want you to be okay with me lifting you and your business up. He introduced me to Shamichael who runs the podcast that goes out 60,000 people.
Social capital is way more valuable to me than actual seed funding or anything of that nature. Think of what social capital could do for your business, you need connections to sell your product or service. You could have millions invested into your business but if their is no connections to get people to buy, then its pointless.Remember – your questions, suggestions and passions are what helps shape our content: will you please leave a comment or idea about today’s blog and let us know what you think? Photography image by Birkbeck Media Services; image sourced by Flickr Creative Commons