As I've mentioned elsewhere I was running my own diamond selling business for a while and one of the things I wished I'd done earlier was start using the internet properly. Whilst I was by no means unsucessful without it I wish I'd invested a bit of time to understand what Twitter was all about and all these social bookmarking sites and the like.
It was at the tail end by the time I got around to it, but in a very short period of time I realised what I had been missing out on. I was mostly dealing in the imperfect end of the diamond market where buyers are looking for a diamond that gives them most bang for their buck.
Whilst not something that you'd think of buying online I did find that at this end of the market people are happy to transact with you providing you:
a) Look like an honest person
b) Have some sort of reputation
c) Are willing to give them their money back if they're not happy
It took me by surprise but complete strangers will part with thousands of pounds just as long as you can tick all those boxes. But during this exercise I learned many things and one of them was the additional value you can get by harnessing the power of social media to drive traffic to your sites and to create credibility when you're really operating out of your bedroom.
It's about being credible, visible, reputable and helpful.
If you're an entrepreneur or a one-man band then you have to have a strong online presence these days and I would recommend you spend some time to investigate the many low cost (even free) ways you can promote yourself on the web by way of online business profiles, social media, bookmarking sites and so on. I'd even go as far to say that if you don't you'll be kicking yourself when you find yourself losing business to a competitor.
Some of the online activities I'd recommend to others looking to establish their business on the internet are opening an About.me page (my one linked) - about.me is a great way to establish an identity for yourself or your brand. If you're a one man band or small business you also might want to consider creating an account at SunZu - or the other good sites for entrepreneurs such as ProSkore and Biznik. Other things you can do include: establishing a personal website, creating a blog such as this one (obviously targeted to your field) or create a Facebook business page. If your business is closely associated with your name you might also want to tidy up and make presentable your Myspace page, LinkedIn profile and any other profiles which you already have such as your personal Facebook page plus ones which you might have forgotten about Bebo, Flickr - even Friends Reunited! I've linked to some of mine here to give you an idea. Good luck :-)
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