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Tip Sheet: How BizSugar Can Benefit Small Town Business Owners

Small town business owners have it good. Depending on the type of business you own, there’s little to no competition. Because the town is small, it’s likely everyone knows your business by name, and knows where it’s located without having to search for it. And word gets around quickly in a small town. As long as your business sells something worthwhile, and you treat your customers well, your fellow residents are going to talk about their positive experience, which is only going to bring in more customers.
But you could be doing more than relying on word of mouth to get your business noticed. Small town business owners can use the power of the Internet to build their businesses. It isn’t only large, national companies that benefit from having a Web site or a blog. An Internet presence is a way to engage your customers, build awareness of your brand, and bring in new customers. That’s what Chantielle Kennedy discovered when she began using BizSugar to gain exposure for her company located in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.

BizSugar is a social bookmarking and networking site that focuses on all facets of business, from marketing to finance to management, and even legal topics. The site’s members use BizSugar’s bookmarking tools to share business information they find all across the Internet, weeding out the fluff, and keeping the good stuff. When something really good makes it onto the site, members can vote it up, ensuring it gets a lot of well deserved attention. The result is you find a lot of useful information to help you run your business without having to spend hours surfing the Internet for it.

Chantielle has been using BizSugar for about a year now. She launched her Internet marketing company, CIK Marketing, in early 2010, and the business has been steadily growing ever since. She uses BizSugar to increase exposure for her blog, and to stay on top of trends and news in the blogging and marketing industries. “I blog twice a week (or at least try to!), and I always like to submit my articles once they’re posted,” she says. “I tend to log into the network once a day to check out what’s new and see what’s trending.”
There are a couple of ways you can share articles and blog posts on BizSugar. The first is by clicking the “Submit an Article” button found on just about every page of the Web site. You must be signed in to submit an article, but registration is free, and allows members to not only share information, but network with other members.

The second submission method is through BizSugar’s voting buttons and widgets, available for free for any blog or site owner who wishes to use them. The voting buttons make it much easier for your readers to submit things they like as soon as they find them, which also means more immediate exposure for, and the potential for increased traffic to your site.
At the same time that not having much competition in your town can be a boon to your business, it also means you don’t have many peers to network with, to learn and get support from, or to simply share stories and experiences with. That’s another benefit Chantielle has found in using BizSugar. She says, “When I submit articles to BizSugar, I know that other influential bloggers will have the opportunity to read my content and provide me with feedback. Seeing the comments and engaging in discussions with other like-minded professionals helps keep me engaged, even though I’m one of the only people in my geographical area who’s working in the industry.”

Using BizSugar has also allowed Chantielle’s local connections to see the value her business can bring to them as clients. The people she networks with on BizSugar also comment on her Facebook page, which she feels helps generate discussion and provides her local followers with even more information and a secondary perspective. “It’s one thing to say you’re good at what you do,” she says. “But it’s completely different coming from other influencers in your industry.”

Even though promoting your business is the primary goal of using online networking or bookmarking tools like BizSugar, there are some happy side effects as well. Chantielle has been able to use it to brainstorm with her online connections, and gain new perspectives on her business. She says, “BizSugar is an arena to bounce ideas around. It will introduce you to issues you might not normally find on your own, especially in a small town.”

She’s also built some solid relationships through the site, more tangible than an avatar with a profile. “There are a number of people that I even Skype with now simply because I started reading their posts via BizSugar. It’s a great networking tool, and has helped me develop mutually beneficial professional relationships.”

Shawn Hessinger

Shawn Hessinger is the community manager of BizSugar, an online community of small business owners.

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