I’m a Solopreneur and I Need HELP: How to Prepare to Outsource Tasks to an Independent Contractor

It’s a tricky spot to be in. You’re a solopreneur – an independent contractor to your clients – and now YOU are at capacitySolopreneurs sometimes need help and turn to independent contractors as personal assistants with your work and need to outsource some responsibilities. Whether you’re bringing in a virtual assistant or someone in your field who does some of the things you do on a freelance basis, you’ll want to prepare for the new working arrangement.

Before you hire an Independent Contractor consider having these things in place before you start working together:

A list of tasks/responsibilities you will delegate – While you might not have specific assignments determined, at least know and communicate the types of tasks you’ll be outsourcing. For example, a few of the things I’m getting assistance with include: research for blog posts, proofreading, and keeping record of my business mileage. You’ll want to discuss your needs with your independent contractor to make sure the work is in line with their expectations and capabilities.

Independent contracting agreement – Having one of these puts it in black and white that the person helping you is NOT an employee. That’s extremely important because they are responsible for submitting all applicable federal, state, and local income taxes, and you’re not responsible for providing health insurance or other benefits. Besides that, you can define the type of work the independent contractor will do and the compensation rate, which will confirm you mutually agree on those points.

You can find samples and templates of agreements online to use as a starting point, or perhaps one of your professional contacts might be willing to share their format with you. Here’s one on docracy.com that appears rather straightforward and customizable. When I created my independent contracting agreement, I was fortunate to have a template available to me via Gosmallbiz.com, a membership-based resource for small business owners. Having subscribed to pre-paid legal services through LegalShield, I also gained the benefit of membership to Gosmallbiz.com. After I tweaked the agreement template to include the particulars of my situation, I emailed the document for review to the law office assigned to me via LegalShield. I then made adjustments based on my attorney’s advice and forwarded the agreement to my new assistant.

Confidentiality agreement – While we’d all like to think the people we work with will respect our confidential and proprietary information, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to agree to it in writing. A confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement will state that the independent contractor will not share the  information you disclose to them with third parties or the public without your permission. Of course, any information already in the public domain or that is common knowledge doesn’t apply. This agreement is to get acknowledgement that your independent contractor isn’t going to share your financial info, business plans, client info, private emails, etc. with anyone without your O.K.

As with independent contracting agreements, you can also find plenty of sources of confidentiality agreement templates online (like this one on nolo.com for example). I found one through Gosmallbiz.com and added a non-compete clause.

I’ve also seen some examples of combined independent contracting and confidentiality agreements. Regardless, it’s advisable to have an attorney review any agreements you plan to use or sign.

A system for working together – The success of your working relationship will depend on how well you communicate and define how you’ll work together.

  • How will you exchange information?
  • How often will you meet or talk by phone?
  • When are tasks due?
  • Where will you store digital files that you both need to access?
  • How – and how often – will the contractor track and report her time?
  • What tools will you use to manage projects?

And prepare to have to write out processes for certain assignments. While they might be second nature to you because you’re so familiar with them, your independent contractor may need step-by-step instructions.

Going from doing everything yourself as a solopreneur to delegating tasks to another person is a big leap. Not only is it not easy to admit you can’t do it all effectively by yourself, but it can be difficult to put your trust in someone else. And you might question, will it be worth it?

There’s one way to find out.

Have you used an  independent contractor as a personal assistant in your solo business? What tips do you have to share with other solopreneurs?

(Please note that the content of this post is for informational purposes only and in now way should be considered legal advice.)

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

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7 Things Small Business Owners and Oscar Nominees have in Common

I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone describe running a small business as wildly glamorous. In fact, most small business Oscar statue - Small biz and the Oscarsowners and solopreneurs find themselves doing work that hardly resembles walking the red carpet in Versace or Dior. But after some thought, I’ve decided we aren’t so completely different. Here’s why…

7 Ways Small Business Owners are Like Oscar Nominees:

  • Sometimes you get passed over even if you perform better than your competition.
    It sucks. You’re just as deserving as they are, but for whatever reason, your competitor gets the client. Life isn’t always fair nor rational.
  • Sometimes you need to act graciously even when you’re yelling or crying inside.
    Occasionally you have to put on a happy face and grin and bear projects that don’t go as well as expected and clients who are less than cooperative or appreciative.
  • Sometimes you have to dress to impress.
    When you’re meeting certain clients, attending events, and making presentations, you’ve got to look professional and polished.
  • It can feel like an eternity until you find out you’ve been awarded the prize.
    Sometimes, you submit a proposal promptly…and then need to wait. And wait.
  • Sometimes “who you know” helps you get the really good roles.
    How well connected you are in the business community can lead to referrals and primo projects.
  • No matter how good you are, not everyone will love you.
    You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Clients have different working styles and personalities. It will be easier to work with some than others.
  •  Becoming an A-Lister doesn’t happen overnight.
    Overnight successes are few and far between. You have to work hard, do quality work, and build a following. It takes time.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

 

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15 Moments When Your Business Needs Your Unconditional Love

Starting a small business is exciting. Fraught with novelty and excitement. While it would sure be great if every day from day one onward would be an awe-inspiring adventure,  not all of them will be. Eventually, the fiery honeymoon period ends and your sensible, steady love for your business and what you do will need to sustain and motivate you.

Your business needs your unconditional love!

You need to love your business even when…

  1. You feel overworked.
  2. You don’t have as much work as you’d like.
  3. Not everything is going your way.
  4. You miss out on a great opportunity.
  5. You take an opportunity that isn’t as great as you thought it might be.
  6. A client misunderstands you.
  7. You misunderstand a client.
  8. Payments arrive late.
  9. Your checkbook or credit card statement doesn’t reconcile with Quickbooks.
  10. People doubt you.
  11. You doubt yourself.
  12. You lose a good client.
  13. You gain a not so good client.
  14. Computer issues set you behind schedule.
  15. ________________________. [Insert business challenge here]

Although it’s natural to become frustrated and stressed at times, you can refrain from losing your cool by remembering what you love most about being in business for yourself. As you go about your daily routine day after day and week after week, you might have lost sight of that.

So take a deep breath, and remind yourself about how liberating it is to have the opportunity to do work that means something to you. Focus on the flexibility self-employment has provided you. Think about how running your own business has helped you grow and develop professionally – and personally.

There’s A LOT to love!

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

 

 

The Two Things Your Small Business Success Depends On

If you’ve got a great product or service that satisfies a need in the market, but things just aren’t falling into place for yourProcess diagram small business, you might have a problem somewhere in your processes and systems. No matter how small or artsy your business is – and even if you don’t have them written down – your processes and systems are there. While they might sound like yucky, boring, stick-in-the-mud stuff, you should give them some thought and attention. They affect every success and failure you experience.

What is a “process” and what is a “system”?

According to Merriam-Webster online, they’re defined as:

Process – “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result”
System – “a group of related parts that move or work together”

It stands to reason that to get results, you need processes. And you need systems to help you execute and maintain your processes.

Processes and systems applied in a small business

At the start of 2014, I joined a small online mastermind group, that’s got me looking at my business in a different way. It’s challenging me to think about the systems and processes behind my freelance company and how they affect my success. In a way, I’m rediscovering by business by thinking in these terms. While I hadn’t acknowledged or officially defined all of them in the past, virtually everything I do in my line of work is guided by processes supported by systems.

I have processes for:

  • Managing my blog
  • Fielding and qualifying leads
  • Prospecting for new business
  • Creating proposals and estimates
  • Maintaining working relationships with clients
  • Executing project work
  • Executing hourly work
  • Marketing
  • Invoicing clients
  • Receiving client payments

My systems to support my processes consist of a variety of platforms and tools:

  • WordPress
  • My bank
  • My credit card
  • Email (Gmail and Google Apps)
  • Social media platforms: Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Facebook,
  • Social media apps: Hootsuite & Buffer
  • Quickbooks
  • Evernote
  • Trello
  • Toggl
  • Memberships to various local networking groups.
  • My calendar
  • My smartphone
  • My whiteboard
  • Sticky notes

Essentially, everything that goes right or wrong in my business can somehow be traced back to a success or failure within my processes and system components.

While you might drive yourself to the brink by trying to lay out everything you do into perfectly-detailed processes, it can help to at the very least recognize your business functions that involve multiple steps and identify the systems/components that support your efforts to accomplish them. That way, you can objectively look back on what you did and how you did it to discover why something fell through the cracks and determine what needs to be fixed or removed from the equation.

So the next time your check book balance isn’t matching up with your accounting records, or you’re falling behind on project deadlines, or your engagement on social media has plummeted, or you’ve missed out on an assignment because you responded too late…look a little deeper. There’s probably a process or system that needs some tweaking.

Special thanks to my mastermind cohorts, Rachel Strella, Jennifer Grigg, and Terry League for their insight and support. 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get a Grip on Google Plus and Twitter: It’s All in the Lists

(Actually, in the case of Google+, it’s in the circles, but that didn’t sound nearly as poetic in the title.)Woman with tennis racket

Google+ and Twitter have become my favorite social networks for business. Like all online social media, they require time and ongoing effort to share content and interact with others. It’s not easy. But it can be easier if you have a system in place to streamline your activities.

Finding a way to effectively organize my G+ connections and Twitter followers has helped me immensely both in keeping tabs on and interacting with important contacts and in finding really good content worthy of sharing with the people who are following me. For both Google+ and Twitter, I use a similar approach for organizing the people and brands I’m following on those networks.

Two Google+ Circles and Twitter Lists that will simplify and streamline your social media efforts

VIPs

Create this list/circle and include all the connections you consider “VIPs.” Include clients, hot prospects, sources of referrals, etc.  It’s a list where you can place anyone you want to keep close tabs on and nurture relationships with. Keep the list relatively short (I’d recommend no more than 30 people or brands at any given time). On Twitter mark the list as private, so no one but you knows who is included (why risk hurting someone’s feelings or burn bridges when people discover they’re not on it!). Your VIPs may or may not be good sources of content that’s relevant to your audience. If not, it’s OK. This list is meant to ensure you stay on top of what these individuals are posting so you can show support, offer input, and give virtual high fives  to build goodwill.

Content Masters

It’s time consuming and frustrating to scroll through random posts in your newsfeed trying to pick out those that are meaningful to you and your followers. Instead, create a “Content Masters” list/circle and include people and brands who consistently post quality content that’s relevant to your audience and that you can glean knowledge and helpful tips from.  Make this list your “go to” place when you’re deciding what to post on your networks. It cuts through the noise, saves time,  and helps you stay on top of the content that matters most to you. As with the VIPs, you might also consider making this list a private one on Twitter to avoid hurt and hard feelings.

Related tips for managing your Google+ circles and Twitter lists…

  • Whenever following anyone new, take the extra 30 seconds it takes to view their posts/tweets to see if they’ll make good VIPs or Content Masters.
  • These lists are meant to be fluid. As relationships evolve and strategies change, remove people from your lists and add different people as you see fit.
  • For people you might not need to keep quite as close to the vest as VIPs and Content Masters, but who you don’t want to lose in the noise of the general newsfeed, create other lists/circles. Do it sparingly though. Only create a list or circle if you really intend to monitor and interact with the activity there. Otherwise, why bother?

 

While there’s no right or wrong way to manage your Google+ and Twitter connections, there are tips and tricks that can help you minimize your efforts and help you get a better return on them.  It usually takes a healthy dose of trial and error before finding a good system, so don’t get discouraged or throw in the towel. Keep trying until you discover an approach that works best for you.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Often Unsung Benefit of Blogging

Blogging. You’ll find no shortage of articles telling you how important it is to your business. It directs traffic to yourThumbs up website, improves your placement in search results, establishes you as an authority in your field…need I go on?

But there’s something else blogging can do for you. And it’s something I believe we don’t talk about nearly enough…

Blogging helps us better understand – and project offline – who we are and the value we bring to our clients.

Here are some of the reasons why that’s so…

  • Blogging helps you find and develop your professional voice.
  • As you blog, you have an opportunity to think about the individual components of your business and how they impact you and your customers.
  • Blogging gives you a reason to dissect your systems and processes. Preparing to explain what you do to an audience helps you find holes and gaps that you might not otherwise find.
  • Blogging reinforces what you know and instills confidence in your capabilities.
  • Blogging often requires some degree of research – you expand your knowledge in the process.
  • Regularly writing about what you know and do and what’s important within your industry can help you feel more comfortable and confident when talking with prospects.

If you’ve felt like you’re simply going through the motions of blogging because you believe you have to for the purpose of marketing, look at it as a professional development opportunity instead. Blogging can do more for you than put you on the online radar screen; it can make you a smarter, stronger, more confident small business owner.

Important to note: Even if you hire a freelancer to write your blog posts, your involvement in identifying topics and specific talking points can give you these benefits!

YOUR TURN! How have your blogging efforts transcended marketing and helped you develop professionally?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Duplicate Content: Could Allowing Another Site to Copy Your Content Strip Your Website of Its Stripes?

When another blogger asks permission to share your content, it’s flattering. What a satisfying feeling to know others 2 zebra imagebelieve your insight is worth sharing with their audience. Most often, people will simply share your post’s link via their social channels or give your post mention in one of their posts. But occasionally, you may discover that someone who has asked permission to share your post has duplicated your post’s content entirely – the only difference between their content and yours being a note of attribution with a link to your original post.

Duplicate Content – Could an earnest, honest effort to raise awareness of your content get your website slapped by Google?

It happened to me just about a month ago. A very nice, professional, courteous connection asked if he could share my post via his channels provided he gave attribution. I was of course thrilled to give my approval. But when I discovered my post, including the title, was directly duplicated (aside from the attribution) on his blog, I felt my heart leap into my throat for a moment as visions of being penalized in search or ranking by Google played on my mind. Assuming the duplicate content could negatively affect both my site and his, I reached out to him and asked if he could alter his title, write an introductory blurb with an excerpt from my post, and then link to my blog rather than copying and pasting the entire article. He cooperated immediately; he hadn’t realized copying the content could potentially create problems for our sites.

We dodged that bullet, right? That’s what I thought, but then I noticed duplicate content shown by some other sites and began wondering if there was any bullet to dodge at all. For example, I ran across this blog that essentially copied and pasted this other blog’s post verbatim – title and all! And neither the syndicator nor the syndicated are novices or newbies!

What Google says about duplicate content.

According to its guidelines in the Webmaster’s Tools Help section of Google’s Support site, Google doesn’t automatically penalize sites for duplicate content; only if it perceives the duplication has been shown with intent to manipulate rankings and deceive Google search users.  The penalty if Google deems duplicate content was done in an attempt to game the system: “As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”

So, it sounds like we might have been in the clear after all. Surely, Google would be able to tell we weren’t trying to pull a fast one on them, right?

Maybe so, but after talking with a local online marketing and SEO expert, I feel like I made the right decision.

Real world observations about how duplicate content is treated by Google.

Owner of 1 Sky Media, John Oppenheimer, shares his insight and experience regarding the duplicate content issue…

Duplicate content has always been a concern for webmasters. Google has always suggested that duplicated content would not rank well. Their stance had been that the original copy would be indexed and potentially rank well, while subsequent copies would be ignored. In real world practice, however, this has not always been the case. We’ve had original test sites that have garnered the wrath of a Google penalty while later launched copies have lived on without issue. We’ve also had virtually duplicated sites that lived harmoniously.

In the winter of 2011, with the emergence of Google’s Panda algorithm update, the search world changed. Google’s policy regarding duplicate content grew some teeth. We witnessed duplicated sites/pages drop instantly from near the top of Google’s ranking to the basement floor. The handwriting had been on the wall for this for years, so it was really no surprise when the change came. Today, we suggest that if your website writings are to be copied that you request a delay in the copy such that your copy can be indexed first and hopefully gain recognition as the original source. We also suggest that an excerpt is better than a pure copy and that in either case a credit and link must be given on the copied text directly to the source page of the original.

Duplicate content: You decide.

With all that John shared, I’m confident the smart thing to do was play it safe, but you need to decide for yourself when someone asks to share your content. Have a policy in place about how you’ll want your content shared from someone else’s blog and follow up after it’s posted there to make sure your wishes have been carried through.

All in all, keeping in the clear just takes a minute or two of your time and some clear communication. And keep in mind that although we fuss and fret over the changes Google has made, ultimately they have vastly improved the user’s search experience.

In the words of John at 1 Sky Media:

Seems somewhat odd when you think about it, Google is nothing more than copies of all websites indexed, yet we must be concerned about copying! The enforcement of duplicate copy rules has in fact improved the search experience because we no longer need to go through page after page of virtually identical copy, supplied from different websites, whenever searching competitive topics.

 

Your turn: Have you let others copy and paste your content onto their blogs? Have you experienced any repercussions by Google as a result?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

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So, You Want to be a Freelancer? Make Sure You Have This One Thing First.

According to a study by Intuit in 2010, an estimated over 40% of the American workforce will be “contingent workers” Confident professional woman showing thumbs up(i.e. independent professionals including freelancers, contractors, temps and part-time employees) by 2020. Where full-time employment with companies owned by someone else has always been the norm, the trend is shifting to make freelancing/solopreneurship far more common.

As a freelancer and solopreneur, I find that exciting! With more acceptance of freelancing as a viable career path will come more information, tools and resources geared toward making solo professionals more efficient and successful. Honestly, I think the time is ripe for exploring freelancing – provided you’ve got the one thing all freelancers need to get their businesses off the ground and to sustain them.

Confidence!

“A feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something” (as Merriam-Webster defines it), confidence needs to be at the root of your freelance endeavors. It’s the realization you have skills, knowledge and talents that will render you valuable to clients. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be considering a freelance career, right?

What’s equally important to having confidence in yourself and your abilities? Your attention to projecting that self-assuredness in all you do and to everyone you meet.

Be careful, however, not to confuse projecting confidence with bragging and appearing vain. When starting your freelance business, you’ll want to share about your capabilities and unique value without sounding like you have an over-inflated ego.

How to Project Confidence With Appropriate Confidence…

  • Be real.

    Share the facts.  Your real-life professional achievements, educational background, and examples of your work in your field will speak volumes without any embellishment.

  • Share what others have said about your capabilities.

    It can be a turn off if you pat yourself on the back and tell someone how great you are, but it’s much more acceptable and palatable to others when they hear the praises someone else has sung about you and your work.

  • Be gracious.

    As you’re sharing about yourself, your expertise, and your capabilities, don’t neglect the opportunity to generate goodwill by showing an interest in the people you’re talking with. Making others feel included and important demonstrates a collaborative nature – a quality that’s essential as a freelancer!

Confidence – expect yours to be tested.

Know it’s perfectly natural to find your confidence shaken at times. Whether your work on a project isn’t going as smoothly as you had hoped, or you’re dealing with an extra-demanding client, or some other force in the freelance universe rattles you, you’ll discover self-doubt may stalk you on occasion. When it does, revisit and reflect on the foundation of your confidence as a freelancer. Your knowledge, skills, experience and talents are with you always…and will only get stronger as you venture farther down the path of freelancing.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Big Influence Comes in Small Packages

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we all want to raise awareness of our businesses. We want to get noticed by the people who matter. That’s the same whether we’re networking in person or online via social media networks. Across social media, you’ll find no shortage of articles about “engaging with influencers.” We’re urged to seek them out to propel our brands to bigger and better things. Get the heavy hitters to take notice of you, and you’ll be golden, right? Maybe, but attempting to stand out in the crowd can be tough.

Caution: Don’t put all your eggs in the typical “influencer” basket.

It seems many small business owners think of influencers as the people who have tens of thousands of Twitter followers, a multitiude of Facebook fans, and gaggles of Google+ people following them. They hang on their every word, share their posts, and add their comments to the hundred or so that others left on the influencers’ status updates and blog posts. All in an attempt to get recognized by these ultimate authorities.

But how is that going to help your business? Sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and out of all the thousands of other people vying to get their attention, the A-listers will follow you and single out one of your blog posts down the road. But the chances aren’t really in your favor. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. It’s not that they don’t care or that you’re not worthy; they’ve got so much interaction coming at them, they can’t possibly keep tabs and give time to everyone who engages with them.

Does that mean you shouldn’t read their blogs and share their content? I’m not implying that at all. Definitely do if you find them helpful and appropriate for your audience, but don’t put all your eggs in their baskets. There are people in your online network who have far fewer followers, but who stand to increase awareness of your brand far more than the heavy hitters.

Influence isn’t exclusively owned by the big guys.

Make it a priority to interact with professionals who have a lesser online following. Note that a lesser following doesn’t mean they aren’t influential, reputable, intelligent people. I follow a slew of less-widely-known people, marketing firms, and small brands who provide excellent content and insight. I believe it’s important – and ultimately more beneficial – for solopreneurs and small biz owners to put effort into cultivating those relationships online. Why? You won’t get lost in the shuffle.

When you interact with these people…

  • Your comments and input won’t get lost in the crowd.
  • You’ll find they’re more willing and able to reciprocate by sharing and commenting on your content.
  • You can become top of mind as an expert in your field to their followers if you’re consistent in providing value through your engagement with them.
  • You’ll have a better chance of gaining referrals because you’ve been able to escape the noise and build relationships.

Find the right mix.

So as you fine-tune your online M.O., aspire to find balance in your efforts. Follow not only the revered and famous, but also lesser know professionals who know their stuff and whom you find common ground with. By showing you’re in tune with what everyone is talking about AND demonstrating you’re capable of finding resources others may have overlooked, you’ll steadily build your own authority online.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

The Plusses for Solopreneurs on Google+

Although Google+ has over 300 million active users, many solopreneurs and small biz owners still seem to view it with Google+ iconskeptism and doubt. Many have the impression it’s a ghost town…that no one they know or want to interact with is using it. Others don’t relish the idea of maintaining a presence on yet another social network.

I understand the arguments (OK, the first one not so much!), but if you haven’t already, I urge you to rethink using Google+ as business development tool. Like any social network, you get out of it what you put into it. I’ve found Google+ gives you a fighting a chance to get more for your efforts.

Here’s the short list of what I’ve found professionally beneficial about Google+:

  • Less labor-intensive to build a following

    I’ve been on G+ since Nov. 2011, and to date, 5001 people have me in their circles. Compare that to my business Facebook page which has been around since June 20, 2011 and has 289 fans and to Twitter where I’ve got 1,770 followers since Feb. 25, 2010. Up until recently, I wasn’t quite as active on G+ as I was on the other networks and still my numbers grew. Sure, social media follower counts aren’t everything, but in my case I’ve found the degree of quality interaction has risen along with my numbers. The key ALWAYS is to post content relevant to your target audience so the right people find and connect with you.

  • Effective at driving discovery of your content

While no one (to my knowledge) has proven that  G+ directly improves search ranking, it without a doubt increases exposure of your content online through shares by others. Just as I’ve found it’s easier to build a following on Google+, I’ve also discovered the people using the network professionally generally seem more inclined than those on other networks to share good content and engage with other users.

  • Doesn’t penalize you for branding yourself

Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t care if your personal profile’s cover photo represents you professionally, and the folks at Google don’t mind if your photo contains more than 20% text content. My cover photo is my logo – which is almost entirely text.  You can post business-related content through your personal profile with abandon. No you can’t post spammy crap without penalty, but that’s the same for any network.

  • Doesn’t select what it thinks you want to see

    Unlike your Facebook fans, G+ users have complete control over how much or how little they want to see from you in their stream.

    Google+ lets YOU decide what you want to see. It doesn’t decide for you.

  • Doesn’t litter your followers’ streams

G+ lets you decide if the people who circle you see everything you +1 so you can actively engage with others without flooding your followers with your activity beyond your own posts and shares.

  • Pro-power of Communities

Google+ Communities are kind of sort of the equivalent of Linkedin Groups. The communities enable professionals with like or complementary interests to share information and engage in conversations that matter to them. Although I haven’t embraced the professional power of Google+ Communities nearly to the degree I should be, I feel impelled to mention them to you. They are the place to be if you want to expand your industry knowledge and build business relationships.

Keep in mind, as with any other social network, you need to commit to Google+ for the long haul to get results. Social media is about building relationships, building authority in your field, and building trust. THAT’s how you effectively covert connections into customers. It takes patience. It also takes using your G+ profile in a way that will build your brand. I use mine mainly for posting about small biz, solopreneurship, marketing, social, media and freelancing…it’s got a “business casual” tone to it, but I also regularly post content that’s non-business focused (and often humorous) so people get to know me better.

Have you been missing out by avoiding Google+? There’s no better time than now to get started using it to build our brand. Just remember…Ultimately, you control how other G+ users will perceive you through the type of content you’re posting. Don’t expect to make strides professionally through G+ if your feed consists of little more than kitty photos and “JackAss” style videos.

Your turn! What successes and challenges have you experienced with using Google+ professionally?

 

By Dawn Mentzer