How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you someone that enjoys being a connector? A fun way to help connect people in your home town is to start a social media breakfast club. Here in my hometown of Mason City, Iowa we have been gathering to talk about social media for 3 1/2 years now. Our meetings are very simple and they bring people together. Each meeting is different an it’s not uncommon for us to focus on doing something good through social media for our community, as well.

Social Media Thrivent

Let’s face it, everyone is going this way and that way. Nobody wants to take the time to slow down and talk to their neighbors. Our North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is just that. We talk to each other, we share stories and we also talk about social media. Some of us do have our smartphones out and others have a notepad and paper. But, the best part out of the day is that people are making new business connections.

When people connect with others, they have more self confidence and their communities begin to thrive. The most rewarding part of leading our social media group in North Iowa has been the fact that businesses are growing, out of the contacts that they are making at these monthly meetings. It’s not uncommon for an attendee to walk away with a “paid” gig in their pocket and a new friend or two.

My phone started ringing a year ago and it was then that I started to write my experience down. Several communities are now hosting their own social media breakfast clubs, as many started based out of the model we have in North Iowa. If you would like to start a social media breakfast club in your area, here you go How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club is available for purchase at$2.99.

SM Breakfast Book Cover

As an entreprenuer, I have found that this is a great way to meet other people that are also working in their homes. Those that work from home are often longing for the opportunity to meet new people that think like they do, and this is the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, start your social media breakfast club and update me as to how it is going. I’d love to hear about it!

Cupcake Bakers

The 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown Was A Smashing Success

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club was recently home to the 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown. Several cupcake makers from all across North Iowa brought their cupcakes to share, and social media breakfast club attendees learned how online reviews work. This event came to fruition after a few of our attendees noticed that North Iowans were flocking to the out of town cupcake truck that comes to North Iowa. We thought this would be a great way to showcase what our North Iowa Cupcake bakers have to offer.

I would personally like to give a shout out to Sweet Tooth Cupcakes, Cupcakes By Ivy, Nameless Gourmet and taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes, Inc. and Happy Sweets Cupcakes.

cupcakes

Without these participants this event would not have been held. Pat Palmer of The Computer Guy put a program together that shared how online reviews impact businesses. He also hosted a Facebook for Business Class that was held a couple days before the event.

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is a group of people that meet monthly to learn how to be smarter and safer online. From online safety to building your business through social media, several topics are covered throughout the year. Meetings are held in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank, 2601 4th SW Mason City, on the fourth Wed. of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m.

If you have an interest in social media, you will enjoy these meetings. The group is casual and eager to learn more in regards to social media.

Congratulations to Kim of Sweet Tooth~ Kim was the winner of the North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown.

Kim of Sweet Tooth

Online reviews are important when it comes to your business. If you are a business owner, are you paying attention to what people are saying online about your business? It’s important to remember that it’s up to you, the business owner, to share your story. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t, someone else will share it for you and it may not be in the way you would like it shared.

If you are a cupcake baker we would love to see you participate in our 2017 event. Follow Social Connections, LLC Facebook page for business and social media tips, as well as information about the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Simple Tips For Using Instagram In Your Small Business

Instagram is a beautiful place to be on social media. From photos to life experiences, there’s a lot of beauty shared on this social media platform. Do you recall the last photo you loved on Instagram? Chances are, you probably do and you will return to that Instagram account.

Social Media

Small business owners have an opportunity to share what they do on a daily basis through Instagram. It’s one of the simplest ways to share your story. Here are some simple tips to help you grow your business through Instagram.

INVEST IN A SMARTPHONE

I meet many small business owners on a weekly basis that do not own a smartphone. That is the first step you need to take when it comes to using Instagram in your business. Small business owners need to invest in a smartphone. Posting photos to Instagram is so easy and it will seriously take less than five minutes out of your day.

SHARE QUALITY PHOTOS

Post photos on Instagram that are eye catching. This means that your photo is not blurry and rich in color. I personally own the Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and love the photos that it takes. I have very little photo editing to do with the majority of the photos I post.

USE HASHTAGS

Hashtags are fantastic on Instagram! Be sure to use several. On Instagram it’s OK to use 10-15 hashtags on a post. Keep in mind, this large number of hashtags is spam on other social media platforms. Use hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a farmer, you can use #agriculture #harvest16 #soybeans #wheat #corn. If you own a jewelry store, your post could include the hashtags #jewelry #bracelet #fashion #MothersDay or others specific to your area. When you use these hashtags, more people will stumble on your Instagram account and hopefully click on follow.

Instagram is a fun platform to use. I use Instagram a lot when I travel. In fact, my husband and I rerouted on a recent road trip, due to a hashtag search on Instagram. We found an area in Florida that we had no idea existed, due to a quick Instagram search.

I’d love to hear how you are using Instagram in your small business. It’s an easy social media platform to use and it will not take a lot of time to use. These simple tips can help you grow your business through Instagram. Most importantly, download the Instagram App and start!

Looking for a new Instagram account to follow? Travel With Sara has some great travel ideas for you on Instagram.

Dave and Mary Hopper

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Mary Hopper

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues, as we introduce you to Mary Hopper of Natural Plus Nursery. Mary is your resource, when it comes to selecting the perfect plants, shrubs and flowers in North Iowa.

Mary Hopper Women In Business

Business Name:

Natural Plus Nursery

When Did You Start Your Business?

Natural Plus Nursery was started in 1978 by my in-laws, David and Linda Hopper. My husband and I bought the nursery from them in March of 2014.

Why Did You Start Your Business?

Dave’s parents were looking to sell the nursery in 2013, and both Dave and I were working full time jobs elsewhere. We had talked at length about wanting more freedom to do what we wanted, and to be investing our time in something we were building ourselves and our future family. The nursery seemed like the obvious choice. It was very appealing to move onto this piece of land that has been in Dave’s family since the time of his Great Grandfather. We knew the nursery and his childhood home would be a great place to raise our family, and we wanted to try our hand at being our own bosses and being in control of our own destiny. We both can’t imagine doing anything else now.

What Advice Would You Give A Woman Wanting To Start Her Own Business?

Just go for it. There are always going to be people that will tell you that you can’t. And sometimes that person will be you (that little voice in your head), but you have to set that aside and go forward. You’re going to have failures, and not everything is going to work out as planned. Often it’s in the failures of the unexpected, that you learn the most.

Who Has Mentored You Through The Process of Growing Your Business?

The fall before we bought Natural Plus Nursery, we attended the Launch & Learn Class put on by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Small Business Development Center at NIACC. Since that class, we have met with them several times, and they have helped connect us with integral people in our journey. We are also fortunate to have Dave’s parents, who were right by our side. As we learned how to run the business, they have let us lead in our own way, but are still here to help whenever we need it.

Tell us about your family.

Dave and Mary Hopper

Dave and I have been married since 2013, and are adding a little one to our family in January 2017. We have a lovable pup named Lena.

 

Social Media

True Colors Shine Through Social Media

I watch a lot of what happens on social media and it saddens me that people can be so brazen. I recently met a new person in my community and thought they were a nice person, until they left a very rude, threatening comment to a Facebook friend of mine, through Facebook. This made me think…. do your true colors shine through social media?

So, what did I learn from this observation? I learned that some people cannot be trusted. I have always been a trusting person and it’s obvious, a little too trusting. I am now going to look at this person in a different light. Right or wrong, I’m not sure. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s the fact that I don’t need those kind of people in my life. I choose to surround myself with upbeat and encouraging people. North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club attendees are some of the most positive, upbeat North Iowans that I know.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you the person online that you wish to be? Do you think before you actually post or do you just let it all roll? It’s in your best interest to “think” before you post. We all can get caught in the heat of the moment and post something we regret. What’s interesting is the fact that this brazen comment is still there…… this person must have meant to post what they did.

Here’s how your true colors can shine through social media in a good way!

  • Make it a point to make one positive comment to one social media friend, every single day you are on that social media platform.
  • Do not post when you are in the heat of a moment.
  • If you have a positive experience at a local business, leave them a positive review on social media. Lets face it, it’s often easier to leave a negative comment, so let’s make a difference in that!
  • Share the good things happening in your community through social media.

I firmly believe that if we all focused on the good in others, we would have happier communities and healthier relationships. Are your true colors shining through social media? I believe mine are and I’d like to think I’m making a positive difference, in a good way.

Girl with phone

I Am Embracing Snapchat And Here’s What I Have Learned

I jumped on the Snapchat train a few months ago and hopped off. In the meantime, Snapchat became a major social media player in the world of business. As someone who travels alot, it made sense for me to jump back on the train. I hope you can see how easy Snapchat is to use, when used in a smart, safe manner.

MYTH: SNAPCHAT IS SCARY

Many people think Snapchat is a scary social media platform. In all honesty, it’s as scary as you make it. When you choose who you are engaging with, it becomes a fun platform to engage in. As with any platform, if your kids are using Snapchat; it’s vital that parents install the app and “snap” with their kids. In fact, I know of a church youth group director who snaps regularly with middle school kids. She knows that many of the kids in her youth group have parents that are not following their kids on Snapchat, and she saw this as an educational opportunity. The kids in her youth group look forward to snapping with her on Snapchat and when she misses a day, her kids miss her. In a perfect world, parents should be there, as well. Fact of the matter is, many parents simply won’t do it. By engaging with our youth on the social media platforms they are on, the doorway of communication stays open.

FACT: SNAPCHAT IS A GREAT WAY TO TELL YOUR STORY

If you don’t tell your story, it’s a fact that someone else will tell your story.

Laptop and Phone Social Media

When you use Snapchat to tell your story, it’s fun, inviting and a simple way to invite people into your life. Business owners can showcase their products, share how their products are used and even give demonstrations on how to use their products. From recipes to travel destinations, Snapchat is a fun place to tell your story.

As with any social media platform, be smart on how you use the platform. Your Snaps do disappear from the Snapchat feed in 24 hours, but keep in mind, once something lands on the world wide web; it’s for everyone to view.

I would love to connect with you through Snapchat. You can follow me at http://snapchat.com/add/travelwithsara1. See you on Snapchat!

If you are using Snapchat for business, I’d love to hear how you are using it.

 

 

Michelle Hartman

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Michelle Hartman

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues as we introduce you to Michelle Hartman. Michelle is known as the “Crazy Tupperware Lady” all around the world. She is a go getter and never lets any grass grow under her feet. Michelle is a proud Star Director with Tupperware and she works as the leader of an organization with more than 160 consultants.

Michelle Hartman

When did you start your business?

I started my Tupperware Adventure in April 2008.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?

Starting your own business is so rewarding!  I choose who I work with & enjoy partnering with local organizations! I highly suggest getting involved in your local Chambers.  I am a member the the Greater Franklin County Chamber & the Clear Lake Chamber.  Having my own business has allowed me to have FUN with marketing & customer service.  I grew up with my parents running 2 home businesses.  My mom is the owner of Cathy’s Country Cook’n & yes this is where I get my LOVE for baking from!  I was always her right hand gal, from making cookies to making labels to helping her at local shows by selling cookies.  My parents also own the Carlson Christmas Tree Farm & have always allowed me to be part of the business, from selling Christmas Trees during the holidays to making the open house flyers and designing posters for advertisements .  This I feel has been a huge asset in me wanting to start & run my own business. One of the neat things is now I am seeing my daughters wanting to be involved in my Tupperware Business!  In fact I take my oldest daughter with me to some parties & I LOVE to see what she is learning just by watching me.  If I am busy she is selling & explaining Tupperware products to the ladies at the parties!  This truly warms my heart as you just never know the skills you learn as you grow up that will be so influential in your life & career!
Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?
I work with a great group of Tupperware Directors with-in my region and we learn from each other. I also enjoy listening to marketing and customer service trainers, both online and at local events.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to a very hard working man named Mike & he is a concrete foreman for Larry Adams Concrete.  We have two beautiful daughters, Hope is 13 years old & Ivy is 8 years old.  They attend West Fork School and are very active in sports, 4-H & Girl Scouts.  We are a very active family & love the outdoors!  We LOVE the Great State of Iowa & spend much of our summer vacation time visiting the neat places we have within our state from county/state parks to the Iowa State Fair.  We also enjoy ATV trips to Wisconsin.
December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

How Small Businesses Can Work With Bloggers

Small businesses owners often ask me how they can work with bloggers, as they have no clue where to start. They then ask me why they should work with bloggers. From my personal experience and helping business owners work with bloggers, I have put these tips together for you, the small business owner. Let’s start with the why.

CUSTOMERS ARE ONLINE

Your customers and potential customers are on the world wide web. When a blogger writes an article about your product or a business, you now have an article promoting your business across the globe. Bloggers will also share their article through their social media platforms, which will give your business additional exposure.

For example when you google “how to spend a day in Webster City,” four posts that the North Iowa Bloggers wrote appear on page 1. The North Iowa Bloggers visited Webster City, Iowa in December of 2014 and shared their experiences through blog posts and social media. They visited local businesses, ate in local restaurants and shopped.

Amy in shop in Webster City

Another example: Natural Plus Nursery, of Clear Lake, Iowa, hosted the North Iowa Bloggers for an afternoon in Spring of 2015. Mary, co-owner of the nursery, shared the history of Natural Plus Nursery and showed the bloggers what they offer. Google, “what does Natural Plus Nursery have to offer”. On page one through google search, you will find three blog posts written from this visit and on page two, you will find two more.

Google anything similar to these keywords for these two businesses and you will find posts written by the North Iowa Bloggers. This is just one way that small business owners can work with bloggers. Your imagination is the only thing that is stopping you, when it comes to how. Social media and the world wide web offer endless opportunities for both parties.

Now, let’s tackle the how.

HOW TO FIND BLOGGERS

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce, as they often have bloggers that are members. Here is where you can get connected with bloggers that can help you grow your business. Attend social media breakfasts in your community, bloggers attend these and love meeting new businesses owners at these types of events.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

If you hit a road block with these two venues, ask on your personal Facebook page. Trust me, you will be connected with a local blogger or two in a relatively short period of time

HOW TO CONTACT A BLOGGER

Bloggers will have a contact form on their blog, which is a great way to reach out to a blogger. You can also e-mail them, as they usually have this in their about section or how to contact me section. If you can connect with them through social media, send them a direct message through their Facebook Business Page or a private message through Twitter. Bloggers love interacting with small business owners and will help you.

TEAM PLAYERS

If you are a small business looking to grow, bloggers can help you grow in ways you never imagined. Bloggers are team players, just as small business owners are. Keep in mind that traditional marketing still has its place for many small businesses. Be ready to expand and grow, as your online customers are waiting to meet you.

Bloggers offer a “new way” of marketing and I hope you will give it a try to see how they can help you. If you don’t try it, you will never know what could have been.