Social media tools can be a great field leveler for small town professionals. I explained why we bother spending time on social networking at Liz Strauss’ Successful Blog, and then offered some practical ways to get started at Chris Brogan’s blog. Now, let’s do a little show and tell. Here are four people living in small towns and making great use of social media tools.
Ted Demop is the ultimate in effective internet presence from a small town. He lives in a rural area of Durham, New Hampshire, about 25 minutes drive from Maine, Massachusetts, and the ocean.
Go ahead. Google his name. But take a snack, because he is super-present online, from his books, his consulting, his speaking, and everything else. When he started blogging in 2004, he had concrete measurable results in less than 24 hours. His web site traffic quadrupled in less than a month because of his blogging. He was able to leverage it to sell speeches, training and consulting.
Ted says he would add that social media offers a huge benefit in learning from and networking with other similar small businesses in small towns that you’d never encounter otherwise.
“Amazing what a meat packer in central Saskatchewan can learn from an organic food store in Eastern Washington,” Ted said, “and a practical joke/magic shop owner in upstate New York can learn from a car wash entrepreneur in Karamea New Zealand! (examples made up — there are no car washes in Karamea!)”
Cody Heitschmidt is based in Hutchinson, Kansas. Besides using blogging for his business, he’s finding other important benefits to social media.
“I just like meeting people and seeing whats going on in there lives and broadening my mind through them,” Cody said. “Not directly business related but valuable to my mental state.”
He also uses Twitter to keep up with what is going on in the world, tech, business, and sports. Facebook is helping him to reconnect with friends from the past. To keep up with Twitter and Facebook and three email accounts, he coordinates through Digsby.
While the actual business or career networking is a smaller part, it has led to some business for him. But it’s also enjoyable.
“Crap, it’s just fun isn’t it?” Cody said.
Britt Raybould is from a small town in Idaho. She works social media a little differently. Rather than trying to put herself out there with social media, she more often uses other people’s social media to connect with them.
She finds potential partners and also friends. Living in a rural area means having a limited peer group locally, but Twitter helps her to maintain contacts with like-minded people in other places. She has also turned it into a way to learn new business skills, experimenting with WordPress, PHP, FTP, hosting, etc. Now she can offer those skills to her clients.
“I’ve had a few jobs come from Twitter and my blog, but in my case, I view it as a way to have conversations I wouldn’t otherwise have,” Britt said. “For all the business chatter about social media, I sometimes think we overlook that, at it’s most basic, it’s comparable to two neighbors chatting together over a fence.”
Shawn Kirsch is going to change Elgin, North Dakota, forever. He’s starting by using social media.
His online interaction from blogging and from Twitter have motivated him to take action in his town. He pitched a complete redesign to his local town’s website, and now his local paper is wanting to establish a digital version of what they print every week. His church is also showing an interest in having a website. Now he’s writing a column called “Everyman Tech” for the local paper. By writing about the Spurs on his blog, he got noticed by the administrator and picked up by www.projectspurs.com.
“I’ve had more unique ideas, that are both feasible and potentially life altering, than I ever would have had without Twitter, and I owe it all to the inspiration my Twitterbuds give me throughout the day,” Shawn said on Twitter.
Shawn has lots more to say, in a guest post by him to complete this series of four articles.
What’s your story? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.