After 12 years in the making, VerticalResponse was acquired. As the CEO, it felt great to be able to give back to my investors and our employees.
The past 12 years was spent creating great relationships with investors, customers, partners and potential acquirers, however, I have to say, one of the most important relationships we’ve been able to create is within the small business community.
The small business community is all about meeting people with a common vision; helping small businesses grow. Here are a few of the relationships that contributed to our success through the years:
- Entering the Stevie Awards for Women in Business run by CEO Michael Gallagher. Voting is conducted by a panel of industry pros. We’ve now expanded to other categories for the Stevies and it’s been very successful. The awards have garnered us lots of positive PR as well.
- Contributing to Inc.com. I started writing from a woman CEO point of view, and it’s evolved to my “Basement to the Boardroom” column. I’ve met amazing people at Inc.com and it’s been wonderful for helping my business grow. We’ve been on the Inc. 500/5000 list for 8 years in a row, which is outstanding.
- Being introduced to Ramon Ray, CEO Small Biz Technology. He shot a quick video of me in an ATM lobby in NY because the street was too loud. He talked to me about VerticalResponse and we got great exposure from it. Ramon then introduced me to Laura Leites who puts on WomanCon. Laura asked me to present at the show on “How I did it.” The show had heaps of very powerful and smart women attending and I was able to form lasting relationships that I can draw on.
- The Small Business Influencer List, hatched by Ramon and Anita Campbell, CEO Small Business Trends. Both write about the amazing things happening for small businesses worldwide. I was lucky enough to be nominated along with Lauren Simonds, the excellent editor of Small Business Computing. I met her and we thought I could contribute to her site. They also contribute to TIME.com where on occasion our content gets featured. I was also nominated along with Venteneer CEO Geri Stengel who also writes for Forbes. We met, I told her my story and she wrote a wonderful piece that ran in Forbes.
- And the list goes on.
All these relationships over the years have contributed to our acquisition and success. If you’d like to focus on developing or strengthening your own relationships, try some of these useful tactics:
1. Stay in touch. You can’t hide in the shadows if you want connections to keep you in mind. Reach out and stay in touch with people on a consistent basis. Call your connections to catch up on what’s new, tell them about any news going on with your company, or see when you both may be attending the same networking event. Meeting in person is even better.
2. You have to give to receive. Relationships are give and take. Take the time to give props your connections when they have an exciting announcement, new product release, awards, an acquisition, etc. Who doesn’t love to have their hard work acknowledged? Share your connections’ content and announcements on your own social networks, giving them even more exposure to a wider audience. This helps in more ways than one.
3. Always network. Everyone’s crunched for time, but being in the mindset of continuously growing your network is key. You never know where that next great partnership or connection will come from. Talk to anyone everywhere you go. I’ve meet people on airplanes, on the street and in restaurants that have become part of my network, and keep me inspired and growing.
Are you giving back to the business community you belong to? We’d love to hear your stories!
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