Pro & Content
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 VOLUME 5 ISSUE 5  
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Managing Your Online Business Presence
This month, Karen Clark, a former direct selling leader and current consultant to the industry, joins Michelle Larter, Worldwide Director, Direct Selling at IMN, to discuss ways to use the internet and social media to enhance your business presence.
 
You can listen to the interview by clicking on the podcast icon above or you can read the transcript below. And while you're at it - feel free to share this article (and any others in Pro&Content) with your social networks by clicking on the "Bookmark & Share" button above.
              
LARTER:      Welcome, Karen. Thank you so much for taking the time with us this morning to share a little bit about what you do and I'd like to ask you if you could take a few minutes actually and share a little bit about yourself and about my business presence?
 
CLARK:        OK. Great. Well, thanks for having me. I am a former direct selling leader who is now training others in direct sales and in small business in general to market effectively and ethically online. My business presence offers educational workshops, teleclasses, and webinars for those in the field who want to expand their online presence to find new customers, hostesses, team members, and new business. And I speak at both live and virtual events to help companies and field leaders create consistency and a positive reflection of their direct selling profession and their company in particular. When I started direct sales 12 years ago, I really had no idea that the Internet would turn out to be such a great networking tool for business. And I'm really enjoying helping what's traditionally cut to industry to really capture the relationship building power in this high tech world. So I'm having a lot of fun really helping spread the word and uplift the profession in the process.
 
LARTER:      Well, fantastic. And I know from my past experience working with you, that you're extremely well respected in the industry as well from what you've done as a direct seller in the past as well as what you're doing now. So what are some of the tools that today's most successful direct selling companies and consultants are using to build their business?
 
CLARK:        Well, first of all, I absolutely love using the Party Pulse product. In fact, you know, if your ultimate goal online is to meet new people who are going to turn into your next home party hostess, a recruiter, or customer. You need some way to offer them valuable information and to follow up each month using an e-mail marketing product is really important, especially one that is so tied into social media. So I think it's a great product. As far as other tools to build business, my favorite is the number one social networking site: Facebook. In particular, Facebook fan pages. Now companies can have their corporate fan page, as well as social networking hub in a way for both the field and the overall customer base. So for companies that allow an individual, fan pages can also be really powerful when properly implemented. And they can be a really effective tool for customer service, and sharing useful information to people. Companies and consultants who use Facebook are kind of in a unique position to not only market to their existing contacts, but also reach new ones because the social aspects of Facebook are so viral. You know, people will share and pass on information really easily. Their friends tell their friends, and so on. So fan pages are automatically indexed by the search engines also, so that kind of helps companies reach new people in areas they might not otherwise be able to use. And there's also Twitter, and there's Linkedin, and there's blogging. But in my opinion, Facebook is kind of my favorite tool ‘because it's quick, and easy, and cheap, and free, and very customizable. So that's probably my number one tool.
 
LARTER:      And thank you for that. I am in Party Pulse and both of us-- both you and I-- have come from the field as direct sellers ourselves, and having used the IMN program, I agree with you, it is a great tool. Facebook, and see a lot of other direct sellers out there being very successful using it. So impact social media has on the direct selling of an industry?
 
CLARK:        Well, I would say that the biggest impact has really been in the ability to strengthen existing relationships. Whether it's with customers, hostesses, team members, because of the ease of communication, and that viral nature, and that public nature of it. As well as forming new relationships, finding more people who are online-- already online looking for what you have to offer. Companies have been able to expand into areas where they might not have already have representatives, and that's very exciting. I mean there are some small town areas where they would not even know about the company if there had not been some kind of an online presence. And that's been really exciting to watch happen. And then those people who join in are like yeah, you're the first one in our area, and it kind of just grows, and it gets really exciting. And the support within the direct selling community in general has really been fantastic to watch online. Reps are sharing ideas, sharing success stories among themselves within their own company, as well as outside. Other companies, sharing useful and helpful information out there with the public, which I do believe is having a positive impact on the reputation of direct sales as a profession. It's really exciting to see the buzz that's being created as people see how we are as businessmen and woman out there.
 
LARTER:      So what do you think are some of the trends that you're seeing now in online marketing and specifically in the direct selling industry?
 
CLARK:        You know what's great is that a lot of companies are adjusting their marketing policies, tweaking their Internet marketing guidelines, or in some cases, finally creating them, to reflect the changes in social media. You know, since social media is different than a static website, which a lot of companies already had policies in place for that, this is a different thing because it is very social in nature, it's really relationship based and fluid. So I've been really happy to see that more and more companies are allowing for more flexibility online by finding ways that their consultants can participate while still protecting the company's brand. Things like allowing a personal Facebook fan page that allows consultants to participate in this new medium, which they're really feeling strongly pulled to participate in, in some way. But while also allowing the company guidelines to be followed, and also following Facebook rules, which really do prohibit you from marketing from your personal, regular profiles. So that's been really great to see many consultants are really getting results there due to that loyal fan atmosphere that you can create online. They're able to give useful, helpful information about the product or the industry, which really serves the customers well, and breeds excitement, and kind of a tendency to be more likely to pass it on, which is really, really rewarding.
 
LARTER:      Karen, this has truly been my pleasure speaking with you today, and you've got some great insights for our customers, and I truly appreciate that as well. So do you have any parting thoughts or advice for our audience?
 
CLARK:        Well, I would say that whether you're corporate home office, or direct selling leader, or new consultant, or just a business person out there, take baby steps, but really get out there. This isn't going to, you know, revolutionize the industry. I really don't see it as something that is a replacement for our in person, person to person contact. And it isn't going to sky rocket your business. You know, there's a lot of hype out there for this. But what it is going to do is it brings you exposure, brings you recognition, and builds trust, and rapport, and loyalty amongst your customers and your team in ways that we really haven't been able to before. There's a lot of information out there. So instead of trying to do it all and being overwhelmed, I always recommend that people go for small steps over time that lead to consistency and duplicability, which is so important. And that's really where the success is going to lie for people.
 
LARTER:      That's fantastic. Well, I really appreciate your willingness to share all of this valuable information. So how can our customers and prospects reach out to you?
 
CLARK:        So I've got a website that is actually really rich in content and information. There's ways for you to reach me there as well. That would be www.mybusinesspresence.com. And that's presence as in an online presence, so P-R-E-S-E-N-C-E. www.Mybusinesspresence.com is my website. My phone number is area code 707-588-9290. But one of the best ways to keep in touch with me is through my Facebook fan page. I share tips and information every single day on there, and we get a lot of information, and you'll learn from other people as well. It's kind of like a community, and that's going to be at Facebook.com/mybusinesspresence.
 
LARTER:      That's fantastic. It's obvious that you live what you shared, and I again want to thank you for joining us today, and appreciate it, and I know our clients are going to appreciate it as well.
 
CLARK:        Super. Thank you so much.
 
LARTER:      Thanks, Karen.
 
Karen Clark
Direct Selling Speak and Author
Taking her own Story Time Felts  business to the highest level of the compensation in less than seven years was just the start for Karen. As the Director of Consultant Development for the corporation, she created training programs for the entire field before founding My Business Presence. <>

Now a popular speaker and author, Karen is dedicated to helping all independent distributors master the world of social media, including effective blogging, web design, netiquette and search engine optimization.

Karen has co-authored two books – Incredible Business and Direct Selling Power. Her information packed, interactive presentations are guaranteed to inspire your distributors to enhance the relationship they have with their customers by integrating person-to-person contact with smart Internet Marketing strategies. Her wealth of practical knowledge, her ability to simplify even the most advanced social media concepts and her fun, friendly style makes Karen the standout trainer for your National or Leadership event.

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