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Happy Birthday, #SBBuzz!

When we started the #sbbuzz chat 2 years ago today, our primary goal was to connect with other tech savvy small business owners and work together to tackle the myriad challenges that the onset of social media, cloud computing, mobile technology and virtual collaboration present to small businesses.  We never anticipated that this effort would result in such amazing conversations, so many new friends and business opportunities, and even a few new employees.  We count this project as a HUGE success.

Though we recently discontinued the regularly scheduled #sbbuzz chats, we continue to work with the wonderful #sbbuzz community members on myriad different projects, collaborations and even businesses. And we continue to explore opportunities to take this conversation in a new direction. Staying true to our original intent, we are not here to tinker with the latest social media gadget, or self-promote our products and businesses, but rather continue looking for ways to create useful and meaningful interactions for entrepreneurs, like ourselves, with very little time and very many questions.

To commemorate the anniversary, we will be hosting our first #sbbuzz chat of 2011 this Tuesday, February 8th from 8:00 – 10:00 PM EST. Please join us for a fun look at where we as a small business community have come and where we are going.

And to celebrate the successes we have had thus far, I thought I would share with you some comments from participants of the #sbbuzz chats about their experiences with #sbbuzz and what it has meant to them.  I was overwhelmed by the responses and thrilled to hear about the many opportunities that the #sbbuzz program brought to so many of the participants.  I am including a few of the stories below.

Neal Rohrbach (@nrohrbach) was one of the first #sbbuzz participants and a fixture at the chat each week. I had the great pleasure to follow Neal through his and fellow #sbbuzz participant Brad Shimp (@bradfordshimp) build a new business largely through their own Twitter community. Neal is now the host of his own Outdoor Channel TV show, and talks a little about the part #sbbuzz played in his journey.

First and foremost, I want to thank the entire crew that put together #sbbuzz and kept it going for nearly two years. It certainly played a crucial role in changing my career path and helped me to find my niche and passions in the business world. To call #sbbuzz anything other than phenomenal would be a gross understatement. Through the weekly chats that I was able to be a part of early on, I met and made several friends, and even a business partner. Idea Anglers was founded because of #sbbuzz, which merited coverage on Businessweek’s website and landed me on center stage in Hollywood at the Kodak Theater for the first Los Angeles 140 Characters Conference. Unfortunately, Brad Shimp and I grew so quickly in our professional careers, that we didn’t have the time to continue moving Idea Anglers forward. This was much due to the networking, technology and practices learned through #sbbuzz. When I first started participating in #sbbuzz, I was working two jobs and running a home based marketing and graphics business. The practices, technology and people I met through #sbbuzz soon led to my home based business growing to the point that I could quit one of my part time jobs. The next thing I knew, I had offers on the table for my side business to be purchased by two of my competitors who worked on their businesses full time. Now that’s saying something. #sbbuzz quickly made me into a household name, especially in my community, as I started traveling to conferences and tweetups, sharing my marketing and entrepreneurship models, as well as the Idea Anglers story. The next thing I knew, I was hired by Outdoor Channel Outfitters and quickly moved up the chain from Art Director to Chief Creative Officer and now sit as the President of Marketing and Sales and will be hosting the Outdoor Channel Outfitters television show for 2011. I’d like to think that’s a pretty good testament to how the #sbbuzz chat helped me. As far as my business, well, taking what I learned from #sbbuzz, it went from a part time, home based business to a full time job, just before selling it with residual income. I can see small business collaboration continuing to grow in the social media realm, and soon be an integral part of each and every business model.

Scott Blitstein (@scoblitz) is another lifer at #sbbuzz. Scott is a writer for Web Worker Daily, a small business owner and now part of our own BatchBlue team. He is also the man with all the answers to your small business questions.

#sbbuzz was integral for me in turning Twitter in to the collaborative community experience that it should be. Having the opportunity to meet and chat with wonderful and smart people was inspiring.  I found that just participating gave me the chance to share my knowledge and be a resource to folks, all the while being able to learn from them as well.

I also think it did wonders to strengthen my relationship with the participants, including the BatchBlue team. Frequent interactions with you and Michelle gave me the opportunity to let you get to know more about me and I believe was an integral part of my joining the team there.

Participating in #sbbuzz was a very useful way to promote my business and while I have made the decision to discontinue eSeMBe, it’s only because other opportunities arose which were more appealing – the chance to work with the wonderful folks at BatchBlue.

Gina Blitstein (@ginabee) joined in the chats later in our history after hearing so much about our empowering ways from her husband, Scott. I’ll let her explain the role #sbbuzz played in helping her establish her own entrepreneurial ways.

The #sbbuzz helped me to more easily adopt the role as a web-using business owner. While my business lives on and off the Internet, there is no denying that it wouldn’t exist without it. I am not a techie (though I do live with one) and yet I was welcomed with open keyboards by the existing members of the group, which was incredibly empowering in the first few months of my content creation business.

From the networking exposure within the #sbbuzz community, I got an outstanding client with whom I have an ongoing business relationship. I don’t believe we’d ever have come across one another if not for #sbbuzz. My business is growing steadily – as is my confidence – and that is due in no small part to what I learned and who I met on our Tuesday night dates.

I learned a tremendous amount from the expertise of the group and I was happy to be able to provide some insight myself once in a while. The act of reaching out beyond my computer to have contact with such smart and savvy folks was inspirational as well as educational.

Desiree Scales (@desireescales) was an early leader in the crowd with her quick wit and shining personality. She and the other regulars really helped us set the non-promotional, frank and open tone that helped the chats them become so successful. Desiree also introduced me to podcasting when she interviewed me for her Bella Buzz podcast early on. Desiree also introduced us to our wonderful virtual assistant, Dawn Skowronnek (@charmedbydawn)

The #sbbuzz introduced me to many people I still call friends after 2 years. I will continue to follow their careers and businesses as they will my own. Twitter Chat is a great idea and will continue to catch on eventually or evolve into something else. I think the #sbbuzz showed us all how hungry entrepreneurs are to connect with one another. I hope something will eventually take it’s place. It was a great way to learn about people who are in the same shoes with the same ideas and issues every week. I’ll miss it!

And very long-time contributor and enthusiast Susan Barr (@selahsynergy). I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan when she interviewed me for her (coming soon) book. And I will always value the parenting advice she gave as one mother of an asthmatic child to another.

Although I have not been online much in the past few months, #sbbuzz is one of the first places I wanted to re-join as my personal life has finally settled down. For me, #sbbuzz was the anchor in my Twitter interactions, the first and most meaningful community to which I belonged on Twitter. For the past 2 years, I have been working on a book for small business owners about leveraging the internet to grow and manage their businesses. I met and interviewed several #sbbuzz members including yourself, whose contributions have been essential to the book. The generosity of every member of #sbbuzz, whether in giving of time, expertise, support, encouragement, referrals, or friendship has been a tremendous resource  – I know #sbbuzz will live on as these relationships remain important to my life and business. I thank you for initiating such a tremendous community.

We are extremely grateful for these extraordinary members of the #sbbuzz community, as well as every one of the participants and followers of the #sbbuzz chat. We look forward to working with the forward thinking entrepreneurs who have joined this group to continue to find ways to grow and evolve ourselves and our businesses.

Starting your own business is a wonderful, overwhelming journey that should be shared and explored with other adventurous souls. We would not have it any other way.


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#SBBuzz Collaboration Night

As a part of this month’s theme on Collaboration, we will be talking tonight about the best ways for teams to collaborate virtually.  We touched on the topic last week, so will dive a little deeper into the tools and processes you use to collaborate with team members, customers, partners and the world.  From project management to virtual conferencing, we will share what is working and what is not.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to discuss creative ways to get innovative with your small business.

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Small Business Sales Best Practices: Chat Summary from 7/27/2010

What are the best practices for a small business sales effort? How do you get the best results? Read some new ideas in the chat transcript from our discussion.

  • We’re on alternate Tuesdays (in the summer) from 8-9 pm EST.  The next chat will be held on August 10, 2010.
  • You can read the instructions on how to participate here:
  • Invite others to join in, help them get started.  We started this chat to facilitate conversation between small biz owners.
sbbuzz: Welcome to #sbbuzz, a Tweetchat for the next hour of small biz talking technology on Twitter. Join us!
sbbuzz: Start off w/an INTRO: 1 message about you and your business and whatever else we need to know. #sbbuzz
ginabee: Hello everyone! Happy to join the chat. Gina w/ your content creativity solutions here! Tonight I learn. #sbbuzz
lindadessau: Hi folks! I help small biz owners write masterful content for their newsletters and blogs (Intro for #sbbuzz)
pmohara: Hi & welcome to all! Pamela here from @batchblue and hostess of #sbbuzz. Having network probs, so rebooting. Hope I come out the other side
TraceyHolinka: I?m a web designr/developr @chaostoclarity. I show small biz & freelancers how 2 take advantage of the web. #chaostoclarity #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Hi there! Liz J here, Partner Marketing Manager @VR4SmallBiz – I work on the BusDev team & I support our partner sales team #sbbuzz
BeckyMcCray: Hello, all! I’m an entrepreneur in Oklahoma. Long time no #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: hello everyone I need more info abou sales. You can follow me for T.I.P.S. Tools for Improved Profit and Success #sbbuzz
PreciseAgency: We an advertising, PR company influencing pop culture through advertising. #sbbuzz
stellel: Hi, I’m Christelle, Customer Experience for @batchblue #sbbuzz
PintopPro: Hello everybody! Arelthia of @PintopPro, wordpress designer/developer/teacher. #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Scott Blitstein – Customer Experience at @batchblue – prepared to be all salesy and stuff tonight. #sbbuzz
mentormarketing: I am Chief Mentor and Bottle washer at, looking forward to tonights chat. #sbbuzz
ryankuder: Nice to meet you #sbbuzz. My name’s Ryan and I’m VP of Marketing for @Bizzy. First time here, so I’ll probably do a lot of listening.
JoeCascio: #sbbuzz Does anyone use Personalized URLs for marketing? These are essential personalized landing pages.
mentormarketing: New Customers, trick 1 find out where they hang out, trick 2 fill a need. #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: re: Q1 – referrals are most valuable. 1 Happy customer is better than 500 cold-call numbers (sorry for all the typos) #sbbuzz
BeckyMcCray: @JoeCascio define “personalized URLs”? I create specific urls for specific landing pages, but not sure what else you mean? #sbbuzz
ginabee: @foodiegrl I love referrals too! In their absence, I resort to networking with fellow writers. Amazing what they can provide! #sbbuzz
JoeCascio: Q1 Everything comes to me via Twitter and my social networking connections. #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: @ginabee “The Referral Engine” is a must-read – by @ducttape #sbbuzz
ryankuder: For the new guy–what kinds of small businesses are here? I imagine there are different needs based on type of business. #sbbuzz
ginabee: @foodiegrl Thanks – I’ll track it down! #sbbuzz
mentormarketing: A1: I pick pocket new customers for my consulting gig, by finding projects in distress and hijaking them, My #1 lead to close ratio #sbbuzz
JoeCascio: @BeckyMcCray Per-customer urls like: #agchat #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: @joecascio – agreed re Q1 – Happy customers are the seed, but social networks are the soil (and the water and the sun)! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q2 What is your process for educating prospective clients about your product or service? #sbbuzz
JoeCascio: @foodiegrl Great analogy. You can’t expect overnight results. You’re planting seeds and good thing come to you in time. #sbbuzz
stellel: @sbbuzz Screencasts, webinars, super friendly Customer Service peeps… 😉 #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q2 Lots of up-front data online if desired, coupled with quick response path if they just want to talk to someone. #sbbuzz
ginabee: Q2 Talking their ear off. Letting them see the value of what I can provide and how I can help them. #sbbuzz
pmohara: #sbbuzz Q2 our process is largely educational. IE, best way to teach our customers advantages of Twitter is to host a weekly chat #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q2) Nothing better than experience. Provide a positive result in every interaction. #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q2 Also, a super-awesome education site with extensive videos and new webinars every week #sbbuzz
JoeCascio: Q2 Give them a little free advice or help without any expectation or sense of obligation. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q3 How do you communicate with existing customers? How do you encourage their help in “word of mouthing”? #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q2 – archive everything – educational materials (whitepapers, recorded webinars, etc) are durable and scalable #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q3 Twitter for main corporate identity, but also empowering employees to do it on their own (hence why “@foodiegrl” is here) #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Sorry for technical difficulties earlier – didn’t get a chance to mention topic is sales efforts best practices – send me any ?s #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Please stick around after #sbbuzz tonight to catch my live Twintrview at #twtv or (9-10 PM ET)
aptuscollab: @JoeCascio We do use PURLs in several companies. #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q3 also, enable viral at every turn- social share ur email contents, package tweets 2 b optimized 4 RTs, FB links in signature, etc #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: Q3 communicate with customers newsletter and social networking #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q3 my fave is to embed a “tweet this newsletter” link in my content and prepopulate the text for the reader-it’s a pretty easy hack #sbbuzz
stellel: @foodiegrl Good idea! #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @RisingStarIdeas Newsletters are a great way to inform and get eyes on your content #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q4 Do you communicate with ex-customers? #sbbuzz
mentormarketing: A4: yes, they even do a decent job of sending referrals. #sbbuzz
prestonode: @sbbuzz Q2: Yes, I am partners with an ex-customer after 20 years #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @prestonode wow – that is an awesome story #sbbuzz
prestonode: Oops I mean Q4: not 2: #sbbuzz
pmohara: Q4 who’s to say just because you were not the right for someone once, you won’t be next time. We get a LOT of returners #sbbuzz
ginabee: @mentormarketing Great point – who else knows the quality of your work better than those you’ve served before? #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Q4 – what better way to learn for next time? We do periodic “churn surveys” – some have even resulted in “win-backs” #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: All – we are coming to a close soon. Sorry again for Twitter challenges, but thanks to everyone who stuck with us tonight! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: And now it is what we affectionately call Pitch Time. Please tell us a little about your business. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: If you’d like a once-a-week e-mail reminder of #sbbuzz (including the topic) sign up at #sbbuzz
ryankuder: They’re not “ex-customers.” They’re just customers who haven’t come back yet. #A4 #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Don’t forget to come see my my live Twintrview at #twtv or starting soon #sbbuzz
mentormarketing: I provide a comprehensive resource for business pros who want to learn about online marketing – My newish video #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: #sbbuzz is a small business Twitter chat hosted each Tuesday night 8-9 PM ET by the folks from @batchblue Come again soon!
scoblitz: @foodiegrl of course not – was great to get your insights! #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: The Web Tools Wizard–Small biz tools guaranteed to save time & money. Gets, ideas, tips & reviews to grow your biz like magic! #sbbuzz
ryankuder: At @Bizzy, people create a list of their favorite businesses and get updates on deals, offers, tips, etc. Video at #sbbuzz
pmohara: Thanks all for coming tonight! Come see me get Twintrviewed at #twtv or starting soon #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: @VR4SmallBiz provides award-winning direct marketing for SMB’s. We also partner w/ Salesforce, Intuit + others #sbbuzz
ryankuder: Thanks for my first #sbbuzz chat. See you all again next Tuesday night. #sbbuzz
ginabee: Pitch: I use my words to tell your story. Creative content creation for web, newsletters and much more! #sbbuzz
ginabee: @ryankuder I believe we are on an every other week summer schedule, so next one is in 2 weeks. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Yes – that’s right! RT @ginabee: @ryankuder I believe we are on an every other week summer schedule, so next one is in 2 weeks. #sbbuzz
mentormarketing: @ryankuder You asked what types of Biz we run, I run a handful. ecom consult, biz strategy, ORM, @MentorMarketing, menu consultant #sbbuzz
stellel: Night all! #sbbuzz

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Small Business Sales Best Practices

As a part of July’s month long Sales topic, tonight we will be chatting about some of the best practices for a small business sales effort.  We all know what we DON’T want our sales efforts to look like – the over zealous sales guy, the spray and pray numbers games or the sleestack conversion methods.  So we will spend the hour tonight discussing the things WE DO WANT TO DO.  And which ones get the best results.

And the rest of this week we will be publishing a few guest posts from #sbbuzz members with special insight into the small business sales process. Watch here from some creative ideas and sales tips.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to discuss best practices for your small business sales efforts.

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Focusing on the Big Picture

These lazy days of summer (as if any small business owner knows the meaning of the word “lazy”) present an excellent opportunity to step back from the day-to-day busy work of running a business and focus on the big picture.  Tonight’s #sbbuzz chat will focus on the things we can do to pull ourselves out of the trees for the while and focus on the forest.  We will be discussing business planning, growth strategies, metrics and all of those other things that seem to get neglected in the daily shuffle.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to discuss the best way to keep a big picture focus on your small business.

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Finding Your Niche

As part of our month long discussion of marketing your small business, we will be focusing the conversation tonight on how to find the right niche for your product or services.  We will be sharing thoughts, ideas and experiences on how to identify the right niche segment of the market, how far down the long tail should we go, and how to keep evolving our business as we go.

Please join us tonight from 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT to discuss our small business niche identification and marketing strategies.

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#SBBuzz Summer Schedule & Reading List

Welcome to summer everyone!  We are now switching to our #sbbuzz summer schedule which means we will be hosting our usual #sbbuzz chat EVERY OTHER TUESDAY from now through August.  Take these extra evening hours and enjoy more sunsets and fireflies!

This summer we are also introducing a new summer reading list.  Each “off week”  Tuesday, please tweet your recommendation for a small business blog post, article, podcast or book that you think the rest of us should add to our summer reading (or listening) list.  Please tag the message with the #sbbuzzReadIt hashtag and we will keep an ongoing list of the must-reads.

Now you have something to enjoy while sipping cocktails under that sunet!

– Pamela (@pmohara)

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