What is Alignable and how can it help my small business?
Alignable is designed to be a small business networking site, for businesses to connect with each other, that I have been watching for a while. I feel LinkedIn is very good at professional-to-professional, personal branding, career enhancement and larger companies but does not truly “get” the small and even micro businesses that I have trained over 10 years. Facebook has its value as a great paid advertising program and some value with groups (as of today), however I still see a need for a small and micro business-only service with a free entry level.
Alignable has been around since 2014, has millions of registered businesses as members of the platform, is US-based and has over 6000 registered members in the Raleigh NC area. It leads with the business first but then shows the people behind the business. You can add a logo and a picture at the top like your storefront. It lets you add products or services you offer, events and pictures. You have a spot to clearly state who your customers are, to help you network. The paid levels give you faster access to other businesses but the free level is very robust and allows you to have a clear business presence.
As I said earlier, Alignable is similar to LinkedIn but designed for small businesses. Think of Alignable as being your local coffee shop where you catch up with other small and micro business owners, and think of LinkedIn as a skyscraper where people ride the elevators hoping to meet their next best client or employer (I joined LinkedIn in 2004). Both places have unique opportunities for networking, and the little coffee shop just might grow into a worldwide influencer.
Beyond friendly competition with LinkedIn and Facebook, Alignable is geared to improve the state of networking for small business owners. In my experience when you build a relationship online and in person it has a multiplying effect not just an additive effect. Some people are more comfortable in person and some online. If they want to get the best results they both need to stretch. I see Alignable as a tool that encourages you to “take if off line” and meet for coffee or at an event. I see this as very important.
5 Steps to Getting Started With Alignable
1. Set up your profile.
Alignable strives to be conversational so there is a place for your logo and a headshot. The photo of you will appear when you comment, communicate, and answer questions in the Forum. Take the time to carefully describe your business and select the tags that best represent what you do and who you want to work with. Remember to fill out your products and services. This is a great opportunity to clearly define what you offer. Here’s my video to walk you through the initial process of getting set up in Alignable, it covers all the basics.
Set up your profile before you connect to people or invite people to join you on Alignable. I would not just invite everyone in your email or LinkedIn list, but pick people that are open to trying new things or are already on Alignable that you know. Select people to join or connect with that are valuable to you. Their value comes from being a good business person that you feel has something positive to offer in their products and services and the way they do business. You can signup directly from this link: https://www.alignable.com/join/jojg95j0fg2-p9mf-zuvqa (It just shows that I invited you and put you on my radar).
2. Learn the Platform
Take a little time to learn how the system works. You can check in on your network, give and get recommendations, and participate in the Forum by answering questions posed by the members. Here is my simplified overview of the platform.
Alignable likes to keep in touch with you via email to encourage your participation but you may find that you’re getting tapped too often. Go in and adjust your email settings so that you are getting the notifications that are beneficial to you. Watch this quick video to see where and how you adjust your email settings.
3. Give Recommendations
Look at your connections and identify the people that you know and would happily recommend to people for products or services. Since Alignable is local, your connections are people that you really do (or should) know. Your recommendation doesn’t need to be more than a couple of sentences, but it should tell why you think they are worth paying attention to and why someone would want to do business with them.
What you are doing is paying it forward. You are bringing positive, and valuable, attention to your connections and you get a boost because Alignable puts you on your connection’s radar, too. With recommendations everybody wins.
4. Answer Questions
Alignable will send you questions from people who are in your field. They may or may not be connections, but your connections will see your answers. By participating in the Forum you are sharing your expertise and keeping your name top of mind.
You don’t have to answer every question Alignable sends you, but if you feel you have a positive and helpful answer, then go for it. We’re all in this together and there is likely a time when you’ll be interested in finding out a best practice from another professional.
Understand that this is not the place to bait people to work with you or to sell your product. This is where you can ask or answer sincere questions about doing business better.
5. Commit to It
I understand that you’ve got your fingers in a lot of social media right now and you’re thinking that one more will put you on overload. I’m planning on devoting about 10 minutes a day for 1 year Alignable, taking the weekend off. If you want to give Alignable a good test, I suggest you do the same.
A 1 year test will help me determine how well Alignable works at connecting and supporting small businesses. What I am looking for in the 6 months is real-world examples of businesses I personally know that have gained enough value from Alignable that it was well worth their time to be engaged with it. If you are willing to learn something new, possibly become an established “expert” on a new platform, and explore this as a tool for small business, then let’s share notes.
Just plug it into your calendar, set the timer, and see what happens when you start planting a local seed. You’ll most likely find that your network will expand and you’ll develop some great camaraderie with your nearby community. And your business will improve. At least, that’s what I expect.
A new video I made showing the latest Alignable App for iPhone https://youtu.be/CjeCFxK9OOc
- I have opened up my Alignable Success Team Facebook group for anyone on Alignable willing to help other businesses and learn from them. If you are that person join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/802899416585877/
- Just produced a new article with a number of other “Alignable Businesses of the Year 2018” called “I signed up with Alignable but I’m not quite sure what to do with it.http://pronetworkingonline.com/i-signed-up-with-alignable-but-im-not-quite-sure-what-to-do-with-it/
- Thanks to Alignable for interviewing me about how I got into business and tips for starting businesses.
Casto’s Close Up: First Edition w/ Martin Brossman from Alignable on Vimeo.
- Alignable just added a new “Referral Card” that makes it easier to refer someone. You can also use it to share your own Alignable profile: “Referral Cards are now live! Exchanging referrals has never been so easy for #smallbusinessowners – Here is link clearly explaining it: https://www.alignable.com/insights/do-you-have-your-referral-card-yet
I hope you join me on Alignable! Let me know how your exploration goes!
You can find me on Alignable by looking up “Martin Brossman and Associates LLC” or just Martin Brossman. The permalink to my profile is: https://www.alignable.com/raleigh-nc/martin-brossman-and-associates-llc or type in http://bit.ly/martinonalignable as a short URL.
Thanks to Jane (Hendricks) Maulucci for her help with this article. Her Alignable permalink is: https://www.alignable.com/new-bern-nc/the-reactive-voice-llcReport thisLikeComment