Alignable is a small business networking site
By Martin Brossman, Jane Maulucci, Andrea Marsavonian, Barry Arcuik, JB Floyd, Stacey Riska, Charleen Ferguson, Kristi Kirkland, Russell Moore, Robert Massard, Anne Summers, Cyndi Wilkins, Allen Rankin, Susan Fox, Joan Y. Edwards, Jill Cone, Lori Webster, Greg Glander,Tim Campbell , Donna Connolly, Greg Glander, Wallis Mason, Tracey Lee Davis, Michelle Hummel, John Rivers III, and Taylor Pelzel.
The Alignable platform is unique. I sometimes meet small business owners who say, “I signed up with Alignable but I’m not quite sure what to do with it.” This article is a collaborative effort from experienced Alignable users to give you ideas on what to do with Alignable. It offers useful tips that your business can use to build solid alliances and reap tremendous benefits.
The core idea of Alignable is based on understanding the value of building alliances with other businesses in your community. Many small businesses are simply looking for their next “customer”. They don’t fully recognize the power of building a referral network through alliances with and recommendations from other local businesses. There can be great value in connecting with a business similar to yours, even though at first glance it may appear to be your competition; it’s coined “coopetition”.
Coopetition works by recognizing the differences like-businesses have such as customer base, product offerings, services as well as the unique value that each offer. Coopetition opens the possibility of working with your competition in cooperative ways instead of treating it as an adversary. Alignable provides an easy way for you to develop and deepen relationships with other local business owners within our community.
Listed below are suggestions contributed from Alignable members that we hope you find useful: Fill out your profile fully so other businesses will know what you offer, what you are looking for, and the value you provide.
- Make sure you post new service offerings, events, or specials on a monthly basis.
- Take the time to answer all the questions that are asked in the profile. Answer them thoughtfully and completely.
- Use a photo/headshot so that people get to know you and your business.
- Read and answer the questions from other members. You may have something great to share and you will strengthen your connections.
- Read the weekly round-up.
- Seek out businesses you already know and would gladly recommend. Then GIVE them solid recommendations. Resist the urge to post cloaked commercials for yourself. Don’t just lick the recommend button without writing a comment because that cheapens the value of recommendations for all of us.
- Get attention by contributing monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly by adding something in the “Get the Word Out” section on the home page. It can be a blog, an event you’re having, or a special you are offering.
- Always respond to those that reach out to you either for a connection or recommendation. Answering in a timely manner does make a difference as you build your relationship with that new contact.
- Help your network by linking with their website and sharing their activity (found on the homepage).
- Take time to invite those in your community that need help finding new connections as well as those that are well-connected. Your well-connected members will organically grow your business through their connections.
- Post your affiliation with Alignable on your other social media platforms to steer others to the site. They will often recommend you.
- Remember to see Alignable as a way to help and acknowledge other businesses in your area in an authentic way. Use it as a place to stay in touch with local businesses.
- Discover new strategic allies to work with.
- Invite new people to Alignable you think could also share solutions to specific problems/challenges. This grows your network and introduces new people to our community.
- Ask questions of network members that can help other members improve productivity and make customers’ lives better.
- Showing up, engaging and contributing takes courage. Acknowledge others and yourself for making the effort.
- If you are a natural introvert and feel nervous about reaching out to new people, show up anyway. It’s how you make great new business relationships and how you develop your skills.
- If you are a consultant and don’t have a business name per say, then list your business name as “Jane Smith Consulting” instead of “self.” It makes you look more professional!
- Don’t be concerned if you make a mistake or there is a misunderstanding – almost anything can be resolved with clear communication – and remember that handling a problem in a good way will often build the greatest trust.
- Don’t be afraid to connect with someone you haven’t met if you have a genuine interest in networking with (not selling to) them. Unlike other business platforms, Alignable makes it easy for you to meet in person with a wide array of local professionals if you’d like to.
- Put in some time each week on the platform. Users who aren’t consistently utilizing the platform are less likely to get more connections or interaction from other users. Utilize the platform on a regular basis to set yourself apart and show activity. Others will notice your enthusiasm for networking and be more likely to reach out.
- If you are in an area that has an Alignable Meet and Greet use it for multiple reasons:
- 1) to have a way to meet other business with an attitude of help them not selling to them,
- 2) bring a business associate along and introduce them to other businesses.
- 3) a great time to schedule a meeting with fellow members.
- When referring someone to a local business include their Alignable link to provide “social proof” of that business.
- Remember you are building trust and referrals by both helping other business and allowing other businesses to help you.
- Remember that whether you get a good or a bad referral your first job is to make the person that sent you the referral look good. Remember to thank them. If they did not refer you the right type of customer then schedule a time to meet with them. Once you’re face-to-face, make sure you find out how to best help them with their business and then share more specifically about what is the best customer for you.
- Be open and easy to talk to. Make it an enjoyable experience for others to refer you business.
A few things NOT to do on Alignable:
- Do NOT use Alignable as a “cold calling” prospect list for attracting new business because you will annoy people and waste your time. You will attract more positive attention to your own business by helping others than by trying to sell to them.
- Don’t disguise your recommendation to someone else in a cloaked commercial about your own business!
- Before initiating connections, forget about giving them a complete description of your business. Instead make sure they know how to contact you & where you’re located so upon request, they can provide the most vital info about you and your business!
- Nothing worse than having a blank or blurry image for your own personal profile. It really turns people off from wanting to connect with you.
- In your blog posts, don’t keyword stuff. That’s covert spamming and is unprofessional.
- Never use the platform as your personal soapbox to discuss anything other than business.
- Keep all your conversations friendly and take care to not be offensive or rude.
- Ensure your recommendations are real; do not give one just to get one back.
- Do not post before carefully proofreading your message.
- Never use the platform to spam the members needlessly.
- Don’t expect that if you post your content on the platform it will magically make your phone ring. This is a tool to help you build authentic connections with real people in your community. You don’t like just being “sold” to so don’t do that to your neighbor!
- Don’t give recommendations to others you don’t know just to get their attention to sell them something.
- Alignable gives you the opportunity to connect with people all over the country or world, but the true purpose of the platform is to facilitate local connections. Focus on local organizations for a majority of your interactions.
- Avoid over-promoting with events. For example, if you sell insurance, you don’t need to create an event every day offering a free insurance review – this edges on spamming – and remember the tips above; the platform is best used for B2B connecting.
- Newer users may not be accustomed to someone reaching out on business networking platforms just to connect over coffee (and not try to sell them anything) – so don’t overreact if you message someone and they get defensive – it has happened to all of us. Remember to focus on connections, not prospecting – and you’ll be fine 99% of the time.
What people have gained from being on Alignable:
“I have found Alignable to be a very interactive site for like-minded businesses. I was invited to the site and decided to check it out and I am so happy that I did! Once I learned the ropes of how to navigate Alignable things took off. I have gained many new contacts as well as local customers and have learned a lot about other businesses through networking. My favorite features include the Q&A Forum, the recommendations you can give and receive from others, the opportunity to pass on referrals and being able to announce upcoming events. I was especially honored to be voted as Mesa’s Small Businessperson of the Year for 2018! I do encourage other businesses to join Alignable so they do not miss out on this great networking forum!” – Jill Cone, AZ Metals
“As a company, we have gained several things. First and foremost it is a great forum to discuss business issues and to offer our advice and to share our experiences. Second, we have gained several clients; it has been a profitable venture, to say the least. Third, it has been a great vehicle for referring business. As our trust in the platform grows, we feel more comfortable in referring businesses to it so they can do what we have done. It has worked wonders for the ones who follow our guidance.
Fourth, it is becoming a strong platform for gaining rankings in Google and it’s getting even stronger! When searching the name of our company, it is only second to my website URL for ranking and it has several citations. I believe as the platform grows it will start ranking for keywords too. Of course, this means you should be very active, positive, and should add great content frequently. As you start to rank, you will see positive results; instead of bashing the latest social or political issues on social media, put your good business sense out there in a meaningful and non-sales way on Alignable.
On a personal level, I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the platform. It is lively and I have gathered many nuggets of business advice. I have a deeper understanding of what is on the minds of today’s business entrepreneurs and what keeps them up at night. Overall, it has been a positive experience and I look forward to “what’s next” with Alignable.“
-JB Floyd – LeadValets
“We have gained new insight on how many small businesses there are in our community that could use a little help with so many things that we ourselves had no idea how to do, or anyone to discuss them with. We take great joy in helping others and getting help from others when we need it. Alignable allows your business to go beyond the boundaries of monetization. It rewards you with the satisfaction that you can help others through networking, referrals, recommendations, and responding to questions. Aside from time, it comes at no cost to either of you and helps your community to thrive.”
– Charleen Ferguson – Just Call the I.T. Guy
“I use an in-depth personal profile and business mission statement. I post 2 or 3 promotions each month to inform my community what kind of products and services we have. I use website links in every ad. I use the Alignable filter to target businesses who’ll find my promotional material relevant. I constantly try to add new business contacts that will find my services relevant. I recruit new businesses to join Alignable. I use a business service that members offer. If I use a business service and they’re not involved with Alignable, I invited them to join. I recommend a business that I’ve had a good experience using to people in my network. I send messages directly to each of my contacts when I have something to say or promote. I use Alignable like any social media, keeping my business products and services in front of my prospects. – Russell Moore, Owner of Napa Sew & Vac and “Alignable’s 2018 Napa Businessperson of the Year” – Napa Sew & Vac
“I’m kinda new to Alignable, however, I find it to be a legitimate and useful platform to share best practices and obtain and contribute to ideas and issues we all may face in the marketplace.” – Robert Massard, President of Redford Lock Security Solutions, Novi, Michigan.
“The key to the success of any business platform is active engagement. Personally, I enjoy the Q&A Forum where I frequently engage and connect with other business professionals in shared dialogue. There is wisdom to be gained in every conversation. When we take the time to cultivate relationships with other professionals, they may offer insight into navigating the difficult terrain of developing successful small business opportunities with new ideas and innovative thinking and doing.” – Cyndi Wilkins
“I have gained new clients and made new friends. I have gotten outside of my comfort zone for business to help me grow. There is a lot to be gained by meeting new people. You gotta give to get. So, I encourage others to give of their expertise. The next great business relationship is just around the corner when you contribute to this great business community”. – Susan Fox, Brainview Training Institute
“It’s fun to find small business owners with products and services I need on Alignable. I also gain friends for a lifetime through connecting with Alignable small businesses. It’s comforting to find that contacts on Alignable care about me and share about my books, blog posts, and events.” – Joan Y. Edwards
“I joined Alignable in January 2016 and have seen the platform grow so much since then! Since joining, I have been consistent with posting my services and upcoming events, I have grown my network by connecting with my business owner friends and reaching out to new folks in my area who I didn’t previously know, I have worked at supporting local businesses through genuine recommendations, I take the time to answer questions in the forums, both locally and nationally. All of these efforts have resulted in me being the most recommended business in San Jose, I was voted the Small Businessperson of the Year in 2018 (at the time, San Jose had over 8,200 other small businesses on Alignable), I have gotten clients, and it is yet another platform where I show up in my community. I am proud of my accomplishments on Alignable. It’s a great platform to be on to showcase your company, to connect with your community, and to grow your business!” – Tracey Lee Davis, ZingPop Social Media
“Alignable is a good resource to first, have a general look at what industries and fields are represented, especially in your city, and secondly to reach out, say hello, let others know you’re there and to start conversations. You will most likely end up meeting someone for coffee that could be a great friend or mutual supportive player for business.
I agree heavily with points listed by others here, in that you must know beforehand what are“best practices”. Just like anywhere else, be mindful of appearing spammy, selling, etc. Remember, you are connecting with other business pros and entrepreneurs who are savvy to how you came across them. They most likely will recognize when you are just trying to pick up another “customer”. We’ve all become familiar with many of the same phrases, openers, and message strategies. These days, it’s all about supporting, sharing, and conversation vs. selling someone on your goods & services right at the start. Alignable is a good platform to do that.” – Greg Glander, Founder of Results Mastery Coaching and creator of Speak To Conquer.
“My advice to anyone reading this is the same advice I’ve given to dozens of folks who have asked me in person about Alignable: approach this platform as a chance to expand your network, grow relationships, and learn more about local businesses and business people. You’ll meet incredible folks doing exciting things if you use the platform consistently. You will likely never have someone message you asking for a quote – that’s not the spirit of the platform. But you will make connections who can help grow your business.
I’ve met innumerable wonderful people utilizing Alignable. Some were directly relevant to my industry and some were just well-connected or interesting local professionals I wanted to connect with. Using the platform to expand my network has created new business opportunities for me over time as I’ve grown these relationships. If you’re looking to create powerful, long-time connections, you’ve come to the right place.
We all want to sign new business yesterday. Take a more relationship-driven tact with Alignable. Give before you expect to gain. Grow relationships before you ask for anything. Remember a key theme that Dale Carnegie repeated throughout How to Win Friends & Influence People: become genuinely interested in other people. Utilize the power of connections to grow your business.” – John Rivers III, Sales & Business Development Manager at LEAP Spark
“As a Full-Time Realtor and small business owner, I can’t stress enough the importance of having solid business relationships with other business owners in your area. This is where those “Word of Mouth Referrals” come from that everyone is looking for! Everyone has heard the term, “your network is your net worth.” Setting up a reliable, trustworthy network through business relationships is absolutely critical when you are trying to build a successful, lasting business!
Last fall I was tasked with putting together a Business Networking International Group (BNI). This is a group of 25+ business owners, all from different professions who work to build relationships within the group and pass “Word of Mouth Referrals!” I tried every social platform available to the universe…Alignable is the MOST EFFECTIVE platform there is for trying to build a solid business network. (Trust me, I’ve tried them ALL).These other businesses are on Alignable for the same reason you are – to meet people, build lasting relationships, and work together to grow their businesses. LinkedIn was the only platform that even came close.
Alignable is very effective when used right. You must be referable and you must know networking etiquette. I can’t stress this enough! Do not look to sell to the members on Alignable – sell through them! Look to tap into their networks! Now there is a spider web effect. Instead of “trying” to sell to one person, you have built a relationship with them and they will refer you to their network! Spider Web Effect!
When I meet with a new business owner I have connected with through Alignable, I always start the meeting with a “Givers Gain Attitude.” I think: what can I do to help them grow THEIR business?? I always focus on building that RELATIONSHIP, and not on being the meathead salesman. People buy from people they KNOW!
I was able to grow my BNI group to 20+ members!…. from SCRATCH. Utilizing the tools Alignable gives us, but ultimately understanding the importance of my relationships with my clients and my business network! I can proudly say, Business Has Never Been Better! Cheers to Alignable!” – Taylor Pelzel
“By joining Alignable I reconnected to a number of good local business friends that I had lost track of and it gave me another way to publicly acknowledge businesses I know in my area. I love that Alignable is also a small business (compared to LinkedIn) truly committed to helping small businesses connect and network. Also your Alignable business page is well indexed by Google which increases your web presence. – Martin Brossman
Closing comments: I started this article to answer the questions I received from a number of business owners who did not fully understand Alignable, then it developed into a wonderful collaborative project. I reached out to a number of businesses like mine that had been named Business of the Year by Alignable because it was one filter of business that a community cared enough to vote for. I want to deeply thank all the businesses that contributed to this article – please check out their Alignable pages below. I welcome any additional comments in the designated areas below and I am glad to connect with any business that has a commitment to help other small business owners in their local community! – Martin Brossman
Contributor links on Alignable (Most contributors were 2018 Businesses of the Year on Alignable)
- Martin Brossman – Martin Brossman & Associates LLC, Raleigh NC
- Jane Maulucci – The Reactive Voice, LLC, New Bern, NC
- Andrea Marsavonian – Andrea Marsavonian, Pianist-Composer & School, Frisco, TX
- Barry Arcuik – BSA Home Improvement Contractor S Corp, Flushing, NY
- JB Floyd – LeadValets, Saint Louis, MO
- Stacey Riska – Small Biz Marketing Specialist, Bethesda, MD
- Charleen Ferguson – Just Call the I.T. Guy, Wylie, TX https://www.alignable.com/wylie-tx/just-call-the-i-t-guy
- Kristi Kirkland – Answer Marketing Inc, Panama City, FL
- Russell Moore – NAPA SEW & VAC, Napa, CA
- Anne Summers – A-M-S-Computers
- Cyndi Wilkins – The Healing Element- Massage and Bodywork
- H. Allen Rankin – Midtown Living Magazine/Best Version Media – Memphis, TN
- Robert Massard – Redford Lock Security Solutions-Novi, MI
- Jill Cone – AZ Metals
- Lori Webster – Hoopla! An Emporium Of Good Things, Altadena, CA
- Susan Fox – Brainview Training Institute, Avon, OH
- Joan Edwards – Joan Y. Edwards, Author-Illustrator, Motivator
- Tim Campbell – Relation Media, Guelph, ON
- Donna Connolly – Donna Connolly @ ERA Blanchard & Rossetto,…
- Greg Glander – Greg Glander Results Mastery Coaching, Henderson, NV
- Wallis Mason – STUDIO 1 Pilates n Movement, LLC, Baltimore, MD
- Tracey Lee Davis – ZingPop Social Media, San Jose, CA
- Michelle Hummel – Web Strategy Plus, Cincinnati, OH
- John Rivers III – John Rivers III – LEAP Spark, Louisville, KY
- Taylor Pelzel – Taylor Pelzel | Wilcox Real Estate Group, Gastonia, NC
- Danielle Cuddie – Velocity Printing, Easley, SC
Definition of Coopertition
My 1st article on Alignable https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-alignable-should-you-join-martin-brossman/
About my Alignable Meet and Greet in Raleigh, NC https://youtu.be/I_U27ffFhQM