At Alignable, we believe small business owners are stronger when you band together.

My series of posts to date has been about the many ways business owners can generate word-of-mouth referrals when business relationships are formed locally.

I’ve covered:

In this post I’m going to provide you with a step-by-step guide for how to build local word-of-mouth for your business by investing less than 10 minutes a day on Alignable, the free social network for small business owners.

Signing up is easy, and it’s completely free to join. And even if you’re not an Alignable user, these tips can help you get more from any of the interactions you’re already having online.

Let’s get started!

Step One: Building Your Network

Remember that word-of-mouth isn’t only something that happens between consumers. As a business owner, you have the ability to help support other businesses and organizations by helping spread the word about the different things they have going on.

In return, you’ll be able to build meaningful relationships that can lead to new opportunities to grow your business and reach more people locally.

Here’s how it works on Alignable:

Sign up for Alignable at our website. When you join Alignable your business will be visible to all of the business owners nearby (typically within 5 miles). The first step you should take is to connect with the business owners nearby that you already know or would like to meet. If you’re looking to meet someone new be sure to share a little about why you’d like to connect in the request you send.

Finding the business owners you already know on Alignable is simple. Just connect your email account and we’ll search your contacts for small business owners anywhere in North America. We’ll show you the matches so you can decide whom you’d like to connect with.

Be sure to recommend any locally owned business you’d be willing to refer your customers to. We’ll let them know and you’ll get regular updates about what that business is up to. It’s a great way to build your recommendations too since more often than not they will recommend you back.

Step Two: Sharing What You Do

If you want to build an audience for your business, you need to be active in conversations about your industry and community.

When you share useful content and provide value to your audience, you’ll have more people finding and talking about your business through the power of word-of-mouth.

Here’s how it works on Alignable:

Building out a robust profile is a great way to get the word out about your business. It provides Alignable with information we can share with your network about your business (keeping you top-of-mind) and shows others interested in your business what you’re all about. Here are some must haves on your profile:

  • Business Description: share what makes your business unique and how your background makes you a great business to turn to when others are looking for what you provide.
  • Your Picture: be sure to add it to your profile. Businesses with an owner’s picture get 3x the word-of-mouth referrals as those without.
  • Products / Services Offered: feature at least 3 products or services you offer. We’ll then share one of these each month with your network, keeping you top-of-mind.
  • Your Staff: add anyone on your team you’d like others in the business community to get to know.

Now that you have the basics of your business working to drive referrals, be sure to keep it fresh by adding information about what you are up to that will continue to draw others to your business. For example:

  • Post Promotions, Events, and Classes you’re offering at least 45 days in advance to optimize their visibility within the community and providing others enough time to share them with their followers.
  • Start relevant discussions about local issues or business knowledge with others. You can start discussions in your neighborhood, industry, or nationally around topics of interest (i.e. email marketing).

Step Three: Sharing content from others

Promoting events or news from other businesses will establish goodwill between you and other businesses in your community. It also makes it easier to come up with content ideas when you don’t have to create everything from scratch. By sharing updates that are about more than your business, you’re showing them your commitment to the greater community.

Here’s how it works on Alignable:

As you receive information about other businesses in your network and community be sure to share it with others. Each time you do, we’ll be sure to let the other businesses know and will encourage them to do the same for you.

Once the cycle starts it’s incredible to see how a small group of local businesses working together can help each other succeed. Here are a few ways you can share for each other:

  • Use the quick share feature at the bottom of every post to share it with your online network

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  • Print out and Post in your business your monthly Recommendations Calendar. It’s formatted to showcase all of the businesses you’ve recommended.
  • Add a Recommendations calendar to your website. We have a simple website App enabling you to automatically post all of your events and promotions to your website and also share those of the businesses you recommend.

Building local word-of-mouth on Alignable is as simple as making connections, sharing what you have to offer, and being willing to share for others. By doing so you’ll start to see just how strong local businesses can become when working together! Get started by creating your free account at Alignable.com.

About the author: Eric Groves is the co-founder and CEO of Alignable, the local business network where small businesses and organizations connect and collaborate with others nearby. Eric is a local marketing expert and enthusiast who spent 10 years as an executive at Constant Contact. He authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing and believes that local businesses are always stronger together.