This week, Luminary Reflections had the distinct privilege of speaking with three Founders about their experience, their expertise, and how they believe marketing a business and networking play hand in hand.
Let's learn to market your business and the benefits of networking!
Dawn Kelly is the Founder and CEO of The Nourish Spot in Jamaica, Queens. She is an award-winning entrepreneur and has extensive experience with public relations. Luminary is proud that Dawn is an integral member of its community.
Luminary Reflections: From where I’m standing, The Nourish Spot is excellent with advertising and branding. What does marketing 101 mean to you?
Dawn Kelly: To be perfectly honest, I have a background in that! I spent my career as a public relations executive. I worked in a number of different areas. What I learned was that if people don’t know that you’re doing something–because the world is so flooded with so many messages from so many brands; if you’re not consistent with letting the world know you exist, then you don’t exist. So it’s important to promote and market your business as much as possible. Try to be strategic of course, but you must be religious about promoting and marketing your business, to everyone you meet. And you have to use different platforms, but in terms of networking, like if we’re at Luminary, you should always be figuring out a way to explain to people you meet what you do. It may change depending on the person you’re meeting. Your language may change depending on who you’re selling to, but the mission is the same.
LR: What have been the benefits of networking throughout your career?
DK: Networking is very important to me. I have my own mathematical equation: Net Work = Net Worth. The more you network, the higher your net worth. And that means not necessarily only currency in terms of money, but social currency. It enhances not just who you know, but who knows you and who speaks up for you. It enhances the opportunity for you to either make more money through a promotion, like if you’re an employee; or it gives you the opportunity to make more through promotion and sales of a business.
LR: What is the most surprising advice when it comes to marketing or networking that you could give willingly?
DK: On Networking: get people talking about themselves. Let people exhaust themselves talking about themselves. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen intently, take note of the thing that makes the person’s eyes light up and then follow up on those things. One of the things that one of my mentors told me is, once you get people talking about themselves, when they’re finished, and you’ve listened and you can parrot back to them something important that they said or they heard, you’ve made a friend for life.
On Marketing: it takes research. For marketing to be successful, you need to do your homework; you need to take the time. You need to know who your audience is; you need to know how your audience likes to be spoken to, how they like to receive their information. And then, you need to have your messages down–succinct and brief. And it needs to be something that your audience would be happy to take away and be an ambassador for. And then once you have those things, promote, promote and promote some more.
Jeanette Rodriguez is the Founder and CEO of Vision & Heels, a coworking space for women and women allies in downtown Deland, Florida. Jeanette started her company with 20+ years as a finance professional under her belt and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to take her extensive knowledge.
Luminary Reflections: How does a business owner learn to best market themselves?
Jeanette Rodriquez: My best technique is to clearly show who I am, where I came from, and why I am passionate about what I do. I have come to realize that transparency is key. Being transparent makes me relatable, it allows people to feel as if they know me. Sharing my story has been essential to the rapid success I have achieved within my community. Moreover, it brings me great joy to see that my vision is now a reality.
LR: As the Founder and CEO of Vision & Heels, what have you found to be the most surprising takeaways about the benefits of networking for the women in your community?
JR: A frequent comment I tend to say around the office is, “It makes my heart smile when I witness success!” It has been a true pleasure for me to see the women in my community step into Vision & Heels with an idea or passion and later, watching that thought and determination become a reality. I try my best to provide them with a welcoming space and the necessary resources which help them throughout their journey. In doing so, I am able to play a small role in their success. I can proudly say that it is not uncommon to, at times, find me crying tears (of satisfaction) when I see them leaving their mark. Vision & Heels exists for this very reason!
LR: When you were starting out, what did you learn about marketing yourself and your business?
JR: I always considered myself quite the introvert. Yet, once I began to market my business (aka - my baby), I learned that I no longer was afraid to speak publicly because my passion exceeded my fear. It has been so rewarding to see the community use and appreciate my space. They embrace my vision and continue to help me spread the word.
LR: What have been the greatest benefits of networking throughout your career?
JR: Networking has allowed me to meet individuals from all industries and walks of life. In every role that I have had, both in the corporate world and now as an entrepreneur, I have been incredibly fortunate to encounter individuals who either served as a strategic alliance connector or have otherwise positively impacted my journey. Also, I’ve never been afraid to make moves within my career. I’ve moved upwards, laterally, and in some cases, backwards. However, this has allowed me to gather experience and build the network I currently have. Lastly, by surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, the fire for my success continues to burn!
And lastly, Ruchi Pinniger is the Founder and CEO of Watch Her Prosper, a team that empowers women and women business owners to be prosperous and powerful through their finances. She is an incredibly important member of Luminary’s community.
Luminary Reflections: Please tell me about what inspired you to start Watch Her Prosper?
Ruchi Pinniger: After almost 20 years in the corporate world, I was feeling very unfulfilled and knew that there was more out there for me. I knew that I wanted to help people in a deeper way, I just had no idea what that looked like. I even hired a coach who really helped me open up to see what was possible; she told me to listen to the signs from the universe. And I started to really listen! And what I kept hearing was that there were so many amazing women who had started their own businesses but didn’t have business or finance backgrounds. You don’t always learn how to run a business; you don’t always learn how to manage the finances in a business. They’d say, “I love what I do, it's so amazing, but I just feel so overwhelmed by the numbers.” So for me, that was the message. I said, this is what I can be doing. I have this background and these women need my help. And one of my very dear friends was one of those women who had been in business many years, kind of ignored her numbers, didn’t always know what she was spending, and hadn’t raised her rates in years. And I said to her, I have this time now, let me help you. After three months of working together, she started to say what an impact the work had made for her. And she started to tell people about me, and that’s how Watch Her Prosper began!
LR: What lessons do you feel you gained from your time in the financial services industry that the average woman wouldn’t know?
RP: I think it's confidence. Some of it is skill, just understanding numbers, how the revenue and the expenses work; but a lot of it was confidence. I’m not scared of the numbers, I feel empowered by them; I feel like I can look at them and make sense of them. We have some women who are so intelligent and so talented, and yet, when they see numbers, they don’t make sense of them. Our job is to partner with them, to help them make sense. I always say the numbers tell a story, and Watch Her Prosper can look at the numbers and know what the story is. And then we go deeper with our clients when we meet with them. Like, “What’s really happening for you on the inside?”
LR: Do you feel like marketing and networking are in line with a business's finances?
RP: Absolutely in terms of your growth, because marketing and networking are really about how you make people aware of the work that you do. And that is a huge part of what's coming in, the revenue. I’ve been able to build my business actually without paying for a lot of marketing. Like I'm not doing ads online. But what I am doing, and this is something that's very relevant, is I'm staying present. I’m out there. People know who I am because I’m doing different things in the world and I’m getting to know people from different angles. There are a lot of aspects to marketing; it’s not just ads, it’s also being out there and being present in your audience. So that could mean just word of mouth, or sharing information with other women. It’s also surrounding yourself with other women who work with the same audience, and getting to know them. Networking is a form of marketing.
LR: How can one be prosperous in their networking?
RP: Be targeted. Don’t spread yourself too thin. As I get older, I realize it’s about quality over quantity. Think about networking as quality over quantity. You would rather go deeper and connect with 10 or 12 people and know them really well and have them as your champions than to know 100 people but not on a deeper level. You won’t get to a level with those people where they're going to think of you every time someone says, “I need help with my finances.” Don’t allow the FOMO to get in your way. You’re not going to know everyone, but you’ll know and spend time with the people that lift you up, that bring you joy, and that’s most important. Find your tribe, meet your people.
Thank you so much to our interviewees for their time and being so generous with their knowledge. If you’re looking for a community to branch out and deepen your connections, please consider Luminary!