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Authors Posts by Tony Roma

Tony Roma

Tony Roma is Insightly’s Content Manager. With a knack for finding the best way to accomplish a task, he’s been helping businesses improve their workflows for more than 10 years.

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Our business guru tackles the topic of networking. Read on for his tips on how to make the right connections, find your core, and organize the rest.

Tony Roma

When asked about the greatest challenges faced by female business owners, Carolyn Leonard, CEO of DyMynd, told Business News Daily, “One of the biggest challenges for a female entrepreneur is not understanding how important it is to have networks and trusted advisors.” Networking is vital to any form of career success, and it’s especially important when you have your own business. By following through on introductions and referrals and being open to new meetings, you will always gain new knowledge and possibly gain new connections that will help you grow your business. Expanding your current network can happen organically, but it’s important to take steps to meet people who can help you out.

At a high level, there are many resources to help small businesses get off the ground, from government associations to trade groups to academic institutions, and it’s the people you’ll meet through these organizations that will make all the difference. Dr. Deborah Osgood, president and CEO of Knowledge Institute for Small Business Development (KISBD), recently put together a list of groups that can help you establish new connections and obtain assistance and information. As an expert in small business development, Dr. Osgood has contributed to many small business success stories. She recognizes that there are bumps in the road for any business and advises “don’t try to do it alone.”

There are many national and local organizations that focus on providing resources and information to help women-owned businesses, in particular. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers resources and advice on finding a mentor for women who are starting a business. But what if you find that there isn’t a group that suits a specific need or niche, or there’s something lacking in the network you’ve established? While it is a lot of work to start your own networking group, it can be accomplished with passion and focus. The fact that you recognize the need for a new kind of organization means you’ve done the informal research to get one started, and it’s likely you’ve found other women in the same boat.

As you speak with more people in your business circles, start thinking about who can help and how they can contribute. One fellow business owner may have a space where she can host group events, while others may be the perfect speakers on topics like taxes or small business loans. You’ll find that when you ask for help, your fellow business owners will be willing to pitch in to connect with other entrepreneurs and share the lessons they’ve learned. It’s certain that your new network will grow as others join you to expand their connections and share information that can be difficult to get otherwise.

Frederique Irwin had that realization and established Her Corner to expand “access to other motivated and ambitious women business owners.” By establishing a resource to organize events, share information, and facilitate locally-organized group meetings, Frederique has brought together like-minded female business owners to collaborate and expand their businesses. Building new communities isn’t easy, but her advice to find experienced partners, build a core group, and keep your focus on your members will help you make new connections for yourself and for the rest of your business community. With dedication and connections to the right people, you can build a core team that will establish a wider network and help you and your business grow.

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How can you leverage software to increase your productivity and boost your bottom line? Our business columnist offers insight.


Our business columnist
Our business columnist shares how businesses can increase productivity by connecting their software.

When you’re running a business, there’s a lot to keep track of: accounting, sales, deliveries, customer service and so much more. You’re probably using all kinds of mobile and online applications to manage the work you do, but are you connecting them together to save yourself valuable time and effort?’

Imagine that you change a contact’s phone number in your CRM and your address book is automatically updated with the new information. Or as you compose an email to schedule a meeting, you insert your availability into the message without switching to your calendar. Or you process a credit card payment and it’s automatically registered in your accounting software. All of these things can be accomplished with integrations, plug-ins, add-ons or extensions—different ways of sharing information between apps.

Browser Extensions
Every popular desktop browser has a way of adding new functions to it, like Firefox’s Add-Ons or the Chrome Web Store, and there are a number of extensions that improve your experience with applications you’re already using. For example, if you use Gmail, there are loads of browser extensions that will add tools directly to your inbox. Boomerang for Gmail lets you schedule outgoing emails or “boomerangs” incoming messages to the top of your inbox at a later time. And Boomerang Calendar allows you to propose meeting times right in an email message for easy scheduling. There are tools for monitoring and publishing to your WordPress blog, accessing LinkedIn profiles and signing documents—all from within your current browser window.

Product Integrations
It’s common for web-based software (or “SaaS software”) to include connections to other online apps, from marketing to accounting to file storage. The next time you open an app, check for integrations on the company website or in your settings. Our Insightly’s integrations page is a good example, where we list connections to and from our CRM for software like QuickBooks Online, Dropbox, Boomerang for Gmail and many more. With our QuickBooks Online integration, you can view a customer’s invoices and payments directly from their CRM record, so there’s no need to log in to QuickBooks to check on an invoice status. Some of these integrations are built by Insightly and others are built by the connecting services, all to make our common customers’ lives easier. Using integrations to connect your apps is a smart way to boost productivity and keep your data updated in multiple places.

Integration Services
If the product you’re using doesn’t have the integration you need, there are still other options to explore. Integration services like Zapier, FlowXO and Podbox can be set up as bridges between applications. They work by creating a trigger in one system that prompts an action in another system. One example is adding a new contact in your CRM, which could trigger a welcome email from your marketing software. Another would be to automatically create a Facebook post on your company page whenever you have a new blog entry on WordPress. It’s not a bad idea to map out the triggers and actions on paper or a whiteboard to help you plan the setup. Integration services fill in the gaps when there is no other option available.

Ultimately, there is no single application that includes every tool you need to run a business, so integrations can help you reduce data entry time and be much more productive. Some of these options will take effort to set up, but it’s likely you’ll see a payoff very quickly. Think through the possibilities: If it takes you 30 minutes to set up an integration and it saves you only 5 minutes a day, you’ll already be saving time within the first week of using it. That’s a great return on the time you invest!

About the author: Tony Roma is Insightly’s Content Manager. With a knack for finding the best way to accomplish a task, he’s been helping businesses improve their workflows for over ten years.