I didn’t just bump into the man; this is not a tale of a decent celebrity spot. On 28th February 2020 I attended the #sbsevent2020, for a day of inspirational presentations, networking and celebration with fellow winners and to collect my certificate from the man himself. I’d won on the Christmas week of 2019, but how did I get there?
What is #SBS?
If you’re a small business and on Twitter and you’ve not come across the competition, I’d encourage you to enter. In fact, even if you’re not on Twitter really do consider getting an account. I’m still relatively new to the platform (for business), still learning, but the boost from winning has shown me that it’s worth sticking around.
Every Sunday between 17:00 – 19:30 Theo opens the competition on Twitter and invites small businesses to tweet. You can read more details here at https://www.theopaphitissbs.com/about. I’d entered each week for several months and instructions the week I won were to, “have some fun with it, let’s go all out Christmas…!”
My #SBS winning tweet
You can see it pinned proudly to the top of my profile (@jogordonanalyst) but if you’re not on Twitter, here’s what I came up with that got the attention of Theo:
<To the tune of “12 Days of Christmas”>
Hi, Theo P
4 current clients
3 days of work left
2 repeat gigs
And a small biz owner rockin’ 2019
[string of Xmas related emojis]
Where I was when I won #SBS
Winners are announced on Mondays at 8pm by Theo retweeting his winners’ tweets to his network. Unusually, I wasn’t tethered to my phone as is normal, it was charging upstairs. Then Asda arrived to deliver the weekly shop and I sort of forgot the time. It was only when I went to get my phone later that I saw my notifications had gone crazy.
The response was overwhelming. I’d almost written off Twitter as a platform for my business, fed up of tweeting into the ether and not knowing how to build any audience, let alone one that was made up of potential clients and more importantly people with whom I have something in common.
What are the benefits of winning #SBS?
In the first week I had a 15% bump in followers. It’s now +60% growing steadily now that I am interacting in the community and tuning in to support new entrants. I’ve still got a long way to go in terms of serving good content to that audience, but I’m also focusing on LinkedIn too … one step at a time and more on that later.
I have an official badge on my website and twitter handle, a profile and access to small business resources on theopahitissbs.com, and an invite to the annual winners’ event. I’ve capitalized on it in my own content marketing and shamelessly name-dropped at local networking – and I’ll continue to do so. But it’s really the community that counts.
Communities are critical to small businesses
That got me thinking about my journey to entering SBS and I think it goes something like this; the common theme here is the connections made with others and the doors that doing that opens. Once I had accepted the power of communities it really didn’t matter if no one else in those groups did what I do. We can all learn from each other.
I mentioned LinkedIn earlier which, before Twitter, was and still is my main online platform for business. It was being so active on LinkedIn and having worked through all my BS excuses for not using it properly that gave me the confidence to use Twitter more. But that’s no accident – I am paying to learn how to use LI in a way that suits me.
So really, it’s having been a part of that LinkedIn Mastermind community that was the catalyst to transferring my attention to another platform. But I also know loads of other freelancers who are killing it on Twitter – and I know them from the Freelance Heroes and Being Freelance communities. Their examples spurred me on too.
But the first community I joined as I transitioned from a corporate employee to small business owner was Leapers who supports anyone that works differently and currently have a focus on mental health. In fact, that the MIND speaker at the #sbsevent2020 called out Leapers as a resource #sbswinners may want to check out. All connected.
I am still somewhat intimidated by local networking, so attending a large event with 900 businesses there was nothing short of terrifying. But I could take a guest and so by tempting my husband with a night in a budget hotel and paying for his train I had an ally. My aim this first year was not to network (too much, too soon) but to be a super-sponge.
There were some very big hitters this year, in terms of presenters: Google Digital Garage, MIND, LinkedIn, NatWest and Sara Davies, MBE. All were useful, but I thought that Google and Sara spoke most directly and effectively to the audience in the room. But I’ve got actions to take from all the presentations though, such was the quality.
Just being able to relax over lunch (top-notch, by the way) with someone I know this year let me survey the room to think about how to work it a little more next year when my aim will be to network. I hope then that I will know some more of the community in a virtual capacity and meet with them IRL. I’m not wanting to sell, just make connections.
First time attendees can have their photo taken with the man himself. He’s not scary and fierce like a dragon at all. As a small business I could not afford to attend paid events where I can meet so many businesses and see this calibre of speakers, so I’m very grateful to him and his team of volunteers and sponsors that make this happen.
And the superb goody bag. Luckily, my husband knows that I don’t share very well :)