Why Small Business CEOs Need to Be Publicly Available

Posted August 05, 2013

By Janine Popick

As the leader of your company, you're tasked with a million things, and it's easy to get caught up in the routine of meeting after meeting after meeting. But what are you missing by being walled in all day? A lot, I'd argue.

That's why I think it's vitally important that the CEO or founder of any company, regardless of its size, be accessible to both customers and employees. Here are some ways to break out of those all-day-every-day meetings and replace them with valuable face time with the folks that matter the most.

Social Media Isn't Just for Social Media Managers

According to a recent "social CEO" study conducted by public relations firm Weber Shandwick, 76 percent of executives believe it's a good idea for CEOs to participate on social media networks, and 67 percent of execs working for these social media-active CEOs believe that it's a good use of their CEO's time.

According to Marketing Land, the study shows that "CEOs who participated on social media networks were more likely to be defined as good communicators, open and accessible, and were considered good listeners."

The takeaway: be present on the social media platforms that your customers frequent, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and respond to comments that people post to you directly. Having a presence on social networks gives you a direct eye and ear to what people say and share about your company, its products and services.

Show Your Face

While nothing makes a bigger impression than face-to-face communication, you can't be everywhere all the time. Make the most of one-on-one opportunities with customers, like setting up live webinars, posting videos and blogging regularly to add personality and to lend credibility to your business.

You might consider speaking on a number of webinars a year, which your marketing team can promote to get tons of folks to register. You can record and share them on social networks and on your website. That will extend the reach of your efforts long after the webinar ends.

If your company has a blog, write for it regularly, as well as for other publications. By taking the time to share your knowledge and to produce valuable content for others, you get yourself and your company in front of new audiences and readers.

Remove Barriers and Get Found

If you want to be accessible, you've got to put your money (or, in this case, your contact information) where your mouth is so people can find you. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, recommends asking these three questions:

  • How available are you to your customers?
  • Can your customers email you and your leadership team? Can they connect with you on social media channels?
  • If they can, do you respond or does someone else do it for you?

Publish your email address right on your website and have your leadership team follow your lead. That way, you're all in it together, and it gives your customers and prospects a channel to reach you quickly and easily. And answer your own emails—don't push that task off on some summer intern.

Open Doors—Literally

Unless you're in a meeting, keep your door wide open. That open door open signals an invitation for anyone to pop their head in or grab your attention if they need it in the moment. It sends a non-verbal message that you're available, interested, approachable and accessible, just as a closed door sends the opposite. Think about what message you're sending your own team just by the status of your office door.

If this type of accessibility feels impossible or unmanageable, it's not. I do it every day. So next time you're in back-to-back all day meetings, consider these tips to make yourself more available and see what changes you can make.

Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service email, social and event marketing solutions for small businesses. Connect with her on Twitter at @janinepopick.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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