grow your business

Kara’s Korner: The Best Way to Grow Your Business

“The Best Way to Grow Your Business: Get Out of the Office” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

When you run a business, it seems like every time you turn around someone is offering you a new, fancy strategy to encourage growth, brand your company, or find collaborations to grow your business. But in my experience as founder and CEO of Hint water, I have to say that there’s one very simple practice that has helped me achieve all three of those and more: Get out there.

1. Write Your Story

In today’s market, having a good product or service isn’t enough. People want to understand the story behind the business—your story: who you are and why you started your company. More and more, this is becoming the key to building a successful brand. You see it play out time and again—from Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan of Method, to Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal, even to Mark Zuckerburg—whose story was so sought after, they made an entire movie about it! Anonymity is a thing of the past. In an age like ours where everything and everyone is connected, consumers understand that each dollar they spend goes into the pockets of actual people—human beings with personalities, histories, and stories to tell. Put your story out there where people can see you, relate to you, and trust you. Whether it’s by showing up to social functions, handing out samples of your product yourself, or participating in panels. Telling your story builds an honest relationship with your consumer, and that is one of the most effective ways to bolster a loyal customer base.

2. Network – Just not in the Office

For me, the best PR strategy has been to get out of the office. Sitting behind a desk making phone calls just doesn’t have the same effect. I make it a point to show up at luncheons, public speaking events, and all kinds of conferences—from Fortune to Forbes. My networking strategy when I approach these functions? Keep it organic. I’m not one to tactically sift through the list of attendees and figure out who I need to introduce myself to—I just let conversations happen naturally and see where those lead me. It’s truly amazing what can blossom out of a spontaneous chat with whoever happens to be sitting next to you.

This was exactly the case recently. I struck up a conversation with a person who I learned was the CEO of a major clothing brand that focuses on wellness and healthy living. At the surface, it didn’t seem like a clothing brand and a beverage company had much room to collaborate, so our conversation was genuinely friendly—we were just hanging out! But as the chat continued, I learned that they were looking to branch out beyond clothing, and it wasn’t long before we started talking about collaborating from a distribution standpoint—selling Hint in their retail stores. Because we’re small, we’re willing to try new things and see where they take us. Using that philosophy of openness and spontaneity in the way I approach networking has opened more doors for us than sending a million emails from an office ever could.

3. Take it with You

You are the face of your brand, so everywhere you go, take your brand with you. If it’s clothing, wear it; if it’s technology-based, carry your product or bring a bag with your logo; and if it’s a beverage—drink it.

Not long ago, I was sitting next to a woman at a TED conference, and we were both drinking Hint. She casually commented that she loved the product, so I asked her why. Immediately she started telling me the story of the woman who owned the company—about her commitment to losing weight and becoming healthier for her family, about her struggle to replace soda with a wholesome drink that actually tasted good—in other words, my story! When I told her that I was that woman, naturally it was the perfect springboard to start a conversation. The magnetism of your story will attract consumers to your brand, and living your brand every day will attract those consumers and potential partnerships to you. Case in point: that same woman later became an advisor in our company.

Vacationing is another great opportunity to share your brand. I always have Hint sent to me when I take trips, and inevitably people will ask me about it. It’s a perfect way to start up conversations, hear other people’s stories, and create connections. And who knows, those unplanned connections may just end up leading to opportunities you never imagined.