One of the questions I am most often asked by new members is, “What should I do first now that I am a member of the Indie Business Network?” There are so many benefits to joining the Indie Business Network (you can see them here), and it can be a big daunting to decide where to go first.
The first thing NOT to do is to try to absorb IBN all at once. That would be fun, but a bit crazy, and so it's definitely not the way to go. I want you to take your time and absorb the benefits in a sequential order, so the experience is empowering rather than overwhelming. Here is a suggested approach. (If you are reading this and you are not a member, this guide will give you a better idea of what we offer and may answer questions you have if you are thinking about joining. You can join at this link.)
Purchase Product Liability Insurance
One of our most popular benefits is the affordable product liability insurance we offer through a partnership with an A-rated insurance company that loves working with small businesses like you. The coverage is for handmade products including soaps, all kinds of cosmetics, artisan perfume, jewelry, and candles. (Get more information about product liability insurance.) After you join, you'll receive an automated receipt at the email address used in your application. You'll also receive an automated message sharing how to get your coverage. Follow those instructions and your insurance certificate will be emailed to you immediately after you make your payment.
** Be sure to check your inbox and spam folder for these important email messages. **
If you have product liability insurance elsewhere, or if you don't need it, you do not have to purchase it through our program of course.
Many of our members join before they start selling products because we offer small business training mentoring and coaching to save you time, money and headaches as you lay a firm foundation for the day you will start selling products. Our membership benefits allow you to be a member without insurance coverage for two years before you start selling products, so you have plenty of time to plan your business and get it off on strong footing from the start.
Log Into Our Exclusive Private Member Website
As soon as you join, you'll be directed to an online registration page to complete your enrollment. It is important that you do not skip this step because it includes choosing your username and password so you can access the exclusive password protected areas of our site. Registering on this secure page is the ONLY way to get access to the private areas of the site.
You'll choose your username and password, so use that combination to log in and see all the fantastic things available to you as a member. Keep it in a safe place so you can log in easily and quickly.
Use the blue button in the upper right of our site to log in.
If at any time you forget your log in information, you can do a “forgot password” action, and an email will be sent to you immediately so you can reset your password and log in right away. You can change your password but not your username.
Create Your Indie Business Network Member Profile
This will enable you to interact with other members in the private forum at our site, and help them find YOU too! To get to the Member Forum, just log in and then click “Forum” at the top of the navigation menu.
Be sure to fill in all your information, especially the keyword search information, as it will help other members easily connect with you and discover what you offer so you can see how you can help each other.
(While the Member Forum at the site is not as active as the Facebook group (see below), it's important to maintain a place of our own that is not dependent on Facebook.)
Browse Our Extensive Resource Library
When I say “browse,” I mean that. I don't mean dive in and start reading and downloading everything … that would be too much. Just browse around to see what's there, maybe make a note or two about resources you want to make sure you return to check out later.
After you log in, you'll land on a “News” page, which is updated weekly with all the information needed to make sure you don't miss upcoming events or important updates. You'll receive a members only email with the update each Monday.
From that “News” page, you can use the handy Quick Navigation buttons on the right to go wherever you'd like. I recommend you start with “Success Calls” and “Connection Day.”
Success Calls are the summaries and audio recordings of the training classes we have with experts who can help your business grow. Our members only calls have featured experts in too many areas to name, including: trademarks and branding, personal development, wholesale, retail, social media, state and federal regulations, organic regulations, business finance, office and lifestyle design, online marketing, direct mail marketing, product photography, packaging, microbiology testing, search engine optimization, and so much more.
The resources are searchable via 22 carefully selected categories to make it easy to find the information you need. Colorful graphics make it fun!
Connection Day is our exclusive members only day of strategic Masterminding, business planning, and vision boarding, and connection in several cities nationwide. In 2014, we are going to Atlanta Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Portland (Oregon), and New York. You can get the dates for the city nearest you, and register, by clicking this link.
Enroll in Indie Beauty University
If you own a cosmetics business, you'll definitely want to take all of these classes — they are complimentary with your membership! Each module comes with an audio stream and a download transcript summary. Module 3 is focused specifically on how to label your cosmetics in accordance with FDA regulations, so you can skip that if you don't have a cosmetics business. All of the other modules (trademarks, PR, networking for business …) are perfect for all businesses.
Join our Private Facebook Group
One of the things your welcome email will contain is your invitation to join our private Facebook group. Don't miss that! Our private group was created exclusively for Indie Business Network members, and it is on FI-YAH 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once you are there, you'll be welcomed and invited to introduce yourself to your fellow members and share a little overview of your business.
This group offers all kinds of opportunities for you to learn and grow in community with your fellow members. The amount of support offered by hundreds of entrepreneurs nationwide is astounding and will pretty much blow you away. In addition to inspiration and encouragement, you'll also find a healthy dose of accountability … we mean business, yes we do.
Display The Current Indie Business Network Member Badge At Your Sites
When you log into the members only area of our site, one of the navigation links connects you to the area where you can grab the code for our current member badge. You can read about the badge in this post.
Our badge is updated annually to include the year so our members’ customers and clients can be assured that their Indie Business Network membership is current.
For our member Esty sellers, we designed a badge especially for you! The Indie Business Network member badge shows your Etsy customers that your products are independently handmade by you and your team, and not by people with no vested interest in the importance of handmade. It’s your skin that’s in the game, and the Indie Business Network member badge reflects that!
Like the Indie Business Network Facebook Page
We are always posting helpful information and enjoying fun discussions at our public Facebook Page. While it's not as intimate as our private Facebook group, it's still fun to be there with like-minded creative entrepreneurs from around the world. We chat, share ideas, and inspire each other with how we live and work each day.
Like the Indie Business Network Facebook Page here.
Like Us on Twitter
When you join, we add you to our Twitter list for members only, and we Tweet from that list daily so we can feature all the great things you are doing. The Indie Business Network has over 30,000 followers, so when we sharing something, it is not an insignificant share.
If you are already a member, you can see yourself on our Twitter list here. You can follow the list too, and stay abreast of member activities and events.
Follow us on Twitter here.
Join Our Public Social Networking Site
Our public social networking site is a great place to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs around the world in a semi-closed environment. While it's open to the public, it is moderated so that not “just anyone” is accepted to participate. Spam at our site is extremely rare and members are showcased in a variety of ways, including the display of the member badge on their profiles. You can see how this looks here and here, for example.
As an Indie Business Network member, not only can you create a profile there, but you can also post your product photos in the Photo Gallery, your videos in the Video Gallery, and your events (sales, shows, classes, speaking engagements) in the Events Calendar. We share your pictures and events so you enjoy additional traction in your business!
Our public site is searchable on Google so when people are looking for what you offer, it's another place they can go to find you and your offerings.
(Well, maybe 11 things …) Browse the Indie Business Blog
In the upper right sidebar on this page, you'll see “Categories” for the blog posts here. Click “Select a Category” and you'll see searchable topic areas. Some of the most popular topics are Advocacy, Social Media and Marketing and Podcasts.
Grab your favorite hot beverage and enjoy all the great posts. At the top of each post, you'll see a “More” button. Click that and you can print our posts and save them to your Success Library for future use!
I hope this is helpful you. If you have any questions, post them below.