Joining me today is Kristen Ruby, the President and Founder of Ruby Media Group LLC. Kristen is a Social Media Specialist and Public Relations Consultant that specializes in social media optimization and branding in real time. I know Kristen as a bundle of energy and a natural networker who really cares about the relationships she builds with those around her.
Natalie MacNeil: You started Ruby Media Group right out of college. What made you decide to take the leap into entrepreneurship rather than jumping into Corporate America?
Kristen Ruby: I decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship rather than jumping into Corporate America because I love the satisfaction of feeling that I have created something and that I have ownership of it. I think there is a big myth in America that you need to follow the system and climb the corporate ladder to gain experience. By strategically aligning with the right partners and choosing business mentors, you can gain invaluable experience that you may have otherwise not been able to gain inside of a corporation- it is a much more “hands on” approach to learning. My ultimate mission is to encourage more people to create their own businesses out of college by branding themselves appropriately in a specific niche. The media is constantly pushing out statistics about how students from 2009 do not have jobs. They should view this as a great opportunity to build something for themselves rather than jumping into a pile of competition.
NM: How have you used social media to build your business?
KR: I have used social media to build every aspect of my business. To this day, I still have not created one print advertisement. All of my new business comes through speaking engagements, conferences, my columns, or other means of social media communication. You have to commit the time to blog not only for your clients but for your own business to help build a voice and establish credibility in the marketplace. All of these things are unpaid activities but in actuality they are really your own marketing investment in yourself and your company. I utilize my blog, my web site, my Facebook and my twitter to share relevant content related to my business, as well as to promote interesting accomplishments of my clients. For example, with the help of Ruby Media Group, my client John Nevius at Anderson Kill & Olick was recently placed on Bloomberg television (twice).
NM: What tips do you have for people to make the most out of online networking?
KR: My tips would be to let your personality shine through. In the beginning of my use of social networking, I was afraid to let my personal voice shine through because I wanted everything to appear more corporate. The problem is that this looks too cookie cutter. People want to see the human aspect of your business, not just pre-canned tweets, etc. Today, I try to really share my life and blur the line between personal and corporate personas. Granted this is not the best approach for everyone, but as a blogger I feel that you have to inherently share part of your life with your audience, followers and fans to really increase client engagement.
NM: What are the top 3 lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
KR: The top 3 lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur are:
- Don’t be afraid of big numbers. Entrepreneurs usually have a shift at some point in their first year of business where their business model changes, or they realize that the scope of the project is larger than they budgeted for. It is better to price accordingly than under price and wish you had priced accordingly from the beginning.
- Don’t let people bring you down as a woman in business. Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished as a female entrepreneur. Only keep people around you who will lift you up and inspire you. As a female entrepreneur, you may often receive a difficult time from some people who may say you are “too businesslike,” “not feminine enough,” and you are not “traditional enough.” Don’t let these people get you down! You are a woman of example!
- Learn from every deal that you don’t close. This is critical, especially for early entrepreneurs who are not used to dealing with a lot of rejection. Every deal that you don’t close can teach you invaluable lessons for making future deals go smoother. I used to pour so much time into writing out detailed twelve page proposals only to have people utilize the information I wrote for them and shop it to someone else. I learned very quickly that being over-generous with upfront information can actually help you lose a deal rather than close it. Don’t give away the cow for free! You wouldn’t go into BMW and say, “Can I take this BMW home with me and then see if I want to buy it?” The same is true for your marketing services. Don’t give people the services before they have bought them or you will lose the allure of what you are selling.
NM: I have experienced people using my proposals too. It’s annoying but definitely a good lesson to learn early on. What is a day like “in your heels?”
KR: A typical day in my heels is extremely busy! The two things I love most in this world are my business and my stilettos (and of course my Dog, Morgy). I am usually running back and forth between client meetings, managing a team of five interns virtually on Skype, and having calls with partner firms. I only stop for two minutes to pick up a large coffee and half a muffin. I barely have time to eat and my Blackberry is usually buzzing. I spend a lot of my time tweeting for clients, blog writing and creating ad concepts for them. I also spend a lot of time working on the PR side of blogger outreach, pitching and placement. I love the feeling of securing placements for clients- there is nothing better than that! One of my mentors, Peter Giles, President of Giles Communications, taught me something invaluable. He said, “Always ask your clients if they are happy with what you are delivering.” I try to bring this approach into every aspect of my client relationships today.
Towards the end of the day, I always make room for an hour at the gym and some form of spiritual practice to clear my mind. After stopping for a quick bite, it is back to work! As you can tell, a day in the life of Kris Ruby’s heels is usually very entertaining- there is never a dull moment to say the least 🙂
NM: Thanks so much Kristen!
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