Alignable has dubbed itself "The Small Business Referral Network." The platform is designed to connect small businesses with others and promote referring business to one another. The social network was founded in 2014 but has become increasingly popular, especially in the last two years. There are many features that are included in a free account (they also have a premium subscription that provides increased visibility and more connections) that are to be used to showcase your business and get others interested in networking with you, build a solid relationship and refer business.
The bottom line is that Alignable has proven to be effective for both local business communities and businesses that operate nationally. The social network claims that "there are nearly 6 million business owners on Alignable, in over 35,000 communities."
So, where to get started on Alignable? Here are a few tips on using the platform effectively:
Complete Your Business Profile
It's important to complete the basics of your business profile by uploading your logo, adding your website, phone number, location and Facebook Business page link (if applicable). Then upload a strategic professional looking banner, add a description (i.e. what set your business apart from your competition), select the appropriate service tags so your business can be found and fill out the tags and a quick sentence about your ideal customer and ideal referral partner.
Don't forget to complete your "user" information as well. Upload a nice professional headshot, use your business email address and add your title/what you do.
Here's an example of how to use the ideal customer/referral section:
Connect & Recommend
By navigating over to "My Network," you can see suggested profiles to connect with. Alignable will also add a list from your contacts it can access via your email address. Other profiles that have you in their contacts will also get notifications that you are now on Alignable. This makes it easy to grow your network very quickly. Then, you want to start leaving recommendations for your contacts. This will encourage connections to reciprocate and you definitely WANT recommendations. It's easy with just a click of a button next to the connection's name in the My Network / Connections list, see example below:
Explore groups by clicking to "My Groups" on the top navigation bar. Be sure to connect with your "community" i.e. the local chapter of Alignable. This will potentially connect you to local businesses. In addition, join some industry-related, field of expertise based and/or referral groups. Jump into conversations and answer questions when they are being asked within the groups (Alignable sends notifications).
Post & Engage
Alignable isn't just about messaging and referring. To be seen as a business that is known, liked and trusted, you have to get involved and for a referral network strategy to be successful, this is essential. Alignable is a bit different in that it is not an overwhelming content monster. It is much more geared towards people connecting to provide value and showcase skills involving thoughtful conversations amongst professionals. If you're not a great graphic designer, no sweat! There are other ways to engage easily on Alignable that don't involve coming up with branded infographics or attention-grabbing images. For example, try the "Find Advice" and ask a question to the masses. Or respond as an expert in your field to someone who has requested advice. You can navigate from "Home Page / My Posts" as noted below:
Concluding Thoughts About Alignable
Using Alignable should provide a return on investment. They have a really neat feature where you can refer and track your referrals right on the platform itself. Should you decide to explore Alignable for your business, be fore-warned, they are very big on emailing about notifications and reminders in an effort to increase your engagement on the platform. You can adjust this in your settings though by going to "My Settings / Email Preferences."