This Alignable success story was originally posted by Walter Husbands of Tumblestone Gems & Jewelry in Phoenix, AZ
I came to Alignable through an invite from a long-lost business associate from two jobs and three states ago. I clicked on the link and thought “That’s a good idea, business social media that is not an overtly monetized dumpster fire like Facebook business groups or the endless self-promotion hole/puffed up resume generator that Linkedin has started to feel like to me.”
1. My Initial Experience on Alignable
Building my page was as easy as a few clicks and I quickly found half a dozen or so of our existing customers with their own profiles.
While setting up my profile was easy enough, I felt a bit lost after that point. I had no idea how to actually use this resource to grow my business. One day, as I was scrolling through the site I looked at my wife and said, “I am having a tough time finding our customers on this site” my wife looked up from her work and said casually “They are all our customers in some way, you just have to reach out to everyone”. As always, she was absolutely right.
I had been pretty passive until this point and hadn’t yet started working Alignable to my advantage. My biggest piece of advice: don’t just fill in your profile and wait back for leads to come. You need to put in the work to actually network and create your own opportunities.
Nothing worth real results comes easy (the beginning of our business certainly did not). My wife was right, I had to do the research, connect, network, share advice and then leads would follow. And guess what, they did!
2. The Story of My Business
Before I get into how I am using Alignable, I want to share a bit more about my story. As you will see, the process definitely wasn’t easy, and while our business sort of tumbled into us :) , it took a lot of hard work and perseverance to produce our beautiful product… which is a lot similar to the entire online networking process.
Here at Tumblestone we make jewelry and souvenirs out of tumbleweed. It is a fascinating process. Here’s how it all started… My wife and I were driving through the Texas panhandle when she spotted her first tumbleweed tumbling down the middle of the road, "just drive over it”, I said, “people get in accidents when they try to miss them... it'll fall apart when you run the car over it." One mile later, on the side of the road, as I dug the surprisingly tenacious tumbleweed out from under the car, we decided on the spot that such a determined “weed” should have a place in our home.
After several years of spray paint and tinsel, Halloween ghosts, and Christmas ornaments, our mascot tumbleweed just fell apart into an eclectic display of dried sticks and stems in a beautiful array of colors, resting in the bottom of an old clay pot. The first thought was, “if I can get those bits and pieces to stick together, I can sculpt something unique.”
My beginning attempts to dye and press tumbleweed into a viable medium for sculpting firstly became a weekend hobby, then a part-time project, then a full-time obsession! The first try failed, so did the second and third, so did the 30th! With the needed equipment becoming more complex, supplies costlier, patience waning, my commitment often failed me, but I continued to come back to the “vision” of tumbleweeds resting in the bottom of that old clay pot. Finally, the very first “fossilized” tumbleweed brick was produced! The first cut into the brick revealed a stable and stunningly beautiful product. When I finally held the very first tumbleweed gem in my hand, with my wife and grandson gathered around, we knew something (never seen before) had just blinked into existence…. And that moment is truly the beginning of my family’s journey.
Starting with a brew of repurposed tumbleweeds, natural plant-based dyes, proprietary binders made from natural wood resins, and thirty days of heat and compression, a "fossilized" brick of Tumblestone is created. From the first cut to the final finish, each hand-crafted tumbleweed gem is unique in size, shape, grain, and color.
To make something from tumbleweed takes an unrelenting passion. Tumblestone tumbleweed gems are difficult to make, it takes dozens of steps and everything is handmade, at least once a week we reject a piece because it has blood on it.
It is easy to bring passion to an artistic endeavor, the beauty of the object created is obvious and in your hand. My dream for my business, and yours, is to bring that unrelenting passion, that drive, that capacity to master the difficulties to every aspect of my marketing, sales, relationship building, and distribution operations and it may well be I have to leave a little blood on those too.
If I hadn’t seen the opportunity in the broken tumbleweed pieces, I never would have built my business. I had to do the work and find the opportunity to be successful. The same goes for Alignable. I created an account and left it there without looking at the actual opportunity. Once I took the time to click around and use the site, I understood the potential. If I hadn’t listened to my wife, I never would have gotten some of my best new clients and never would have met my neighbors and developed great business relationships with them.
3. My Secrets to Success on Alignable
Here are some of my best practices to get the most out of Alignable:
- I try to log in from a computer at least once a day, I find that I take a little more time reaching out to contacts and answering or asking questions when I’m using my computer instead of my phone.
- Being at a computer also allows me to write a custom introduction to a new connection, I almost never do that on the phone where I go with the pre-written template. The custom messages is key in getting new contacts to notice you and to create a rapport with each other.
- I connect with businesses that I would have a B2B relationship with, gift shops, wholesalers, museums but, I also connect with artists, jewelers and other creatives so I can see what the community is doing. The easiest way I have found to identify these people is by using the “Category” filter on the “My Network” page.
- By far the feature I use the most on Alignable is the Advice forum. Asking and answering questions with my peers is an invaluable relationship-building tool and one of the most positive features of the site. At first, I didn’t realize that my answers would be visible in many different places on the site and that my name would end up being seen by so many people. One of my first Alignable clients actually came from the Advice forum. I asked a question about finding wholesalers, and someone asked if they could carry my jewelry! Invest time in the Advice forum it reaches people all over the country and invites them to look at your profile.
- Take the time to make sure your profile page is complete and up to date. I’ve added many images of our product on my profile, it's the quickest way for me to grab people’s attention with my unique product.
Passionately reaching out to everyone has proven to be easy on Alignable, no they don’t hand you a list of leads, but the tools are there, referrals, local business events, product listings and an active Advice forum. Asking questions of and answering other business owner’s posts on the Advice forum are the best ways to passionately reach out to your community.
So passionately reach out to everyone, they are all your customers in some way!