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From Chaos to Control: Navigating the Digital Landscape with Meredith Rhoades



Meredith Rhoades is an award winning Thryv Digital Business Advisor for local business owners. Meredith and her team offer an all in one software client experience platform that helps with the many things busy owners don't know how to do, want to do or have time to do. They solve the problem of using many different systems that don't talk to each other — or no software system at all — and getting everything organized in one place. From Google and online listings to social, to their website, to their estimates, invoices and payments, scheduler, calendar, reviews, documents and so much more. With a dedicated specialist, 24/7 support, and Meredith, not having to do it all on their own is the biggest problem she solves. She also provides all different online lead gen solutions.

 

Listen to the full episode here.

 

LINKS

 

ON THIS EPISODE

[00:01:46] Meredith Rhoades on what she’s most passionate about

[00:02:21] Meredith Rhoades on why she’s passionate about it

[00:04:13] Meredith Rhoades on her childhood, education and journey to Thryv

[00:07:53] Meredith Rhoades on what a CRM is

[00:10:25] Meredith Rhoades on the components of a CRM

[00:14:09] Meredith Rhoades on the types of business she works with

[00:15:46] Meredith Rhoades on the most common struggles that small businesses have

[00:18:42] Meredith Rhoades on the most common mistake people make when setting up a website

[00:22:19] Meredith Rhoades on protecting your website

[00:23:13] Meredith Rhoades on her big success stories

[00:27:38] Meredith Rhoades on advice for small business owners about marketing

[00:28:53] Meredith Rhoades on working with a local business versus an online company

[00:29:55] Meredith Rhoades on why networking is so important

[00:30:58] Meredith Rhoades on networking tips introverts

[00:32:15] Meredith Rhoades on one question everyone should ask when networking

[00:33:33] Meredith Rhoades on networking success stories

[00:35:42] Meredith Rhoades on why it’s important to support women in business

[00:36:44] Meredith Rhoades on networking in unconventional places

[00:39:52] Meredith Rhoades on women who impacted her growing up

[00:41:57] Meredith Rhoades on her female pop culture influences

[00:43:19] Meredith Rhoades on being a Taylor Swift fan

[00:45:15] Meredith Rhoades on what she taught her daughter about women's roles in society

[00:47:05] Meredith Rhoades on pushing through when she’s not motivated

[00:48:00] Meredith Rhoades on her morning ritual

[00:49:01] Meredith Rhoades on her mantra

[00:49:35] Meredith Rhoades on a lesson that she’s learned on her journey that stuck with her

[00:51:14] Meredith Rhoades on how she defines success

[00:52:22] Meredith Rhoades on where people can find her

[00:54:20] Meredith Rhoades on her dream for her daughter and for women in general

 

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

 

Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project. We've created an inclusive sisterhood where passion driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to change their lives and change the world.

 

On every episode we discuss the ways, unique, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.

 

Today, we're talking with Meredith Rhoades, an award winning Thryv Digital Business Advisor for local business owners. Meredith and her team offer an all in one software client experience platform that helps with the many things busy owners don't know how to do, want to do or have time to do. They solve the problem of using many different systems that don't talk to each other — or no software system at all — and getting everything organized in one place. From Google and online listings to social, to their website, to their estimates, invoices and payments, scheduler, calendar, reviews, documents and so much more. With a dedicated specialist, 24/7 support, and Meredith, not having to do it all on their own is the biggest problem she solves. She also provides all different online lead gen solutions.

So if you're joining us here live, please feel free to drop any comments or questions in the chat, and we'll do our best to get them answered. And please welcome Meredith Rhoades.

 

Meredith: Hi, thank you for having me.

 

Passionistas: We're so happy to have you here. We start all our interviews with the same question, which is what are you most passionate about and why?

 

Meredith: Uh, yeah, so what I'm most passionate about is, um, helping small businesses, service based businesses, um, with all of the, the nonsense, the noise, the things that are important, but just not the reason that they went into business. So taking that off of their shoulders and being able to allow them to work, you know, in their business, not as much on their business so that they can actually work in their business, which is what they're passionate about.

 

Passionistas: So why is that something that you're passionate about?

 

Meredith: Okay. Great question. Because when I started a million and one years ago in 1996, and it was the 9X Yellow Pages, it was tough, you know, when you're a business, um, you know, you started to get the word out and everything, but. This year, 2024, it is a whole different beast.

 

It's overwhelming to a degree that is almost incomprehensible, um, just listings alone. So when, when you were opening a business in the 90s, it was, you call the phone company, you say, this is my name, my number, whatever, and then you hang up and you're done. Now, You have to deal with Google, which is not always easy.

 

Um, you get suspended, it doesn't get approved, they have to verify, so we'll help hold your hand through that, but that's not end all. There's 65 search engines. Like, I don't even know how you would get on Alexa and Surrey, but, and then there's Yelp and Bing and all the other ones. That's just one obstacle.

 

So then there's like, um, you know, Nancy had read out, like there's all of your listings, your reviews, there's appointments, there's collecting money, there's, you know, social media, website. These are all the things. So to get to the answer of the question, it's rewarding because these are all things that most of the time the business is not passionate about, unless they're a web developer or social media company, they're most likely not.

 

Excited about these things. So to be able to take that off of people's plates and help them and give them real support so they can run their business is very rewarding.

 

Passionistas: That's so cool. So tell us a little bit about your journey. Like where, just tell us a little bit about your childhood, where you grew up and then where'd you go to college?

Why'd you study? How'd you get into this field?

 

Meredith: Okay, cool. Yeah. So I grew up in, um, in Yorktown Heights, New York, um, Westchester County. Uh, about an hour away from New York City, um, and, um, never thought about doing marketing. I just, I don't know. I was, I went to, um, Plattsburgh, SUNY Plattsburgh, which is way upstate New York, um, journalism major, um, English major, Never really thought about marketing, and then I just graduated college and realized I didn't want to do journalism, which I think is helpful, too, to realize what, what you're interested in and what is just as much as important as what you're not interested in.

 

So, um, I just remember going to this employment agency and she dropped this huge book called a phone book for your younger listeners. They don't know what that is. You can Google it. She dropped this big heavy thing on my lap and I'm like, what the hell is this? Ooh, can I say that? What the heck is this?

 

And they're like, oh, you know, advertisers in the phone book. I'm like, okay, I didn't even know anything about this or that people paid to be in there. And that's how it started. And I loved it then. Um, and, but it's, it's taken on a whole new, a completely different, transformation now, we are now Software SaaS company.

 

Um, but when I started here, that, that was the focus. That's, in the 90s, there was no Google when I started. So there was no real internet either, so. So what was the process like back then? Um, it was very easy because it was like, well, you need to be in the phone book, right? It was, it was easy. And it was so rewarding for me, who's a very controlling person, who people who know me will be laughing when I say this because it's true.

 

So, you know, if you were in the phone book, you know, if you had a half page ad, I can guarantee you'll be ahead of all of the baby halves and the quarter, and the quarter pages, and you'd be behind all the previous half pages and the full pages, and the alphabetical ads are alphabetical. That was very great for my personality.

 

It's a little bit tougher now because Google is now in charge, so we can do all the things that a business needs, right? The main things that business needs are social media, a website, not just any website, right? Okay, it has to have like the back end that talks to Google, it has to be user friendly, all these things that, that have to happen.

 

You need to have those fun listings I talked about in place. You need to have reviews, consistent reviews. Um, and, um, you need to have a Google business profile, those things. So all those things in place, and I still can't guarantee you'll be on page one of Google. And anybody that does You need to know that that's a scammer because even if you pay extra for SEO, which will move you up on the page, there's really no way that you can guarantee.

So to answer that, Amy, it's like, God, it was so great because I could guarantee, you know, alphabetically you'd be, you know, if you were in the B's, you'd be after the A's and before the C's and the sides. There's very little guarantee when it comes to things that are outside of our control like Google, but we can guarantee that we'll do our part.

 

To do everything that, that the business needs to get there, if that makes sense.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, so many companies back then were like AAA insurance, so they'd be the first listing in the yellow pages.

 

Meredith: AAAA plumbing, yes.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, um, so tell us, you've talked to us about Thryv a little bit and what you do, explain for someone who doesn't know what a CRM is.

 

Meredith: Okay, um, yeah, great question. So again, that's something that didn't matter back in the 90s, or even in the early 2000s, but COVID kicked it up quite a bit even more. So a CRM is really, it's, it's, it's two, it's important twofold. It's a, it stands for a Customer Relationship Management System. And I actually take it to another Um, another, another way is to see XM, Client Experience Platform.

 

So it's, it's, it's not just about storing all your clients in an organized fashion, which is better for the business, but also you have to think the customer experience has to be seamless. Because we are all consumers and we're all kind of spoiled, COVID kind of. So, you know, we're not necessarily looking to do phone tag anymore.

 

Um, I mean, I'm clearly not a Gen Z er. I just gave that away, my 90s, so, but like, or even a millennial, I don't want to make phone calls. I want it all to be easy, and I want to be able to book online. So, um. A CRM allows people to, the consumer, to have a really great experience because they can book online, they can get those reminders, everything can be stored and organized.

 

So the business now can organize and sort their customers and have everything, not just on a bunch of papers and spreadsheets. So it's great for the business, but it's also a better experience for your customer. And that's what the big guys have. So, we need, I, a CRM would put you on that even playing field, because we all want to shop local.

 

We all want to support the community, but we're also busy. We love the fact that, like, God, I can press a button, you know, and it's like, God, they know, they have my credit card on file, you know. I don't have to fill this, so it's that battle. It's like, I want to do local business, but I also want that ease, and I'm busy.

 

So, a CRM will help, um, those local businesses compete.

 

Passionistas: There is nothing that brings me joy like going to order something and getting my credit card out and typing in and going like, Oh, they already have my credit card. I just have to type in the code. Excellent. Exactly.

 

Meredith: Exactly.

 

Passionistas: Life changing thing. Um, so what are those components of the CRM?

Like from the, let's start with the business perspective. What are the things that businesses can track in a CRM? And Manage, I guess, in a CRM.

 

Meredith: Okay, so that's great to know. So, like, a lot of people have heard of Calendly, so that's a part of what we do. Like, a lot of things are parts of other things. So, you know, that way you can book, and then that, on the most basic level, I can, somebody can book, and then you can approve that appointment, and you can track that appointment, and then do the automatic reminders.

 

That's on the basic level for the CRM. Um, and then, like, for me, like, I, I want to make sure I know where I, where we connected, where we met. Was it a referral? Was it in BNI? Was it in this? So I, you know, you can tag or a CRM, you can actually, especially with our CRM, with Thryv, you can actually sort and organize By the type of business they are, where they're located, anything like that.

 

And then it would have, um, any information that you deem important as a business. So, you know, each business is different. If you're a contractor, it might be very important, you know, residential or commercial, um, you know, or, or where they're located. If you're health and wellness spa, you know, maybe I want to separate my, you know, My injectables versus my, you know, other kind of clients, whatever that is.

 

Um, so that would be another thing. Then we also keep all your conversation in one place. So because things are so much more complicated than the 90s, Bring that up because it's so much more complicated. So social media is great, but also it makes it another thing that's hard for businesses. So think about it.

 

When people message you, they don't message you the way you want. They message the way they want. If I want to message a business, I might want to message them on social media, on Facebook Messenger. I might message them on Instagram Messenger. I might message them in a text or an email. Now that without a CRM that connects all those.

You now have messages in all over different places. So even if it's just you and you're one person, that's still a lot to manage. When there's more than one person, now it becomes almost impossible because who's answering this? So you want that stream of consciousness, that client in the client card that's in the CRM.

 

That will all be in one place. That becomes a huge time saver. Um, all the notes, speaking of which, like notes, like all the notes can be in that one place in that CRM, um, client relationship management, um, uh, place, um, documents shared back and forth, um, signatures. Um, it does all those things and, you know, and so much more, but just in the most basic level, our CRM.

 

We'll organize and just so, and, and, and just to say one more point about that, because I talk about small businesses, but like you were saying, Amy, as a consumer, boy, is it easy when you just press a button. So I, you know, you have to think both sides. The business is great, but the cons, the customer experience is great.

 

I get a reminder and that reminder does more than remind me. That reminder tells me, okay, that guy's coming at this time when he said he would, you know, when I. Deal with businesses that I can't believe still don't have that. Um, and I get a call or I don't get anything. I get nervous. I'm like, is this appointment even happening?

 

Like I'm just, you know, we're all kind of used to. So I'm like, I don't like the experience of working with a business that doesn't have a CRM because it makes me feel like they're not organized and that they're not coming or they're not going to do what they said they were going to do. So when I got the reminder for this podcast, I was like, I didn't forget there was a podcast, but it helped me.

 

Okay. This podcast is happening. They remembered. So there's that part too.

 

Passionistas: That's an excellent point. I'd never thought of it that way, but that's true. Um, so what are the types of businesses that you work with?

 

Meredith: Yeah, great question. Um, I can work with almost any type of business, um, but service based businesses are the best. Um, businesses, any trades, um, contractors of any kind. Flooring contractors, painting contractors, roofers, you name it, contractors, because it's all of the things, you know, payment, you know, getting paid easily, but, you know, their customers can pay with a click of a button, you know, financing, all that stuff, the not chasing payments is very nice, um, and then they're also probably the least likely to want to be dealing with social media or any of this stuff.

 

So, they, they are probably, if not my top, one of my top. The other, um, is business type, um, service businesses. By that, I mean lawyers, attorneys are great, um, accountants, bookkeepers, insurance agencies. Um, those are fantastic, um, uh, businesses for me, as well as the health and wellness space. Um, those are, I'd say, the main categories.

But like I said, it doesn't, you know, I can help any kind of service based business. Not so much retail. You know, that is not really as good of a fit for me, but the service based businesses, that they provide a service, that is a wonderful referral for me, and I can help them 99 percent of the time. That's awesome.

 

Passionistas: What are kind of the most common struggles that you see small businesses having when it comes to all this stuff?

 

Meredith: Okay, that is such a good question and that is where my passion comes, right? Um, the, the struggle is this. Small businesses, like I said, are in the most, not always, not experts in all of this that we're talking about.

 

They're experts and passionate about their business. So they find themselves in one of three categories and I don't, in my opinion, none of them are good. So category one. I am going into this business. I don't want to deal with this. I'm going to pretend it's the 90s and just run my business, not even think about online at all and just ignore it.

 

That's the first bucket. Second is, okay, well, I know I need to do something, but I don't know who to trust. I don't have any money and they're all so expensive. So I'm just gonna do it myself. The problem with that is you're not an expert in it. It's taking time away from what you like. It's kind of like, you know, if I was going to cut my hair, it's straight.

 

It doesn't do anything. It would probably take me an hour to do it and it would stress me out and probably look really bad. But if I went to professional, it would 15 minutes, if that, and then come out. As good as it's going to come out with this hair, um, but it's worth going to the expert. So those people that are doing themselves are really struggling because they're just not most likely enjoying doing their own website or their own social media or any of this stuff, but they feel like there's no other way.

 

Then there's the third group, which is a very common group, which is the, I know I need to do something. I don't gonna do, I'm not gonna do it myself. So I'm going to hire a whole bunch of companies. So I'm gonna have this web guy do my website. I'm gonna get Calendly for scheduling. I need to get a payment processor.

 

So I'll find that. Um, I'm gonna get a CRM that does, you know, maybe one or two other things. Um, I'll get, what is it, MailChimp or Constant Contact. I got to do emails and texts. I'm going to get DocuSign for documents. I now, oh wait, I'm going to pay somebody to do my social media. So now I've got maybe five or six processes that don't talk to each other that is Going to cost a lot of money, uh, which somebody once deemed as frank in marketing, that's the third category.

 

So those are the challenges I find, that not knowing that, that there's something like this that exists, that's an all in one, they don't have to do it all themselves, with experts, it's very affordable. Very affordable. And, you know, that, that there is this other option.

 

Passionistas: Yeah. And I feel like so many small businesses fall into that third bucket. Like…

 

Meredith: I find a lot of

 

Passionistas: …we do ourselves, you know, we have, we have seven different processes. We're trying to consolidate them a little bit. What's the, what do you think is the most common, um, mistake people make when they're setting up their website?

 

Meredith: Oh God, that's so such a good question. I've never gotten that question before.

 

There's several mistakes and I've, I've, I've run into all of them I feel. One of them is, is somebody, you know, that they don't, that they cold call them or something and, and it's not somebody trustworthy. We were actually chatting about this before. Unscrupulous marketing companies that charge way more than they should, um, that are going to hold your, you know, domain hostage, things like that.

 

That's a huge mistake. You shouldn't have to spend a ton of money unless you have e commerce or something like that. Your website should not break the bank. So, that's number one. Or, the other mistake are the people that think they're going to do a free site. So, all those people that said, I'm going to get the free Google site, well, as of this month, which is March 2024, at the time of this podcast, Google has, is taking them all down.

 

As of June this year, It will point to a dead site. So those, all those free Google sites right now, it's pointing to the business profile. It won't even show the website anymore, which is all it really was. Um, in the next two months, all those sites will be dead. So free, you get what you pay for in life and that goes to everything.

 

So people who are like, I'm going to have my friend get me a free site. I'm going to get the free Google site. That's a mistake too. So, um, or the people that think I'm going to do it themselves. Again, it goes back to that. You know, you go to the expert. for things, you know, unless you are a coder, you know, or an expert or an expert with these things, it's really smart to hire professional.

 

You want to be careful with who you hire. It has to, I would always want somebody that's networked in, someone that has references, someone that you can back check, fact check, that you can just, not off the street, that, you know, called you out of the blue. I would be very careful because I've had, and we talked about this offline too, there's so many horror stories, um, when it comes to marketing and websites.

 

So those would be the things I'd watch out for.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, I mean, I think a few tips that we've got from our own experience of the URL hijacking thing, we haven't experienced, but that's a new thing that we just learned about. And that everybody's super careful about that. People trying to get you to. Buy back your URL from them.

 

Um, that's terrifying. Um, making sure you own the site that someone's built for you and that you're not licensing your own site back. Um, making sure you can make changes to your site that you're not stuck in some, you know, never ending, Deal where they're the ones managing your site and you can't go in and change text here and there if you want to or pass it off to somebody else.

 

Um, you know, there's just so many things that can happen that we don't know until we've gone through the, Oh my God, that just happened to us. We, we were working with a company and A year later went to do some, that new Google thing where Google was kind of policing their emails and if you send out an email with too many links or, you know, it seems spammy now they're not going to deliver it.

 

We went to change, you know, something around and found out that this other company was controlling our domain. Yeah. And, and we didn't know, we, we, we had signed, we were in like early stages with them doing explore, exploration work about maybe working together, and they, all of a sudden, GoDaddy, it wasn't listed as our, you know, we weren't the people controlling what the DSN or whatever it was. And we...

 

Meredith: I think that that's what's so scary for people because like business owners may not know questions to ask and that's a really good point like you need to be able to always be able to make changes to your own site like and and like like for us that there's 24/7 support you can get yeah they'll make the changes for you too like make sure there's no like fine print like that you know you have to pay for changes or again Free site.

 

Well, you get a free site, but you can't just leave it there. How easy is it to make changes? Now, it may be, you know, can you get a hold of this person that did that free site for you? It's not like a one time thing that you build it and you're done. You need to be able to get in there and be able to make changes yourself, or at least have them make changes easily and not have to go through a whole runaround.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's really scary. Um, so, um, what do you find, like, what have, what have been some of your big success stories with your job?

 

Meredith: Oh my goodness. Um, I mean, cause like I said, I've been here forever. So it's like, my big success stories are just watching them. You know what? I'll take it any stage, right?

 

New businesses are my favorite because they need all the things. Growing businesses are wonderful because they need help and then they need, you know, obviously people that just want to automate. But my success stories and what I love are like when you start out really little, right? And then I'm able to kind of grow with them and get them to achieve their goals.

And it's just like exciting. Like Waverly Pest Control, like he came to my house 12 years ago. I had hornets in my house and he's like, what do you do? And I'm like, I do marketing. He's like, oh, well maybe I could use you. So we started out with something kind of small, not a huge program. I think it was just him.

 

Now. My husband's like, you're on TV. Cause like we do videos and he's got leads and he's like got these TV ads. He's got a whole fleet, a whole fleet. He's got like a crew of like, you know, 10 people grown, we've grown together. You know, that's really rewarding to kind of see. I have another guy, a cleaning business.

 

You know, I connected with him on social media like four years ago, a little guy, you know, small, part time, residential cleaning. He said, Meredith, I want to do full time commercial cleaning. Well, how do you do that on your own, right? How do you change? Because all your referrals are residential. So I said, okay, I got you, Lenny.

 

So we got him on Google, whatever, we redid his site, you know, we got all the keywords, all those things. So that when I searched commercial cleaning in his area, he started showing up like number one, number two on Google. Within a matter of months, he went full time and hired an employee. That's the success stories.

 

That's where I get the chills and it's exciting. The other ones are, Like I have a chamber of commerce that's a client of mine, um, and payments are a really important thing for any business. So this chamber, you know, they, uh, she called support, they weren't able to help. So luckily, all my clients know the drill.

 

Call the 24/7 team if they cannot help you immediately, You're done. It becomes my problem. It's not your problem. You got a business to run. So she did the right thing. She said, they're not really helping me. Got ahold of me. I was on it. And five minutes later, got everything rocking and rolling. Not always does it take only five minutes, but it's really rewarding to be able to take that problem off of the business's shoulders.

 

Take that problem, And then now it's, it's solved. And like I said, it's not happening a hundred percent of the time. A hundred percent of the time, my clients know that they are not allowed to be on that like never ending, you know, whole of just like cold, you know, hold, please. And I'll look at this and they're busy.

 

So being able to take that burden off of my clients is really rewarding for me..

 

Passionistas: That's amazing. That's worth the price of admission right there. Right?

 

Meredith: That's what I think. That's what I think my favorite thing that's one of my most I should say my probably one of the most satisfying things about what I do. Yes, it's results driven. Seeing businesses grow. But just being able to take that off of their shoulders. And like I said, not everything is solved right away. It can take days and sometimes weeks,.. But while that's happening, I'm in constant contact and touch with my client. They know what's going on and it's being cared for while they're running their business and not dealing with it.

 

Passionistas: That's huge. I mean, like think of all the services you use, Gmail, you know, whatever it is, it's like. I, I don't, we don't have any contacts at any of those places.

We don't have anybody to reach out to. I mean, we have a few, there are a few sites we work with that have really good customer service, and they respond to our, you know, email requests pretty quickly, but for the most part, there's just no one to talk to.

 

Meredith: And like, I've been there too. Like, it's just like, it just recently, it's just like, just the whole run around and then the chat box.

 

And then I'm like, I just gave up and I just switched companies to another thing. I was like, I can't, like the amount of hours spent, it's just horrible. So that's something, that's a gift I can give my client.

 

Passionistas: So what advice do you have for small business owners who have a really limited budget and they just don't know where to start when it comes to marketing?

 

Meredith: Right. Like I said, I mean, our, I don't know if they're changing, but like we are able to do so much for 199 a month. That is not even funny. So, obviously, if you need more, it gets more. Um, you know, if you need a whole website and things like that, it's a little bit more. But, um, I mean, my advice is, you know, you, you'll be surprised at how inexpensive the right program can be.

 

And also, you have to value what is your time, right? What is your time worth? And what are you spending on all these other things? You might be actually not spending more money. Um, so my advice is to just, you know, Calculate all the things that you're spending money on. Maybe you're better off with an all in one software like Thryv.

 

And also, your time. What is your time worth? Um, and always somebody you trust. Always. Don't, please, just like the, God, my, my clients constantly get spammed, constantly. Email, you know, oh, Google calling them. Google's not calling them. It's not Google that's calling them, you know? So, just don't fall for it.

 

There's a lot of scammers out there. Just be careful.

 

Passionistas: Um, how does your strategy change working with a local business versus someone that is more of an online business that deals nationally with

customers?

 

Meredith: It's the same. I have like, I'm online, you know, I deal with the local contractor and then I deal with, you know, um, I have a financial company.

 

They deal, they deal with the whole country and beyond. I've got a, you know, a virtual assistant business that, you know, they're all over. It's just, you know, it's, it's very catered to that business, but regardless of whether it's a local business that's services, you know, 20 miles, if it's a business that serves the whole country, you know, we can make it so it works.

What they're looking for is different programs. There's also lead generation. As well, that's a whole other thing, but yeah, it depends on the needs of the particular client.

 

Passionistas: So you mentioned lead generation. Let's talk about that. You're like the queen of networking and the queen of connection. You've already introduced us to so many amazing women. So why is networking so important?

 

Meredith: Networking is so important because, like I said, it's just, it's just trust factor, right? Like, I'd want to work with somebody that was recommended to me.

 

I think most people want to work with somebody that was recommended to them, or that they can actually see to differentiate from the sea of phone calls and annoying emails and spammers that are just, like I mentioned, I just, I feel like networking is so much, it's so important just to build trust because Because of all the scammers out there, and like I said, we talked before we even started about all the scams going on just with the URL and websites, and there's just so much out there that you can't trust.

 

So, I feel like networking, you have a little bit more of a trust factor, so I like that. And then also, I'm more likely to refer you. And, you know, things like that.

 

Passionistas: So what are your top, because you are so good at it, um, what are your top tips for people who are maybe introverts or shy or really nervous about networking?

 

Meredith: Oh, okay, great. Um, yeah. Um, yeah. Um, yeah. It's, it's, it's, you know, you can, if you, if you feel more comfortable writing it down, I think some people just have like that security blanket of like, just like bullet points that you don't forget. Um, you know, there's nothing wrong with that. Um, you know, um, and it's really just reminding yourself.

 

It's just, you're just having a conversation. You're just talking about your business and learning about other people's business. Um, you know, in my networking, I don't really, it's a lot of it's virtual. There's no standing up on a podium. That can be really intimidating for people. So like find networking that fits your personality style.

 

If you're more introverted than maybe like a Zoom environment is better for you because you're kind of like, it's not as intimidating I don't think for people.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, we just graduated from Zoom networking to in person networking last weekend. We haven't done an in person networking event since before COVID, and we discovered that all of the Zoom networking has made us completely comfortable in the in person world where we were not comfortable. Oh, great. It was a really great revelation for us. Oh, that's a call. What do you think is one question that everyone should ask when they're networking?

 

Meredith: Oh my god, um, that is great. I have questions that I always ask. I just, I, you know, always about their business, but I just think, um, what is a really good, I would ask people, what's a really good referral for you and why?

 

Um, what's a good client referral? Like, what's a good client referral and why? And what's a good relationship referral? So, I may not know somebody, you know, for example, needs You know, an accountant or whatever, but like, maybe I know somebody that's a good referral for this accountant. And then that way, you can get either of those.

I like that. That's a great question to ask.

 

Passionistas: Um, so meaning they might not need an accountant, but they might want to know people in a certain industry.

 

Meredith: Right, right. So like, but like a relationship referrals, like maybe like, Oh, do you know a commercial banker or do you know a bookkeeper? Okay. Yeah. I know those people.

 

I can connect you to them probably easier than the person that maybe I don't know somebody offhand that needs an accountant, but I can connect you to those people that will be great referral partners for you.

 

Passionistas: That's great. So what, what's kind of a, uh, Can you point to some like networking successes that you've had a, again, a success story, right?

Like what, what is, how has networking so much changed your business and maybe even personally?

 

Meredith: It's changed so much. I have to tell you, I mean, I joined my first chamber in January, 2019. I never even networked before. I was like, I don't really need to network. I get all my stuff from referrals and stuff, but boy did that change.

 

And then BNI, um, I did BNI starting, um. Uh, that was, I think it was 2021, August. I don't know. It's been about two and a half years, and that's been unbelievable. Um, but the grass is green where you water it. So BNI is so much better than the chambers because I go to BNI and I haven't gone to the chambers.

 

But I think whatever networking is you are comfortable with, whatever you're gonna do. My advice is do it actually. Go. Don't just put the bare minimum. Don't just join a cha, join a chamber and say, oh. Get me leads. It doesn't work like that. You have to, just like anything, right? You join a gym and you don't show up.

 

Be like, this gym sucks. Like, I haven't lost any weight. Well, you have to actually go. Same thing with networking. You get in what you put, you know, you get out what you put in, just like all those things. Um, so that would be, you know, my advice is just to do it, um, and just join it. Success has just been non-stop.

 

Like, just the more people I meet, the more chance I have of getting to know somebody that either needs my service or knows somebody that needs my service. And it's been so rewarding to like, be able to help people, especially in the beginning, when before they've signed up for all these other things, or they've been burnt by all these other companies, which happens a lot.

 

I love to get them earlier, but it doesn't always happen. But that's my success is just meeting people. That either they, they're so thankful they did not know this was an option, or they know people that I can help, whereas I would have never met them otherwise.

 

Passionistas: You've been, um, so great for us, connecting us with other women, and I know we're very women centric, obviously, where all of our connections we're looking for are basically, um, connections to other women, but you seem like a champion of women.

In general, as well in your work and in this networking world. So why is it so important to you to support women in business?

 

Meredith: Um, yeah, I mean, I feel, obviously, I mean, this is, as a woman, obviously, I'm passionate about helping women. Um, I do feel like it's sometimes harder for women, harder for women to, you know, get loans sometimes, harder for women to be taken seriously.

However, So whatever I can do to help with those challenges, um, it is, you know, I'm happy to do that, um, to help, you know, help women with whatever that they need because It can be daunting, especially because they're also the ones in a lot of cases that are running the household too. So it's even more of a support and help that the more I can take off of their shoulders, it might even be more rewarding than helping, you know, the guys because women have, they just take on so much in general.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, totally. Do you find yourself networking in unconventional ways? Like, are you the kind of person that when you're at Target, you're like, talking to the person behind you in line?

 

Meredith: Sometimes, yeah. I mean, sometimes. It's funny because I go to my clients like for example their video shoots or something and then like I'll end up meeting people there and then just talking to them and like they can use the software and marketing too and then it does happen if it comes up I'm definitely going to talk about it.

I don't really like I'm not super pushy but if I do see that there's a need or there's somebody that's got some kind of a um like a like one of their pain points is, Marketing or just being overwhelmed or just all the stuff, then I definitely, it will come up .

 

Passionistas: Well, one of, I mean, I I, to that point too, I mean, one of the things I really like about you, and the reason I think Nancy and I feel connected to you is like, I don't look at you who's, as someone who's networking for solely for the sake of furthering your own agenda and your own business? Like, I look at you as someone who's like, standing in Target, you start a conversation with the woman behind you and you're like, oh my god, you need to meet so and so.

 

Meredith: Yes! Oh, I get so excited to connect people. You know that I do.

Yeah, I do. I get really excited to connect people and that's one of the best parts about, about networking groups, which I'm such a huge proponent of. I love to be able to connect people with the right people. Um, You know, like, like you were telling me earlier that you needed this kind of a person. And I'm like, Oh my God, I think I have it in my notes.

I'm excited. It's like, I feel it, I do love to connect people.

 

Passionistas: And I think it's something that people don't consider when they're networking. I think people go in very focused on what people can do for them and not necessarily on like building a network, you know, where, where you're, it's not necessarily about you.

It's about everybody. And then as a result, you're going to benefit in the long run because you've connected so many people that. They're going to think, Oh my God, I should introduce them to Meredith. They would love her.

 

Meredith: Right. Exactly. But not only that, I mean, my title says business advisor, but if I only advised about Thryv, that's not really being a business advisor at all.

Like, I feel like I'm truly a business advisor because I can say, okay, well, maybe you're not a good fit for me. You need an e commerce site. Well, that's not really my thing, but I've got a guy in my networking group that I completely trust that can totally help you. You know, Oh, you want help building your brand?

 

And like that brainstorming before you're ready for my services, that's not me, but I have somebody that I trust that I'm going to connect you to. So it helps them. It also helps me become the true business advisor that my title says I am.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, that makes total sense. Um, we love to talk about, you know, women here. And one of the questions we always like to ask is like, who are the women when you were growing up? That were your role models, either in your family or school or your neighborhood. Like, who, who are the women that really impacted you when you were young?

 

Meredith: You know, it's so funny. I've actually never thought about that, um, at all.

But obviously my mom, um, is one. Um, she was a newspaper reporter before she had me. Um, and then she stayed at home and worked from home and then she went to work for the Petty Saver for 20 years and she was doing that. Um, so that was, you know, impactful. She was, You know, with all that, and then she did writing and everything too.

She's a writer now, and my, my father wrote a book, but she's like, writes. She's very ambitious. Um, but who else? Um, yeah, I would say probably her. Um, I would have to say, if I had to pick somebody.

 

Passionistas: So is that what inspired your interest in journalism when that was like when you thought you were going to do it?

 

Meredith: Maybe, because it might have been in my blood. And then I did an internship and I was like, yeah, I don't love this. So yeah, I didn't love it. So I was surprised because you know, I thought I would and I didn't.

 

Passionistas: It's, it's one of those fields I think a lot of people think they're gonna love, and then when they really find out what it entails, they, it just doesn't speak to them, you know.

 

Meredith: And I'm like a rare person that I found what I love the first job I had, and I've never left. The job has changed a thousand percent, but I still am doing what I love and what I'm passionate about.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, it's amazing that you've been able to roll with all the changes.

 

Meredith: It's not been easy. I don't like change, so I'm in the wrong something, but I'm not a huge fan of change, which is very ironic.

 

Passionistas: And, but, and you have to adapt to new technology, if nothing else, every five minutes. Every time I think I've learned everything that I think, okay, now we know how to do that. It's like, yeah, but they just updated the software and it doesn't work like that anymore.

 

Meredith: Yeah, so that's kind of unfortunate.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

What about like pop culture wise, were there like women in pop culture that, that you were especially drawn to when you were growing up?

 

Meredith: Oh darn, I thought you were going to ask a leading question for what I wanted to answer right now. Um, I can't even think about it for growing up. Um, growing up, I have no idea, but I can tell you right now.

 

Okay. Um, that would be Taylor Swift. Also, I'm going to talk about another woman. My daughter is another woman who I aspire to be like, and I look up to, and I'm like, always like, what would my daughter do? Um, she's just, she's a sophomore in college, um, She's a biochem neuroscience major. Yeah. Um, obsessed.

 

She's a Taylor Swift Swifty and she went to the heirs tour and I think that that kind of really pushed me over the edge with the Taylor Swift stuff. So that is another thing. So I would say my daughter, not growing up clearly, but my daughter who is, she's just so inspirational and just Like rocks life and everything she does.

 

So I would say that would be somebody that's a role model and even her stepmom too. She's just like, okay, I'm trying to channel Samantha. What would Samantha do? I'm like, okay, should I eat this? Nope. Samantha wouldn't eat it. So, you know, I try to channel that. Um, but yeah, so right now it's Taylor Swift and all things Taylor Swift.

 

Passionistas: So why, why Taylor Swift for you?

 

Meredith: Okay, partially because I just, I am so, I admire her, like she's written every one of her songs. Like the talent in that, like it's just crazy, 200 songs and I love all of it. I love the music. I love the performance. Like, watching her perform, everything she's been through, like, you know, she did, like, let it get her down at one point when she, like, she went to England and she stayed in, she was a recluse for a year.

 

She emerged, came out just for the Reputation Tour and just was like, you know what? I'm You know, I am a Passionista, you know, might not have said those words, but she's just, you know, what, forget it. I'm not going to let these people get me down. I'm going to control my life. And, um, so that was just, it's so admirable and her talent and just, I love her music. But yeah.

 

Passionistas: As a, as a mom, it must be a relief when your daughter has a role model that is such a positive.

 

Meredith: She's, she's more well versed than me. Like, she like, she's got Taylor Swift, but then she's like, oh, FloRida's coming and I love him. And then she's got like all these other, like, some of these are really like kind of heavy.

 

Groups that are, that's partly from growing up with her, her dad. Um, so she's got like a wide variety of musical tastes, but that would be definitely the most wholesome one.

 

Passionistas: For sure. That's great. Um, you know, we, we live in a world, not to get super political, but we live in a world where women are still not 100 percent equal.

Um, and you know, whether in terms of business, it's, that translates into us not being necessarily paid equal. Um, what do you, what do you teach your daughter about women's roles in society and? You know, the ability for women to kind of do what they want and to follow their dreams.

 

Meredith: Yeah, like, she knows that, like, I don't know how much I've taught her or just because she just knows, but I, but that's, you know, just that, you know, not to be limited, just because she's a woman.

 

Like, don't ever feel like less than or that she can't do this because she's a woman. Like, she, she is tiny. Like, she's so small and she benched, she's like, she texted me, she benched 145 pounds. Like, it's not like, oh, you're a girl, you can't lift heavy weights. I know. So it's like, you can't look away. Like, she's like, she's like, pushes herself.

 

Like, you know, the limits are whatever her limits are. It's not going to be what some guy says or a man or the man, whatever. It's going to be, you know, she's going to be able to do whether it's. biochem or, you know, neuroscience. It's like our typical man's field. It's never gonna be, oh, I'm a girl, so I can't do that.

 

It's gonna be, you know, I'm going to be able to do whatever I want and push the boundaries. So I would love to take credit for that. I don't know how much of that is me. I don't know. Or how much of that is just her. I don't know. Um, but so she is luckily not at all limited by like, she doesn't ever say, you know, I'm a girl, so I can't do this.

 

Or, you know, um, I can't, I can't lift that. I can't achieve this or that. That's never been ever. And that's just, I don't feel like that either. Um, although I cannot bench that or even close to that, but, um, no.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, no way. Um, you're such a badass business woman. Like you're really just amazing what you've achieved. Um, so how do you, I mean, and you strike me as someone who has a lot of energy and drive. How do you, do you ever not feel those things? And if you do, how do you push through them?

 

Meredith: Yeah, that's a good question. I guess as women, Right? As like, like, you know, as a mom, like, you don't get that choice. Like, if you're having a bad day or if you don't feel good or whatever, it's like, as a woman, you don't get that choice to, Oh, I'm just going to lay in bed all day and just feel bad about myself or do this.

 

Like, as a mom, you don't get that choice, you know, you have to be a mom. So that has to carry over to other things. Right? So that. That trait carries over, obviously, to work. So, um, obviously, you know, when I'm working, that same personality, that same, it kicks in. You know, you can't just be like, oh, I don't feel like this today.

 

No, I have appointments. I have stuff to do. I'm going to do It's that same thing.

 

Passionistas: And do you have habits that you kind of have every day? Like, do you have a morning ritual or anything like that?

 

Meredith: Yes, I do. I get up and I have to work out first thing, except for one day a week. I don't do it, but six days a week, I have to get up and work out and get that done.

So I've done something positive for myself for the day. So then the rest of the day I give. To others, right? It's that whole put the mask on first, you know, in the airplane. And, you know, and, uh, so many times as women we're so busy giving, you cannot give from an empty cup. So you need to make sure that you do something for you.

 

So especially, you know, as I'm getting older, you know, you know, working out and doing that is becomes more and more important because, you know, that's great that my daughter does it, but she's 20. Like she's gonna be good . Like, it's like I'm older than that. So. It's like, that's something I feel is super important for me.

 

So I feel like when I do that, I've accomplished something for the day. That is my cup of coffee, you know, before I even have coffee. I really need to get that workout in.

 

Passionistas: That's, that's perfect. Do you have a mantra that you live by?

 

Meredith: No, I do not, but it's probably something from a Taylor Swift song. I could, um, I have a pen that she gave me on the problem.

 

It's me. Oh, um, what does she put on my cake? She put, um, make the whole place shimmer. Um, uh, God, was that what she put on there? But, um, it would probably be a Taylor Swift song or a line from her because there's so many lines that I relate to.

 

Passionistas: That's awesome. Um, Is there one lesson that you've learned on this journey that you've been on that really sticks with you?

 

Meredith: Um, you know what? I don't know if it's a lesson, but I just think that it's something that people should just always think about. Just do what you believe in, do what's passionate, what you're passionate about. No pun intended, but I feel like you, we only have one life. Like, you know, work should be something you enjoy, something that you get something out of.

 

You know, you don't want to just show up every day and do something you're not passionate about, that you don't love. Um, and I mean, luckily I've I've been able to be at this job for so long and I do love it. I have a great, uh, my, my boss is amazing. She supports me the way I support my clients. So I can support my clients because she supports me.

 

So like I have all these things. So I get very jazzed up about what I do. So I do think that that. Not that it's my lesson, but I do think it's really sad like when you meet people that are doing things that they're just like kind of going through the motions and it's a paycheck and I guess not everybody has that ability, but I would like to think that that they can find something, find something that you're passionate about, find something that that you're good at, that that makes you charged to get up in the morning because I do feel that that's an important thing for people.

 

Luckily, I've been very fortunate that I've been able to do that.

 

Passionistas: Yeah, that's awesome. And it kind of leads into the next question, which is, how do you define success? Because we define success very differently now than we did when we were 25. Um, and maybe people who are, you know, more in a corporate structure might define it. So what does success mean to you?

 

Meredith: Yeah, I agree. Like, it's, you know, family, you know, friends, like, having, you know, that, like, you know, your, your kids and your, your loved ones, um, having a good relationship with them. And then, like I said, like, when you put your head in the pillow at night, like, do you feel good about what you did that day?

 

You know, just to circle back, I think we talked a lot before this started, but we were talking about like how people like scammers could live with themselves. Like, I don't know how they do that. I need to feel like I'm doing the right thing, even if something goes wrong, which of course it has. I need to know that I've done everything I could as a person to right the situation and fix it.

 

So yeah, I mean, that success is that. you are doing the right thing and knowing at the end of the day that you were a good person, that you impacted people's lives positively, and that you were the best version of yourself that you could be, and you did things that were right, that, you know, and you, you honored what your word was.

 

Passionistas: Absolutely. So tell us, um, how people can find you, and you also have a special offer you wanted to tell our listeners about.

 

Meredith: Oh, okay. Yeah. Um, so we're doing an offer with, uh, with Thryv, so, um, that the first three months we discount. Um, so even though it's a very low price point, we realize it does take time to implement something new and change, which is tough for me and sure is tough for everybody.

 

So even though it's, we hold your hand and we don't just throw a software at you, like I'm there every step of the way. You have your own client success manager, 24/7 support. So you do get a, um, um, for now, at least at this point in time, the first three months we discount the program, which is nice.

 

The way to get, I'm on social media. I also have a extremely long and complex to read, um, digital business card that you could book with me. So hopefully that'll be. Um, but I am, uh, my email, which I don't know if I should say it, it's just a lot of letters, um, and spelling, but I'm on, I'm on all the different social platforms as well, Meredith, uh, Rhodes Business Advisor, um, and it's R H O R On LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, all those, X, I think I'm still on there. And yeah, my email is Meredith, M E R E D I T H, dot Rhodes, R H O A D E S, at Thryv, T H R Y V, no E.

 

Passionistas: Awesome. And we will put all of this info in all our chats and social media posts and everything. So people will be able to find you because Meredith is just amazing and whether you need her services or you just want to connect with somebody really special, uh, we highly recommend knowing Meredith. Um, so Meredith, we have, uh, one last two part question for you, which is, um, what is your dream for your daughter? And what is your dream for women in general?

 

Meredith: Oh, I just got the chills, it's like thinking about my daughter, just my, I want her to be happy. I mean, just that's what we all want for our kids, right?

Happy and just to be, you know, to do what she, what makes her happy and to, you know, like the last thing I'd want is for her to do something that doesn't make her happy, right? So be able to, to reach her goals and potential, which she does. Um, and just to just keep doing what she does and never, never.

 

Never get anybody to like squash her dreams or like let that happen, which I don't think she will. What was the second question? Because I already forgot it.

 

Passionistas: Which is what is your dream for women in general?

 

Meredith: Oh my god, my dream for women in general is really just You know, don't ever feel like you are less than, obviously. Um, you know, don't accept less than. Um, you know, um, and just, you know, just to, you know, your dreams, you can achieve your dreams, whatever they are. My daughter can bench 145 pounds and she weighs like 125. Like, you could do anything. Like, she, like, there's no limit. The limit is whatever you set for yourself.

So just know that there really is no limit and whatever you're passionate about and your dreams are, you could achieve it.

 

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project. Since we're not only business partners, but best friends and real life sisters, we know how unique and truly special our situation is.

 

We know so many solopreneurs, activists, women seeking their purpose and more, who are out there doing it all on their own. They often tell us that they wish they had what we have. So we're creating a space for them and you to join our sisterhood, where trust, acceptance, and support are the cornerstones of our community.

 

By joining, you become part of our family. We'll give you all of our SisTips on building meaningful relationships through the power of sisterhood and all the tools you need to thrive in three key areas. Business growth, personal development, and social impact. You'll learn from our panel of power passionistas who are experts on topics like transformational leadership, following your intuition, the power of voting, and so much more.

 

You can join us virtually and in person at storyteller events and meetups to connect with other members of the community. And you'll be able to participate in our online forums with other like-minded women and gender non-conforming, non-binary people who share your values and goals. Be sure to visit ThePassionistasProject.com to sign up for your free membership to join our worldwide sisterhood of passion driven women who come to get support, find their purpose and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.

 

Until then, stay passionate!

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