When it comes to business opportunities, sometimes it’s not “what” you know but “who” you know. That is the basis of networking – meeting others who might be able to help you sometime down the road. Here are some ideas about networking and how it can help you promote your home based business.
What Is Networking?
Simply put, networking describes techniques used to meet others who are like-minded. This could mean a local mastermind group, online communities, Facebook groups, forums, LinkedIn, or other methods of finding and forming a group that shares the same goals as you. Networking with others can help you learn new business methods, bounce ideas around, brainstorm, and even help you form friendships that last longer than once a week meetings.
Ways to Network for Home-Based Businesses
Be prepared – Before heading into a networking situation, it’s perfectly fine to practice a bit. Prepare your “elevator pitch” about your business and yourself, you’ll use it often. Get used to the idea of small talk. Learn a little about the event you are attending so that you can speak intelligently to others in the room. Always have a handful of business cards on you at all times to pass along to new people. After the event, take the cards that you collected and organize them. Jot down notes on each one if you need to, but these people could easily become your new business friends and you’ll want to stay in touch with them.
Find local business associations – Check with the Chamber of Commerce to find out about local associations for home-based businesses. Get to know others who have started businesses. Pick their brains as to what works and what doesn’t. Attend sponsored events and get the word out about your new venture. You’ll find that many other business owners are happy to share helpful resources they’ve used, or just chat about the ups and down of owning a business.
Attend conferences – Search online and see what types of events are going on for your type of business. Conferences are places where business professionals can get together, discuss new policies and legislation and share information. If you are starting a direct sales business, for example, almost all companies organize their own regional or national conferences and are HUGE for networking with other consultants and sharing ideas.
Create social media profiles – Social media allows anyone to find you easily. Creating profiles on Facebook and Twitter will create interaction between you and your customers as well as update the general public on what is new within your company. For business professionals, there is also LinkedIn, a social site that caters to those who want to network. You can link your other profiles to that one so that people can check up on you before introducing themselves. Keep your accounts professional and updated often. A strong social media presence will help you not only network with other businesses but help bring in new customers and clients.
Join forums – These can be found on social media sites as well as online home-based business sites. The key to successful networking online is to participate. Don’t just read the comments, but post useful information for others and really get involved. It is easy to spot a spammer who only talks about their accomplishments and business happenings, so avoid overly promoting your own business. Become someone who helps others, who wants to help solve issues, not just push their product on others. Facebook Groups are becoming wildly popular, so be sure to log in and do a few searches for relevant groups!
Networking is definitely a two-way street. Show your support for others and they will reciprocate in kind, potentially helping you grow not only your business but your relationships!
Looking for support as you navigate the waters of being a woman-owned business? Click the image above to join my Work From Home Moms Facebook group!