How to network for your home based business?
Home-based businesses have boomed in recent years. They do not cost a lot and are easy to set up, which is why millions of people around the world operate a business from home or at home. Many more will look towards home-based businesses in light of the present economic climate.
Unlike larger businesses, your home-based business does not have a big advertising budget to advertise. However due to the nature and size of a home-based business, your main strength is your ability to connect and build relationships with your customers. This is why networking is important for you, as a business owner.
There are many ways to network. It is no longer just a practice of exchanging business cards with everyone you meet. These days, you can employ conventional methods or use the many online resources available.
Before beginning to network, it is important for you to have a clear objective in mind as to what you want to achieve. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time and effort that can be put to better use in other areas of your business.
A good place to start is to seek out local business networks, where like-minded business people meet to share ideas, solve problems and co-operate to support each other. If no suitable local business network currently exists, you can get together with other business owners to form your own network.
Another way to get yourself known is by volunteering at local events. This will generate good publicity for you and your business. It’s a very low-key form of self-promotion and allows you to meet people who are your potential customers.
You may also organize an event for existing customers and encouraging them to invite their contacts. This is a creative way of getting to meet more prospective customers instead of the more common approach of asking customers for referrals. Since the event is conducted in a relaxed atmosphere, it allows people to get to see you, the business owner in a different light.
Social media sites online are very low-cost tools you can use to network. Sites such as Facebook (www.facebook.com allow you to seek out and stay in touch with people you have lost contact with. It also allows you to be “found” by people. The advantage of social media sites is that once you are connected, you will not lose your contacts.
Blogging is another way to reach out and network with customers and prospects. It allows you to communicate information and news, and get feedback from your readers. A blog is easy to set up and can even be hosted for free. Maintaining a blog however, requires a lot of time, and some writing skill, so you will have to weigh the benefits against the costs.
For business owners who are always on the go, Twitter (www.twitter.com) offers users a quick way to get your message across to your followers. Followers are people who agree to receive tweets or short messages from the writer. Since each tweet is restricted to 140 characters, you do not have to waste time writing long articles.
Although many people use email as it is a very cost-effective way to disseminate information to customers, it is one-way communication, and is therefore not very suited for networking purposes.
With a clear goal in mind and careful implementation, networking can give your business the edge it needs to progress and succeed in any economic situation.