Whether your company does outsourcing or finds nannies for busy parents, you'll find it very difficult to get off the ground if you don't know anyone. Lacking connections means you lack the avenues to find customers, have no one to turn to for business advice, and don't know who to talk to when you want to buy supplies. Networking is the key to a successful business. If you've never tried networking before, here are a few tips that will help get you started.
Join a Group
Others before you have noted the importance of networking for business and have formed groups where business owners can meet, mingle, and help each other out. A likely place to start is your local Chamber of Commerce, which aims to promote local businesses around town and in the world. There are also clubs like the Kiwanas Club and the Rotary Club which welcome business owners as key pillars of the community.
Hand Out Business Cards
Many real estate agents for example, get their business simply by getting their business cards into the hands of the right people at the right time. As a business owner, you should never be "off duty." Anywhere you go you should have some business cards with you and be ready to hand them out to anyone who implies that they may have need of the kind of products or services you provide. Family reunions, high school reunions, cocktail parties, and parent teacher boards are prime places to network through your cards.
Periodically your local Chamber of Commerce or business development council will host power luncheons or networking seminars. You should be at these events if you're serious about meeting people and adding them to your mental rolodex of people who can help your business. Chat up everyone at the party, and not just superficially, either. Ask the owner of a nearby business about his family, tell him about your kids. The better you get to know someone personally, the more likely they are to feel inclined to help you when they are able.
Getting out in the community is important, and what better way to generate good feeling about your business than donating some products or services to worthy causes? Giving a few framed wildlife pictures to a charity auction or agreeing to provide free cookies to kids at a street festival isn't just about giving to the community - it's also about making people aware that your business exists and encouraging them to patronize you when the event is over, so make sure your business name and contact info is prominently displayed on the brochures and posters for the event.