How to get more visibility through networking
The most effective form of advertising is also the oldest:word-of-mouth. Bright ads and slick brochures don't compareto an informed recommendation (or warning!) from someonetrusted and respected by po...
The most effective form of advertising is also the oldest:word-of-mouth. Bright ads and slick brochures don't compareto an informed recommendation (or warning!) from someonetrusted and respected by potential customers.
Word-of-mouth can be just as effective when the informationcomes directly from you. By networking with colleagues,allied businesses, and potential customers, people canlearn more about who you are and what you do. Networking isalso a great way to become more attuned to the issues thataffect your customers-their needs, concerns, andpreferences-giving you a better chance of being in thatproverbial "right place" at the right time.
Networking is no different than attending a socialgathering. In fact, it's better because you already havesomething in common with nearly everyone you meet. Ofcourse, you should never adopt a "who are you and what canyou do for me" attitude. Networking works best whenthere's no pressure to make a sale. Ask questions andalways listen. First impressions are important, but theyalso can be enhanced or changed over time.
To begin building your business network, consider thefollowing:
Professional societies. Nearly every type of business has anational association that represents their members'interests; most have local chapters with regular meetings and activities. Along with providing a great source ofcontacts, professional societies offer volunteeropportunities where you can demonstrate your initiative,cooperative spirit, and leadership qualities.
Customers' professional societies. If you really want toknow what your customers are thinking, get involved inorganizations that represent their interests. Do some research before you sign up, however. Some groups may haverestrictions on membership, while others may have feesthat exceed your expected returns. On the other hand, manygroups may encourage businesses such as yours to advertisein their publications or participate in special programs.
Chambers of Commerce/Business Roundtables. These groupsoffer valuable exposure within a particular community orregion. While other members may not be in your targetmarket, they can provide valuable leads and referrals(there's that word-of-mouth advertising again!). Many alsoprovide opportunities for small businesses to "show theirstuff" via trade fairs, demonstrations, and media features.
Community service organizations. This is a great way tocombine a personal interest with your business. Manygroups may have a need for your type of service, giving theopportunity to do pro bono work in return for freevisibility. What's more, your fellow volunteers may alsobe potential customers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abe Cherian is the founder of Multiple Stream Media, a company that helps online businesses find new prospects and clients, who are anxious to grow their business fast, and without spending a fortune in marketing and automation. http://www.freehomebusinesstips.com
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