Getting the word out in your community so folks are aware of your new company and the products or services it provides is a critical first step. If you ultimately want to be successful, you will need to create as many alliances as you can. One great, low-cost way to do this is by networking.
Prior to launching Hometown Business Alliance with my partner Robert, I attended numerous business networking events and found that many attendees just weren’t getting the expected results from their networking efforts. The primary reason for this was because so many folks attend networking events, and then they sit and chat with people they already know, have a drink, some appetizers and then go home. So you have to ask yourself, what did they just do to grow their business?
You guessed it. Absolutely nothing!
This is the very scenario that is being played out time and again in communities nationwide and that prompted us to launch Hometown Business Alliance. We wanted to provide a better, more cost-effective environment to help business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals get out and network in their communities, build alliances and develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Now, some of this is the fault of the attendees, and some of it is the fault of the networking group or even the leader of the event. Why? It’s because they seldom offer little in the way of education, exercises or overall guidance when it comes to proper networking that actually will help guide people through the process.
Let me share a quick story with you…
At one networking event with approximately 125 people in attendance, a gentleman approached me and started a dialog that lasted perhaps five minutes or so. During this time we learned a little about each other and our professions, and then he asked if I would call him to schedule a follow-up meeting for coffee one morning to discuss ways to help each other grow our businesses.
So, I did just that.
A week later we met for coffee, had a great conversation, formed a new relationship and worked together for several months. During our meeting he informed me that he had used the same approach with 15 to 20 people other than me at that very same networking event. He then asked me to guess how many folks had actually followed up with him like I did.
Turns out, I was the ONLY one!
While I expected the number to be low, I was surprised that no one else had followed up with him. Now, keep in mind, this is a normal guy—well groomed, articulate, and he didn’t have a football-sized goiter or other grotesque abnormality on his face, so there was really no apparent reason why folks shouldn’t get back with him…other than sheer laziness. Pretty sad, isn’t it?
I tell this story to make a point. If you go to networking events and simply collect business cards and socialize without the intent of following up to explore building a relationship, then you are NOT realizing any great benefits from networking! A wise lady once told me that networking is WORK, and yet so many people just aren’t prepared to do the work that it takes. This never ceases to amaze me.
So, let me share a few Net-WORK-ing tips to help you grow your business on the cheap:
1. Join all the FREE networking groups in your area.
2. List all the other fee-based networking groups in your area.
3. Attend as many networking events as you can with the focus on meeting a few to several NEW people at each event, to start building a relationship.
4. Wear a company name tag and/or attire with your company logo on it.
5. DON’T pitch folks on your product or service. Rather, focus on them. Get to know them. What do they do? Show interest in their business. What do they need to grow their business?
6. If you feel a connection, ask them to meet you for coffee (or an iced tea or whatever) one day to explore ways to help each other’s business.
7. Take good notes about the person you just met. You will want to give the conversation more thought in the days ahead to think of ways you can help them, or align them with someone you know who can help them.
If you follow these steps at each networking event, and you attend a few or more events each month, you will form many new relationships and discover numerous ways to genuinely help each other.
Doesn’t this approach make much more sense than simply getting a business card, and then calling the person to pitch them solely on what you do? Would you respond favorably to this selfish approach? I bet not.
So get started networking. Actively search for business networking groups in your community. Search terms and titles such as Business Networking Events, Chamber Events, Meet-up Groups and Leads Groups, among others, that are being held in your area are worthy of your attention.
Explore ALL the FREE groups, then select the other groups as your budget allows. You can only begin to identify the good groups from the bad. If there is a Hometown Business Alliance group in your area, membership is a very affordable $9.99 a month. And if there isn’t, you may want to consider starting one by attending events. As is true of Hometown Business Alliance, you can oftentimes attend as a guest to check out the group before you consider joining.
Either way, as a home-based or other small business opportunity or franchise owner, you should join as many networking groups in your area as you can, attend as many events as you can and make sure to work those events to build relationships as well as you can using these important tips to guide you.
The rest will take care of itself.
Ron DeRosa is the Co-Founder of Hometown Business Alliance, a company that offers an affordable business opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to build a business facilitating small business networking in their community. Hometown Business Alliance creates a branded and structured framework that fosters productive and mutually beneficial partnerships and working relationships among small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals at the local level. The company is currently searching for JUST ONE qualified individual in a given area or city to develop and oversee the Hometown Business Alliance program.
This minimal-investment, fast ROI business opportunity will enable you to create multiple streams of income, including residuals, work from home or an existing office as you see fit and control your own time. Additionally, it’s a tremendous opportunity for existing business owners to complement their already existing venture while providing a much-needed service to other entrepreneurs and professionals in the community.
For more information on Hometown Business Alliance’s exciting business opportunity, simply click here on SMALL BUSINESS NETWORKING DONE RIGHT now!