According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (1), there are more than 22 million small businesses in the U.S. that have no employees. Many of these are home-based businesses. You can reach out to people all over the world with the right networking strategies.
The Website as a Hub of Information
For any home-based business, a website is still a central fixture for your networking efforts. It is a place where you post your thoughts, your plans and what makes your business different from other businesses. It is also where you direct the people you connect with to find out more about you and your business.
In this age of mobile devices, it’s important to build a website using a responsive design, which is a website that will look good and function well on any device the viewer is using, from a PC desktop to an iPad or iPhone. This puts your website into the hands of more people as mobile devices are becoming a preferred way that people seek out information online.
Blog For Your Business
No matter what type of business you have, there is something you can say about it in a blog. Create a blog on your website or use one of the social media platforms such as Facebook. Your goal is to interest viewers enough to make them share posts with others in their networks. Once that begins, your business gets free visibility with each post that gets shared.
If you are making jewelry to sell on Etsy, write a blog about how sterling silver is made. Underwriting life insurance policies from home? Then write about how actuarial services come up with their longevity estimates. Every business has something interesting that can be shared with people online.
Encourage Customer Reviews
More than 90 percent of people who go online read customer reviews, and 74 percent of those base purchase decisions on them, states Reputation.com. Yelp is a good starting point; it had about 108 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of 2013. It is an easy site to search and it’s a place to promote your business. Send a reminder note to your customers shortly after a sale asking them to submit a review for you.
Don’t Forget the Offline Channels
Look for opportunities in your community to talk about your business. The first step is to create a simple business card. Check out the various business cards online and find a design that matches the tone of your business. The most important items to have on the card are your website address and email ID so people can connect with you and your business for more information.
Once you have a stack of business cards in hand, look for local business groups to join. You will find business groups that are focused on networking, such as Business Network International (BNI). You will also find industry-focused groups you could work with. Check out your local small business association, chamber of commerce and Meetup groups for networking opportunities.
One way to build a local following is to offer to speak at groups. You could demonstrated the latest wire-wrapping techniques at local crafts club. Or you could present the right way to plan for the amount of life insurance one needs to purchase at a Rotary or Lions Club meeting. Much like your blog posts, your speaking engagements will draw people in to follow you to see what you’ll do next with your business.