9 Ways To Turn Your Neighbors Into Clients
The saying, “You are only as strong as your network,” rings especially true for small business owners. Regardless of where you live, there are a variety of business opportunities in your neighborhood, if you know where to look.
While online networking is both helpful and convenient, you simply cannot afford to miss the business opportunities that come from connecting with people face to face. It is critical for entrepreneurs to make real connections offline in order to promote their businesses and build fruitful partnerships.
1. Join A Coworking Space. “I am a member at a co-working space called the candy factory. Co-working promotes sharing space and promotes business idea sharing and expansion. It also increases economic develop in cities.” -Shanon Solava-Reid, Solava Consulting
2. Connect With Local Networking Groups. I belong to a professional B2B networking group made up of other small business owners and sales executives from small to mid-sized business that sell solutions typically into a complex (multiple decision makers) environment. I meet with these folks nearly weekly and have one-on-ones with each of them 2 or more times each year. They are a source of introductions to potential clients as well as others who I want to meet. -Kent J. Gregoire, Responsibility Centered Leadership, Inc
3. Get To Know Your Banker. I will tell you that the best kept secret to networking is your banker. If you have a good, trusted bank with a long history in the community, they can turn a lot of cross-industry, b2b networking into real business. -Robert Sommers, RoX
4. Stay Connected To College Alumni. With college alumni, there is an emotional connection that can go a long way in giving you instant credibility. While at an “open” event, there’s a great deal more skepticism to overcome. But it’s also true that while meeting with someone who attended your school is helpful, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a new client. It may just get your foot in the door. -Carlota Zimmerman, Carlota Worldwide
5. Check Out Rotary Clubs. I’ve found for myself the best way to grow my network is to join an old-line business organization, such as Kiwanis International or Rotary Club. These clubs, especially in smaller towns, count the majority of other small business owners as well as the local high-level executives of larger companies amongst their members. -Westley Annis, Devacaps
6. Join Small Business Advocacy Groups. The past year I joined a group called the Small Business Advocacy Council or the SBAC. They are a bipartisan political group for small and medium sized businesses. There are ton of benefits from the group however what originally attracted me and continues to keep me fully engaged is the quality of people. -Brandon Lewin, Doughnuttz
7. Get To Know Your Neighbors. As a parent of two active boys, I can’t resist getting to know parents of other kids who attend the same school as my boys. They’re all great people. Both online and offline I like to introduce myself as warmly as possible, and try to keep a pile of business cards handy to make for easy contact. -Heather Taylor, My Corporation
8. Volunteer in the Community. We volunteered for various conferences, such as Twiistup, to get our name out there. We participated in Social Media Week LA, putting on two events. We also worked for free for people like Dan Bliss, who runs Perfect Business, a conference for startups and entrepreneurs. He gave us a speaking spot, free passes, and we landed clients from this. -Rex Freiberger, Highly Relevant
9. Join the Chamber of Commerce. By far the best opportunity to expand my professional network has come through the Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 80% of my business has come as a result of my Chamber Membership. However, I caution anyone who is considering joining their local Chamber that you really only get anything out of it if you put something into it. I attend every Chamber function, especially the gala events and “business buzz” events. I arrive early, stay late and I don’t drink. It’s networking, not netsitting, neteating or netdrinking. I meet other decision makers and the real players in the community. -Tony Marder, Action Coach
It’s time to get involved in your community. Join social groups, partner with nonprofit organizations, and do whatever it takes to build a local network for your growing business. If you have other suggestions on how to connect with local business owners and prospective clients, add your tip below…