Many entrepreneurs see working at home as a great way to combine their work and personal life.
Not only can they save money because they’re not paying rent for an office or manufacturing space, but the idea of flexible schedules and blending their work and personal life is appealing.
Home-based businesses remain today an important part of our economic system. These businesses represent our earliest form of business and today are the site for a significant number of service and retail businesses plus are a development area for new ideas.
Yet operating from one’s home does involve certain disadvantages. One of the major hurdles is that the business owner is out of the mainstream business community.
This means the owner not only suffers from a lack of visibility, but he or she often has fewer chances to develop a professional network. Such a network is often a crucial lifeline for the home-based business owner.
Home-based business owners have several ways to build awareness of their company and form ties with other professionals.
A key first step is to join the local chamber of commerce. This group and the events it sponsors are often key gathering places for business professionals.
Other events to consider attending include business fairs or trade shows where business owners gather. To get the most out of these events, go with a goal in mind: what new information they would like to gather or who they would like to meet, for instance.
When at a networking event, try these tactics to get the most out of it:
- Have your business cards in-hand.
- Walk around and mix with a variety of people.
- Take time to introduce yourself and what you do. But spend more time learning about the other person. With potential key partners, make plans to meet at another time for a longer discussion.
- Watch how others “work” the room.
Other ways business colleagues meet include joining and being active in community and civic organizations. However, while attendance is a good first step, business owners also need to offer their services and look for leadership roles.
Area business trade groups are another means to learn and make contacts. Contact the professionals you use on a regular basis, such as their banker, accountant, lawyer and insurance representative. Ask what organizations they belong to and their thoughts on the best organizations for you. Ask them if you can go with them to one or two meetings. Not only can you learn more about the groups, but you have a mentor who can make introductions and help tell others your story.
Remember, the purpose of all of these opportunities is networking. Focus on making contacts, forming relationships and spreading the word about your business, it is not about making sales
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