We wrote a post a while ago outlining three tips for establishing good work habits at home. This is an important set of guidelines, as it encourages the separation of your “business” self from your “home” self. However, it doesn’t touch on one of the most important parts of home-based startups: networking. When working from home, it can be difficult to network, and find new customers. Here are six quick tips for home-based startups..
Utilize Social Media
These days, nearly every discussion surrounding networking focuses first on social media, and with good reason: It can be difficult to run a small business without a solid Internet presence. Your website should be clean and easy to navigate and your Facebook and Twitter profiles should be updated regularly and give clear contact information. In addition to these, try cultivating other forms of social media that apply to your industry. For instance, if you are a visual artist or designer, put your work on Instagram for the world to see and share.
Develop an Elevator Pitch
Everyone knows the old adage about the elevator pitch – you’re supposed to be able to get everything important and relevant out of your mouth in the time it takes to ride an elevator with a potential client. Why have an elevator pitch when working from home? Because you’ll need it. Phone calls, networking events, and trade shows are all situations in which you need this short-form pitch.
Attend Networking Events
It’s fairly likely you won’t meet the people you need to run your business from the comfort of your home office chair. Breakfasts, luncheons, trade shows, conferences, seminars, and expos are just a few events where you can get your name out there. Even if you don’t yet have the cash to set up a booth at these events, it’s a good idea to bring some business cards and mingle with the crowd.
For home-based startups, remember that every time you interact with someone, it’s a chance to network. Have your elevator pitch and some business cards on hand when you go out to run errands, get something to eat, or attend a sporting event…you never know when you’ll meet a potential customer!
Even though you don’t have a storefront, and you might do much of your business online, you are still a local company. The best way to cement this reputation is to get involved with your community. Think about getting involved with local events or helping out with an area nonprofit or fundraiser. Showing people that you are a good influence in your community will put your business in a positive light.
A sale or connection doesn’t end with the purchase or the conversation. To stand out when it comes to customer service and networking, make sure to follow up with a call or an email to thank the person for their time and remind them of the benefits of your business.
Networking does not always bring instant results. In fact, in some cases, you might go months or years without hearing from some of your contacts. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your efforts. You might find new customers and business partners from these connections. How do you network? Tell us in the comments section!