How to Build Relationships Quickly without Leaving Home
by Amy Grossman
Your Network is the Lifeblood of a Business
One of the advantages of working from home is - well, being home. It's so convenient, yet it also means that you don't cross paths with too many other people during the day. No matter how hard it is, building relationships is ultimately what will help you pay the bills. And it's particularly important for home-based business owners…your network of people is what will generate a consistent stream of prospects, referrals and customers.
So the key is to find efficient methods for meeting new people and staying in touch with those you already know. And the good news is, it doesn't have to be just face-to-face any more, which can be time consuming. Here are some ways to expand your contacts without putting on business attire, driving in traffic, paying for parking or enduring bad weather.
Enter Virtual Networking
That's why virtual networking is a boon to home business entrepreneurs. And there are several different virtual options, starting with the good old telephone.
I recently discovered Blitz Time.com, an innovative way to network over the phone. During the course of an hour, you can have up to nine consecutive 6-minute 1-to-1 conversations with other business professionals (think speed dating but for business!) What sets this apart is that while you're on the phone, a profile of the person you are speaking with appears on your computer screen automatically. At the end of the event, you see a list of the people you conversed with and a link to send an email to follow up with each person. You can test drive BlitzTime by attending any two events free, including the events I host for Home-Based Business Owners.
Places to Build your Network Online:
There are probably thousands of networking sites and the options can become overwhelming. Many social networking experts agree, though, that if you limit yourself to just three sites, they should be LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Over 55 million professionals use LinkedIn.com, often for job hunting. It's also a useful networking platform for home-based business owners. You can post events, ask questions, answer questions posted by other members and update your profile to get noticed by your network. Use LinkedIn to position yourself as an expert or preferred provider.
Chances are you may be using Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, since Facebook has over 400 million active users. Once you have a personal Facebook profile, you can create a separate business page with your business name. More than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages on Facebook. Use it to attract business "fans" who can become brand advocates to increase your network. To start, go to facebook.com and click on "Create a new page."
Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging service that keeps people connected from their computer or phone. Twitter seems counter-intuitive. How can you network using only 140 characters at a time? Join Twitter and then follow me @AmyGrossman to get started. I'm enthusiastic about Twitter and I'm not alone. Daniel Stoica, a tax preparer, added Twitter to his networking activities. By tweeting regularly on tax matters and about people in his network, he has attracted almost 7000 followers who are interested in his tax postings. Daniel follows as many people as follow him, keeping up with their news. (There are tools, such as TweetDeck.com, that make it possible to spend only minutes a day on Twitter.)
Create a Conversation
Just as with successful face-to-face networking, social networking is about inviting people to have a conversation with you. That's how to create relationships that win trust and a loyal following. Use these convenient methods to create a vibrant network of prospects and customers from the comfort of your home office.