When I was studying for my business degree and before my company was formed, I was in need of an outlet to be around other like-minded women. Years previous I was a member of the local Valley Women’s Network so revisited their luncheons.
Even though funds were very tight at the time, it was important for me to have some human interaction – even if only once a month.
Little did I know, going to these meetings ended up being the catalyst for our birth.
During this time I connected with women entrepreneurs who were either eager to start a new business or take their business to the next level. Being the former webmaster for the Vancouver Sun and Province, it was a natural thing for them to ask me questions about branding and websites. I was more than happy to share my knowledge.
Eventually conversations evolved into them hiring me so they could get the help they wanted with their marketing presence.
The next thing I knew I was in business as a web developer!
That was over 12 years ago and I’m proud to say a handful of those women are still clients today.
I have to smile when I think about it because I really had no intention of starting my own business. I was going back to school with the idea of landing a CIO position somewhere.
Turns out my calling was much more important than that – helping business owners realize their dream.
The Many Benefits of Attending Local Live Events
Fast forward to present day, I still value the connections made when attending networking and other similar events.
Recently I was in Vernon attending the WOW-Woman of Worth Conference where I had an opportunity to get to know many incredible women I would never have met otherwise. (I was inspired to write these networking tips while there.)
I am also a member of the Business Professional Women’s Group and attend meetings in Langley and Abbotsford.
The connections found at events like these have been invaluable – not only professionally but also personally.
Social Media and Online Marketing is Not the Only Way to Generate New Business
Sometimes with Social Media and online marketing being so prevalent we forget about our own back yard and the opportunities available to us. All we have to do is simply step away from the computer and check them out.
My business was literally created by connecting with people locally.
And just because Social Media has taken over the online networking landscape, doesn’t mean there’s any less value in building your business at that grass-roots level.
Do you market your business in your hometown?
If hiding behind your computer has become the norm for you, I encourage you to explore local opportunities to get better known in your home town.
Here’s seven tips, ideas and suggestions on how you can take advantage of generating business through local efforts:
1. Network where your target market is hanging out. First be clear on WHO that target market is and then do some research on where they gather.
This is an easy one if you are a B2B business like mine; there’s plenty of networking groups available tailored for that crowd.
But you might have to look at other shared interests. For instance, if your target market is very health conscious, join a popular yoga group and get to know those people who attend.
2. Volunteer at community groups. Volunteering in community groups are a great way to boost your visibility. Not only are they a great way to give back to your community but also an excellent way for you to showcase your skills and expertise.
Do a search for groups that could use your skillset. A great example is if you are a bookkeeper or accountant – volunteer to be the bookkeeper for the group.
3. Create your own Meet-up. Setting up local, more casual events on a subject you know would be of interest to your target market is a great way to build your brand visibility.
These types of gatherings can be very beneficial to the attendees where you can offer something of value to them and showcase your expertise at the same time.
4. Set up a trade show booth. Many trade shows have thousands of visitors. They are a great way to build your brand visibility and bring more awareness to your business offerings with the local crowd.
Set up a professional display and strike up conversations with those showing interest in what you are offering.
Be sure to have a way for them to get onto your mailing list by offering a draw or free giveaway. Just be sure they check off a box giving permission to receive your regular newsletters.
5. Join the local Chamber of Commerce. Even if your target market is not business owners, there are still plenty of great reasons for you to get to know other business owners in your area by joining your local chamber.
Not only can they be a great referral source for you, but they are still people who could be interested in what you have to offer at a personal level.
6. Nominate others for awards. We had the honour of being nominated for, and won the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence award in 2016 in the home based business category.
I was also nominated for a WOW – Woman of Worth award in the Business & Prosperity category. The amount of free publicity and exposure we received for each of these awards was priceless.
I encourage you to nominate someone for similar awards. Not only is it very gratifying to make someone else’s day, you also gain a lot of exposure from being the person who nominated them. Another option is to be an award sponsor, again bringing you great satisfaction and business exposure.
7. Don’t forget your business card! While some may poo-poo this, I’m still a believer in the value of business cards.
Get professional cards designed and printed. Use them wisely – always ask the other person you’re talking with for their card first and reciprocation will ensue.
Your business card is a first touch-point that person will see your visual brand so ensure you give off the right first impression with a professionally designed one.
Aside from getting out there and getting involved in local community activities, you could also take advantage of various paid advertising opportunities. Newspaper advertorials, radio ad spots, sponsorships and even billboards can all be taken advantage of at a local level.
Don’t Forget About Your Website
No matter what kind of activities we are doing when trying to drum up new business, don’t forget the importance of your website.
With every potential customer you meet, assume they will be heading to your website to check out you and your services. They might even do it right there so ensure your website is mobile friendly and shares the right brand messaging that will compel them into action and hire or buy from you.