Networking allows you to develop contacts and connections throughout your industry. Social media websites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are not only good for marketing, but for networking as well. While Facebook allows you to keep in contact with other industry professionals, LinkedIn does the same in a more professional setting. LinkedIn allows users to research companies and other professionals and to develop business opportunities with each other.
Industry forums are another great way to network online. These forums gather individuals from the same industry and allow them to post questions for, ask opinions of, and exchange information with each other. Forums are a great way to gather fresh ideas and to research what has and hasn’t worked for others in your position.
There are many options for real-world networking. Your goal should be to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with other area businesses. If, for instance, an area embroidery shop has a customer in need of heat printing, they may wish to outsource the work to you, or even refer the customer directly.
Below is a list of networking ideas:
- Visit local schools, churches, and other potential customers, providing them with your business card, catalog, and brochures.
- Join industry-related organizations and attend conferences.
- Attend or exhibit at industry tradeshows.
- Local Chambers of Commerce and Small Business Associations often hold meetings to help their members network.
- Community events can be a great place to meet prospective clients or even to sell customized products.
- Pair up with local sign shops. Most do not offer heat printing but may have customers seeking this service. Establish a cross-referral system.