As a real estate broker I'm on the hunt for leads. I am always looking for someone who is moving, or someone who knows someone who is moving. So networking has become a very nice source of business for me.
There are many different ways to network: professional groups, college meet-ups, Rotary, church meetings, and PTAs. I've chosen to work with my local Chamber of Commerce and discovered a professional group that meets often - breakfasts, lunches, and cocktails hours are all in the mix. Often several a week. I can have a full calendar of events if I choose to.
Networking on a regular basis is important - it's not good enough to show your face, pass out a few cards and disappear. It takes regular attendance, enough times that other members recognize you, perhaps even hug you. Chamber of Commerce members that attend networking events are there to promote their own business. So they understand why you are there. And they will refer you if they know and trust you.
Just this year alone, I've closed $1.5 million in referral sales from Chamber of Commerce meetings. It is not lost on me that I really want to help them in return - anything I can do to refer business to them, you know that I'll do it. Plus - and this is a big one: I've written localism posts about many of the businesses that are represented there. So they already know and like me.
Check out your local Chamber and know who is in charge. Offer to help at events - they're always looking for volunteers to help with sidewalk sales, city block parties, or other fun events. I realize not all Chambers are as busy as mine are - but even a few events can be productive.
Give your local Chamber a chance - attend events and have fun. It could be the best part of your marketing plan. And don't forget to attend . . . regularly!