As savvy small business people, we know that marketing is critical for the overall success of our business. It’s critical that you spread the word about yourself and your business and begin to build your reputation. You may have your advertising in place, dipped your toe into social media marketing and have even joined the local Chamber of Commerce or the local civic organization to network – all excellent steps. But for many business owners, one of the most important networking opportunities is often overlooked – our families and friends!
Sounds simple, right? But whether we already assume they know about our business or we “don’t want to ask anything of them,” or we don’t know how to ask, this should be one of the first pools of influence we dip into.
People know people, plain and simple. And generally if you ask someone close to you for help, they will gladly respond. They are already invested in your success. We suggest that you send a note to a variety of family, friends and former business colleagues, letting them know about your new business (or your old business for that matter). Invite them to an informal coffee chat to brainstorm ideas for you to create new business connections – your treat. At the “meeting,” let them know the type of customers you’re trying to engage and ask for their help. Perhaps they have a cousin, a friend or a neighbor who would be an ideal contact, or they might be able to put you in touch with one of their business associates that may be a good fit. You never know. But asking people for their help puts you and your business in the forefront of their minds so that when they happen to be in conversation with someone who would be a potential customer or contact for you, they will remember to make the connection and be well versed enough in your business to speak intelligently about you.
You can hold a series of these coffee chats with varying mixes of people. And after each one, remember to send a “Thank you” note with a small supply of your business cards and/or brochures. Keep them informed on an ongoing basis about any of your successes or business news so that you remain top-of-mind.