When I started my business, I thought I was going to spend most of my time doing graphic design. But when work was slow in coming, I realized I needed to let people know I was open for business.
As a creative kind of guy, I’d rather people just pushed work towards me in my little corner; I’d prefer not to venture outside my world and just focus on making pretty things. But I’ve discovered that you can have talent or a great product, but if nobody knows about you, it won’t amount to a hill of beans. It came as quite a shock to me once I was up and running that so much of what I actually had to do involved (shudder) Sales and Marketing. It’s absolutely vital that you become a visible presence in the business world.
Do you network? I presently attend 3-4 networking events per week and I know I need to do more; but already I am beginning to be known as a resource amongst my fellow business people. As time goes on, word starts to get out. Perhaps I’ll do a small design piece for someone in the group who might then recommend me to a friend, and so on.
It’s all about connections. You will need to do it consistently, week in, week out. Check out Meetup.com, visit local chamber of commerce events, local business support networks, and referral clubs like BNI and Think! Referrals. I have found these events all profitable and very easy to get into. Regulars are without exception welcoming and supportive to newcomers; everyone wins as more people come into the group. These groups quickly become part of your emotional support network. Don’t forget your business cards, and collect those of the people you meet. Follow up with an email within a few days of meeting them, and touch base with them regularly after that.
You want to be the first person someone thinks about when they need your particular service, and to do that, they need something that keeps you in the front of their mind when they need help.
There’s tons of information on the web about the do’s and don’t’s of networking online and with the many business coaches out there and plenty of books on the subject. Check out these resources, and then get out and do it. You must if your business is to succeed.
In subsequent posts, I’ll talk about some of the other ways of getting the word out.
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