Do you know the most effective way to grow your business? It's not a website. It's not a bank loan. It's not a degree in business management. It's networking. Networking helps you to grow your circle of business acquaintances, attract more clients, make connections with suppliers and vendors, and learn from other business people who already have dozens of Canadian trademarks to their name. If you're not sure what networking is or how to get started, this article can be a valuable resource for you. Here are some easy ways to network.

Open House

As a new business owner, you will sink or swim in the first few months according to who knows you exist. The best way to introduce yourself to the community is to have an open house. This event can be especially successful for a service business like a dental office or physiotherapist. Dr. Orth (Core Dental) found it to be a great way to introduce himself to the neighbourhood when he first opened his clinic. Have plenty of brochures available and be prepared to sum up your service offering in a few sentences for those who drift in to see what's going on. If you make yourself available for questions, you'll find that you'll have a collection of people who are interested in your services or products in no time.

Attend Classes

Check with your local business college or university to see if there are any lectures, workshops, or classes you could attend to build your knowledge base. Not only will you learn all about your industry and how you can make it work for you, but you'll also have the opportunity to chat with and even do projects with other business owners in the community who may be become suppliers, sources of advice, or clients. In the future, it may also be appropriate for you to become a teacher or volunteer lecturer at the same college, when you have the experience to back you up.

Get Involved in your Community

People love a business owner who gives back to the community. Patrick Rocca has been successful as a real estate agent partly by being a vocal supporter of the community where he works (and lives). His name has become synonymous with the community he serves. Even in the early days when you're not netting enough to give away money to charity, you can still donate your time, which will give you exposure. You might also consider giving away t-shirts and other promotional materials as prizes for charity draws, creating teams to run in charity marathons, and renting a booth at whatever fair, conference, or trade show is currently in town to increase your exposure.

Schmooze

And finally, you need to refine the art of schmoozing. The easiest way to get started is to attend business networking dinners put on by organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce so you can watch the masters in action. Joining the Chamber of Commerce will also give you access to more business development opportunities and the advice of older members who have achieved a high level of success. It's also useful to have a circle of friends who are at your level so your businesses can all "grow up" together.




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