Even if you have an online business, you don’t need to overlook your local market. Networking locally might even be the very best way to jump-start your business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a product or a service; there are people local to you who need what you’re offering. What’s more, it might be easier to market to local people than you think.
* BNI – Business Networking International is a networking group that enables local people to get together to help refer business to each other. Usually the way it works is that only one person representing each type of business is in each networking group. There is a steep fee for being involved, but most people who stick to it report that it’s worth it.
Link - http://www.bni.com/
* Chamber of Commerce – Your local chamber can offer you a lot more than you might think. As a home-based business owner, there is a special need for your involvement in your chamber. You can go to business after-hours events, volunteer to help with ribbon cuttings, send out flyers to other business owners and more.
* Niche Groups – Even locally you’ll find some niche groups such as local blogger clubs, network meetings and more that can help you find like-minded individuals or customers. You can even start your own niche groups.
* Meetup.com – This is an online service that helps you meet with people locally. You can find a lot of groups and events via this service that are relevant to your local networking needs.
* Local Mastermind Groups – Look through your local college or university to find local mastermind groups that can help you reach the next level in your business. If you’re a woman, look for women-owned business networks.
* Teach a Course – Why not start your own networking events by teaching a course to others? You can usually rent a space relevantly inexpensively; place an advertisement in your local newspaper and via other networking groups to teach something important to local people.
* Host a Workshop – Once you get involved, other people will ask you to host workshops with them. Joining forces with others is always helpful and can help you get known as a local expert.
* Sponsor an Event – There are many local events that need sponsors. This can cost a little bit of money, but having your business name as a sponsor for a major event in your town can make a huge difference in brand awareness.
* Volunteer for a Cause – While you shouldn’t volunteer only to get your name out there, it is still a good way to add to the knowledge others have about you. Choose a cause you like without thought to sales, but only to helping the local community get to know you while you do something helpful for a cause you care about.
Networking your home business or online business locally can help you either get jump-started or help you get out of your comfort zone to become a well-known expert in your niche.