Networking – Necessary Investment for Small Businesses

romanian mob thumb Networking   Necessary Investment for Small Businesses

You know that the success of your online business is based on how much volume of targeted traffic you attract to your website, blog or online e-commerce store. One of the easier ways to do that is to master a few of the social media sites available, since social Media sites have exploded all across the web over the last year or so. With literally millions of websites and thousands of them probably selling almost similar products and services as yours, it's difficult to use traditional means to promote your products and even your website.

Attracting customers to your home based business by using social media sites sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? It is easy once you learn the how these networks work but many people running home based small businesses are still completely unaware of this method of reaching out to the world.

Social Media Marketing is the fastest growing phenomenon on the internet today, for its unique advantage of being able to tap into the latest and greatest user generated content such as blogs and bookmarking sites. So, every business, big or small, home based or not, should definitely utilize any of the hundreds of social networking sites to attract customers to their business and increase sales.

Here are some of the steps they can take to get started and benefit. projectlogo3 Networking   Necessary Investment for Small Businesses

1. Create a Blog

Blogs are highly interactive, with ongoing conversations amongst like minded people, and can be easily controlled and shaped by the blog author.  This is in contrast to static web-sites that just sit there conveying one-way information to the visitors. As a blogger, you can write about anything and everything and if you are writing useful articles, solving people's problems or providing value with your content, you'll easily develop a faithful audience. By sharing your thoughts and ideas with you website visitors, you establish trust and build a relationship with them, instead of coming off as some marketing robots. Do not just start a blog and then hope someone would be buying your services or products. Get involved in the community because that is what blogging is all about. Visit other blogs in your industry and participate in the ongoing discussions, leaving a link to your website. If you are leaving meaningful comments, people will want to look at what your site is all about.

2. Create Videos

Low-cost high speed internet connections everywhere, low cost portable devices, phones and laptops with wireless connections capable of streaming video content combined with YouTube, EyeSpot, Google Videos, Revver, JumpCut, Grouper and vSocial to name just a few, make it extremely easy to spread your content to wider audience. If nothing else, converting your text content to short infomercials is a must in your efforts of marketing. YouTube allows you to add friends, leave comments on other people's videos. These video sites are used by millions, so using the comment systems judiciously, in an attempt to attract the right kind of population is a must.

3. Join a Networking Site

By joining many social networking sites, it'll be easier for you to find new customers for your business. By actively participating and sharing useful informative content with other members, you'll develop a stronger voice and in time will gain recognition of other high profiled members. Making your connections with these other powerful and known members will make you more visible and once you are visible, you'll gain trust of many, which will make selling your services or products easier.

4. Join Online Groups

Google Groups and Yahoo Groups, LinkedIn and other forums, that allow people with similar interests to have discussions are places for any small business owner to be able to find the right customers. On these sites, you should also be able to have a sense of locations and demographics from people's profiles. Don't forget to use your own same powerful profile that you built is recognizable on other networking sites.

5. Get Involved in Local Business Networks

Besides interacting with the virtual communities like Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and MySpace, do not shy away from taking active role in the offline gatherings, face-to-face real-life conferences and social meet ups to connect with other professionals and learn about your local communities and its needs.

Home business can benefit and thrive from socializing actively with the online as well as off line communities. Every social networking scenario will have different rules to participate, get ahead and be visible. So, learn the rules and follow them properly.

Do not spam the system and do not start asking other members to vote your content up or buy your services the first day of joining (or even the first week of joining). Get to know people. Help them in their endeavors first before trying to gain something. I've had people send me shouts on Digg the first day of them joining the network and befriending me. Or on StumbleUpon, there are people who will tell you to vote their content without giving any introduction first. That's a strict no no.

Regardless of what you are selling and how you attract traffic to your home business, there is one way that works all the time, and that is the quality of your content. Continuing to add fresh content to your website will be searchable on the search engines as well as be appreciated by your likely customers.

Where to find Social Networking Sites

There are many places you can find these sites and join them, learn them and start participating. Here are some of the resources that I know of:

Social Networking God: 350+ Social Networking Sites @ Mashable

Social Media Sites @ Traffikd

List of Social Networking Sites @ Wikipedia

Note: I don't run a home business, but I have been using many social media sites and networks for some time now and feel that the above points should work for any type of small business in achieving it's goal of finding new customers. Feel free to add to these points and let us know how you have used networking for your business.

This post is submitted to Don's Group Writing Project on Home Based Businesses

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37 Responses to “ Networking – Necessary Investment for Small Businesses ”

  1. Pearl,
    I think your 1st point of creating a blog is key. It’s easy to do if you are willing to invest some time and it will tremendously improve your exposure. And thanks for the link.

    Steven Snell’s last blog post..10 Tools for the Social Media Marketer

  2. Pearl,
    You are so right pointing out the importance of content quality and relationship building. I email thank you to all new commentators on my blog. While I don’t hear back from all of them (I think my email may be ending up in their spam box . . .), I have made some good friends. And the magic of networking is it exponentially powers up the more quality contacts I have!

    Akemi – Yes to Me’s last blog post..The Secret Of Problem Solving (Save Time And Improve Customer Service This Way!)

  3. Hey Steven: I actually have a couple of friends who work from home but they never talked about blogging as a means to get exposure and in writing this post I realized that they kinda felt it was odd to constantly talk about their business in the blog! so yes, they don’t realize the potential of a blog but its a must for everyone for exposure.. its time well spent..

  4. Akami : understanding fundamentals of networking and building relationship is paramount to any business success, online or offline!

    good to hear from you again… stay well … your email didn’t go in spam here ;)

  5. Creating a blog is easy to do and can really drive traffic to your site.

    Ed Street’s last blog post..Funny Video – Snake Charmer

  6. Another idea is to join sites like Yahoo Answers or FunAdvice. It’s along the same lines of social networking sites, but more user-driven content.

  7. @Dara: I almost had Yahoo answers but for some reason forgot to include it… but yes, the idea is same, get involved and interact..

    thanks for reading Dara..

    @Ed: thanks for commenting Ed..

  8. Not a lot of business owners are tech-savvy enough to be on facebook and meetup… you’ll have much better luck with local businesses when you join your Chamber of Commerce and other networking groups ( http://www.places2network.com )

    Either way, networking with your local businesses is key!

  9. @Denver Web: right, thats a great point to join Chamber of Commerce… and thanks for leaving that link!

  10. Is facebook even considered a serious tool for a business? I thought it was more a personal social tool and after checking it out myself I have a hard time seeing it as a serious business tool. Too many cutesy applications and distractions. I would be more apt to look for a website for a business or a blog. I dunno.

    teeni’s last blog post..100 Things About Me – Part 6 of 10 and The 7 Things Meme

  11. Pearl , thanks for submitting your article to the project, this is very good and will readers everywhere

    Making Sales Making Money’s last blog post..Getting Legitimate RSS Subscribers

  12. Personally I find LinkedIn perfect to exchange information with professionals and to get found by recruiters. But I have not experienced any traffic increases from the network. As for the home business… yes, this is something I do. However, the clients rarely come from the places you mentioned above. I focus a lot on local businesses and the networking part helps me find collaborators, people to work with on a specific project.

    Mihaela Lica’s last blog post..A Network of Networkers: Social News Central

  13. […] Networking-Necessary Investment for Small Business by Pearl […]

  14. I think you’d go insane if you focused just on social media sites. Man those sites take a lot of work at times.

  15. The whole concept of social networking using blogs, using networking sites, and joining online groups is fine, but, to actually do it leaves you very little time to actually run your business!! Is this a catch 22?
    I totally agree on teeni’s comment about facebook. Its more about uni students watching each other that a serious business marketing tool!

    Mojorising’s last blog post..The return voyage

  16. @Mig: I think the type of business you are running will also determine which social site will be helpful – local reach is a must of course with most of businesses. I have an account with LinkedIn but rarely use it….

    @Cocky and Funny David :) yes, we need to quit with social networking if it starts to drive us crazy – they do take a LOT of time so some sort of scheduling is definitely required…

  17. @teeni: I used to think that too about facebook but I seriously do see the potential. The key to it is to really learn the basics and use only those apps that are useful for your own business… not for how cute they are! there are lots of much more useful apps that small businesses can use.. that calls for another post I guess ;)

    @Don – thanks for the project and thanks for the idea too… I wouldn’t have thought of exploring this like I told you in the email!

    @mojorising: thats what the popular belief still is that its for uni students! but really, I will be writing another post on it – so keep on the lookout – better yet, subscribe to my RSS to keep up-to-date :)

    I myself struggle with time issues but my inability to make best use of time doesn’t mean it’s a real problem! there are people making millions or running huge companies, and there are people who are on welfare – so it all depends on what we want to do and how we want to do it

  18. Good info! In order for your Internet based business enterprise to survive let alone to thrive it is important for you to increase web site traffic. Thanks

  19. “Blogs are highly interactive, with ongoing conversations amongst like minded people, and can be easily controlled and shaped by the blog author. ” Very well said Pearl. I can’t stress the importance of having a blog to reach to a wider audience and connect with your clients or customers. It gives both the business and the customers a sense of personal bonding, so to speak. Great article. Enjoyed it!

  20. […] Networking – Necessary Investment for Small Businesses from Interesting Observations. […]

  21. I have been looking into social networking a lot lately in terms of how it can help my business. I seems so time consuming though! Do you have any tips to streamline the amount of time you actually spend on the task, yet still get maximum benefit from doing it?

  22. These are all very good pointers Pearl. Especially what you say about starting a blog. You can use the conversations happening on your blog to gain valuable feedback regarding the product or service you provide.

    Jon Baines’s last blog post..Use the Psychic Search WordPress plugin to Gain Psychic Powers

  23. […] presents Networking – Necessary Investment for Small Businesses posted at :: Interesting Observations […]

  24. Great, readable and most educational post about social networking I’ve ever seen – covers the whole – thanks for sharing your knowledge and and thoughts and for describing it brilliantly in every details.

    For mine, I’ve collected all my communities at BlogCatalog and you’ll find the widget on my side bar.

    I think the most important thing is to sort out what is for what. For my professional life, LinkedIn is a must and the other is mostly for social networking. All of them has their advantages and everyone has to find out what’s most powerful for them. As you can see, I use most of them :-)

    RennyBA’s last blog post..Friendly winter break with gastronomic delight

  25. […] Networking-Necessary Investment for Small Business by Pearl […]

  26. Right, networking is needed to make your online business get a better exposure. If you have blogs you have to make sure that you have quality posts for your readers to read.

    Martin Welch’s last blog post..Dr. Martin Welch Research Works!

  27. In my opinion, small and start up businesses need this the most. After all, you cannot automatically expect people to know you or your brand on the first day. You have to reach out to people. It’s not the other way around. Although I do know some people who made the mistake of not doing anything to bring their product closer to the consumers.

  28. Outstanding post! The ideas and insights are very worth reading. The very first thing that drawn me to and made me read your post is the very title of it. I agree with your statements, being interactive is really essential in this instances. Great tips and resources as well.Thanks for sharing it!

    Aurelius Tjin’s last blog post..“I’m an Internet Marketer”

  29. […] Networking-Necessary Investment for Small Business by Pearl […]

  30. It boosts my traffic and SERP!

  31. Nice info. it good thing to do it.

    thanks.

    Marisa’s last blog post..Mlm Pre-paid Legal The Easy Way

  32. Good informations, great entry, Pearl! I love your thought.

  33. nice post pearl will have to see what of this is applicable to my blog. i’m still trying to install the 2.5 wp instead of nucleus.

  34. Great ! The guide with will improve every step a newbie how to start small business. Learn new info of small business is important to make one small business succeed. Great!!

    You give valuable info here.Thanks

  35. Picking the right social media as geography targeted traffic also improves the success of online business.
    Sharing free thing like ebook, podcast, ideas, tips like uncommon thing such black-wedding-dresses-with-tradition on social media also can make success on business online.

    akuhs last blog post..List Of Business Talk On Online Radio Stations

  36. I think the most important thing is to sort out what is for what. I thought it was more a personal social tool and after checking it out myself I have a hard time seeing it as a serious business tool.

  37. Nice Tips “Besides interacting with the virtual communities like Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and MySpace, do not shy away from taking active role in the offline gatherings, face-to-face real-life conferences and social meet ups to connect with other professionals and learn about your local communities and its needs.”This is something new which I have learned now and thinking of implementing.