Every woman business owner knows that networking is a key strategy for growing a business. But while you’re probably active in several online and offline business networking groups, have you ever stopped to think about tapping into networks closer to home to help your business grow?
I’m talking about networks of friends and personal acquaintances. These are great groups to get help from because they care about you and naturally want to see you succeed. Here are some ideas for benefiting from your friend network.
- Ask friends if they know anyone who might be able to use what you sell. If they do, see if you can get a referral to the person—ideally with a personal introduction, such as an email to both of you “introducing” you.
- Consider whether social or community organizations your friends belong to might be useful marketing avenues for you. For instance, if you’re not a parent but your best friend is president of her children’s PTA, is there a topic relevant to your business and to parents that you could speak to the PTA about?
- Consider whether any of your friends work for companies or organizations that could use your business’s products or services, or that could be strategic partners for your business. For instance, my business uncovered an opportunity to develop e-books for one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies through a friend of my business partner’s who works for the agency.
- Let your friends know when you’re looking for resources, consultants, contractors or employees to grow your business. You never know who might introduce you to the perfect person to help your business take the next step.
- Take it to the next level: Don’t stop with friends, but consider how friends of friends, family members of friends and significant others of friends can assist you in growing your business.
Many of us feel like we shouldn’t mix business with pleasure—and you definitely shouldn’t be pushy or overbearing about “working” your friend network. But if you keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to connect with others your friends know, your business will surely benefit.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.