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SOHO Doesn’t Have To Mean Solo

January 19, 2011

 

By Jeff Zbar

from the SCORE Reading Room

 

Home-based Business Operators Can Make Friends—and Money—By Breaking Out of Their Cocoons

Working from home can place the proprietor in a cocoon. Break out from the confines of the small or home office (SOHO) to keep yourself—and your enterprise—plugged into the community. Networking can help grow your area of influence, introduce you to other important players in your community or industry, and keep fresh, new ideas percolating in your mind. Here are some ways to get started in your networking:

Peruse and attend.
Read through the business calendar sections of your local newspapers (and browse their Web sites) to learn of networking events, business expositions or trade fairs being held in your community. Call the chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau and request their schedule of upcoming business-networking events. Once at an event, walk the aisles, meet and greet other small business owners and vendors, hand out business cards, attend lectures and gather literature—all with a keen eye on how other people “work the floor.”

Align yourself with VIPs.
Ferret out professionals who are experienced and connected in your area of business, and establish friendly, non-competitive working relationships with them. Apprentice with them to grow your circle of acquaintances, business contacts or just your skill sets in your industry niche. This will help you capitalize on their information and expand your enterprise—and your horizons.

Partner and conquer.
Form alliances with a support team of non-competing but complementary businesses so everyone can prosper. This will help you expand your product offering and marketing influence. If you’re a graphic designer who can’t write, find a writer or editor to handle your copy needs. If you’re a small business accountant, team up with a financial planner and lawyer who can flesh out your service offerings. If you’re a photographer, align with a local professional event planner, dressmaker and baker, so together you have a team to plan and create special events, like weddings, parties or other engagements. What’s more, together you expand each other’s circle of influence, marketing reach and new business development efforts.

Give back.
By volunteering with community organizations or offering up your services in local chambers, civic organizations or business groups, you show that you’re a reliable and involved corporate citizen and good neighbor. The effort also gets you out in the community and among potential clients.

Get active.
Join the boards or committees of local groups to get you in front of potential clients. Co-directors and officers often will steer business your way. Join trade groups to learn ideas, make contacts—and stay sociable.

Jeff Zbar is the author of Home Office Know-How (Dearborn) and Your Profitable Home Business Made E-Z on CD-ROM (Made E-Z Products.) Contact Zbar at www.goinsoho.com.

 

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