In today’s world it’s pretty cheap and easy to create a Facebook page, open a Twitter account, and register your Instagram name. You can even start a free blog that acts as your website. In less than a day you can have an online presence that advertises your business and connects you to your clients. It’s easy to get comfortable behind the curtain as you manage your digital presence, but don’t rely completely on your online accounts.
If you want to grow your business, fill up your gas tank. Get to know your chamber of commerce and the businesses in your area. Network. While the internet is a great way to get your information out to the world, you shouldn’t underestimate the benefit of face-to-face meetings.
I live in a small, rural community near Traverse City, Michigan. When I started freelance writing I knew I needed a website and social media accounts, because there simply aren’t a lot of people where I live. I knew I’d need to find clients online, so I made sure they could find me. Funny thing about that – several of the people who’ve found me online were specifically looking for a writer/editor in the area. They didn’t want to work with someone across the country, they wanted to meet with a professional nearby.
And while I love updating my Facebook status and keeping my blog current, I’ve actually met most of my clients in person, at community and networking events. You can’t just show up, though. Make the most of these events by:
- Bringing business cards
- Dressing appropriately (wear your logo if you have it; if not, don’t dress less formally than business casual)
- Asking questions (don’t rely on others to come to you – get out there and find out who people are and what they want!)
I’m not saying this is the only way to increase business, nor am I saying it’s the best way for you – what I am saying is face-to-face contact has it’s place. Local networking events can provide great opportunities to meet local business owners and find out about their business needs.
So don’t turn into a hermit. Don’t let your fingers do all of your networking and communicating for you. Put on a good pair of shoes and go meet someone!