The importance of networking when setting up a business from home
Most people understand the importance of networking for their business – the increased contacts and opportunities for development, the ability to make friendships amongst peers and look for problem solving solutions through group discourse and, of course, to forge valuable workplace connections which can help with staffing needs. However, this can be difficult to achieve when one is working from home. The usual networking opportunities – such as dinners, benefits or events – can be relatively inaccessible for someone working alone, without the influence of big business backing.
For those coming from a self-employment background, there are other ways to network than the standard channels. The internet opens up new methods of communication. Message boards and online forums are effective ways of sharing information. Responding to other people’s posts helps to establish sources of information and make your brand appear credible and knowledgeable, and people will begin to associate your brand name with the help they received on the internet. There are forums specifically tailored to a wide range of fields and industries on which serious professionals often advertise their services. Developing relationships on the internet can be a valuable way of forging networks and connections.
Alternatively, for those who prefer to communicate on a face to face basis, the wide range of trade shows and conferences can provide an ideal platform for sharing ideas. Alternatively look for business networking events or groups in your area. Working from home does not preclude attendance – in fact, working from home means that trade shows are even more valuable in offering the opportunity to meet likeminded professionals with whom you might not otherwise have come into contact. Likewise, any social events which are advertised by local business groups are perfect places to meet other entrepreneurs. Some are advertised as discussion panels, others are informational presentations whilst others still are targeted at women-only audiences.
Social events organised for pleasure shouldn’t be discredited as places to network, either. Although it is important to be cautious, so as to not bore people and lose friends, talking about your business at every possible opportunity is to be recommended to help people learn your business name. Offer your services to suitable friends who need your industry, or ask them to recommend you to those who might need help in the future. Building a network can be done at any level, from corporate and commercial to starting on a smaller, private, scale. Gaining the support of friends and family can be valuable additions to any network. Although networking from home is harder than when working for another organisation, it is by no means impossible and remains equally important.