Networking to Build Your Online Business
Have you ever been to a message board or signed up
for an email group, posted a bunch of messages
solely to promote your business and waited to see
what would happen? What did happen? Not much? I'm
Some may call this networking, but I'm not to
sure about that. One thing I do know is that this is
not what I call Strategic Networking.
Strategic Networking is a fantastic way to build
your online business and best of all, it's free.
Sure, it takes a bit of time getting the ball
rolling, but once you do, your efforts will pay off
What is Strategic Networking?
The foundations of this idea are truly partnering
with other business people. It's about finding an
opportunity to work together that will benefit not
only you, but the person you're partnering with. If
you are solely looking out for yourself, you will
not form true partnerships and your results will be
limited. However, when you work just as hard to
promote someone else's business, while promoting
your own, the results can be amazing.
Starting Strategic Networking
Sometimes it is difficult to find those strategic
partnerships, but begin with a few simple steps that
will help establish you as a supporter of home based
1. Join a few home based business groups or message
boards and start to develop your relationships. Use
this opportunity to help others, receive advice when
you need it and to become a part of this community.
Remember, many of the people in the community will
already know each other. You need to give them a
chance to get to know you too and not just your
2. When you need to purchase a gift, need help
with your web design or are looking for a new web
host ~ look to your community members first. This
doesn't mean spend your life savings. If you were
already going to make the purchase, you should
support your community members. You will find that
this support will come back to you. It may not be
instant, but it will happen.
3. If you are going to join a business
opportunity, sign up with your community member. If
you're not sure if anyone in your group is part of
the business opportunity ~ ask!
4. Check for messages in your area of expertise
and take the time to answer those questions. Not
only does this show you to be a supportive person,
it also establishes you as the expert.
Beyond the Basics: Establishing Viable
Once you get to know the members of your community,
you are ready to start analyzing how you could
mutually benefit from business partnerships.
Partnerships can be something as simple as link
exchanges, but you need to do more than that.
Here's a few ideas:
1. Find someone who sells products or services
that are complementary to yours. Offer to sell one
another's products on your websites. This could be a
page dedicated to your partner's products or you
could incorporate your partner's products right into
your own catalog.
2. Swap services to help your businesses. Is a
community member a whiz at the search engines, while
you are the expert writer? Why not exchange search
engine optimization for writing services?
3. Share advertising costs with like businesses.
You sell bath products and a fellow message board
member sells bathroom decor products. Set up a page
on one of your websites that fully describes both
You can also do this with someone who is offering
the same business opportunity as you. Set up an
email address to accept all the inquiries and then
split your leads amongst your co-operative
By combining funds, you might just be able to
afford some high profile advertising that would
otherwise be beyond your budget.
4. Share your expertise to write an ebook
together. This could be a free publication or a
publication for profit. Are you a crafter? Why not
gather together a number of crafters, each with a
different area of expertise, and have each crafter
submit an article to be included in the ebook.
Everyone receives a credit and a subtle plug for
their business. Then the ebook is either given away
or sold on all of your websites.
5. If you have a newsletter, give each other a
"column" in the newsletter. For example, if you have
a maternity wear shop and there is a breast-feeding
expert or perhaps a doula in your community ~ ask
her to write a column for your newsletter. You get
interesting and appropriate content for your
newsletter and she gets to promote her business.
These are just a few ideas and the possibilities
are endless. Remember, we're all in business to
achieve the same goal...to stay home with our
children. Let's help each other as much as we can
along the way.