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It seems like since social media has gotten popular, people have forgotten the importance of in-person business relationships. Sure, having a network of people available online is valuable, but why settle with only that?

Your local community surely has to have groups of business people who you can benefit from knowing. If not, you can always start your own.

If I’ve learned one thing in business, it’s this: It always helps to know people. 

Here are five ways you can expand your local network:

1. Optimize your search ability by listing your business on Google, Yahoo and Yelp

Even though this is about meeting people in person, your potential customers and network affiliates will still most likely find you from looking for you online first.

Did you know that Google and Yahoo! offer a way to list your business in their business directory that will help people find you when they search using those engines? They encourage all business owners to enter their business information so that they can help find what people are looking for (that’s sort of their job). It’s a win-win deal. You show off your business more, and their search engine is further optimized.

Check out how to list your business on Google here: https://www.google.com/business/

Check out how to list your business on Yahoo! here: https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings

2. Invest in some local online ads

With local listings, you can find the keywords of your potential customers way easier than a general online based business can. Why? Because whatever they are looking for, they will also enter the town or city name. That’s money in your pocket, because all you have to do is purchase ads that will come up first when people search for a business like yours in their location.

Now, Google ads and other online ads can work amazingly for some and not so much for others but, the odds of you finding out are in your favor. It’s better to experiment with online ads and figure out if it works for you then never testing it out. Right? There are many business owners who have had their clientele double, triple and even quadruple with the help of online ads. It’s totally worth a shot.

Here is the link to Google Ad words: https://www.google.com/adwords/

They will teach you all about how their ads work. Yahoo, Yelp and Facebook also offer local ad listings.

3. List an offer on Groupon

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better. Listing a business offer on Groupon can expose you to thousands of people who may have never heard of you before. Plus, not only will they learn about you, but they’ll learn that you’re offering them a deal, so they are more inclined to listen!

There have been countless success stories of people gaining new loyal and happy customers through the first experience they had when they received a service or good with a discount. The point of this offer is to find the right people and get them hooked! There are people out there who need what you sell but they may not be willing to try it unless it’s put in front of them and/or offered with a discount!

Check out this inspiring story about how Groupon changed this woman’s business forever! 

4. Get some pretty paper work to post

It may seem a little old school but the power of paper advertisements you see in cafes and lounges still work. The trick is, you want your ad to be enticing and to catch people’s attention from across the room.

How can you do that?

  • Use a beautiful high-res photo.
  • Make sure your font is legible and is contrasting from the background.
  • Invest in good quality printing and paper

Also, be mindful with which locations you decide to post your business flyers. Hang them in places where your ideal client hangs out.

5.  Stay on top of the local business events

Today, there are so many sites with local business events, there is simply no excuse. With sites like meetup and eventbrite you can fill up your schedule with a networking event once a week if you wanted to. Not only that but you can plan an event yourself and use those platforms to encourage people to attend!

It’s important with attending these events that you arrive open minded. Don’t go just to try to sell something. Focus on getting to know more people and becoming more comfortable with your socializing skills. Mastering those two things will bring more money to you then anything else so don’t underestimate it.

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