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Making Valuable Contacts Online
By Angela Booth
Remember the old saying: "it's not what you know, it's who you know"? It's true. Your contacts determine whether your business succeeds or fails, and, for reasons of credibility, that's doubly true online.
Many people bristle when someone suggests that they network. If the term networking puts you off, then think of it as making friends. People do business with people they know, and your prospective clients need to hear your name many times before they buy from you.
Networking should be a cornerstone of your business. As my marketer friend Sally says: "Networking makes all your business activities more effective."
Sally loves using the Internet to develop new contacts. She believes that you can establish business relationships more easily online than you can offline. "I'd rather have someone email me a proposal, than phone me. And if I'm the one creating the proposal, I'll do a Web search on their business before I email them. The more you know about them the more effective your initial contact will be. I'm flattered if I know that someone has taken the time to find out about our business before they contact me for the first time."
=> Making new contacts step by step
With several hundred million people online, no matter how tiny your niche market, you'll find it easy to make contacts online. Some of these contacts will be people who are in the same business you're in, others will be suppliers, or prospective clients.
Note: some people hesitate to make contact with competitors. When I suggested to a copywriting student of mine that she should contact local copywriters to see they were charging, she freaked out. She didn't want to have anything to do with her competition.
This is a short-sighted attitude, because:
Whatever your business, it's a small world. People know people, and people talk. If people know you because they've had some contact with you, then when they're asked about you, they're more apt to speak kindly of you;
You'll learn what's happening in your industry: who's hiring, who's landed a big new contract, and who's slow-paying;
You've got someone to whom you can refer clients, if the clients want something that you can't provide (and with luck, your contacts will refer people to you);
It's educational: you can swap techniques, suppliers, and shortcuts;
And most importantly, you can find out what other local businesses are charging, and why.
So how do you start making valuable contacts online?
==> Step One: Do a search for people in the same business you're in
You'll need to know who's doing what you're doing. Check out their Web sites, bookmark their URL, and enter the names and contact details into your contact management program.
(Go to Better Whois to get the business owner's contact details.)
See whether they offer services or products which are complementary to yours. You mig...
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