All posts by Rich Thurman

How to Stay Educated in Your Niche

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othing ever stays the same. If you think about how fast technology has changed our environment over the last 20 years, you’ll realize how imperative it is to stay educated in your niche. While your niche can remain your forte for years to come, what it looks like today will barely resemble what it will look like in just a few years. Think about it; no one is producing VHS tapes anymore, but no one has stopped watching movies. Our tools change, not our passions.

Attend Industry Events

Whether online or offline, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are in your industry and your audience. The more you can learn from others, the more you’ll be able to stay ahead of the learning curve regarding your niche. By surrounding yourself with movers and shakers, you won’t be caught off guard when people want WordPress websites instead of HTML static sites. Instead you’ll see what’s coming around the bend.

Follow the Right People

On one hand you want to follow your audience so you know what they’re up to, but you should also follow your competition and the leaders in your niche. Even if you’re a leader yourself, being involved with other leaders can help you stay ahead of the learning curve because you’ll be able to keep your ear to the ground. Try spreading out your associations because people tend to get caught up in a clique without realizing it.

Get Certified

Whether accredited or unaccredited, certification can often impress your audience. Research the accrediting authority to ensure that whoever is doing the accrediting is well known and respected in your niche before taking part. Also know whether that matters to your audience. When it comes to certain software, the software developers themselves may offer certification and if they do, that’s an important certification to pursue. In the realm of digital marketing, our favorite certification is DigitalMarketer.com. You can get certified in digital marketing through their DMHQ, Digital Marketing Headquarters. 

Perform Regular Keyword Research

Even if you’re not a writer, or a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, conducting regular keyword research can expose you to new industry terms and information that you might not otherwise be exposed to. Consider at least a yearly if not quarterly study of the keywords that are popular within your niche to stay ahead of your competition.

Read Books

Even if your specialty is highly technical, you can read a lot of books in your area to stay educated. Check out free books on Kindle to help you find important books being written today about your niche. Even historical books can help you understand your niche better in terms of where it’s going and where it’s been.

Take a Course

Many colleges and universities offer courses online today that you may not have seen in the past. A really good college that is low priced, accredited and non-profit is Southern New Hampshire University. In many cases the tuition is lower than local universities and colleges.

Teach Others What You Know

Sometimes the best way to stay ahead and educated on your niche is to teach. When you teach something you tend to study harder. It will force you to know what is going on within the industry in a more organized and productive manner. Teaching also solidifies the information within your mind better. That’s why history professors seem to remember everything. It’s not that they have photographic memories; they just tell the stories repeatedly and it finally sticks.

Track Industry Trends

Using Google Alerts and searching the internet, you can stay up to date on industry trends. You can also find trade publications, magazines, and newsletters that will help you understand what is happening in your niche. For instance, in the USA there is Small Business Majority which is a group that can help members understand how tax laws, health care laws, and other issues affect how they do business.

Continuing education, whether formal or informal, is the key that will keep you ahead of the rest. As long as you stay educated in your niche, you will have a long career and successful business working with the people you love and doing what you love.

Nine Tips to Create Subscriber-Friendly Content 

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any times people subscribe to a mailing list and then immediately unsubscribe. Why do they do that? They do that for a variety of reasons – from not feeling like the content was directed toward them, to feeling like they get too many emails, or worse because they forgot they ever signed up due to the lack of emails and so many other emails. These nine tips will help you avoid all these situations.

  • Really Know Your Subscribers – Before you attempt to get one subscribe, ensure that you’re attracting the right people to your email list. Having just anyone sign up won’t help you reach your goals. Ensure that the content you put out there to attract people to sign up is directed to your target audience, and no one else. Also ensure that any freebies you give out in exchange for email addresses are things that only your target audience would want.
  • Personalize Subject Lines – Once they are on your email list, it’s important that you use the technology within your autoresponder software to personalize the subject lines for your audience. If they see their name within the subject line, they’re going to be a lot more likely to open it and notice it in the deluge of email they already receive.
  • Personalize Content – Your autoresponder software also has the ability to personalize the inside contents within the email. Use it. It’s important to use this capability because audiences respond very well to having content personalized to them. They see their name and they feel more important and more like clicking through.
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    Send Only Targeted Content – When you create email content to be sent out in your list, it’s important that it is targeted. Once you’ve attracted your target audience, don’t mess it up by sending something different than they expect. Double check for each title you plan to send to them. Ask yourself: "Does this fit my target audience?"
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    All Content You Send Should Be Purposeful – In addition to being targeted, the content needs a purpose. Your purpose can be multi-fold. You want to inform, entertain, educate and engage. You may not do every single one of these – though that should be your goal – but at least choose one of these. Plus, do include your call to action, every single time.
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    Your Content Should Be Helpful – One of the most important things you'll want to impart to your audience is your willingness and desire to help them achieve something or solve their problems. Since what you offer them does solve their problems, you are on the right track by offering them your products or services.
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    Don’t Send Content Too Often – Be careful about sending content too often. You know the people who send content three or four times a day; it is irritating and even if they do offer something good you stop reading. You get sick of it and just don’t read and eventually you unsubscribe. You don’t want that to happen so tread carefully here.
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    Don’t Send Content Too Infrequently – Conversely, it’s important to avoid not sending content to your audience enough. Before the first person signs up, you should have in the autoresponder enough content to go out at least for one year, one piece of content a week. That’s 52 evergreen pieces of content that fit your audience and promote the products you have now and know you’ll have for a long time. Then you can add fresh content to go out once or twice a week that is new if you desire.
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    Study Your Metrics – Finally, it’s really important that you study your metrics. If you don’t know who is opening, how many are opening, when they’re opening and what happens when they click through to follow your call to action, then you won’t know if what you’re doing works or not. You should be aware of whether or not your work is really producing a response.

Creating subscriber-friendly content is simple if you have done the work to understand who your audience is, and what they want. You can even use your autoresponder software to engage your members and ask them what they want. The more you can deliver what they want, the more successful you’ll be.

Pros and Cons of Native Advertising

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ative advertising, like all advertising, has its pros and cons. The problem a small business has is that without advertising they can’t find all their customers. So, it helps to understand the pros and cons of each type of advertising.

Pros of Native Advertising

  • Better customer targeting – The fact that the ads run only where like content is seen means that the people who click through your content are better targeted and more likely to find your information helpful.
  • Less expensive – Compared to other forms of more traditional display advertising and banner ads, this is a much less expensive form of advertising. It offers a lower barrier to entry so that many different types of businesses can take advantage of this type of advertising.
  • Bypasses ad blind customers – Most consumers today are blind to most traditionally advertising. The way that native advertising appears is less intrusive and doesn’t always look like an ad.
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    Enhances content – Having more information similar to what a reader is already reading is a good way to offer more information to readers.
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    Increases targeted followers – Since the promoted information only appears with like information, it will be more likely to produce a lot more targeted readers.

Cons of Native Advertising

  • Can seem deceptive – Many people who use native advertising put tricky headlines, and when the consumer clicks through they’re not happy, thus making it harder for more honest publishers to use native advertising.
  • Seen as unethical – Due to the dishonest headlines, the native advertising can seem unethical to some readers.
  • Publishers receive backlash – Often when a publisher allows native ads to appear on their website their traffic goes down, even as their revenue goes up.
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    Too advertorial – Sometimes people misuse native ads as if they’re like the old-fashioned advertorials that appear in print magazines. This is not a good use for native advertising.
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    Google may penalize native advertising – It has been found that Google penalizes publishers for including native advertising on its pages. However, Google is actually getting in on the native advertising game so this may not be true.

The fact is that all forms of advertising have problems to overcome. People are prone to dislike all advertising, even when it ends up helping them. After all, how would anyone find out about products that help them without advertising? Your job is to provide excellent materials so that your audience can find the solutions it needs.

In order to overcome the stigma of advertising of all kinds, it’s important for small business owners to not be tricky with headlines, to be straightforward about what’s going to be in the content, and to provide informative content that is helpful to your audience. If you seek to always under promise and over deliver, your readers will never be disappointed when clicking through your native advertising to find what you have to tell them about.

Seven Ways to Nurture Existing Customers to Increase Sales

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ne of the most important assets you have is your current customers. It’s much less expensive to keep your current customers and turn them into repeat customers than it is to go out and find more customers. This is not to say you should not keep marketing to find new customers, but you should do all you can to nurture the existing relationship you have with current customers in order to increase sales. Here are seven ways to achieve that.

  • Offer Early Bird Sales on New Products – When you know that you’re planning the release of a new product, tease your current customers along the way about the launch. Then finally boost sales of the new product by offering early bird sales opportunities to the customers you already have.
  • Keep in Contact with Your Customers – Even if you aren’t planning a new product launch for some undetermined time, it is important to keep in touch with your current customers by sending them links to interesting products you’ve discovered that other people have developed, or articles that you think they might find interesting.
  • Follow Up with Customers Often – Once a customer buys something from you, it’s imperative that you follow up and ask them how they are enjoying their purchase. Do this after allowing enough time for them to try the product or see the results of the product. Use the feedback you get from your questions to make your next product better.
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    Thank Your Customers – Never pass up an opportunity to think your customer and surprise them with unannounced bonuses. These types of bonuses will encourage future purchases because people love feeling as if they got more than they paid for.
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    Invite Current Customers to Special Events – If you are planning a special event that would be appropriate for current customers, never fail to invite them personally to the event. Whether it’s in person or online, they’ll appreciate the gesture and remember you for it.
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    Make Customer Service a Priority – Never skimp on good customer service. Implement a good ticketing system with deadlines on how quickly someone will get back to the customer, whether they have a problem or a compliment.
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    Invite Current Customers to Private Groups – A great way to thank your satisfied customers for their business is to invite them to a private Facebook group or message board for customers only. These people will be invaluable to you moving forward to create new products and services.

Your current customers are far more important to help maintain a long-term business than you may initially think. They can become your biggest fans, recommending your products and services to others. And if you please them, they will become repeat, long-term customers that will stick by you for years.

Challenges of Multi-Channel Marketing

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here is no question that multi-channel marketing offers a high return on investment. It doesn’t matter what your product is – if you’re not sending your message to multiple channels in multiple ways, you’re going to miss a large portion of your audience. Reaching more of your audience translates into higher profits. But, along with these profitable opportunities comes challenges.

 

Keeping a Consistent Message

It’s tempting when moving to a new channel for marketing to change your entire personality. However, you actually want to keep your message consistent no matter what channel you’re sending the message.

Cohesive Branding

Think about brands that you know. Taco Bell, Netflix, Facebook – all of these are very recognizable to us regardless of where we see them being discussed. Even if we just see the bell we know what it’s about.

Knowing Which Channels to Use

Your audience is not everywhere, but you should be where your audience is. You’ll need to understand who your audience is and where they “hang out” to know where you should be sending your marketing messages.

Understanding Who You’re Talking to on Each Channel

While your audience doesn’t change completely based on the channel they’re using, the way you talk to them might change a little. Your message is the same, but how you say it may be different. Twitter requires you to use 140 characters, while on TV you might have 30 seconds. This requires different approaches to delivering the same message. So knowing who you’re talking to and where you’re talking to them will help.

Creating a Customer-Centric Voice

You’ve heard a lot about finding your voice, but the truth is, the voice you need to find isn’t yours. It’s your customers’ voice. Who is your audience and what do they need to hear? What do they want to know? What is it about them that makes your product work for them? It’s never about you; it’s always about them.

Making the Experience Consistent

The other challenge with multi-channel marketing is ensuring that for those of your audience who see your message on different channels, or visit you from different channels, have a consistent experience. This can be confusing and difficult if you aren’t sure who you are, or who your audience is, or understand what your product does for them.

Understanding the Metrics

Each channel has different metrics that are important and different methods for which to analyze them. Click-through rates on your website to your sales page are counted using different software than click-through rates within your newsletter. You need to understand how it all works and ties together and what it means, as well as which numbers you want to test.

Putting Together All the Parts

It can be difficult to put all these parts together into a cohesive marketing campaign. But, every channel works together as well as independently. Each should stand alone, but each should be integrated as well. This can be a big challenge for many marketers.

Finally, no matter what happens you have to continually test every aspect of your multichannel marketing effort. Nothing is ever done until you understand the results of each effort. Success or failure comes down to the numbers.

Why You Should Enter a JV

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oining together in a joint venture (JV) agreement with another person or business entity is a common way to join forces without changing the structure of either business. When you join with another business temporarily, you can share resources in terms of people, technology and finances. This can make the combination stronger than each individual business.

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    Grow Your Business - By having access to your partner's connections, you can get your business known by new people and new connections that you wouldn't have access to as quickly otherwise.
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    Expand Your Brand - When you want more people to know about your brand, having someone else mention you, and you mentioning them, can create a discussion that helps expand awareness of both of your brands.
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    Build Your Email List - By giving each other access to your individual lists, telling your lists about the other, some of the people will cross over to become members of both lists. This is a great way to build your list with targeted individuals as long as you chose a partner who sells complementary goods to yours, to the same audience.
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    Enter a New Market - There are often several markets for one service or product. Finding a JV partner who deals with a portion of your audience that you've never dealt with before is a great way to get your foot in the door to the new market. 
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    Develop a New Product - Sometimes two entities can come together using all their resources and create a brand-new product that neither business could accomplish on their own. This is a wonderful reason to form a joint venture partnership. For example, two business owners could come together to create a live event which is recorded to become a new information product.
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    Improve a Current Product - If you both already have similar products but both products are lacking, you could combine the good from each product or service to make a brand-new product or service that provides more benefits.  
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    Bring in Skills You're Lacking - If you are lacking in a skill and don't want to outsource it, find a JV partner who has the skill that you don't have. Then you can each do what you do best to contribute to the JV partnership. 
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    Improve Your Authority Level - When you hang around other smart people, you become one of those smart people just by association. Surround yourself with really smart people in a JV partnership and you'll achieve more than you thought.

There are many reasons to enter a JV agreement with the right person. But, before you get started, know why you want to do it so that you understand, based on your goals, who you should work with. Remember - join with someone who has a complementary business to yours, not your direct competition, and not when it has to do with your main source of bread and butter.

Writing Blog Posts That Promote Your Videos

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fter creating your video, one of the very first things you should do to promote it is to write a blog post about your video. From there you can promote the blog post to all your social media networks, ask your friends to share it, and even use pay per click and other means to promote the post, and in turn to promote the video. There are many ways to approach promoting your video via a blog post.

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    Describe the Problem - Usually a video is created due to a problem you're trying to solve or an issue you want to discuss. You don't have to get right to the video from day one; you can instead work on educating your audience about the problem so that when you provide the answer they're ready.
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    Discuss Why You Have the Answers - Blog posts that prove your intelligence on the issue will go far in helping your audience see you as an authority on the topic. Spend some time not only addressing your audience's thirst for knowledge but also their need to understand who you are, without appearing as if you're bragging. Remember, when it's about you, it's really about them.
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    Talk about Probable Answers - Before giving the video, you can talk about potential answers to the problem in a blog post or two. You can hint about or lead up to what may be in the video in a way that helps the audience be ready for the video.
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    Introduce Your Video - A good blog post is one that also introduces your video to your audience. Write about the problem, the solutions, why you're the right one to offer the solution, and then embed the video for viewing. Ask for comments, likes, shares and suggestions.
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    Describe a Problem and Provide the Video as an Answer - You can also approach it from a problem / solution standpoint. Describe the problem, and then give the video as an answer to the problem. 
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    Transcribe the Video - Another great way to create a blog post to promote your video is to make an actual word-for-word transcription of the video. Embed the video, and then under it post the transcription. Search engines will pick it up and you will get more viewers.
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    Expand on the Video  - In addition to posting the video with a description, you can expand on the video with more information such as links to the resources you used and more. Provide some behind-the-scenes information that the people who watch the video directly won't see.
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    Add Images to the Post from the Video - Clip some images from the video to add to the blog post about the video. This will give those who view the video via your blog a little more incentive to watch the video by getting a sneak peek.  
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    Create Effective Headlines - Don't forget to create headlines for your blog, along with sub-headlines and bullet points. This will help draw the reader into the blog post and then toward the video based on their initial scan of the video.

Finally, don't forget the CTA. If you embed the video into one of the blog posts about the video, you can make more CTA's than just "watch" the video. You can ask people to comment, subscribe, and/or buy something based on your video.

What Is Passive Income?

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hen people see the term “passive” income, they often think of earning money with no work. However, nothing can be further from the truth. The fact is, it does require work to make passive income. However, the work you do is done once, and then you keep making money later on the work you did before. It’s different from service-based work where you must do the work each time to produce income. With passive income you create something today that keeps earning money later.

 Examples of Passive Income

Some examples of passive income that you may be aware of are savings accounts, investments, and real estate; all of these enable you to spend money one time, or spend some money one time, and keep earning income into infinity. But, you can also earn passive income online today. Some examples are information products, membership websites, eCourses, and eBook sales.

The Benefits of Passive Income

People who want to earn money from passive income understand how trading hours for dollars can be limiting. They want to put their time and money to use one time and keep earning from those efforts. It's the way insurance sales people have made money for years. They earn a little commission from each person that buys and keeps paying for insurance; then the more people they sell the insurance to, the bigger and bigger their monthly income becomes. It might take a lot of work to get there, but eventually through momentum it seems like everything becomes a lot easier.

The Two Types of Passive Income

If you would like to earn an income via passive income, there are several ways to do so online. However, mostly you can break it down to two different ways.

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    Promote Other People's Products - This is one of the fastest ways to get started. Figure out who you want to sell to, know the audience well, and then find products and solutions for them to promote. There are even membership websites where you can promote to them so that you can earn a monthly residual income that grows.
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    Create Your Own Products - This is another way that you can get involved with making passive income online. At first, creating the product is a lot of work, but once you get a number of affiliates promoting the product, the income will grow exponentially, month after month and year after year.

The main question now is who your audience is, and which way you'll go. Most people actually choose both methods. They sell other people's products, and they create their own. Most people start with selling other people's products, then eventually create their own after they get some experience with building a list and other marketing methods.

How to Turn Picky Shoppers into Buyers

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ost shoppers are picky these days. People are turned off by the hard sale and by many of the tactics used by professional sellers. But, the fact is that some of the tactics work. If they did not work, people wouldn’t do them. Here are a few tried-and-true practices you can use to turn shoppers into buyers.

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    Nurture the Relationship - Get them to sign up for an email list to receive news about your products and or services. This works for bricks-and-mortar businesses and digital businesses alike. People like feeling special and getting special notice of sales and events happening surrounding the products they like.
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    Automate Your Processes - Thankfully, you can put things on autopilot with the right email marketing software like AWeber.com or MailChimp.com. These systems allow you to send people information automatically, leading them through the buying cycle with information that they long for.
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    Consider Pop-Ups - Yes, some people hate them, but the truth is they DO work. They increase sales by more than 20% in some cases. You can make beautiful pop-ups using software like Thrive Themes, which helps you create converting sales pages and pop-ups.
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    Retarget Website Visitors - A really useful feature of online marketing today is the ability to put a cookie on your web site that any visitors automatically receive on their computer. Then when they go to Facebook or Google, the things they left in their cart, or the things they looked at, are shown to them again.
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    Always Include a CTA - You'd be surprised at how many people forget the CTA. This includes actual bricks-and-mortar stores. If a sales person doesn't ask for the sale, or you don't send them a reminder of what they want, you may not make the sale. 
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    Incentivize Your Sales Process - Give your customers incentives to buy. The more they buy, the larger the discount. Let them have an opportunity with each purchase to win their purchase. Give the 1000th buyer a prize!
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    Encourage Referrals - Ask current customers to recommend and refer their friends and family and earn incentives. You can do it by points, by monetary reward or any number of ways, but make sure they want to refer you and that they're real customers. 
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    Add a Live Chat - When you sell high-priced items, it's a good idea to have a live chat open at least part of the day to help people with questions that they have. A live chat can push shoppers over the edge to purchasing.

Turning picky shoppers into buyers will work on all your customers and future customers. It's important to know your audience and then leave no stone unturned to make those sales effortless.

Yes – You Can Network Locally

 

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ven if you have an online business, you don’t need to overlook your local market. Networking locally might even be the very best way to jump-start your business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a product or a service; there are people local to you who need what you’re offering. What’s more, it might be easier to market to local people than you think.

 

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    BNI -– Business Networking International is a networking group that enables local people to get together to help refer business to each other. Usually, the way it works is that only one person representing each type of business is in each networking group. There is a steep fee for being involved, but most people who stick to it report that it's worth it.                                                                                    Link - http://www.bni.com/
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    Chamber of Commerce –- Your local chamber can offer you a lot more than you might think. As a home-based business owner, there is a special need for your involvement in your chamber. You can go to business after-hours events, volunteer to help with ribbon cuttings, send out flyers to other business owners and more.
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    Niche Groups –- Even locally you'll find some niche groups such as local blogger clubs, network meetings and more that can help you find like-minded individuals or customers. You can even start your own niche groups.
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    Meetup.com –- This is an online service that helps you meet with people locally. You can find a lot of groups and events via this service that are relevant to your local networking needs.
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    Local Mastermind Groups -– Look through your local college or university to find local mastermind groups that can help you reach the next level in your business. If you're a woman, look for women-owned business networks.
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    Teach a Course –- Why not start your own networking events by teaching a course to others? You can usually rent a space relevantly inexpensively; place an advertisement in your local newspaper and via other networking groups to teach something important to local people.
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    Host a Workshop -– Once you get involved, other people will ask you to host workshops with them. Joining forces with others is always helpful and can help you get known as a local expert.
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    Sponsor an Event -– There are many local events that need sponsors. This can cost a little bit of money, but having your business name as a sponsor for a major event in your town can make a huge difference in brand awareness.
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    Volunteer for a Cause -– While you shouldn't volunteer only to get your name out there, it is still a good way to add to the knowledge others have about you. Choose a cause you like without thought to sales, but only to helping the local community get to know you while you do something helpful for a cause you care about.

Networking your home business or online business locally can help you either get jump-started or help you get out of your comfort zone to become a well-known expert in your niche.

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