Updated: Mar 10
Getting customers is probably the number one concern for every small business owner who is just getting started. Here are some tips that might be useful to you. Going to networking events is one of the best ways to meet future customers, and this works really well if you have a product or service that everyone needs at any stage of their life. For example, everyone needs a dentist at least once a year, insurance agent, doctor, real estate agent personal trainer, etc.These are something everyone needs, and you can easily find clients at business networking events.
Business networking events work really well if you offer a service to all types of business owners, business insurance, accounting, HR, pos systems, store signs you get the idea, anything that a business owner needs to have, you can potentially meet people that want your product or service at networking events.
If on the other hand you sell wedding flowers, or you specifically want to be a wedding photographer or planner, networking events may not be the best fit. Try to find wedding networking events in your area so that you can network with other vendors and hopefully refer clients to each other.
WHICH NETWORKING EVENTS SHOULD YOU GO TO?
We highly recommend going to your local business chamber of commerce networking events. They have them in every city and its super cheap to have a membership. This membership will pay for itself for years to come, and it's probably one of the best investments you can make for your business. If you’re not ready to have a membership, you can attend their events as a guest for a small fee. Usually, the fee ranges from $10-$30. Don’t be cheap, pay the fee, it helps to support the cost of running these events. People have taken the time and energy to set these up for you to enjoy.
Links to all the best networking events in the Greater Toronto Area
Brampton Chamber Of Commerce
Mississauga Chamber Of Commerce
Toronto chamber of commerce
Vaughan chamber of commerce
Markham chamber of commerce
Oakville chamber of commerce
HOW TO NETWORK AT NETWORKING EVENTS
Don’t be the person that’s running around and handing out business cards, everyone will ignore you, and the desperation will make people avoid you. Focus on actually taking the time and getting to know other fellow entrepreneurs. Make an effort to get to know them first, find out what they are offering, the more you invest your time and energy into the interaction the more likely they are to reciprocate. Business owners will take notice that you are showing genuine interest and eventually they will start asking you questions about your business and what you do in your company. That is the right time to make your pitch and figure out a way to add value to the person you are talking to. If, after getting to know them, you find out that your product or service is not right for them, don’t just walk away. Still, make friends with them and add them to your social media. Chances are they might know someone who could use your product or service, or they might have friends they could refer you to.
Better yet ask if they want to join you next time for upcoming networking events, you can go together, a lot of business owners that go to networking events, often go alone. Ask them if they want to join you next time, this way you keep each other motivated and you are more proactive about growing your business and expanding your network.
CREATE AN ALLIANCE OF FELLOW ENTREPRENEURS AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER
If you are a website designer or pos systems provider or any other service that’s targeted towards business owners, consider meeting other professionals that you can add to your business circle. Make friends with other entrepreneurs who offer products and services to businesses so that you can refer business to each other and compound your efforts.
OFFER YOUR SERVICES AT A DISCOUNT IN THE BEGINNING
I know it sounds like bad advice but hear me out, no one is going to pay a premium to someone with no experience and no portfolio. Even if they do, it’s a difficult sale to make. Try and sell your services at a discount to whoever you can find so that you can get a testimonial from them and possibly a referral.
Once you have a good portfolio and lots of good reviews, its time to start doing some advertising and boosting your prices. Now you can confidently sell your services knowing that you have great reviews and a great portfolio to impress that potential customer.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET FREE CUSTOMERS
If you are just getting started and you have no customers, start posting on social media about what you can do, create informative content that educates people about your products or services. Let’s say you are an insurance agent, write great content about the benefits of having insurance vs not having insurance. Create content that gives people free information about your services. Offer value first, and people will appreciate this and want to do business with you. There are lots of different types of businesses so you might have to get creative on how to promote it on social media.
We see lots of new entrepreneurs who get a decent amount of free customers just because they are always active on social media. If you make cakes for special events, post about that on your Facebook Instagram and even make videos about how you made it and how the process works. YouTube can work really well depending on what industry you are in. For example, if you sell office furniture, make a video about all the different types of chairs and how each one is different than the other. Which one is more ergonomic, which one will last longer, and any other questions you can think of about your product or service.
Hopefully, this blog post was helpful in giving you some ideas which you can implement right away. As always, let us know if you have any questions and let us know if you would like to see other business topics covered in our blog.