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The "original" networker?

Benjamin Franklin had the right idea when he established the Junto, or Leather Apron Club, in 1727.  Among other things, the clubs’ purpose was to exchange knowledge of business affairs.  In other words, network.  During club meetings, members were asked a series of questions regarding community members and their successes and failures.  Strategies and ideas for acquiring wealth were shared throughout the club.

What a great idea for you to develop your own source of leads!  Form your own local business network.  Make it a point to know noncompeting businesses in your market and create a community where you can get together and discuss business ideas, local marketing, zoning issues, etc.  It’s likely your best leads will come from people outside of your industry, so court them in your networking group.  Many of your existing clients probably cater in some fashion to the local community, so make sure they are first to be invited to your group.  The best networking groups often invite a guest speaker or presenter to talk about something pertinent to the group or their industry.  Leads and referrals will happen naturally.

In addition to gathering new leads, networking can often provide a lifeline of support and can help you develop knowledge and skills.  Networking is a great way to boost your reputation and can be a key source for information relevant to your business.  You can network through social events, organized meetings and conferences, business trips, or even electronically through online messaging systems.  If creating your own networking group isn’t feasible, consider joining an already-established network.  Many industries already have networks set up that can range in size from just a few members to hundreds of members.

Learn from others who have succeeded in industry.  Reach out, swap ideas and come prepared with a notion on how the group could succeed.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll meet a new friend to throw some business your way.

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