Isn't it ironic

The irony of modern life is that in a connected world where people facebook (verb), tweet, pin and can engage with people around the world, we tend to become more insular. We can purchase most of our needs without ever leaving the comfort of our laptop. As a consumer, youíre probably okay with this. As a contractor you may have some concerns.

Youíre constantly told how important your online presence is. Your website needs updating and your Facebook page doesnít have the latest project photos. You havenít tweeted in a week. As important as your digital marketing isóand it really isóyou should never neglect your real-life business persona.

What should you be doing to promote your business? You should be getting your face in front of peopleólive and in-person. There are plenty of opportunities for you to get out there. However, choose something that suits your abilities and personality. A comfortable way to start is to network at your local business association. The knock against many of these associations is that it is full of self-serving individuals trying to sell you something all the time. Itís true that some people race around the room shoving business cards in hands and blurting out sales pitches. Donít be that person. Your local business association offers the chance to build relationships that may become profitable or not. Itís a long-term commitment to becoming known in your business community. Also, in many cases, local community councils will only do business with those who are members of their local board of trade. If you want to participate in getting local government renovation contracts, it might be mandatory.

Business Associations can give you the opportunity to become known as an expert in your field. Share your knowledge by offering to lead a workshop on your area of expertise. You can talk about the energy efficiency of new technology in your field, the cost savings of retrofitting, the benefits of offering apprenticeships, navigating building codes or whatever your expertise is. This is an informative session not a direct sales opportunity. A topic that would be of interest to most of the members is ideal. If youíre not ready to lead your own presentation, then do participate in others. Chances are you will learn something and gain new contacts. Participate in the associationís community events and even volunteer to be on the board of directors. Again, you shouldnít be concerned about selling your services all the time. You will find as your network of contacts grows, so will your reputation as an expert in your field. Eventually, someone will need your skills or someone will recommend your business to a colleague. Itís an organic process that takes time and also commitment.

Like most things worth doing, it makes sense to do them well. Treat your membership in your local business association like you treat your business. Act professionally and treat people with respect and courtesy. Itís not enough to pay your dues and show up at a breakfast meeting every once in a while. You need to participate and cultivate your network. Only then will your membership become rewarding.