(Gawkwire.com) One of the main concerns any new business owner will run into is learning how to recruit industry contacts and expand the circle of new business prospects. There are a few ways to do this affordably, and as you are probably aware affordability is a major concern for most entrepreneurs.
1. Local Advertising
Did you know that many Starbucks, Panera Bread Company, Jamba Juice, and other local restaurant locations have bulletin boards and advertiser opportunities? Visit your local cafes and restaurants and ask them about leaving business cards, posting flyers, or even partnership opportunities depending on your specific business models. At the very least, this will increase your local brand recognition and potential customers will have an immediate way to contact you or view your online portfolio.
Local advertising opportunities can also come in the form of community sponsorships. Look for organizations that will fit your business’s needs or make a good fit for finding potential customers. Keep in mind that even if you are sponsoring a fundraiser, nonprofit group, or benefit drive, you are reaching hundreds if not thousands of local participants, all of whom may be interested in your services. Lunarpages takes part in many local charity events and assists businesses with online sponsorship, etc.
2. Online Business Networking
You’ve heard of social networking, right? Companies like FaceBook and MySpace introduced a new era of networking, but websites such as LinkedIn have taken this a step further for businesses and associates who need to build their networks.
LinkedIn is probably my number one choice for expanding your business contacts. With LinkedIn, you are not only able to connect with your employees and offer recommendations for expanding their networks, but you are also able to network as a company leader. The more friends, colleagues, and partners you connect with, the bigger your business network grows. Once you connect with one colleague, you can see who they work with and recommend and so on. Your new business opportunities are endless!
3. Local Search Advertising
About 25% of all web searches these days include local search parameters—and this number continues to grow every day. For example, if I am looking for a sushi restaurant in Las Vegas, I am not going to type “sushi” as my search. Instead, I would type “sushi restaurant Las Vegas” so I can see local search results that pertain to my area of search. When you search for something this specific, in a certain geographic area, you will see a handful of top-ranked results in search engines like Google or Yahoo.
Getting listed in these results does require advertising fees, but if you do a little research for local search result advertising, you are sure to find a great and affordable solution.
4. Free Local Online Advertising
Think free advertising is a myth? Think again! J For this tip, I recommend Craigslist as a local advertising opportunity. Though you will have to ensure you are abiding by Craigslist’s Terms of Service for advertisements, they always have a local category on their geographic location sites that allow you to post information about your services, special offers, and efforts. This can really help boost online opportunities and drive customers your way if they are seeing special deals posted daily or weekly in Craigslist.
5. Start a Business Blog
Do I ever write an article where I don’t mention the importance of blogging? Probably not, because it is incredibly important to your business’s success online!
By starting a business blog and posting 1-5 times every week, you will not only increase your relevancy for specific Search Engine Optimization (SEO) terms, but you will also be sending a message to your customers that you care what they think and are conscious of their needs. Even posting a simple message to welcome new customers or provide discounts, specials, or partner offers will assist in securing your message of customer satisfaction and retention.

Writer’s Bio:
Tiara Rea works for Lunarpages Web Hosting, where she is the Affiliate Program Manager and writes for the Lunarpages Newsletter and Blog.  A whiz with affiliate marketing and copywriting, Tiara is also obsessed with Harry Potter, good poetry, and Japanese manga.

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