public interactionOne question that is on the mind of entrepreneurs is often “where do I find new customers?” To some small business owners, this question keeps them awake at night. They may feel that they had a great business idea, but where are the clients who are supposed to be flocking to their doors? Some entrepreneurs forget that the old saying of “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, did not mention that if nobody knows you built it, how do they know where to come knocking at your door?

As an entrepreneur or new small business owner, to get the attention for your product or service, it is important for you to find new ways of getting that attention. Many forget that they need to be proactive and need to get out there and go after potential clients. Where to start is the place they need to figure out, but what specifically are those places?

Often, when entrepreneurs gets started, they follow the path of what many multi-level marketing schemes preach and they go after friends and family. Trying to get friends and family as customers can often be stressful. But getting them to endorse you and your product can be invaluable. You want friends and family to be supportive, but you do not want them to be unhappy customers – even if it was their own fault that the product or service did not work for them.

The next place that many entrepreneurs will look for potential customers is within their current workplace or job. This can also be tricky and could cost them their job before they get their business off the ground. Yes, some contacts you might meet while working for another business might be helpful – but wait until you leave that job to approach them. Even after leaving a job at a company, you need to make sure that you do not have a ‘Non-Compete’ disclose or clause in your employment contract.

So, what is your next place to find new clients? Business organizations? If you are offering a similar product or service as your former job offered, why not try to network with people who have known you for the many years you have worked for another employer? Why? Because that former employer is going to block you! The only way to make business organization contacts work is if you have a unique offering that is not available from the company you formerly worked for.

Business organizations and business networking groups can be a great source of leads to new clients. But be warned that it’s about what you do within the organizations you belong to, and how other members perceive you. Don’t rush out and join business groups and expect calls from potential new clients to pour in. Instead, choose a few groups and learn from them.

Advertising is always a great way to get new customers, but more importantly where you spend those advertising dollars is what is key to gaining those customers. Learn to target your advertising budget and focus on getting your message out to your product buyers – instead of to a mass audience that is likely not interested in your product or service. Take the time to learn about targeted and re-targeted advertising online.

Do not forget, when trying to find new customers or business contacts, you also have to network yourself where you have fun. Do you know what the other people on your recreational teams do, or who they work for? Networking is not just about who you know through professional contacts. You can be playing softball with a great contact into a company that is your target audience. Or, your kids could be playing soccer with another kid whose parents work for an organization that needs your services.

One of the best ways to market your new product or service is to market yourself first. By marketing yourself before your product or service, you can build trust and authenticity. If you come across as a slick used car salesman, people will treat what you say as a sales pitch. If you deliver your message to social contacts as a person who is looking to fill a need, you will be the person that people really listen to.