Better Networking for the Home Business Owner

Having a home business means a great deal of independence and flexibility. This lifestyle is ideal for some people. However, there are is a distinct disadvantage in the area of networking. For the home business owner, there is a greater risk of getting disconnected from the business world. The solution is good business networking. Here is what networking for the home business owner should look like, and it doesn't just involve dropping off a handful of business cards at your local chamber of commerce.
Stay connected to the business world by attending networking meetings.
Networking meetings will provide a chance for you to reach out to like-minded business people. They will help you stay focused on your goals and help to encourage you in your areas of struggle.
Have your message prepared, concise, and clear.
Whether you are communicating in person or online, you will need to introduce yourself and let others know what you are all about. You have about fifteen seconds before they decide to connect with you or blow you off. Prepare a statement that quickly explains what you do.
Have printed materials ready to go.
Business cards, booklets and brochure printing are a great aid for networking. Have your professional looking business cards ready to hand out to new acquaintances.
Stay focused on what you need to get out of networking. 
If your objective is to get referrals, your message is different than if you are trying to gain a collaborative partner. If you know what you need before you begin, it's more likely that you will find what you need.
Be genuine so that you are trustworthy.
While networking, you must be yourself. If you are trying to be something you are not, then others will be put off. The only way to gain from business networking is to be genuine and up front about your needs.
Invest your time in the most effective avenues.
When you are choosing a group to spend your time on, consider how effective this communication has been in helping you reach your goals. Spend most of your time with those that help you the most.
When you do make a connection, follow up.
It is very important to follow up when you make a connection. Do not wait for them to reach out to you first. Take the next step and contact them via email or telephone.
Join networking groups and hold volunteer roles.
The more involved you are in a networking group, the more you will gain from it. Once you have found a group within your niche, then you can commit to being involved. Volunteering shows your appreciation.  
You may spend a lot of time with online networking. Although this is a convenient way to stay connected, try not to neglect face-to-face networking. Exchanging business cards gives you a chance to put a face to a name, and gives contacts the same benefit making sure that you are that much more memorable.