When getting involved in a home-based business, most people experience a certain amount of fear. That’s perfectly normal. While the prospect of building your own business is exciting, it’s something out of the ordinary for many of us.

If it’s your first time considering being your own boss, you probably have a little voice in your head saying, “What if I don’t make any money?” or, “Do I have what it takes?”

In order to overcome some of your fears, it may help to realize that you have always been in business for yourself. You sell yourself daily to everyone you encounter, family and friends included. Every action you take and every thought you have affects your abilities to perform in the marketplace, and your level of performance creates your lifestyle.

More and more people are discovering the truth that they are already in business for themselves and beginning to take action to build those businesses through increased skills and better networking.

Regardless of the business you are in, the most important skills to develop are people skills, or how to most effectively communicate with other people while getting the information you need. Here are some basic principles to help you sharpen those skills.

1. How to Find New People

We meet new people all the time through our jobs, while traveling, at social events, sport activities and so on. Yet, when we think about having to meet new people to build a business, many of us freeze at what to do. That’s because meeting new people has moved from being an unconscious act to a conscious act.

When we are consciously aware of situations, we tend to over-analyze and become unnatural. The key to success in this area is to make meeting new people a natural part of your daily life without stressing over whether this person will judge or reject you. Meet people the same way you’ve always met them. Just let yourself meet more of them.

Rather than standing in line at the checkout staring off into space or reading the headlines on the tabloids, smile and say something positive or uplifting to the person next to you. Silly as it may seem, this is nothing more than common courtesy, which, unfortunately has become a lost art.

Don’t let your dry-cleaner, gas station attendant or mail carrier be an anonymous face. They are people with needs that you might be able to meet with your business.

2. Establishing a Connection

After finding new people, make contact with them. Again, begin with a friendly smile. Look them in the eyes. It’s a natural human tendency not to trust anyone who won’t look you in the eye.

Next, establish common ground. If you’re at a social gathering, ask how they know the hosts and build from there. If you’re at a baseball game with your kids, ask which child is theirs, how they like the sport, etc. Say hello to the dry-cleaner. Call him by name. Auto mechanics wear their names on their shirts. Greet them using their names. Thank them for the job they do for you. The key here is to ask people about themselves, which makes them feel important. Suppress any desire you have to expound about who you are and what you do. Instead, draw them out.

3. Getting to Know Someone New

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the previous skills, you can move to the next level. Gently ask questions to find out whether or not you are likely to do business with this person. In the profession of selling, this is called “qualifying.”

Your goal is to sprinkle into the conversation a couple of strategic questions that will indicate to you whether or not this person would be a good candidate for using your product or joining your business.

Let’s say you’re a distributor of a nutritional supplement. In conversation, you might mention that you’re taking this new supplement that gives you more energy while helping you lose weight (or any other benefit). Then, ask the other person if they take supplements and if they like what they’re taking. Ask what benefit they look for in a supplement. It could have to do with meeting a specific deficiency, being time-released, convenience or the economics of acquiring it. Once you get to this point, you’ll know if it would be appropriate to recommend your product to them. If the challenge they have with taking a supplement is the economics of it, you could have a potential new distributor.

The three basic questions to ask are:

The answers to those three questions will tell you whether or not you can do business with this person at this time.

4. Solidifying the Relationship

Once you know a person is a good candidate for either your product or the business opportunity, you want to build her interest to a level where she’ll want to learn more. Usually, you’d do this during a scheduled visit. When the person shows interest, go for a firm time to meet by offering two dates to choose from. “We could meet at Starbucks tomorrow evening or I can pop by and visit you on Thursday. Which would you prefer?”

Once you’ve reached this point, the relationship becomes a matter of fulfilling promises, sharing fun experiences and growing together. If your new friend buys your product, you’ve benefited her personally. If she goes ahead and joins your business, you could make a powerful impact on her life. Either way, focus on building a relationship that makes both of you better than you would have been without each other in your lives.

TOM HOPKINS is a sales legend and author of numerous
books and programs including
How to Master the Art of Selling,
Sales Prospecting for Dummies and Selling for Dummies.
This article is adapted with permission from

Sales Prospecting for Dummies.