(As told to Ben Thomas by Bryan Chrissan, president of Clear Valley Pool Service in Temecula, Calif.)

When I realized how many more accounts I could be getting if I worked with the Internet retailers, I decided to take the initiative and try networking with some of them.

I started by going online and searching for a part I knew how to service — a certain type of pump, for example. I looked on the Websites of the top few search results, and tracked down contact e-mail addresses for those companies.

Then I put together an e-mail, basically describing who I was and what I did, and why I wanted to work with them on referrals. I sent it out in bulk to every large online retailer I could find.

Not all of them responded, but quite a few did, and they started passing new service accounts my way. So I kept it up, reaching out to online businesspeople through e-mail, and making sure to introduce myself at trade shows. Now, I get more online referrals than I have time for.

There’s no big secret to this — you’ve just got to take the lead, and be persistent about it.