Small time vendor = Farm handyman. I met my current farm handyman via a temporary vendor at a local farmers market. She was a rather insignificant table offering a few home grown plants. I had no interest in the plants, but I still took the time to greet her, get her name, find out where she came from, what her life's interests were. I struck up a pleasant conversation, eventually learning that her husband had building skills for hire. Through him I met my current farmhand.
Local artist = Dinner Club = Community network of help and resources. While trying my hand at selling coffee at the farmers market, I struck up a friendship with a local artist. This person eventually introduced me to a most interesting character who ran a local dinner club. The dinner club has become a steady feature in my life and became a pathway to extending my community network. I've gotten many referrals for helpers and supply sources.
Small store cashier = Chicken food, wood pallets, cardboard. I purposely picked the same cashier at out little supermarket. Before long we exchanged names, general life info (where we lived, how long we lived on the island, etc), our interests. When my projects came up in conversation, she got the store manager to offer me the excess pallets. Before long I was also picking cardboard whenever I needed it plus some of the market's waste to feed to the chickens.
Helper at the coffee truck = housecleaner. Friendly conversation led to name exchanges and friendly banter. When I mentioned that I needed a housecleaner for my mom, Liz announced that she also cleaned houses on the side. Perfect match. How's that help my homestead project? Hey, I won't have to spend a day cleaning my mom's house!
Clean up person at the dump = free mulch. No one pays attention to the broom pusher. But I always waved and exchanged pleasantries. We even exchanged garden seeds once which led to me being told about the mulch that was going to be dropped off at the dump....free on a first come, first serve basis. Plenty of times I got told about the next delivery due to come. So I often got to the pile before everyone else beat me to it.
Waitress = Service providers. Do you know the names of all the waitresses at your restaurants? I do and it's really helpful. Do I need the services of a welder? A person to trim a tall tree? Get the lowdown on the water delivery trucks? Just ask the waitresses. Between them, someone usually knows who to go to, who to avoid.
A local small farmer = my farming viewpoint/philosophy. Ever meet someone who caused an epiphany? Jerry Konanui is one who did that for me. Via his quiet, low key approach to spreading knowledge about taro, Jerry instilled the ideas into my blockhead mainland skull that eventually grew into the incentive and love for a homestead farm.
I've found that lots of people who I've met become my customers. When they find out that I grow food, they are interested in buying or trading for some.
Give it some thought. What about some of those low visibility people in your world? How do you score? What's the name of the post office worker? The auto mechanic who changed your oil? The cashier at the drugstore? The bank teller? The old man that always sits in the back pew at church? The old lady that walks her little dog past your house each morning?