As is true for the world of business, but especially for economic development, relationships are everything. As the economic development practitioner most of the business leaders, community leaders, and entrepreneurs that you need to meet aren't coming to you. You must take initiative and introduce yourself to them. To accomplish this, you must have tact. (This post focuses more so on introductions to entrepreneurs and small-business owners).
Schedule a meeting with the particular individual(s) you would like to meet. This may require some homework, but time well-spent. Search for the business owner's email address, office phone number, and office hours. In your research, make it a priority to find out something about the particular business. How can you say you'd like to "help" their business when you have not performed due diligence on the front end? Knowing something about the business you are meeting with will establish credibility and context to your conversation.
Walk-up introductions should always be the backup plan. If there is absolutely no contact information available on the web, newspaper, or the office window, then by all means, walk in.
In case your introduction is a walk-up, make it early. First impressions are critical and your walking in at 4:30 PM at peak hours does not serve your mission to increase the company's profit and sustainability. If you are meeting with a restaurant owner, DO NOT walk in at 12:00 PM and expect a warm greeting.
If you see that the business owner is occupied helping a customer, do not disturb. If the business owner is on the phone, do not disturb. If the business owner is counting money, do not disturb.
Entrepreneurs are busy people and their time is valuable. Entrepreneurs are also some of the friendliest and most fun-loving people on the planet. Genuinely and politely let them know who you are and that you'd like to help their business grow. By doing so, you are planting the roots for a lasting, healthy, and fruitful relationship.