Why every small business owner needs to build a network and reap big rewards
When we started our business, we were sure we’d quickly be able to build a network of other “like-minded” business owners. After all, we’d both been working in our careers for years. Realty check number one: most of our existing connections were working in corporate jobs, and we had very few small business owners in our established circles -even with more than 500 LinkedIn connections.
So, what is Business Networking?
Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other businesspeople and potential clients or customers. The benefits of business networking are the intangible gains made by communicating with other professionals in or relating to your industry.
Often, it is the networking efforts of a business owner that drive the most results in small businesses. There are so many advantages to networking, but the sharing of knowledge is the most beneficial. Developing relationships as a business owner and offering assistance to others does more than give you potential clients or generate referrals. It assists you in identifying opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures, or new areas of expansion for your business.
How Does Business Networking Work?
There are literally dozens of ways you can network today. Since the Pandemic, many of the formal networking meetings that used to meet in person, are now virtual. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce for example. Or Google “professional networking groups near me” and you will be presented with so many options. An important tip: You need to check out several groups before you decide which one to join. Take it from me, if you join a group where you don’t enjoy the other members, it will not end well.
Some examples of business networking are business seminars, professional associations, community committees, formal networking groups such as BNI, LeTip, Toast Masters, Chambers of Commerce, Professional Associations, Small Business Incubators etc.
Business Networking Groups typically meet weekly or monthly. The purpose is to build relationships and trust with the other members so that you, and they, are comfortable referring business back and forth. In addition to that, you will find sub-groups of people within the network that align better with your type of business or service. These are people that have complimentary services or products. As an example; perhaps you have a small printing company. You may find businesses in a group that serve a similar demographic as your customer – payment processing company, website design, commercial realtor, moving company. These are all people that have clients that would also have a need for printing services.
You will want to align with these types of businesses. Some organized networking groups refer to them as sub-groups, power teams, inner circle etc. At the end of the day, they are people that you want to get to know.
What Are the Benefits of Business Networking?
Beyond the obvious of growing your business, networking can also provide you with professional mentors or contacts who might be able to assist you with problems you might need help with.
For example, if your business needs the services of a bookkeeper, accountant, or lawyer you may find the ideal candidate through your network. We recently needed to add business insurance for our company, I was able to reach out to a member of my networking group to get a quote. It turns out, not only was she the quickest to respond to my inquiry, but she also offered us a great rate!
Too Busy to Network?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard this from salespeople that reported to me and even other business owners I’ve met through the years. I have learned many lessons from my 25+ years of working. One in particular is that the most successful people in business are the ones that keep on making calls and building their network of contacts during the busiest of times. It’s not always easy, but if you commit to it, schedule time on your calendar, and as they say…just do it, you will reap the rewards.
As always, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask your small business marketing questions.
WineHaus Marketing is located in downtown Beaverton. We work with small and mid-sized businesses wanting to improve their online presence. We focus on three key areas that drive success: Website Design, Social Media Marketing, and Email Marketing. For a free consultation, call 971-724-2347 or email email@example.com.