Networking for small business owners is imperative to make vital connections to grow your company. Interacting with potential investors, business partners or clients will help you form loyal and trusting relationships and open up new opportunities.
The biggest roadblock that prevents small business owners from networking is lack of time—it’s difficult to carve-out hours to attend an event or a conference when you are practically living at the office. However, networking should not be ignored—with these tips, you can achieve this goal.
LinkedIn is a social media platform designed to connect professionals in virtually any industry. They currently have over 500 million members in over 200 countries around the world. The first step to using this site is to create a personal account with your photo and contact information. You should add details about your business so that when you communicate with other members, they are able to easily find what company you own.
You can also create a business page showcasing your business on LinkedIn. If you connect your email account, you will automatically be able to add your contacts. You can also search for contacts via their name or company they work for.
LinkedIn transformed the networking world by allowing users to create groups by interest or industry, where you can find like-minded entrepreneurs or clients without leaving your home or office. You can also join professional groups and ask questions to get help in growing your business.
Host a Meet & Greet
Devoting time to networking can be especially productive if you combine it with other goals, such as brand recognition and connecting with new customers. A great way to do all three is to host a meet & greet inside your business if it has a physical location.
Start with inviting other small business owners either in your niche or simply in your area. This will be a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs, bounce ideas off each other and learn new tips on improving your business operations.
To make sure that everyone interacts and has a good time, plan some activities, such as icebreakers or fun games. Make sure the attendees have enough room to mingle and get to know one another. Facilitate interaction by setting up small tables where attendees can congregate, but encourage everyone to move around the room.
This will not only connect you with other like-minded professionals but also expose your business and products to possible new customers.
If your goal is to network with potential customers, a highly effective way to do so is cross-promotion strategies. Partner with another business, preferably not in your industry so as to avoid competition. You can work together to promote each other’s brands on collaborative materials.
This can be as simple as leaving flyers or coupons in each other’s locations, or as complex as creating a marketing plan to promote both brands. For example, think of world-known companies such as T-Mobile and Netflix offering their services in a joint plan.
By joining another company in your networking efforts, you can expose your brand to a brand new customer base and decrease your marketing and advertising costs.