With the rise of social media, we are quite literally, the most connected generation ever. With one-third of the world using social networks regularly, information is always just a click away. With the swipe of a finger, we can speak with friends and family on the other side of the world. While this has simplified our life somewhat – you can interact with the world while lounging on the couch in your pyjamas – an online presence doesn’t eliminate the need for face-to-face communication. Small business networking is vital to establishing your company within the market.
No one will ever take lounging in your PJs away from you, but sometimes, you have to put on your pants, smile and get yourself out there. The market is always changing, and no one knows what the future will bring for their business. It’s important to connect with people both in your field of expertise and outside. While you may not need their assistance now, you could benefit from their advice later on – or an opportunity could arise to work together!
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed ‘people-person’ or you find social situations uncomfortable, networking will always be vital to maintaining your business. Select the events you attend carefully. Ideally, you want to be as comfortable as you can in the situation. If you despise wearing a tie, avoid black-tie events and stick to casual meetups. The more relaxed you feel, the more approachable you’ll be – which is key to successful networking!
When participating in small business networking, you want to build relationships. Relationships are an equal amount of give and take; if you’re willing to receive, you have to be prepared to give. Don’t be afraid to speak up and offer your experience if it will help! Building a successful networking relationship takes time and effort. If you hit it off with an individual at an event, don’t be afraid to shoot them an email to catch up, or send an interesting article their way! Meeting someone new can open up opportunities to learn and grow – both personally and within your business.
Set your sights high when you’re building networking relationships. Dive in, and strike up a conversation with a person that intimidates you. Often, we can learn the most from people that are different from ourselves. Differing business views can allow you to see a different perspective, and once you’ve achieved that, imagine the difference you can make!
Small business networking can open the doors to opportunities you were unaware even existed. Often, other companies will be seeking out specific opportunities through back door channels – like networking. A vast majority of the options available to you, you won’t even know they exist until you ask! Think of it this way: if you had two people applying for the same position, with equal skills and experience, what would differentiate the candidates? Your personal ability to interact and build a working relationship with them. And that, friends, is precisely why small business networking is vital to establishing and maintaining a successful business!
You might not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails! Combine face-to-face networking with social media marketing, and you’ll always catch the breeze. Create a Facebook business page and utilize it by interacting with other local businesses. This will help get your name out there and make your business more recognizable to the public. Facebook is an excellent social media tool that allows you to interact directly with your target audience. You’ll be able to get first-hand opinions, and you’ll be able to respond directly. With 73% of people using Facebook as a professional tool, there’s a multitude of options available for you to take advantage of. Search for networking groups, groups related to your industry, and more! Build an online presence that your audience will come to know and trust.
LinkedIn is the only major social media platform where the 30 to 49-year-olds dominate the usage rates. With LinkedIn, you can directly communicate with industry leaders, who are often ready and willing to offer advice to small businesses.
Make 2017 the year you take the leap and build professional relationships that can see your small business through all the ups and downs. Remember, the compound effects of networking are significant and long-lasting.