How To Build Meaningful Connections With Small Business Networking
As a small business owner, networking is one of the keys to your success. It can benefit you in several ways. It can:
- Help you build your customer base in the community.
- Create new relationships with partners who provide goods and services to other small businesses.
- Give you opportunities to learn new ideas and the latest trends from other small business owners and industry experts.
There is no shortage of options for small business networking, especially in this era of virtual events and meetings. Let’s dive in and look at some of the ways you can make new connections in your community and beyond.
Small Business Networking Options
1. Attend a Small Business Networking Event in Your Community
The most obvious option for small business networking is to go to events that are designed specifically for that. In many cases, these types of events will be hosted by your local chamber of commerce and will take place over breakfast or during happy hour. If the event includes a program or features a guest speaker, be sure to arrive early to give yourself time to mingle and connect with other attendees.
2. Sign Up for a Small Business Conference
Small business conferences are a great opportunity to not only rub elbows with fellow small business owners but also learn new ideas for your business. Participate in workshops and classes and listen to guest speakers with valuable business experiences to share. While nothing beats the networking opportunities, you can still learn a lot from attending virtually.
3. Join Professional Associations
Small business associations can help connect you with other business owners and industry experts who can provide you with guidance to help grow your company. Start by looking into SCORE or joining your local chamber of commerce. If you’re looking for something more specific to your type of business, search the internet for trade associations.
4. Join a Volunteer Organization
As a small business owner, you’re already dedicated to the success of your community and joining a service organization is an additional way to provide support. Plus, there is the added bonus that it will create additional networking opportunities for you. Service organizations frequently partner with local businesses for help on community projects, and you will likely be able to connect with other small business owners who are also members.
Tips for Making a Great Impression
Before you get started, here are a few final tips to help you make meaningful connections with potential partners, customers and fellow entrepreneurs.
Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short synopsis of who you are, what your business is and what it offers to its customers and the community. Keep it about 60 seconds and make sure it sounds casual and conversational.
Have Business Cards Ready
If you do make a connection with someone at a networking event, you need to provide a way for them to connect with you in the future. Much of the business world is going paperless, but business cards are still the gold standard for sharing contact information with your connections. Keep in mind that you should only hand these out to people with whom you have made a meaningful connection.
Millions of small business owners are on LinkedIn, the social media platform for business professionals. You can share business trends and articles as well as learn new ideas from entrepreneurs you’re connected with and from business giants you follow.
If you’re ready to make connections through small business networking, contact your local Small Business Development Center today.
You can find more small business tips, advice and success stories on the Biz Buzz Blog.
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