Building a small business takes a lot of time and effort. When you first get started you may be the only person handling multiple business functions. You are the marketing, finance, accounting, sales and business development departments. It helps to have trusted advisors or other small business owners with whom you can share ideas, questions and information.
One of the most effective ways to develop relationships with other business owners is to be networking your way to business growth and here are some tips:
Ask where business owners are networking. Try some of those groups to see which might be a good fit for your personality, brand and business type.
Know your budget. Some networking groups have higher membership fees than others. Some may be worth the investment while others may be a waste of time. Visit clubs and ask questions before paying the dues.
Understand the culture. A true referral networking culture will create opportunities outside of a weekly meeting for you to meet and get to know other members. They support each other and there is a teamwork environment. It’s about more than sharing leads. A referral networking culture is about helping each other grow their businesses and succeed. Choose the networking groups based on your preference or what is good for your business.
Business is about more than the bottom line; it’s about building relationships. Once you have selected your networking groups, go to the meetings and start setting up one to one conversations with other members. Get to know the other people in your groups so you can refer business to them. They, in turn, know you better and can refer business to you.
It takes time. Success in networking happens over time not overnight. Many business owners report being part of networking groups for months before they see a bottom line number.
Annually review your networking groups to determine if your investment of time and money was worth the results you see in your business growth. If you’re investing more than you’re seeing in results, it might be time to find a new group.
Networking for business growth takes time and effort. Building business relationships and establishing your business will go a long way to helping you get referrals and increase business. Here’s to your business growth and networking success!