Business networking is an important means to expand influence and get access to potential partners. Small businesses build influence and grow their brand by networking with other SMEs and big enterprises. Each small business in the network helps the others grow by making significant input such as rendering services at reduced costs. The businesses are also able to reach a wider audience through the network.
To expand your business network, here are six smart tips to follow:
- Be actively involved in local networks – As a small business, it is easier to establish strong connections within your area. Connect with other small businesses near your location and get actively involved in managing it. Support other small businesses, patronise them and also ask for help in return. Engage in community programmes that build the reputation of the network. When the network grows, your business will have access to bigger networks.
- Build and maintain a strong reputation – You stand to be accepted into business networks or make a quick impact on potential clients if you have a strong reputation. Focus on establishing a good brand and do not hesitate to give it good publicity. Utilise online channels and social media platforms to find support and spread your brand message. Join communities, participate in forum conversations, and make sure your brand is heard. Also, strengthen workplace bonds between employees and supervisors. It’s a great way for small businesses to turn employees into brand evangelists.
- Develop a proper strategy – Building a strong business network is never easy. It requires a proper plan and strategy. To create this plan, you need to understand what your aim is and how best to achieve it. Are you networking to gain more business contacts? To develop your career? To make more sales? Once you discover your reason for establishing or joining a business network, you will get more out of the network. Your plan should contain definite details and the strategic approach you intend to use.
- Make use of elevator pitches – An elevator pitch is a quick rundown of your business, how you operate, and future plans. When utilized properly, it is an effective tool to achieve better networking. The pitch is used to get the attention of or propose a business idea to big enterprises. Elevator pitches come in handy during social events. Keep it as short as possible and explain naturally.
- Establish good business relationships – You stand to gain more out of a business network when you are able to establish good business relationships. To establish a good relationship with people you meet at events, you have to be a good listener. When you meet potential clients and customers, talk less and listen more. Get to know them, understand their needs, and pitch ideas which will be of benefit to their businesses. Starting and running a business is tough. Building good relationships and strong networks is a great way to get support when you need it most.
- Follow-up on pitches – After business meetings with people, do not wait for them to contact you. Follow up on them and keep in touch. Bring up key details from previous conversations with them to set a base and keep the flow going. Hand out business cards readily and ensure that they contain your up-to-date contact information.
A small business network is the easiest way to grow your brand. You gain access to a bigger audience and more resources. You also learn from other brands and run bigger projects within the community. Join or establish a business network to give your business the boost and support it needs to grow.