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What Will a Business Network Do for You and How Can You Create One?

By Kathleen Allardyce 🔹

 

Some business owners don’t think establishing a business network should be high on their to-do list. But once you have one, you’ll see how it can help your business grow and increase sales. You can use your network to get the help and ideas you need to do things you don’t know how to do. It will also help you find new business opportunities. The effort you put in to establishing and maintaining a network will have ongoing and long-term benefits.

➡️ What Can a Business Network Do for Small Business Owners?

A business network can help small business owners in many ways. Benefits range from sharing knowledge to finding prospects. Here are some of the key benefits you can expect when you have a vibrant business network in place.

1. Share Knowledge

You know how much work it takes to start a small business and make it successful. As the owner, you wish you had all the skills and knowledge required to make your company grow, but it’s rarely possible. You need to have in-depth knowledge of the product or service your company provides. That’s why many people start their own business—because they are an expert in their field, and they believe they can provide better products or services than their competitors.

But there are so many other things you need to do well to help your business thrive. For example:

  • Marketing/Digital marketing

  • Sales

  • Accounting

  • Financial management

  • Setting up and maintaining effective business processes

  • Technology Tools

  • Customer service

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Excellent negotiation skills

  • Excellent people skills

  • Problem solving

  • Tax preparation

  • Leadership

  • Project management

  • Delegation

  • Time management

And the list could go on. When you have a business network filled with other business owners, it’s an excellent way to share your knowledge, and to gather insight from your network’s members. Your network is the perfect platform for collaboration. You can help others and you can ask others for insight or guidance to address the issues you face. You may find professionals that you want to collaborate with formally by hiring them to take over some of the tasks you need to delegate.

2. Develop Confidence as a Business Owner

When you have the chance to talk to people you don’t know well, you will increase your confidence in your leadership role as the head of a small business. Generally, people you add to your network will be looking for the same things you are. They want to help other businesses succeed just as other business owners want to help them succeed.

During the networking process you’ll cement your belief in your own skills and knowledge while helping others. And, when others assist you, you’ll develop confidence in the skills you lack.

3. Develop Relationships Resulting in Partnerships and Joint Ventures

As you build relationships, you’ll naturally get to know the contacts of your contacts. As your network grows, you’ll likely find people who are looking for partnerships in a business venture, new opportunities to collaborate with others who have complementary products and services, and referrals to others who are prospects for your business.

4. Establish a Competitive Edge

Being part of a network will help you stay informed about trends in your industry. Pooling your knowledge with others in the industry will help you to see opportunities and threats before your competition. You may also find information and resources that your competitors lack, giving you the edge.

➡️ Where to Go to Build Your Network

There are almost endless ways to build your network. Here are five places for you to consider.

1. Local Organizations

Look to your local community for networking opportunities. The Chamber of Commerce is an excellent place to meet and get to know other businesses in your area. Local charity organizations are also places where you can meet local professionals, along with organizations like the Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club.

2. Professional Networking Events

There are groups that focus on networking. One of the most well-known is Business Networking International, usually just called BNI. Multiple groups are formed in many cities, and each one must have members from different industries to promote exchanging referrals within the group without competition.

3. Industry Organizations/Conferences

Get involved in your industry by joining industry organizations. For example, if you own a subcontracting business, you could join the American Subcontractors Association.  Many associations, like this one have local chapters where you might be able to meet other members in person.

Industry conferences give you an opportunity to meet other professionals in person. If possible, speaking at a conference in your industry is an excellent way to get visibility. If that’s not something that you can do, meeting and getting to know other professionals at a conference can be very helpful. Some conferences are held virtually, but they often still provide opportunities for attendees to “meet” in virtual gatherings.

4. Social Media

Social media sites like LinkedIn and even Facebook are virtual opportunities to network. In addition to posting on your own social media profile, look for groups on both of those platforms that relate to your business.

5. Business Communities

Find an online business community that will automatically connect you with other professionals that can contribute to your personal and business growth. For small business owners, Cove.eco is an excellent place to contribute and to get insight from others who have been where you are. For example, being part of a small business network will give you a safe space where you can meet other owners, share your experiences and expertise, ask questions, ask for assistance, learn, and find collaboration partners.

➡️ Networking Tips

Whether you’re networking online or in person, you can get the most from your efforts by using these key tips:

1. Stay Involved

Just belonging to a group where you can network isn’t enough. You need to stay active to let relationships develop. Go to Chamber meetings and participate in group discussions. It takes time to feel like part of a group.

2. Develop Relationships—Don’t Try to Sell

Even if you interact with someone who would be a perfect prospect for your company, don’t give them a sales pitch. Networking is about establishing relationships. Anyone who spends their time trying to sell their product or service is never going to get close enough to others to be seen as a resource.

3. Be Interested, Not Just Interesting

Whether you’re meeting someone in person or talking to them online, don’t monopolize the conversation. Make sure the other person knows that you are interested in their thoughts, ideas, and advice. Done properly, you will have multiple interactions with a networking partner and there will be plenty of time to discover whether that person might be interested in becoming a customer.

➡️ Where to Go from Here

Take time to examine your own business network. Is it providing the benefits you’d like to see? If not, determine how to make a change. You can get more active in the groups you currently belong to or find new ones that will help you meet your networking goals. Then, stay active and involved and you’ll see the benefits of your efforts.

 

About the Author

Kathleen Allardyce is a freelance writer who serves forward-thinking companies that want to use effective content marketing to increase leads, convert leads to customers, and grow their business.


Cove.eco Business Community - Two critters hold a net. One says, "Networking increases our catch!"

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