As a small business owner, it can be hard to take time out of your already busy schedule to go out and meet other business owners. But you should: Networking can be one of the best things you can do for your business. When you meet other business owners, you may find that they have a need you can fill, or they have a service that fills your need.
Entrepreneurs can relate to the busy-ness of owning a small business, the pressures, and the rewards. Seasoned entrepreneurs you meet at networking events can offer advice on how to handle the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship.
Here are 5 reasons to start networking now
1. New business opportunities
Networking opens up numerous opportunities to meet potential suppliers or customer. You may meet a supplier that fills a particular need you have. You could meet another small business owner who requires a product or service that you provide, you have the opportunity to make an impactful connection.
Not every business in your industry should be viewed as competition. Sometimes meeting a business owner in a similar industry can create a unique opportunity to collaborate. Laura Woods from the Business Finance Store shares this example: You own a coffee shop, and you meet the owner of a café. You collaborate by convincing the café owner to sell your premium coffee in his store, and you agree to sell her baked goods in your coffee shop. Customers can now find products at both the companies, increasing traffic and revenue for both businesses.
At networking events you will be hard-pressed not to find a seasoned business owner making his or her rounds. Connecting with that entrepreneur can be very beneficial for advice on employee issues, customer service, expansion opportunities, and the local business economy and other issues critical to small business owners.
Networking events are not solely about making connections. These events are a great form of promoting your business. Typically you will be sharing your business story with others at the event. Crafting your elevator speech combined with a distinctive business card is a great way to get your business name out there.
5. Increased confidence
Networking pushes you to talk to people that you normally wouldn’t have an opportunity to interact with. By committing yourself as a business owner to open up to new opportunities, you increase your self-confidence. The more confidence you have as a business owner, the more attractive your business becomes to others. The more attractive your business is, the more connections you have, and the more your business will grow.
Networking comes in many shapes and sizes: informal gatherings, conferences, monthly meetings, happy hour, tweet-ups, or virtual online events. However you decide to network, remember that networking is an important part of being a small business owner and growing your business.
For More Information on Small Business Networking
Small Business BC: Five Benefits of Networking
Huffington Post: How Networking Can Take Your Business to the Next Level