In today’s digital world, the hot topics in the small business marketing industry tend to be things like SEO, responsive web design, pay-per-click advertising and, of course, whatever the latest social media trend happens to be that week. These areas are constantly changing and evolving, and they happen to be dominating the marketing conversation right now. Without a doubt, all of these things have an important role to play in successfully marketing a small business. However, there’s one marketing tactic that has survived the test of time and continues to provide good results for those small business owners who have truly mastered it. That tactic is good, old-fashioned networking.
Networking —especially at the local level— remains one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies available to small businesses.
As an entrepreneur, the benefits of networking are essential to both your personal growth and business development. Building a successful business takes a lot of time and drive, so it’s helpful to have a strong network of friends and colleagues to keep you going. Surrounding yourself with people who share your drive and ambition will help everyone in the group move forward. However, that’s only one of the benefits networking will bring you. Here are five other benefits of networking you and your small business can enjoy.
Networking is great for sharing ideas and knowledge. Through networking, you can ask for feedback or discuss your point of view with other professionals. All these conversations will help you expand your own knowledge, allowing you to see things from another perspective.
Within these groups, it’s highly likely that you will find a person who has been where you are today. This provides you with a great learning opportunity on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls they experienced.
Networking will naturally result in opportunities. The thing is you don’t know when or how they will be of use to you. Your opportunity could come in the form of a referral, partnership offer or request for your service or product, so it is important to be ready to seize opportunities when they come along.
It’s important to remember you are not only connecting with the people in the room, but with their network too. If they know someone who has a need your business could match, and if you have made a good impression, you will likely get a referral. Networking is not a one-way street. If someone in your network could use a business you encounter at an event, share their details! This is guaranteed to strengthen your relationship.
To increase your confidence, you should be regularly networking and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know. This is an important attribute for a business owner to have, as the growth of your business relies on talking to people and making connections.
Another big benefit of networking is becoming more visible and getting noticed. The more regularly you attend business and social events, the more people will recognize you. This can help you build a reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering useful information or tips to people who could use it. In addition, you are more likely to get more referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head.