You’ve just started your small business, or maybe you’ve been running it for years now, but you’re struggling to get ahead of your competitors. You’re lacking that extra edge. It can be hard to find the right methods to help your business to grow in a competitive business world. However, there is one method that has proved to be helpful.
This method is networking. You may be asking yourself, What is networking? Is it the extra edge I need to keep my small business in the rat race? Why is it beneficial for my small business?
Networking can be defined as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts”. The two main types of networking are face-to-face networking and social networking.
Businesses have been using face-to-face networking from the start. This type of networking includes having in-person meetings with customers. These personal interactions help develop strong bonds between businesses and their clients.
Recently, businesses have started to utilize social networking to contact their customers online and through social media.
Today, networking has become the norm for all ages. Small businesses especially benefit from embracing networking because it can provide new business opportunities and promote growth. How so?
Networking facilitates great communication and customer service. These are essential for building and maintaining healthy customer relationships. When your customers and clients see the good work you’re putting into your business by trying to network, they’ll be more inclined to recommend you to others.
Your efforts are not in vain in regards to money as well. Customers highly value networking so much so that the average company would lose some 17% of its profits if it eliminated business travel and meeting up with their customers.
By social networking via social media, you can reach a variety of people you may not have otherwise been able to reach. An article from Small Business Trends published in 2018 mentions that 44% of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41% depend on it to drive revenue. The article continues stating that almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business and 75% say they’ve increased traffic.
Additionally, networking is beneficial to small businesses because it opens up a world of opportunity and connectivity. But, why is connectivity important to a business owner? Shouldn’t they be trying to stay as far away from their competitors as possible? Let’s find out the significance of connectivity.
Connectivity is very important to small business owners. It’s important because by networking and forming friendships with like-minded business owners, you can exchange advice and valuable information. This is especially useful for newer businesses as the advice and information they receive from networking with their peers motivates them and helps them get established in their industry. However, this doesn’t mean that already established businesses won’t benefit from connectivity.
Everyone benefits from advice—new and old businesses alike. It’s true that business is competitive, but by relating and sharing experiences, you can turn a competitor into an ally.
Connectivity doesn’t just mean being connected with other businesses, it means being connected with customers as well. When businesses put forth the effort to maintain relationships with their customers, there is a strong payoff. This is obvious from the statistics mentioned earlier where the average company would lose 17% of its profits if it eliminated business travel. A networking and communication article published in 2017 states that for every dollar companies invest in travel, they receive $12.50 in value.
It’s evident that there is a high return on investment if a business strives to enforce connectivity as a part of their business. What other benefits come from networking?
All businesses want to make a good name for themselves and have a stellar reputation. How can they do it? Since networking involves getting in contact with others, it can help you build a good reputation for your business. Whether you’re attending business conferences or just having a meeting with a potential client, people see your business for how it is.
Imagine you’re a client looking to do business with a company that claims to be “sociable with great customer service.” If you never see this business at networking events or interacting with their customers, how can you know if they are who they claim to be? Without being able to see the business in action, you’re likely going to form your own opinions about the business that may not be accurate.
By forming face-to-face connections with other businesses or clients, you are making a name for yourself and establishing yourself in the business world. Once you get your business out there, you will start to be recognized by more people. This recognition for having a reputable business can raise your profile and lead to gaining more clients.
As we’ve seen, small business owners should embrace networking for a number of reasons. Networking provides small business opportunities and promotes growth. Another reason is that networking stimulates connectivity. By networking and forming friendships with like-minded business owners, you can exchange advice and gain valuable information that will help your business grow. Finally, networking and making face-to-face connections helps you make a name for your small business.
So why not embrace networking? Sign up for some networking events and start posting on your social media accounts. This could be that extra edge your business needs to get ahead of your competitors.