Business networking can be very overwhelming. But if it is used to the small business owner’s advantage, it will grow the customer base, give opportunities for learning, and expand and propel the business to greater heights.
Here are some major reasons why networking for small business owners is important:
Networking is a great way to generate referrals. Most of the small business owners I know admit that the first year-success of their business came from referrals of friends and people they have met in events like workshops and conferences.
Jude, who has a food business, shared that she would often give food samples to her friends for them to try the new recipe she made. This led to creating happy customers, who in turn told others about their positive experience.
Lessons or Advice
Networking is a wonderful avenue to learn valuable lessons and get advice.
Gracie, a wife and mom who owns a small clothing business, realized that “It is not only sales that you get, you also acquire valuable business lessons from co-entrepreneurs.”
Martha, a coffee shop owner, had 3 coffee shops that already closed down. She met Greg, an owner of a large chain of coffee shops in a city, who gave her an advice she wouldn’t forget: “Make every customer feel like a VIP. Call them by their names.” This impacted Martha and gave her hope; she decided to open a new coffee shop in another city.
Networking provides a plethora of opportunities. Like turning friendships into a mutual client-service provider relationship.
Mark, the owner of a new restaurant in town, makes delicious food. But his location makes it difficult for the business to get customers.
Thankfully, Mark’s son, Julius, is a senior student at the university and is very familiar with the eating preferences of the market and its general behavior. Mark has developed deep friendships with his classmates since his freshman year, so he casually told his friends, “Hey guys! We have a new restaurant open in town. The location is just…”
Because Mark has established rapport and gained trust with his friends, it was not hard to convince his friends to go to their restaurant and become regular customers.
Another opportunity is becoming part of a community. According to Armi, an online business owner, it is like “surrounding yourself with people from whom you could draw inspiration and support from.” Partnerships, collaborations, joint ventures, and speaking opportunities… the list could go on.
Networking opens the door for small business owners to connect with like-minded people or businesses that promote a healthy competition.
Armi believes that healthy competition pushes the small business owners to do better and to strive to differentiate their brands from the rest.
Networking is an excellent way to boost small business owners’ confidence or self-esteem. The more you talk about your business, the more connections you make, thus, the more confident you become. Your business doesn’t only expand, your confidence increases as well.
With the many benefits of networking for small business owners, I highly recommend this activity as a way to gain new customers and to build a sustainable business.
So, what are you waiting for, entrepreneurs? Go and start building your network and see what it does to yourself and your business!