Small businesses networking activities are essential to the success of your business. Business-2-Business commences with becoming a patron of another small business owner. They, in turn, would likely do the same. Business-2-Business becomes effective when each business leader commits to conducting business within the network of the small business community. Support one another, and be sure to make the necessary referrals. Refrain from being greedy by holding on to your contacts. Atef Taby and Associates (2020) offered a few recommendations about small business networking:
1. Generate New Business Leads
Networking provides one of the best and most effective avenues for generating and acquiring new business leads. It lets you meet with individuals and business executives interested in your business line. The fact that you will have a one-on-one discussion or connection with the leads presents another opportunity of acquiring a business partner or two.
2. Learn from the Best
There’s a lot that one can learn from attending a face-to-face or online business networking event. For starters, it allows you to meet with industry leaders and learn something from them.
3. Stay Abreast of the Latest Business Trends and Technology
Networking with ‘pioneers’ in your industry means you get to learn ‘inside’ information on the latest business trends and cutting-edge technology that could help your business grow. The fact that you have this information before your competition gives you a competitive edge over them, hence better chances of succeeding.
4. Build Confidence
Attending business conferences and other networking events helps build up your confidence. The more you mingle with these business professionals, the easier it will be to converse with them.
5. Make/Build Connections
There’s a saying in business that goes: ‘ It’s not what you know, but whom you know.’ As clichéd as it may sound, having relevant connections in your business line is a resource. Ask the right questions, and someone in the group will have just the answer you need.
CPR offers some additional networking tips for small business leaders as we embark on 2023:
6. Find a Leadership Coach
A leadership coach assists a leader in building self-awareness through required self-reflection and action. This is an active process where the client becomes transparent and trusting. This partnership is effective when the client does the work.
7. Attend business networking events
The first step in successful networking is knowing where to go to make connections. While almost any activity or event can serve as a networking opportunity, small business owners and professionals with local businesses can benefit from attending local business events.
8. Be SMART, set your S.M.A.R.T goals
Set your S.M.A.R.T. goals for one to five years. If you still need to review CPR's post on S.M.A.R.T goals, please be sure to review the post and email CPR with any questions. S.M.A.R.T. goals are a standard industry requirement.
9. Prepare your elevator PITCH
Knowing your business is critical during this time. When asked, a leader must confidently convey his business upon request. The formula is simple, know: what you do + for whom you do it + and why customers should choose you over your competition.
10. Be confident
If you’re naturally shy, having success in networking can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some strategies for overcoming introversion and making connections, including:
Consider brainstorming icebreakers before a networking event, so you don’t have to come up with ideas on the spot.
Know your elevator pitch
Make an excellent first impression, and consider opening with a compliment.
Be inquisitive; ask questions-ask how they got into the field or what they think of a recent development affecting your industry.
Feel free to take a breather if you get overwhelmed
Practice makes perfect. Practice, practice, practice
11. Find a reason to follow up
Making connections is only half the battle; you must also take steps to keep the relationship going. You could forward a relevant article, invite them to a seminar or conference, or for coffee.
12. Don’t be selfish
Whether chatting at a chamber of commerce event or attending an informational meeting, it’s important to remember that networking is about giving and taking. The relationship is unlikely to last if you’re always the person asking for favors. For best results, look for opportunities to help your networking contacts prosper in their careers.
13. Be sure to thank your customers
Remembering all those that supported you in the prior year is critical. This is an expression of gratitude, and it displays professionalism. Remember to say thanks to your local customers.