Ask any successful small business owner how they got to where they are, and there’s a good chance “networking” will come up. Networking with other small business owners can come with a great deal of benefits, some of which many people don’t think about at first. You don’t need to live in a big city to network, either; the Internet has changed a great deal about how people communicate with colleagues.
The following are 7 ways to network with other small business owners, all of which can help your business to soar.
1. Leverage Your Current Network
Before you go out and try to reinvent the wheel, you should consider leveraging the network that you already have. Chances are there is some work that could be done in order to push your current network towards a more active direction, which will in turn help you to meet new people as your connections become stronger.
2. Utilize Social Media
Social media is one of the most effective tools available to business owners today. It’s a great way to connect with clients and customers, but you can also use it to get connected to other business. A simple “like” on Facebook, for example, is enough to connect you with a local business and will keep you updated on their progress.
3. Don’t Neglect Coffee Meetings
Even with the Internet holding more importance in business today than ever before, there are plenty of reasons to still hold those time-tested coffee meetings. If you haven’t seen someone in your network in a while, schedule a casual sit-down just to catch up on how things have been going. You might find that this helps you to actually meet new people, which is very much worth your while.
4. Meet Online Contacts Offline
Let’s say there’s a new business that just opened in your town and you’ve “liked” them on Facebook, perhaps even exchanged a few messages with the owner. You can get a lot of mileage out of taking your online contacts offline; by scheduling a casual meet and greet to talk about the new business, for example. After all, there’s no substitution for an in-person network.
5. Attend Corporate Events
Corporate events can get a little tiresome at times, but that’s not to say they aren’t of the utmost importance. Attending corporate events in your area is one of the best ways to network with local business owners, and it doesn’t have to take up as much of your time as you might think.
6. Connect with Old Colleagues
If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance you have colleagues that you haven’t spoken to in years. Connecting with old colleagues is a great way to build your network, especially if they are involved in the same field or industry as yourself.
7. Volunteer Your Services
One of the most important things you can do for your business is to give back to the community. Volunteering your services “pro bono” will help you to connect with other like-minded business owners and build your network. Plus, it will no doubt add a level of respect to your business.
Networking can be hard work, but a little bit of effort can get you a long way!
This article was originally published on Funding Gates. Funding Gates is the world’s first CRM platform for receivables management. Serving as an online credit department for small businesses, Funding Gates is set on making managing receivables the easiest part of running a business.