What is Local/Small Business Networking?
Small and local businesses are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. With that comes more opportunity to network with other local and small business owners.
As a business owner, you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to be networking?”
The answer is yes! And that answer is especially true if you’re a home service provider.
Networking opportunities and collaboration allow your business to build a valuable pool of resources to leverage. When you build relationships with your suppliers, customers, and other significant stakeholders in your local business community, you can expand your business and strengthen its reputation through mutually beneficial partnerships.
Joining business networking groups can benefit your own business in the following ways:
- Learn from and collaborate with other industry professionals: Through professional networking, you can tap into valuable resources and expertise from other successful local and small business owners. In fact, 80% of business professionals believe their career and business success can grow through networking. Whether it’s their wealth of knowledge, key lessons from their successful entrepreneurship, or even their own customer base—the opportunities to learn and leverage are endless.
- Stay up to date on current industry trends and challenges: By joining an industry-specific network and developing close business relationships, you can stay updated on the current trends sweeping through the market. This can better help prepare your business for external changes that may or may not impact your own business operations.
- Gain referrals and improve sales: Networks provide unique opportunities for you to grow your business referrals. By creating partnerships with other business people in your community, you can cross-promote their services as they would yours. This allows you to generate a new channel for attracting potential customers and improves your overall sales!
- Strengthen your industry’s community: Attending seminars related to your industry, establishing partners with key players, and actively staying on top of the industry news will help your business grow in line with the industry’s growth. By simply being an active part of your industry’s network and community, you’re contributing to its longtime success and vitality!
5 Easy Ways for Local & Small Businesses to Network
Small business networking isn’t as complicated as you may think it is. You can easily start networking and reaping the benefits of promoting your business right away.
Here are five easy ways to start networking today:
1. Attend local trade shows
Trade shows are local events that promote and build awareness around local businesses in the region. You can sign up and set up your own booth at a local trade show to showcase your product or service offerings to potential customers. You can also focus on networking with other businesses that provide complementary products or services.
2. Join a referral network or partner with other local businesses
To grow your business more effectively, you can also join referral networks or associations for your industry. By doing so, you not only network with relevant businesses, but your business stands to gain actual customers through referrals.
3. Say “yes” to conferences and seminars!
Want a way to mix business with pleasure? Business conferences are a great way to connect with more experts and key players in a fun and non-competitive arena. Not only is it a great business opportunity, but it also provides you a creative way to recharge your batteries and bring a social element to your business activities. As an added bonus, you never know when these contacts will come in handy in the future!
4. Keep updated business cards on hand
Carrying your business cards with you is essential. You don’t have to go to a large conference or event to network. You can network anytime, anywhere. Just keep your business cards handy!
Let’s say, for example, you’re an HVAC professional grabbing breakfast in the morning and notice the local coffee shop’s AC is out. You can give your business card to the owner or leave it with the team. Just make sure you only include the key information, including your phone number and other contact information they’ll need in order to reach out to you.
5. Leverage social media and actively engage with other industry professionals
Networking can also be digital! In 2021, over 60% of professionals plan to embrace digital communications as part of their regular networking methods. An example of one such platform for this purpose is LinkedIn, which you can use to engage with other industry experts. Your profile should highlight the types of services you offer, your customers, and any awards, recognition, or memberships in professional organizations you’ve earned.
The Business Networks You Can Join Today
For local businesses like yours, here are a few you can get started with easily.
Local Chamber of Commerce
Your chamber of commerce will have its own network of local businesses in your market or industry that you can connect and collaborate with. The organization hosts networking events and works toward furthering each business’s growth within the network by connecting them to the right resources.
Partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE develops and provides resources for growth and scaling. It’s more prominently known for its free mentoring services, where owners can connect with industry experts face-to-face or online to grow their skills and know-how.
Facebook and LinkedIn groups
The innovation and growth of social media in the past twenty years have benefited businesses greatly. Today, many businesses take advantage of Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups to connect with other industry professionals in their local community.
Your business can set up its own Facebook Business Page and join a relevant group. Business owners use Facebook Groups to offer exclusive updates on business services/products, advertise, communicate with other businesses in the community, and more.
For example, this private group below is for plumbers who share DIY hacks, tricks, and tips!
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is the world’s largest professional social network. With over 700 million users globally as of 2021, the platform has enabled many local businesses like yours to connect on a larger scale with potential business partners while still growing customer connections.
With LinkedIn, you can join groups, message other businesses, and stay on top of the trends by following popular threads.
Industry-specific trade associations
Lastly, your business can also join niche networks depending on the nature of your service offerings. By doing so, you get more fine-tuned insights into other companies linked to your industry and gain inside knowledge on trends that can directly impact your line of operations.
National trade associations are an excellent place to start. Here are a few you can look into today:
If you’re a plumber, consider joining the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC). You can benefit from educational programs, develop your workforce strategies, and access more plumber-specific resources needed to scale your business.
If you’re an HVAC professional, check out the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). The ACCA regularly hosts conferences and expos that you can participate in and connect with the broader HVAC industry.
If you’re a general contractor, visit the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The AGC has over 27,000 members and keeps businesses in its network consistently updated with news on its site bulletin and more! Find a chapter and get started today.
Signpost Helps Local and Small Businesses Grow
Networking is a key component to business growth. It not only connects you to key industry players, but it can also help generate quality leads that turn into real sales for your business.
If you’re starting a new business or managing an existing one, networking can seem challenging. Not only do you need to decide when and where to network, but how to do it successfully.
By helping you manage your business functions, we free up the valuable time business owners need to get out there and network to fuel growth.
Book a demo with us today to learn more!