Networking Tips To Build And Grow Your Small Business NetworkMay 19, 2022 2022-05-19 21:00
Networking Tips To Build And Grow Your Small Business Network
Networking Tips To Build And Grow Your Small Business Network
Attracting and retaining customers are the most crucial tasks for small businesses. And networking is a requirement to achieve that.
Building a business network with a good reputation is a crucial determinant of success for small business owners. Customers prefer to patronize businesses they know, like, and trust instead of a stranger.
Networking in business is an efficient, low-cost marketing approach for developing contacts and sales opportunities, contingent upon introductions and referrals through contact methods like phone, email, or face-to-face meetings and gatherings and highly business and social networking websites.
Presently, successful business enterprises are based upon building trusted relationships and leveraging them to acquire new prospects that could improve revenue growth.
It is essential that you continuously grow and nurture these relationships, as a considerable amount of your business growth will be derived from your business network.
In this post, I will be sharing the seven most important networking tips valuable to small businesses to build and grow their customer base and business network.
Table of Content
- 7 Networking Tips For Entrepreneurs
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Watch and Learn Top tips to Grow your Business Network
7 Networking Tips For Entrepreneurs
Here are networking tips you should use to grow your business network.
1. Identify your Audience:
Attending events is awesome, however without thoroughly targeting what event to go to, it can end up wasting your time and that of your business.
The first and perhaps the most essential part of networking is finding the right audience with whom you wish to build a relationship.
The relationship can either be as a customer or a partner. However, how do you find the networking event to either attend or not?
The best place to start would probably be industry-based events. This type of event will provide you the opportunity to interact with thought-leaders in your industry.
These leaders can later transform into advisors or mentors for your business. In addition, you can connect with brands just like yours and share experiences.
At these types of events, you would be able to identify complementary businesses, competitors, trending innovation and growth, and market leaders in your industry.
Also, suppose you have an online business where you sell products across different social media platforms. In that case, an event that would be a good fit is one centered around learning how to market your product and convert more prospects online effectively.
A never-to-miss event for food business owners is the GT Food and Drink Festival, which happens around the Easter period. This event connects food and drinks entrepreneurs with foodies.
It is among the largest opportunities for food-based business owners to grow their customer base. They get to advertise their food items to thousands of foodies and enthusiasts that attend the event.
Other business events or communities include Toastmasters, BNI (Business Network International), and online communities on Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, also prove helpful.
Event tools like Eventbrite would assist you in identifying training programs, festivals, or conferences happening in your city.
After you have identified the suitable audience/event, you have taken the first step into leveraging networking to grow your small business network.
2. Dress the Way you Want to be Addressed:
Dressing is more crucial in the African continent than anywhere else; individuals at events are usually expected to appear smartly dressed. They can choose to dress in their traditional attire that won’t come off as highly dressy.
When you’re unsure of what to wear, you are better off going for the event in English wear. A plain skirt and a blouse for women, or a plain shirt and trousers for men will do wonders.
Also, some business owners may choose to wear their company-branded clothing. This technique is excellent as it will help register your business in the minds of the people present at the event.
Whenever customers meet or see you, they can easily and quickly recall your brand.
Name tags are provided at most networking events making it easier to network and start a conversation as a business owner.
People make their final decisions on how you appear as a business owner. How you dress determines if they see you as intelligent, important, or successful.
It also determines people’s first impression of you at the networking event. Try as much as possible to engrave yourself in people’s minds.
3. Meet & Build Relationships:
Attending any networking event aims to meet and build relationships with individuals who would positively impact your business.
The development and growth of your business network depend on effectively leveraging networking sessions to meet and mingle with other business owners like yourself.
First impressions matter a lot. Your ability to build a relationship with just anyone lies in effective communication with everyone you meet within the first five minutes of starting a conversation.
Prepare to listen and also speak about your business and passions genuinely.
Generally, based on how they are organized, networking events leave 30 minutes at the beginning and end of the event for attendants to mingle.
It’s wise to spend quality time engaging with six people for at least 5 minutes than talking to everyone present at the event for less than 30 minutes.
When you’ve established a connection with someone, remember to share contacts with them and a selfie if possible to share online. Make sure you always have a business card with you.
But, it doesn’t stop at handling and receiving business cards; it’s also about making sure you spare some time to nurture that relationship, the same way you would for any friendship.
This is important in building strong business networks in Africa, where most relationships are built physically instead of over the internet.
Though the people in Africa are quickly adopting the internet in the way we work, relationships still need to be built directly.
So you must follow up on the people you meet at these networking events to grow your small business network.
4. Follow up on Social Media:
Another one of the networking tips every entrepreneur should employ is “following up.” Immediately the event is over, get back to those business cards and start adding them up to your contact list.
After that, follow up with them with simple, concise texts or emails. This shows your interest in interacting with them either on a business or personal level, as the case may be.
Another way that has proven effective for following up is to connect with the businesses and entrepreneurs you met at the events on social media. That way, you can view firsthand the type of content they send out on social media.
And although social media may not be as direct as phone calls or emails, it will provide you with a better insight about the person depending on their content type.
5. Create online content:
The world consumes billions of content online daily. So, it’s essential to share content online to advertise your business and personal brand.
Your content will assist in engaging with prospects and other players in your industry, so this is among the networking tips you shouldn’t ignore.
Creating posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, writing articles on Medium, or sharing your view either as a podcast on Anchor or a vlog on Youtube are avenues through which you can build your online presence.
Another helpful tactic is by mentioning or tagging the people you meet at events on your social media posts while they do the same for you.
You could utilize each other’s presence online to build more authority for consumers online. Most times, people don’t engage with posts online focused on selling something to them.
People only respond to content they see as relatable, so your content should either inspire, inform, or entertain your audience.
You can also share positive reviews or testimonials to add credibility to your brand.
6. Email Marketing:
Email marketing is one of the evergreen networking tips you can use to grow your business network.
Email is an efficient tool business owners can use to interact with their existing customers and prospects.
People spend close to half of their day browsing through their emails for important information from businesses they trust or from familiar individuals.
The email has proven to be an effective tool you can use to encourage your prospects or customers who might have stopped patronizing you to come back.
They are also suitable for business owners to inform their customers of company news, operational changes, market new products and services, and share receipts/invoices.
Online tools such as Mailchimp will help you properly utilize email marketing to build and grow your business network.
7. Follow Influencers in your Industry:
For every industry, some influencers already have a solid online presence.
In the technology and startup world, people like Jason Njoku of Iroko and Iyin of Future Africa are influencers who predominantly interact and inform the startup community through their content on Twitter.
As a startup entrepreneur, keeping up with their posts online makes you aware of job opportunities, new technologies, and available investment opportunities.
You will also learn about other topics focused on running a successful business in Africa.
Let’s also assume you just started a make-up business in Nigeria; it would be wise to follow Tara Fela-Durotoye and her company, House of Tara.
You may not get the chance to email or speak directly. However, by following her on social media, you might have a hint of her next speaking session.
By attending the event, you can get the chance to interact with her for at least 3 minutes.
Learning and engaging with influencers in your industry will expose you to potential opportunities. Further, this is an easy way for young and aspiring business owners to get mentored.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I grow my business through networking?
- Build a reputation
- Be helpful
- Be intentional
- Be visible
- Meet lots of people
- Think long-term
- And so on
2. How do I build a small business network?
- Stay in touch with your local community
- Be unconventional
- Be active in online forums
- Join social networking sites
- Follow up
3. What are the strategies for effective networking?
- Choose a few key associations or companies and participate actively
- Get to networking events and plan to stay late
- Greet people you’ve met in the past
- Follow up on leads
4. How does networking help build your business?
Networking gives you a great source of connections and exposes you to highly influential people that can help boost your business.
Networking can also help you build a reputation as a reliable, knowledgeable, and supportive person who can provide valuable information and connections to individuals in need of it.
Watch and Learn Top tips to Grow your Business Network
Small business owners and entrepreneurs need to leverage online and offline networking opportunities to grow their businesses.
These networking tips will always be effective whenever you need them. As an entrepreneur, if you can harness and follow dutifully networking channels, you will be unique from your competitors.
Further, you will be able to build an outstanding business and personal brand that will stand the test of time.
Originally posted 2022-02-24 15:42:51.