When it comes to any small business, networking is the key to success. With the explosion of online marketing and social media, business owners can easily place face-to-face networking on hold and spend more time online. Although online is still important to the expansion of any business, person-to-person networking will build solid relationships that any entrepreneur can benefit from. PADGETT BUSINESS SERVICES®, your small business consultant, has put together a guide to help your small business make the most of in-person networking.
Many business owners avoid networking because they are tired of hearing the same sales pitch from others, they do not see how it could specifically benefit their business, or because they do not know where to find networking events. If you find yourself falling in one of the above categories there is no need to worry. Below we break down the types of events that you can attend or become a part of, why networking events are more than just sales pitches and where to find these networking groups and events.
Organizations & Events for Networking
Small Business owners can benefit from either attending person-to-person networking events or joining a networking group. Below is a list of different places that you can network and promote your brand:
- Expos, Exhibitions & Trade Shows: These events are a good place to begin. You can go as an attendee or by purchasing a booth space at the event.
- Local Chamber of Commerce: The goal of a chamber of commerce is to advance the interests of area businesses, so these meetings are a great place to meet other local business owners and find resources to help your business grow.
- Joining a Networking Group: Here you can conduct person-to-person networking and build your contacts. In many cities, small business owners can join a networking group that may meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. These networking groups consist of different business owners or people of different trades and services. Some network groups may have a fee to join.
- Job & Career Fairs: Here you can find people that could potentially work for you in the near future or take on freelance work.
- Community Gatherings: A great way to network and build relationships with other business owners and people in your community.
Networking is More Than Face-to-Face Sales
The reason that many people avoid networking groups is they view them as a place for business owners to do their sales pitches. Although this may hold some truth, networking events are for more than just sales and handshakes.You can build bonds with other businesses, potential employees, potential clients and people in the community. Face-to-face networking will expand your business in more ways than just making more sales.
Where to Find Face-To-Face Networking Events
Networking events occur as frequent as every week, and finding the right networking event to attend can be challenging if you do not know where to begin looking for them. One place where you can start is by searching in your local newspaper or community paper for advertised events. Many business newspapers also have a section or calendar of events for the month.
Social media sites are another outlet that can be utilized. Facebook will let you check out events that your friends or people you may know are attending or hosting. There are also popular event websites such as Eventbrite and Meetup that many business owners find useful.
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