Starting a small business can be one of the most rewarding ventures a business person takes on. Flexible working hours, control over major business decisions, and seeing dreams and ideas become a reality are just some of the perks that come along with entrepreneurship. However, these perks can only be recognised if the business itself grows and is successful.
So what is the key to growing a small business?
At first glance, networking seems like a pretty simple concept. Meet new people, exchange business cards, follow up. However, there is much more to the process than meets the eye. As a small business looking to grow, it’s crucial to be deliberate in networking. Going into it without a strategy, brand personality, or goals leads many entrepreneurs to unsuccessful networking events.
Below are a few alternative tips and tools to make networking deliberate and successful for your business.
One of the best ways to meet other business people like yourself is through organised networking events and meetings. The Australian Government, through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, offers a series of events and training sessions for cunning entrepreneurs throughout the country. There are a handful of different locations where these events take place, so that entrepreneurs from all over Australia have the opportunity to sit in on the sessions. Some examples of helpful training and networking sessions are ‘Employer essentials for small business’ and ‘How to start your new business.’ These programs can be very valuable to entrepreneurs because they cost nothing, provide sound advice and tips for expanding a business, and they connect you with other entrepreneurs in your area.
If you’re looking to be more involved and have a sense of community, you can always join the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA). This organisation’s goal is to make programs, networking, tools, technology, and support more accessible for small business owners in Australia. Moreover, it has a handful of professional services available for members. The organisation has a series of networking and coaching events to better connect small business owners with each other, government officials, and industry professionals. For example, ‘SBAA B2B North Sydney’ is a free, public event that will showcase SBAAs large network of connections and foster a comfortable, relaxed networking environment for the Northern Sydney region.
Attending events offered in your business’ general location is an essential part of networking and expanding your business. If you’re unsure on what events to attend or where to go to meet people, Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has free and easy tools to help. Additionally joining groups like the SBAA can not only help with networking, but also help your business’ reputation and name recognition. All essential components when expanding a small business.
So much of the business world is digitalised these days, so it’s important to keep your small business up-to-date on the latest media networking platforms. Probably the most well-known site for business connections is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great platform because it gives your business something of a ‘digital stage’ to make itself known. Through the site, companies can connect with different businesses and people to increase their network. Moreover, company accounts generate interest and views by producing digital content on their profile. Writing articles, advertising events, and connecting with other local businesses increases your company profile exposure. Additionally, businesses can create job postings and recruit from LinkedIn. This is incredibly helpful in terms of networking and expanding because your next recruit could be from anywhere around the world.
With opportunities to grow a network digitally, small businesses have a greater chance of building solid, reliable relationships with others while they look to expand their business.
Another way to fortify a local business network is by establishing local partnerships. Much of the time, small businesses get run out by big corporations before they even have the chance to expand. As a growing company, building trusting, local, reciprocating relationships is incredibly important to be successful. One way to do this is to promote the products or services of another local company that complements the business of your company. If both parties, do this, not only will sales increase, but a trusting and respectful relationship between the companies forms. From this relationship can only come further opportunities and access to their business’ network connections as well.
Like many things in life, networking is pretty much based off the following: you get what you give.
Many entrepreneurs complain that networking and related events are unsuccessful, with no substantial leads coming out of them. This is often times because people aren’t putting in the necessary time and effort to nurture and foster newly formed relationships.
If you’re expecting a high return on investment on the relationships you form, then you have to be willing to invest your time and effort. Simply going through the motions of networking is not enough. The same holds true when developing a network or personality online. Consistency, following up, and reliability are key to creating a viable network for your business.
When growing a small business, networking is an essential part of the process. Through networking, you will be exposed to potential partnerships, advertising opportunities, and could gain valuable insight from experienced professionals. By utilising these tactics throughout your networking quest, you are sure to gain worthwhile partnerships and experience.
“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."