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Small Business Networking
When you are in a small business, networking can be a very important thing. Networking here simply means getting in touch with other businesspersons. This you can do physically (by attending seminars, meetings, conferences or even exhibitions and fairs). However, most people are doing such kind of networking through the Internet. The Internet is full of websites where entrepreneurs get a chance to hobnob with each other, and even to discuss proactive ideas that could be used in each other’s businesses. For a small business operator, such kind of communication helps in procuring some interesting tips and advice which can help immensely in progressing their businesses.
Where Can Small Business Networking Be Done?
The Internet is the best place to network for small business operators. All social networking websites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Hi5, etc., have business groups on them. Once you make your profile here, you can look for groups that are populated by business operators. You could then become a part of these groups. Another thing you can do is to start your own business group and send invitations to other people in the network to join your group.
There are also ways in which you can send open messages to everyone in the network. Both methods of networking—through open communication or communication within your group—are great ways to get in touch with other business operators and learn a few things from them.
Some social networking websites deal only with business groups. The best example in this context is LinkedIn. And, if you think about it, even Twitter has more of a business element attached with it.
How Does Small Business Networking Help?
- Firstly, there is the benefit that you are able to connect with several other small business operators. You can find out what they are up to and what they are doing to promote their businesses. You can get to know this through direct communication with them, or just through what they post, such as in Twitter. This can give you various ideas on how you can implement your own strategies and methods.
- If you are looking at promoting your own product or brand, a social networking group is a great way to go about it. When you speak about your product on the website, people are definitely going to know more about your brand and they may also commit it to their memory. When you network more often, your brand begins to get a recall value, i.e. people who see it are able to connect it with your product. All this helps in establishing yourself in the small business world.
- You can get some kind of security through such social networking as well. When you are doing things alone, if an obstacle comes your way, you might just not know how to get around it. This might discourage you and you might even abandon what you are doing. However, when you are in a group, such obstacles may have occurred with other people as well, and you can get to know how they solved the issue. This helps you move on; the support that you get from such networking is immense.
- If you learn about it, you can start monetizing your social networking group as well. This is done in a variety of ways. You could sell them a product such as an eBook or a newsletter subscription. Or you could have a Pay Per Click website and have people visit your website so that you earn some affiliate revenue. Small business networking helps you to generate more traffic for your business website as well, something which is quite important if you want to enhance your online prospects.
What Is The Best Method for Small Business Networking?
Everyone follows their own strategies when it comes to small business networking, but there are certain ways that are considered to be universally acceptable.
- First, make your profile on the social networking website. Make sure you mention all details about yourself that you wish to be known. On some websites, they will ask you upfront if you are making your profile for business networking. If you are, you have to mention that.
- You should upload your pictures on the profile as well. You can put your own picture (a clean, front face close shot) and you can also put the logo of your business. This adds to the credibility of your profile. So, you have to make sure that you include these things.
- Once your profile is active, start hunting for business groups. You can do that with simple search engines that are incorporated within the social networking websites. Once you get a list of these groups, join them. Join all groups that are even remotely connected with your business. However, don’t join all groups at once. Make it a point to join 2-3 groups per day and actually going through them to see what’s happening there.
- The next step is to make your own group. Decide something unique to define your group. Think in these terms—“Why should other members group with you? What do they stand to get that they won’t get anywhere else?” With this in mind, create a unique group.
- Then, start inviting people. The search engine will also help you to get directly to other people who are there for business pursuits. You will also come to know what kinds of business they are in. Once you see them, invite them to your network. If they like your idea they will join. Don’t expect everyone to join. Here, you have to play the numbers game. If you send 10 invitations per day, expect 2 or 3 to join.
But the most important thing to know about small business networking is that it is mutual. This is a give and take affair. If you want to know certain things from the group, you have to answer other people’s questions as well. Being participative is the best way in which any kind of networking works and that is especially true in this context.