Five Networking Strategies for Small Businesses

business meetingThese days, it seems like everything is dominated by social media networking and digital marketing. However, while having an online presence is important for modern businesses, sometimes an in-person approach is best as it allows you to build a rapport and customize your message.

Here are five networking strategies that will get your small business out of its digital bubble and into the forefront of people’s minds.

Attend a Chamber of Commerce Event

Look into your local Chamber of Commerce, and see what networking opportunities they have coming up. This will allow you to not only network, but to find potential clients and colleagues within your market in a personable way. You will then be able to tailor your message to their needs and answer any questions they may have immediately.

For example, when someone asks a financial advisor “what is a reverse mortgage?” during a networking event, the advisor can tailor their response to not only answer the question, but provide a solution to a perceived problem unique to the individual. You may be able to give insight based on your geographical location, the local economy, and even strike up a conversation with a newly minted real estate agent.

Host Your Own Client Event

If you can’t find a local networking event to attend, consider hosting your own. As a small business, it is important to get as much exposure as possible. Putting together a simple event will attract potential clients and help you build a rapport with like-minded individuals in the area.

If the task seems too daunting to handle on your own, consider reaching out to complementary businesses with similar goals. For example, if you are a carpenter, reaching out to a local plumber and electrician to be co-hosts not only takes the burden off you, but adds value that encourages potential clients to attend.

Join a Mastermind Group

Joining a mastermind group can help you meet other small business owners, set goals, create accountability, and build a referral network. These groups usually meet either virtually or in person once a month and share successes and challenges.

Not only can a mastermind group lead to new clients, it can act as a sounding board for different ideas you have. Often times small business owners know the solution to a problem they are facing, but need to work it out verbally with their peers. Mastermind groups can be motivating and uplifting.

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

Don’t just focus on where you are going to pursue networking opportunities, think about what you’re going to do when you get there. An elevator pitch is a standardized statement that explains what you do in one minute or less. It should be succinct and inviting, encouraging listeners to ask questions about your business to learn more.

While the statement itself should be pretty standard, you might find success with tweaking it slightly to pertain to different situations and solutions. Like with the financial advisor example used previously, the advisor might have a slightly different response for another business owner with a young family versus one nearing retirement age. The base information is the same, but the solution to the perceived problem is different.

Create a Referral Program

Create an incentive program that encourages your previous clients to send their friends your way, beyond just doing a great job. When you do your job well, previous clients will recommend you passively, such as when a friend or coworker asks about your services. By adding an incentive program, such as a gift certificate for successful referrals, you are encouraging your clients to actively promote your business and build your network for you.

It is important to remember that while social media is an integral aspect of business networking in this day and age, getting back to basics is equally as important for success.

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