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How to use networking to grow your small business

Networking can be a valuable tool, if you are a small business owner who is looking to grow your business. Networking will allow you to find both potential customers and key contacts that can help you grow your business. If you are successful at business networking you can often use these contacts, to help you gain word of mouth advertising about what your business can offer. Best of all you can generate talk about your business, without having put a lot of money out on a marketing plan. Here is what you need to know about how to use networking to grow your small business-

  • Always have your business card available-You should have a business card with you, every place that you go. You may never know when you find someone who is willing to take your business card. While it can be easier to hand out your business card at business events, you can literally turn any conversation into a chance to business network. While you don't want to be pushy and aggressive, at social events, you can take these opportunities to discuss what you do, and what your business offers. Then if someone wants a business card, you should always have one handy.
  • Network with the right people-To be successful in networking, you must be able to find the people who can help you achieve your business goals. The possibilities here are nearly endless. Perhaps you want to work with another business on a cooperative venture; you need to find venture capital funding or new marketing ideas, no matter what it is you should focus on finding the right person through your networking who can help you. In order to find the right people, it can help to review your past work life. What companies did you work with? Who did you work with closely? What skills do former co-workers have that could be valuable? Don't forget to think about your customer base, for possible networking contacts. If you have a discussion forum on your company blog, you may run across someone who can be a valuable networking contact.
  • Make sure that you are networking in the right places-If you want to make contacts in your industry, you need to go where those people are. This may mean attending conferences, trade shows, and other industry related events. These are places that allow you to not only show what your small business has to offer, but it allows you to find ways to improve and grow your small business. You can use these times to show what you bring to your industry. While attending these events can seem time-consuming, it can provide numerous benefits in the networking of your business.
  • Take your networking online-Joining in on discussion and forums online can also be a beneficial way to network. This gives you an opportunity to join with other people who are interesting in the same aspects of your business that you are. If you cannot find an online site that interests you, then you can create one through the use of social media marketing. Using one of the social media sites, you set up your own company page, complete with a comments and feedback section. You can use the comments and feedback that you get, in several different ways such as: responding to them can help you to foster a better relationship with your customers, you can use the comments and feedback to improve your products and services, and you use this function to further network and find key contacts to help you grow your small business.
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