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Networking for a small business

accountant37004113.jpgSmall businesses rarely have all of the resources they need to function on a day to day basis.Generally, small businesses must establish partnerships and business relationships with other companies to ensure that the business has the supplies it needs and that its own product is produced and sent where it needs to go.Establishing these relationships can be difficult in the business setting, however there are a number of other ways to build these relationships.Here are a few networking methods for small businesses.

Join an Association

Most industries have some kind of formal association that meets to talk about issues in the industry.Generally they have regular meetings.People from all aspects of a certain industry will attend these meetings.For example, a service industry association will likely not only have people who work in hotels or restaurants, but also people who supply those restaurants and hotels with supplies.These meetings are a great way to meet people who could be valuable partners in the business.These meetings are often held over a meal which will allow a small business owner to meet and get to know potential suppliers, manufacturers, or partners.

Conventions and Conferences

Many times certain industries will hold a large national convention or conference.These conventions display the newest products or methods in a certain industry.Also, conferences will have industry professionals speaking about best practices and how to succeed in the industry.These conferences often draw hundreds of people from every niche of a specific industry.This is a great place to meet potential partners.For example, a small business looking to expand may attend one of these functions looking for venture capitalists scoping out new technologies or educating themselves on an industry.

Go to Lunch

Once a contact has been made at an association meeting, at a convention, or at a conference, the small business owner will want to get to know the contact more before establishing a relationship.Often, the best way to do this is to take that specific contact to lunch.Maintaining a lunch budget is a smart way for small businesses to get to know potential suppliers or partners.Lunch is a perfect place to talk about the practices, facilities, methods, and past performance of a potential partner

Social Networking

Another way to make initial contacts is through social networking sites.By establishing not only a website, but also a facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace page, a company can gather fans as their page is viewed through the network.Every time the company updates the site, the people in the network will be notified.People from many different industries will befriend the company.They can even post messages to the business if they are interested in meeting.Generally, these pages will have contact information for the small business so potential contacts can get in touch with management.These initial contacts are a great starting point for establishing profitable relationships in the future.

Networking as a small business is essential to ensure the growth and stability of the small business.Even though owners are busy, they must find time to network in order to establish profitable contacts.Some methods for doing this include joining an association, attending conventions or conferences, taking potential contacts to lunch, and using social networking sites.The most effective method for networking will likely be some sort of hybrid or two or more of these methods adjusted to meet the specific needs of the company.

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