You may have the best business idea finalized, but there’s one thing you’ll need to launch successfully. How are people going to find out about your business? To get good word of mouth and bring customers to your door or website, you’re going to need to network.
Networking can do a lot more than just bring in business. It gives you access to people who have been there before and know how to launch successfully. There are countless resources available to increase awareness of your business and gain positive buzz in your community and target audience. There are many ways to network effectively both remotely and at local events.
The pandemic made a lot of people change the way they do business. One of these changes was the rise of online networking. Participation in virtual communities skyrocketed. It’s easy to find a collection of people in a similar field who can give you tips for starting and spread the word about your business.
This is one of the easiest ways to connect with other business owners with little investment. Making an introduction post that links to your business will help spread awareness. There are also plenty of virtual events to meet other businesses you might want to partner with, replacing the in-person trade expos that aren’t running right now. Just looking through Facebook could give you a lot of relevant groups.
Small Business Associations (SBAs)
If you’re looking for in-person connections in your area, you should look to your small business associations. Most cities and large municipalities have a collection of businesses that work together to advocate for their interests. If any relevant regulation changes are coming, you’ll likely find out about it from them. These groups usually hold meetings where both business owners and community members can contribute.
Your best bet is to find a local group, but there are several national organizations that can help too.
- SBA Community Groups– are a great place to find resources.
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)– is a collection of retired business executives offering mentorships.
- Business Network International– has 7500 chapters offering help to entrepreneurs.
Don’t forget to look for your local Chamber of Commerce and any relevant industry and trade associations near you to find local connections.
Apply for Grants
If you need some financial help to get your business off the ground, there is no shortage of small business owner grants available. There are more benefits to grants than just a cash infusion. These grants are an opportunity to network and meet influential people who might give you invaluable advice. If you make a good impression, the sky’s the limit.
To apply, the best place to go is the Small Business Administration’s website. This group has hundreds of grants available, many geared towards specific industries or individuals. While there are many private organizations offering grants as, SBA is the best clearinghouse for potential connections.
Host an Event
To get your name out there, give people something to discuss and attend. Before a grand opening, do a soft opening inviting interested locals to sample your products or services. This gives you the chance to test your business on people you know are already intrigued and gain their advice and insights.
Not only is a soft opening event an excellent way to see if you need to change anything, but it could pick up positive local media attention. Don’t hesitate to invite reporters from local newspapers to cover your opening. This could be a big profile boost with high visibility for potential customers.
Go to a Conference
Right now, conferences are touch-and-go, but they’re starting to make a comeback. When they are back in force, there is no substitute for these large events for networking. You’ll meet a large, diverse group of business owners with different experience levels—the perfect opportunity to learn and forge connections.
One of the largest perks of attending a conference is that you’re not trying to get people interested in your area. Everyone attending is already interested, or they wouldn’t be there. It’s possible to come out of a conference or convention with dozens of new connections if you use your time effectively.
Networks Mean Success
No man is an island, and no business finds success on its own. When you build a network through virtual and in-person means, you’re giving yourself a safety net. Before you launch, make sure to build the connections you need to compete in the small business sphere.