As a small business owner, chances are you have more than enough on your plate on a day to day basis. In fact, you may be at the point where certain responsibilities and tasks you prioritized previously are beginning to move to the back burner.
One thing that often falls by the wayside for small business owners as their organizations start to pick up steam? Networking.
Between managing big picture concerns and the everyday details that keep your business afloat, it can seem overwhelming – and maybe even impossible – to find time to continue building your business and your connections through networking.
But the truth is, in-person networking is one of the most important, and imperative, ways to keep your company on an upward trajectory. And continuing to network successfully can set your business apart from those run by leaders who abandon their commitment to networking altogether.
Want to Grow Your Business? Make These Networking Events a Priority
When you’re trying to make the most of every minute that you dedicate to your business venture, wasting time trying to figure out how to network most effectively isn’t an option.
We’ve put together a list of key networking opportunities to look out for in your area so you can hit the ground running when it comes to making connections that grow your business.
Chamber of Commerce Events
If you’re a small business, it’s lucrative to be a member of your local chamber of commerce. It’s even more lucrative to utilize that membership to connect on a more personal level with the other chamber members.
Keep an eye out for chamber events and attend relevant gatherings whenever possible. They’re a great way to spread the word about your business and strike up conversations with other local business owners who are looking to connect.
Show your support for other local businesses by attending ribbon cuttings. Whether it’s a new organization in your office park or a new business in town that you’re interested in collaborating with, these events are a great place to mingle with other small business owners in your area.
Another benefit of ribbon cuttings: they’re typically pretty brief. This means you can get in some quality networking without missing out on family time or key hours of productivity at the office.
Seminars & Conferences
Seminars and conferences are a great way to do some learning while scoping out other individuals and business owners that you might benefit from connecting with. Attendees are typically people dedicated to bettering themselves and their businesses, which makes them great candidates as potential employees, collaborators, or as future clients.
For this reason (and many others), it’s well worth it to dedicate time to professional development – both for yourself and for your employees. It can help you to broaden your company’s knowledge base and may even connect you with new business opportunities.
Invited to speak at an event, conference, meeting, or training seminar? Go for it!
While public speaking can be intimidating for many people, if you can muster up the guts to take on a speaking engagement you’ve been invited to do it’s often well worth it. You’ll have a captive audience that’s interested in what you have to say, plus you’re being handed a chance to let your expertise (and your company’s offerings) shine. Even presenting to a small group can provide you with new opportunities for growth, whether that means collaborating with another small business to offer something unique, or providing additional services to a client you’ve already been working with.
Mixers are a casual, fun way to make personal and professional connections that can be fruitful for your business. Their low-key atmosphere can help to make them feel more like play than work and can be great for fostering connections you may not have made at a more formal, structured event.
Want to take it a step further? Sponsoring a local mixer can be an effective way to advertise your company while giving you the chance to network with those in attendance.
If you’re interested in networking that doesn’t quite feel like networking, volunteer work is a great option. You can get to know others in your community, share information about your business, and casually seek out business opportunities, all while contributing to the betterment of your local area.
Volunteer meet-ups are awesome opportunities to learn more about your community and the people and businesses in it while doing some good and spreading the word about what your small business has to offer.
Keep Your Business Growing By Creating a Sustainable Commitment to Networking
It’s understandable that in-person networking can’t always be the number one priority for small business owners – but if you want to see continual growth within your organization it should consistently remain an important component of your business plan.
Do your best to commit to networking by making an effort to attend at least one networking event per month. Scope out networking opportunities like those listed above and put them in your calendar ahead of time. Can’t make it yourself? Send a coworker or colleague instead!
The connections you’ll make can benefit you on a personal and professional level, plus they’ll keep your business moving in the upward direction. That’s well worth making time for!
Curious about other “must-dos” for small business owners? Find out why a career coach is another top suggestion for entrepreneurs.
Looking for other tips to help small business owners do it all? Check out our resources for small business owners for dozens of helpful articles to guide you!
Interested in networking events in the Boston area? Learn about 5 must-attend events for Boston small business owners.