Updated: Oct 22
Are you a small business owner wanting adequate funding, client connections, quality referrals, customer downpour?
For expansion and growth to occur, every small business needs to find prospects and convert them into customers. Month after month.
Professional networking makes this sweet hustle easier. It’s not about cold pitching in the dark. It's not about randomly meeting anyone and everyone. It's a clear, planned strategy to meet like-minded prospects to help drive your small business.
Let's dive into 6 reasons why small businesses need to take professional networking more seriously than ever.
#1 Helps fish quality referrals for your business
For every small business, every lead is almost worth an asset. Why so? If the lead converts, it can jumpstart the business. It can mean a monthly retainer for the next six months. Or, it can mean a 5-year contract. It can be that one successful project to showcase on your company portfolio which can bring a downpour of customers.
A very important reason why small business network is because of referrals. Yes, professional networking brings you in contact with multiple leads. Some can be direct business leads, whereas some can refer you to a more suitable match.
A selective patch of the ocean gets marked out – full of suitable prospects for your business. This keeps you from aimlessly dropping your fishing net anywhere into the unknown ocean.
#2 Grow with minimum marketing budget
Small businesses mean small budgets. You need to strike a balance between production, employees, and marketing. Marketing suffers the most.
Beauty of business networking is that you don’t need huge budgets. Here you are the product that you are marketing to people you meet. A very effective way where you can reach your prospective clients directly and get instant feedback.
The only 3 most important investments here are –
- The professional networking fee – some are premium, like BNI, some charge very small amount and many are free also.
- Your precious time – so choose who you want to network with.
- The Value – you want to provide to your network members.
#3 Learn as you grow
It’s said that when you own a small business, you learn something new every day. And, with the help of professional network groups, this learning gets multiplied.
A huge advantage of professional networking is that it’s a great source of learning. You can understand best practices, latest developments, get access to trusted vendors and more.
For example, if you’re into budget planning (marketing division), you can get data on advertising package costs, updated rules and latest budgeting softwares. The learning is not only faster but also smarter. You can learn from others' mistakes, rather than always committing your own.
#4 Get introduced to cutting-edge technology
In today's age, every business needs the support of technology up to a certain extent. Be it a regular WIFI connection or a high-end server room. You might be wondering how professional networking comes into play.
Imagine this. You own a small Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC). Your business activities entail lending loans for housing. Now, you're also a member of an NBFC association. You can learn about the latest softwares used by peers to scale their home lending business. After all, it can be tedious and risky to manually manage 1000 loan (or even 500) accounts on an excel sheet. You can work with software companies that are tried & tested by other NBFCs. You can also understand more about other lending formats such as the lending of gold loans, or Loan Against Property (LAP). This knowledge can help when you're ready to expand to the next level.
#5 Build strong, long-term relationships
People & trusted relationships are an integral part of every business. Many soaring businesses today are the result of age-old, long-term relationships.
Business networking provides an opportunity to form meaningful relationships in the spirit of business. Through these meetups, individuals share different perspectives, opinions and knowledge. In this process, an understanding of ideas, processes and people develops. This makes it easier to explore business associations with the same people. To a point that one can pick up the phone & call you for your services.
Sometimes, all you need is some unbiased feedback on your ideas for your business. And that’s why this quote from Mark Pincus, Founder of Zynga seem apt to share.
Get five or six of your smartest friends in a room and ask them to rate your idea.
Now, where exactly will you find 5 or 6 smart friends willing to share unbiased feedback? Hello, professional networks.
#6 Get access to the untapped members
When you’re a part of a professional network, you're not limited to that network. A member might connect you to someone from his connections. Or, introduce you to a close-knit influential circle wherein more of your prospects lie. You can easily get access which otherwise wouldn't have been possible. And therefore, it's important to articulate what you are looking for.
Professional networking for small businesses is almost like a key that can lead to many doors. It offers a worthwhile opportunity to broaden your customer base and grow your small business.