Networking, networking, networking! All of the small businesses are networking. As a small business owner you may ask yourself if you are missing out on something if you are not in the networking loop. How do you know if a particular group is right for your business?
Like anything that comes out to benefit businesses, you as the owner have to make a decision as to whether or not to spend your time or money networking. Ask yourself:
- What is my purpose in going to a networking event?
- Am I looking to find clients at the gathering?
- Am I looking to get my face and my business name known in the community?
- Am I looking for others to refer clients to me?
- Am I looking for others to collaborate with?
- Am I looking to meet other business people so that I can decide who I would like to know more about at a later date?
- Am I looking to support and educate?
Your answers to these questions will help you to decided if a particular networking group is appropriate for your goals. Some times you can not tell what a group is really like until you attend a function. Some functions are strictly ‘business card exchange’ and chit chat. Others have strict rules on bringing referrals to the table or have a strict format. Some are there to provide education for their members. Each one is different, so you might have to try out a few before you find the format that you are comfortable with.
You may also decide that you are just too busy to be able to get to a networking event. That is OK too. Many a retail store owner finds themselves minding the store from 9 a.m. until after 7 p.m. Until they can get some help, breakfast, lunch, or dinner meetings are not going to happen. Other means of getting your business known are available.
Whatever you decide about networking, I urge you to have a goal in mind. This will help you to get the most out of the time that you take to attend networking events.
So, let me ask you… Does the thought of attending a networking event scare you? Let me know.