It’s true. There is marketing that money can’t buy. (And that’s not easy for a marketer to say.)
As a small business owner, it is important to spend your marketing dollars wisely. Great investments include investing in an optimized, user-friendly website; running social media campaigns; and using newsletters and other media appropriately.
But what else can you do on a limited budget that can have a big impact? Networking!
Networking is a great way for a small business owner/business person to make connections, build trust, and grow their reputation. By networking, you will meet potential clients…as well as others who can refer clients to you.
There are many ways to network:
- Organized, paid networking groups. Franchises like BNI and Tipclub exist to help you connect with other professionals. Usually they operate with one seat per category, meaning that no one else in your group will be from your industry.
- Organized, unpaid networking groups. Sometimes harder to find, these usually operate similarly to BNI or Tipclub, but do not require a membership fee. You can google networking groups in your area and check Craigslist for groups near you. (About half of my business comes through referrals in my networking group.)
- Check out Meetup.com for lots of different special interest groups. You might find clients in groups that aren’t directly labeled “networking.” Perhaps you’re into rock climbing or stamp collecting. You may meet people in those groups who would love to help your business or buy from you. You won’t know until you go. (I have gotten clients through my local WordPress user group.)
- Join your local chamber of commerce. Chambers of commerce are in your area to help businesses succeed. They usually have monthly meetings at which you will meet other area business owners. Their membership fees are designed to be affordable to any sized business. (I have many new clients through the two chambers I belong to.)
- Serendipity. Start conversations in line at the coffee shop. Talk to people at your place of worship. Mention your business at your kids’ schools. You never know who might be right in front of you (or behind you) that could be your next client.
Finding networking opportunities and taking advantage of them is paramount to growing your business. So get out there and make some connections!
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