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The Importance of Networking as a Small Business Owner, and
How You Can Do It Effectively

by Kristy Stiefvater

As a small business owner – your network can often be the most powerful tool available to you. When you have a robust network of people and teams supporting your journey to success, lofty goals begin to look more realistic, and rocky roads get a bit smoother.

Building out a network around your small business can provide you with a ton of different opportunities and benefits. Here are some of the most impactful ones:

  1. Great support

    When you’re networking, remember that some people’s business is to help you succeed in yours! We’ve discussed at length how your partners and mentors can help you survive, thrive, and evolve. Some examples we listed are:

    • Business bankers – leverage their expertise to help you grow, maintain financial health, and achieve your strategic goals
    • Attorneys – provide legal protection services for your business, including for intellectual property and payment collection
    • Accountants – provide financial analysis and ensure compliance with rules and regulations
    • Family and friends – can provide you with unique insight on the basis of knowing you personally
  1. Shared knowledge

    You’re an expert in your niche. But you’re probably not the only person in it! When you build relationships with other companies in your niche, you can exchange information and share experiences that will mutually benefit each other, such as best practices, emerging trends, and scaling strategies. It’s not always easy to figure these things out for yourself, and it’s rare to find someone who did it all on their own.
  1. More relationships, more leads

    The bread and butter of any small business – relationships. Building good relationships with other businesses (and/or their owners) can provide you with a clear idea of what their strong points and pain points are, and how you can potentially tune your product and service offering to fit their needs. Even if nothing comes out of a relationship directly, you are more likely to get a referral if they know somebody who requires your products or services.

    Put simply, networking opens up a whole new world for small business owners. Many small business owners across all industries would consider it to be an indispensable part of what they do. It’s a highly important part of leveling the playing field with bigger businesses that have more internal resources in addition to their own networks.

If you want to start networking or get more involved in it, Fundera provides some convenient options to get started:

  • Join community organizations

    As a small business owner, there are many organizations out there that are specifically meant to help you, or that you would benefit from joining. By getting involved in community organizations, you can learn more about the business landscape in your area, identify opportunities, access useful resources, influence change, and most importantly, add value to those around you. Some ideas for organizations you can get involved with include:

    • Industry-specific organizations
    • Charity organizations
    • Local chamber of commerce
    • Clubs
    • Boards
  • Online networking

    This is one of the best options available to you if you’re short on time or want to prioritize convenience. Being active online with social media and web content while applying best practices in SEO can help build organic visibility for your brand and get more people interacting with the products and services you sell.

    You can also engage with other small businesses via social media by liking, sharing, and interacting with their content. If you build up a good relationship with them on social channels, chances are they will return the favor, and it may lead to more collaboration in the future.
  • Volunteer

    Volunteering your time for a good cause is one of the best ways you can meet people and build visibility for your small business.  Places like homeless shelters, soup kitchens, animal shelters, and hospitals are almost always looking for volunteers and provide you with an opportunity to make a positive impact on your community while you’re out networking.

The bottom line is that networking is a very important part of being a small business owner. By networking, you can build a greater support system around you, access more opportunities and resources, and gain valuable insights and knowledge about your niche. These benefits alone can help fast-track your long journey to success. If you want to get started with networking or get more involved, there are always plenty of options available to you. Posting high quality content and engaging with others online is one of the most convenient ways to build visibility straight from your office. Community organizations and volunteer opportunities provide you with easily accessible ways to make connections in-person while making a positive impact on those around you.