Before we begin, let’s take a moment to talk about why networking ideas for a local business are so important.
Networking is one of the best tools to grow your business. It connects you with people who can help you learn and develop in your career or industry, as well as lead to new customers.
As a small business owner, networking is one of your most affordable marketing tools and allows you to:
- Connect to a variety of people
- Promote yourself and your products or services
- Stay on top of new development in your industry
- Obtain new ideas
- See your business from an outside perspective
1. Put yourself out there
It’s simple, really. If you don’t put yourself out there, no one will know about you and what services you offer. Connect with others consistently via social media, newsletters, emails, in-person, and phone calls.
Not sure where to start? How about walking up to someone at a networking event or even on the bus and lead with something as simple as “Hello?”
Which brings me to the next networking idea to market your business…
2. Have promotional materials on hand
Must haves for a successful networking event or promotions:
- A short, ear-catching “elevator pitch”
- Professional business cards
- Other promo materials (brochures, etc)
Let’s start with the “elevator pitch”. Maybe you’ve heard a story of the fledgling office worker who has big dreams with the company they work for and who then gets in the elevator with the president of that company and they have about exactly 10-15 seconds to serve their elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short verbal pitch about who you are and what you do. Think of it as a verbal business card or mission statement. Keep it short, simple, and a reflection of what you stand for.
Next, let’s talk promo materials. Always have them on hand, you never know when you will need them or where, It’s a good idea to always have a few business cards in your wallet. Make sure the cards are good quality and a reflection of your brand.
3. Be aware of body language
Body language is often overlooked, but makes a huge difference. The main elements we should consider here are:
- Eye contact
- Spatial awareness
A handshake can make or break a business deal. Too limp and it can signal to others you’re not confident. Too bone-crushing and it can signal a need to be in control or come off as too aggressive or just downright painful. My best advice is just to practice.
And while you’re practicing that, also practice making eye contact while talking to other people. Try not to look down or be shifty-eyed. Engaging with others helps to build trust, which can then help to build business!
Be aware of your body and your posture. Posture says a lot about people. The best posture to have would be standing tall, and proud, with shoulders relaxed. Like everything it’s a practice, so check that posture on the regular.
This brings me to another small point on this subject that can have a huge impact — spatial awareness. Don’t stand as close to people as to be in their “bubble”, but also you don’t want to be so far away that you seem out of range. 18 inches to 4 feet is a good range of distance for a conversation, according to Google, but use your best judgment and take your cues from the other person’s body language. For example, if the person you’re talking to crosses their arms in front of themselves, it could mean that they are creating distance between you two. Use your best judgment.
4. Partner with other local businesses
Teaming up with other small business owners to offer cross-promotion is one of the most exciting networking ideas for a local business. . Collaborate with a business that is complementary to yours: For example, a lawn care business and a local garden shop could partner to offer clients discounts that don’t break the bank, but increase awareness of the business and sales. A good example of that could be to purchase XX amount at garden shop XYZ and get 10$ off with ABC Lawncare.
If a cross-promotional discount isn’t on the table, maybe it’s as simple as some good old fashioned fliers or business cards at a local business. Likewise, if you have a storefront maybe you can do the same courtesy to those businesses as well.
5. Join local business and community organizations
Joining organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary Club and taking part in trade fairs are great networking ideas for a local business. Aim to connect with as many people as you can, introduce yourself, share your thoughts and expertise, listen, be friendly, and ask questions. The more you can put yourself out there, the more connections you will make and the more potential for new business.
Joining these organizations exposes you to like-minded people who have the power to broaden the bandwidth of your network and create more referrals. By sharing resources, leads, and insights, you can help each other dramatically grow.
6. Get involved with your community
Helping in your local community is a wonderful way to get the word out about who you are, not only as a business but as a human being. Being active in local organizations such as food pantries, elementary schools, etc. can have a ripple effect.
First, you’re helping a cause you believe in and it makes you feel good. Second, t exposes you to ll different kinds of people and possibly other business people. People talk, and when someone needs a service provider, you’re more likely to be nominated than someone who no one has heard of.
from the heart can have long-term benefits for your business. This shouldn’t be the only reason you do this, but just an added benefit.
7. Follow up
Following up provides another chance to reach out to the new people in your network. Collecting business cards and forgetting about them is not going to help you grow your business, but further communication with new contacts can.
When you’ve finished your event, reach out to everyone you met (and received contact information from) within a few days. Compose an email that summarizes your meeting and shows gratitude to them for taking the time to speak with you.
Try out these networking ideas for a local business
By now, you have some great networking tactics to market your business. Your growing business is merely a few networking events, handshakes, or volunteer time away.
Your now booming business you probably could use a little help managing things, and that’s where Serviceworks comes in. Serviceworks can help you take good care of those new customers without the headache of hiring more employees by automating your scheduling, optimizing your routes, and helping you communicate with customers.. So try a free 14-day trial and find out what other business owners are raving about.