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Every professional, regardless of experience, position, type, or size of business should be networking to some extent. However, what that looks like for the individual, in light of the aforementioned factors, is variable. Specifically, as a small business owner, it’s important to consider your networking goals and strategy in that context.

Check out my top tips below for successful networking as a small business owner:

  1. Define your networking goals. No matter what your situation, you won’t have success in networking without a defined goal. What do you hope to achieve in networking? Are you looking for customers, employees, or referral partners? Your goal may change by the event or current company needs, but it’s important to go into an event with focus. If you aren’t clear with yourself regarding your networking needs, you won’t be able to translate your goals to your audience.
  2. Examine your networking budget. Before you jump in or commit to anything, make sure you know what you’re working with! There are many free or low-cost networking events, as well as opportunities for involvement in larger, industry-specific organizations. Your networking budget can also include important materials, such as business cards or promotional flyers. You may even consider hosting or sponsoring your own networking event with a local organization for increased visibility and name recognition. Make sure you cross reference your networking and marketing budgets, as many items may overlap!
  3. Make networking a priority. As the leader of a small business, it can be easy to get caught up in day to day operations. That’s why it’s crucial for you to make networking a priority by building time in your schedule, setting goals for yourself, and delegating other tasks! Let go of the reigns a little and free up your time with smaller items that you can train others to take over.
  4. Don’t overlook your local neighbors. People like to support their local community, so don’t forget to look here first! Is there another local, small business you can partner with? Look for businesses with complementary services that can fill the gaps in the services you provide. Seek out opportunities to provide pro-bono services, such as printing ads for a non-profit fundraiser or providing a quick consultation to a nearby business. Remember, that you have to give to get!
  5. Follow up. You don’t need a tremendous amount of manpower or an unlimited budget to make networking and follow-up a priority. As a small business owner, efficiency is key, so don’t let any opportunities that come your way pass you by. Your work in networking is only half done after attending the event, so be sure to see it through to its completion.

Ready to get started on your networking goals? Join us at our next Nashville Locals networking event and get started growing and developing your small business.