The process of starting a small business can be very overwhelming, but one thing that doesn’t have to be is building your referral network. It can be your most powerful source of new business and increased revenue and a critical piece of your small business identity.
According to a study conducted by Manta, more than half of small-business owners get their biggest boost in business from referrals, which in turn leads to a boost in profits.
Face-to-face business networking with other entrepreneurs is an important part of being a successful small business owner. Not only can business networking help you grow your customer base and generate referrals, but it can also provide numerous opportunities for learning, development and growth. According to the Harvard Business Review, 95 percent of subscribers said that in-person meetings are key to successful long-term relationships. Further, 89 percent agreed that face-to-face meetings are essential for “sealing the deal.”
Great networking means creating relationships that will last your entire career. To that end, networking expert James Nelson of Massey Knakal Realty Services in New York has a few suggestions:
- Get to know two to three people well
Focus on getting to know a small selection, two to three people, really well at industry events instead of merely fattening your stack of business cards by talking to everybody. Find shared personal interests to create a stronger bond.
- Fly solo at events.
Converse with folks you haven’t met. Walk up to someone you know who’s speaking to people you don’t know and become part of their conversation, or sit by strangers at meals.
- Run a group
Help run a trade association or networking group. You’ll get to know the stakeholders well, and they’ll introduce you to others.
- Speak on a panel
Become a thought leader and an expert in your field. Offer to speak at trade association events (some are “pay to play” but might still be wise investments).
- Use social media.
If you produce quality content about your expertise via a blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, an e-newsletter or video, the content can serve as an icebreaker with others.
- Keep a Top 100 list
A tip from sales coach Rod Santomassimo of the Massimo Group: List the top people in various fields in your industry whom you want to get to know and then regularly reach out to them. Some will be clients; others could lead you to clients.
- Follow up
Share a meal or coffee with someone you’ve just met to deepen the relationship.
When you need tips for securing small business financing, Biz2Credit has experts who can help. Call (800) 200-5678 or visit www.biz2credit.com.