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Why Networking is Critical for Small Business

There are many critical skills that the small business owner needs. Marketing is obviously one of these and sales would be another. One pieces of small business marketing advice that all small business owners should heed though, is that networking is a skill that might be just as critical as marketing or sales. This is primarily because networking is the one critical skill that feeds into all of the other skills that one needs to run a business.

Networking is the act of meeting and forming connections with other professionals, prospective clients and people interested in your company. Networking is important because it helps you to build those relationships that are important to the success of your company. You may build relationships with potential clients, as well as with companies that you may be a prospective client of.

First, look at networking from the perspective of sales. When you meet people that are going to be at some point in the future in the market for the type of services or products that you sell, how do you want them to perceive you? Do you want them to think of you as a random site that they found on the internet? As just one name in a list they found in some industry directory? Or do you want them to recall your face? Or possibly remember sharing a drink with you at a mixer or conference? These are the types of impressions that networking should leave.

The truth is that big businesses have a great deal of money to spend on marketing, and to devote to client acquisition campaigns. Small businesses rarely have this luxury. Instead, the personal connection becomes much more important. That is why it is also important for small business owners to learn how to network properly. Networking should never be about shaking as many hands and handing out as many business cards as possible. Instead, it should be about meeting people, as people. Have a good time, get to know someone, and then, when the event is finished, maybe hand them a card on the way out as an afterthought. People are far more likely to remember someone that treats them like a human being than just another prospective customer.

The other advantage to networking for small businesses is that it can often put people in a position where they can form mutually beneficial relationships. For example, imagine that you have one company that makes a product, and another that provides a service. We shall call them company A, and company B. If company A needs the service that company B provides, and company B needs the product that company A makes, this is clearly a situation where they are in a position to aid each other. However, in a normal business transaction, it would be far more common for each company to just go to the other, or a competitor, and buy their product.

During a networking situation though, a conversation could lead to this type of situation being discovered. This puts each company in a situation to help another, while helping their own company. Providing a product or service in exchange for something is a wonderful tool for a small business, as this is often much more affordable than paying for that product or service in cash.

There are countless reasons that networking is important for a small business owner, but the important thing to take away is that it is in fact important. You need to get out to events, trade shows, conferences and similar events in order to meet those people that are involved in your industry.

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