April 29, 2019
Networking Yields Big Benefits to Small Businesses
Written by Jenna Paulus, Public Relations Manager, Deluxe
For the new “Small Business Tips” series, we met one-on-one with inspiring entrepreneurs all across America. Each one shares actionable insights and lessons to help other small business owners overcome some of their biggest (and most common) challenges.
In today’s business world, “Networking” is something that has become as everyday as logging onto email in the morning. As a public relations professional, it is vitally important for me to network in order to cultivate relationships when I need help on a project; if a position opens on my team; or, if I need professional advice from a potential mentor.
Building your network and keeping those connections intact is integral to today’s business climate. And it is important for small businesses as well. Through networking, small business owners can not only find other like-minded people to connect with, but they can also leverage contacts to turn to for advice and mentorships. Below are a few networking tips for small business:
Get involved in industry-specific organizations
During Deluxe’s 10-town tour this year for Small Business Revolution, we learned from Dave and Shelly McGlathern, owners of Bad Dog Distillery in Arlington, Washington, that you must find the right organizations to be involved with. They work with the Washington State Distillers guild to help lobby for different laws that will impact their business. In addition, the organization connects them with other distillers in the area who likely face similar issues.
If you’re a small business in a more niche market, it’s likely there is either a local, state-level or even national organization that can be a great resource. My father owned his own dental practice but belonged to many dental organizations that not only allowed him to connect with other dentists in the state and area, but on a national level, gave him the opportunity to travel to conferences and take continuing education courses.
Network with local small businesses
In many of the towns we visit, small business owners are not connected. Town leaders often mention how being involved in the Small Business Revolution helped them discover the power of making those connections. Small businesses in your area are some of the best to network with, because you immediately have something in common.
On top of that, if you have great relationships with other small businesses, chances are they’ll refer people over to you. This past January, I met with Landis Pinkham of Cottage Junkies in Washington, North Carolina. When telling her that I love local clothing boutiques (after I purchased a super cute top from her), she mentioned I should also try Bloom, another boutique right across the street. Referring customers to other businesses in the area – even a competitor – helps Landis build rapport with those businesses who may then refer people to her shop.
Join local groups
Most every community has a local Chamber of Commerce or Main Street Organization, or both. These types of organizations are often the best places to meet other businesses in your area. It not only involves you with decisions being made that could affect your business, but it gives you a support system within your community to reach out to if needed.
During our Top 10 trip, we ran into many great organizations that are helping their communities. One that really stood out was the Durant, Oklahoma Main Street Organization. Stephanie Gardner heads up Durant Main Street and she is on FIRE. She connects all of the businesses in Durant and gives them the tools to succeed. Stephanie LOVES Durant and wants the town to continue to attract people. She makes sure the businesses are not only connected with the Main Street Organization, but with each other, for the success of the town.
Whether it’s a local, national or industry-specific organization or networking with businesses in your area, finding a group that you can join and people who are in a similar situation to you and your business can only move you forward and give you fresh, new ideas. Watch the video above for some tips from small businesses we spoke to in January.
Looking for additional advice? You can find more resources in the Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.