A few years back, I was working with a major industrial business that was a…
The Value in Local Networking
With Queensland Small Business Week still fresh in my mind, I can’t help but ruminate on just how much fun it is and how incredibly beneficial it is for a Small Business owner to get involved in local business and community events.
I’m lucky enough to be involved with my local chamber, who organised a stall in our area’s largest shopping centre for Small Business Week to showcase some of the businesses in the chamber. Of course, participation wasn’t mandatory, and a few businesses opted out of the event due to time constraints and the like, but, as you would probably guess, I was one of those annoyingly enthusiastic people who turned up with bells and whistles at any moment they were willing to have me. And it wasn’t just so I would have an excuse to go shopping after.
I truly believe that local events, like the ones put on during Small Business Week, pose a fantastic opportunity for business owners to really excel their business and their brand and this is why:
Firstly, it gives you a chance to network.
I know you’ve probably been hearing that dreaded word, ‘networking’, ~induced shudder~, since you were in school; after all, they say to succeed in business, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. You might hear the word networking and envision some pompous garden-party or reception where everyone parades around their latest accomplishments, but that’s just not the case.
Networking is really just about getting to know (and maybe even swapping LinkedIn info) with somebody who has like-minded interests to you. It’s about getting to know people in your field, and outside of it, so that when you need a bit of help with your accounts or have a legal question or want to renovate your offices, you know the right person to turn to. Networking creates mutually beneficial relationships where you can help somebody out with your knowledge, and they can return the favour, not to mention, it also often results in great friendships.
Next on the list is that it gets your brand out there.
Businesses live and die and thrive on exposure! It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if nobody knows about you, then they can’t buy from you. At my chamber’s Small Business Week stall local businesses had the opportunity to meet so many new faces every single minute; people who live and work and spend their money in our community. They had the chance to chat to people who had been looking for businesses exactly like theirs and just generally spread the word that if you ever needed X, Y or Z (or knew someone who did) then they could help.
That’s why events like this are really crucial because if you want people to know about your business, then you need to be willing to promote it. And on that note …
Getting involved in local events provides a great PR opportunity.
Wherever you live, whatever you do, whichever events you attend, chances are there is going to be someone there taking photos or videos. Whether it’s the local news team that comes to do a story, and your brand ends up plastered all over the 5 o’clock news, or the local mum of three who takes a photo and posts it on Facebook for all 300 of her ‘friends’ to see.
They say all publicity is good publicity, right? Well, I say free publicity costs you nothing, so take advantage! Get along to whatever events you can, promote it on your own social media, get your friends to ‘share’ it, make sure your business is ‘photo ready’ on the day and watch your brand’s exposure grow and grow.
Finally, Small Businesses thrive on local support so you should support your local community.
It’s pretty simple, I’ve said it before, but success in business is all about building mutually beneficial relationships; when you’re networking with other business owners, when you’re dealing with your clients, and when it comes to your community.
Word of mouth is a pretty powerful tool. If people in your local area get to know you and your brand in a different light, if they get to see a business that values the community it’s in, they are naturally going to find that your brand bubbles to their lips anytime someone mentions that they need X, Y or Z.
But more than that, getting involved in your community feels pretty darn good, and it really helps to get you out of your ‘business mind’ and see the bigger picture.
So next time you have the opportunity to participate in a local event, whether it be business or community based, get involved! Meet the people in your community, your potential clientele and other business owners and form some mutually beneficial relationships and get your brand out there.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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