As a small business owner, you already have a lot on your to-do list, so you may find yourself making excuses every time a networking opportunity arises. Networking events can certainly be tedious sometimes. However, even the most inefficiently-run event can offer valuable opportunities to connect with other business owners.
If you need some convincing that the benefits will outweigh the effort involved in attending, consider the following six factors:
1. You can gain genuine referrals and recommendations
Small business networking events are the ideal place to uncover the services and products that are genuinely working for fellow entrepreneurs. For example, you could spend hours comparing reviews to find the workers comp insurance small business owners recommend in your industry, or you could ask around at a networking event and get an instant short list of recommenations.
The second method saves you a lot of time, but it also allows you to ask questions, ensure the recommendations are genuine, and sidestep the pesky issue of fake reviews.
2. You can generate new opportunities
Think of every new networking event as a potential treasure trove of opportunities. You could find a new business partnership that drives you to new heights of success. You could discover the perfect new hire, or you might catch onto an industry trend before your competitors do, allowing you to maximize its potential.
3. Small business networking events are educational
It’s rare that you’ll come away from an event without having learned anything. Even if they cover topics you already understand well, it never hurts to reinforce information. In fact, this is the best way to learn. You’ll generally also find that other business owners at the event ask interesting questions, opening up lines of inquiry you may not have considered yourself.
4. You can refine your products or services
Whether you sell specialty coffee or operate a boutique digital marketing agency, there are sure to be ways you can improve your products, services, and packages. However, when you’ve been doing things a certain way for some time, it’s easy to get stuck in that way of thinking.
Small business networking events offer an easy way to open yourself up to new ideas and alternative methods for solving the same problem. This is especially true if you attend a mix of events, with some focused on your industry and others aimed at the general community of small business owners in your area.
5. Find investors
Did you know investors often attend small business networking events when looking for projects to fund? If you have a billion-dollar idea but lack the capital to get it off the ground, you should be signing up for every networking event you can find. The more you put yourself out there, the higher your chances of finding the right investor will be.
6. You’ll have the chance to socialize and relax
While networking events tend to be about just that – networking – the best ones also offer a chance to relax and hang out with people who understand your high-pressure lifestyle. Your friends and family may not be well-placed to commiserate with you about your long work hours or share advice for preventing payroll fraud. However, your fellow business owners will likely have plenty of wisdom and dry humor to share.
If you could use any of the above advantages in your life, it may be worth searching for networking events online or in your local area. Can’t find any? Perhaps it’s time to launch your own!