As a small business owner, it’s not uncommon to feel as if you are all alone on a desert island. Especially if your crew is relatively small and busy with their designated tasks and roles, it can seem difficult to get the kind of business support you need. Luckily, it can be pretty easy to expand your network with some simple steps.
Growing Your Small Business Support Network
First, you have to understand your why in wanting to expand your support network. What are you hoping to achieve? What areas are you looking to strengthen? And, are you looking to expand into new opportunities? This will help you define your goals before you hit the pavement.
Now it’s time for actual strategies. In the U.S. Small Business Administration blog “8 Tips for Building Your Business Support Network” by Ijeoma S. Nwatu, the author highlights some smart first steps, the most important top-line items summarized and outlined below.
Check back in with fellow alumni: In your education journey, you’ve made quite a few contacts that may be worthwhile to touch base with now. Whether it’s collaboration for a new business pitch prospect, hiring help, or joining forces with your alma mater school itself, see what connections will help get you closer to where you want to go.
Chamber of Commerce: If you haven’t already, consider joining your local or state chapter. Not only will you meet people in your industry, you will also likely gain support, increase your chances for marketing coverage, as well as gain access to potential new opportunities.
SCORE: Via the SBA, SCORE is a nonprofit organization (with locations across the country) that is designed to help people start and expand their business through various workshops and mentoring opportunities. It’s also a great stop for SBOs to arm themselves with extra knowledge and support throughout the year.
Former colleagues: These connections are so valuable, especially if you have worked well with certain people in the past. If you know the strengths that they bring to the table, this is a perfect opportunity to use them as a sounding board for an idea, or even bring them into the project! And, don’t forget that these people also have their own networks of important people that you can tap into, so plan that lunch get together and start brainstorming!
Organizations and events: Does your industry have an established network of professionals either online or in-person that you can join? This is an effortless way to be surrounded by the right people and have inside information about all the news and events that you need to know and become part of. If it’s in your budget, also try to attend workshops and conferences that are critical to your business. Chances are this small admission ticket will be a worthwhile investment that will pay itself over many times!
Online networks: In today’s world, this is huge. There are so many online resources out there, ranging in every topic possible, even the seemingly most obscure topics. Find the networks that are perfectly matched for you, looking on Facebook, Twitter, and other online forums. This is a key way to get immediate advice you need, connect with like-minded people, discover the latest happenings in your industry, and build your own brand awareness with your online participation.
Work-Life Balance is Also Important
While these are the top six business-focused strategies, this author also recommends keeping your own personal sanity in check through your extracurricular activities and personal bonds. Not only does your personal connections allow for some potential business network expansion, this work-life balance is also important in keeping your business successful.
What about you? How have you built your network? And, what steps will you take to further expand it? Let’s keep the list going!
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