If there's one thing that the majority of successful business owners and entrepreneurs agree on, it's that networking with other business professionals can be informative, enriching, and can lead to valuable growth opportunities. By developing a supportive business network, you can access knowledgeable individuals with information and ideas to share. A support network can be beneficial for all business owners, especially entrepreneurs and solo business operators. A business support network can be especially helpful for business owners who work on their own, helping to alleviate isolation and limited social engagement.
If you're feeling the strain of "going it alone," it may be time to reach out and widen your circle of support. Here are some tips for building your business network:
- Search online. Join private Facebook groups in your industry or local area, follow the blogs of business writers and experts who can offer interesting insights and viewpoints, or engage in a search for information in your field. Open your mind to new ideas, and don't hesitate to interact, even if it's not face-to-face. Participate in virtual conferences or Zoom meetings or enroll in an online course to expand your understanding and boost your expertise in a wide variety of subjects.
- Reach out to your local chamber of commerce. You can become active in your community through membership with your local chamber of commerce. Participate on a community level to build support for your business, while supporting other local businesses as well. There are more than 4,000 chambers of commerce in the United States, and they are an invaluable resource for small businesses. They advocate for reform on a variety of local and national issues, including tax policies and legal and economic reform. Your participation in your local chamber will likely be time and effort well-spent, and can help your business build credibility and visibility.
- Become active in a professional organization. Review and consider joining some relevant professional organizations. Such organizations can provide access to training programs, special events and conferences.
- Volunteer your time and skills. Affiliation with local non-profits and community organizations is a great way to meet other people, especially if you are new to a community or working from home on a full-time basis. Volunteering is not only rewarding from a personal perspective but can open new doors for your business.
- Build and strengthen relationships with former associates and co-workers. No matter what industry you’re in, or where your business expertise may lie, strive to maintain the business relationships you’ve formed in the past. You never truly know where your path may lead, and having a wealth of contacts and relationships is empowering.
- Look into programs and seminars at a local college or university. Never say no to new learning opportunities, particularly if you have left a corporate environment to start a business of your own. Growing a business is no easy task. Take advantage of every opportunity to expand your knowledge, improve your skills and broaden your expertise.
- Seek assistance from national and international groups. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nationwide network of more than 11,000 individuals who volunteer their time and experience to coach and mentor small business owners and entrepreneurs. SCORE offers free virtual and in-person mentoring, as well as a variety of other low-cost services and programs. Active in more than 70 countries, Business Network International (BNI) is another potential resource entrepreneurs can use to find support. This organization does require an application for participation in its meetings and events. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) offers support to business owners through community groups and classes. Check listings in your area on the SBA locator Page.
Building a business support network and sharing ideas and experiences with fellow business professionals can open up many doors for your business. If you are a MA or RI business owner looking for financial guidance for your business, or interested in learning about growing your business through cash management solutions and merchant services, don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated business banking team today.