Project Manager, Made in Nevada
In any business environment, making connections and expanding outreach can have a massive impact on your company's bottom line. Along with increased market visibility, networking can bring opportunities to develop relationships with like-minded business owners and build a sense of camaraderie that can help sustain an entrepreneur through their darkest hours. If you've ever found yourself needing a resource, a new employee, or just a fresh perspective, networking can connect you to those with answers.
"Small businesses need to continually think about connecting with people," Pasquale Iovinella, Founder, Pasquale Iovinella Neckties said. "Networking is not only important for growing a customer base, but it is also important for small business owners to have a place to relate with other entrepreneurs and talk about all aspects of running a business. Networking can help you brainstorm new ideas, work through challenges, do market research and more."
When it comes to building your professional network, there are two main strategies to employ: one-on-one conversations or one-to-many engagement opportunities.
There is validity to the idea that great business ideas are discussed over a million cups of coffee. A series of individual conversations with potential customers, partners, investors and other entrepreneurs can help any business owner grow their business. These connections can start anywhere, from an introduction at a traditional networking event to a referral from a friend of a friend's neighbor. The more individual conversations you have, the more opportunities will present themselves. Everyone you talk to about your business will have insight or introductions to share, which leads to more conversations, more connections and ultimately, more success. While talking about your business is great, building genuine relationships is all about listening. Listening leads to understanding and that's when mutually beneficial opportunities begin to appear.
"Business is really all about making connections and maintaining those relationships," Sarah Klagenberg, Davidson's Organic Tea, marketing coordinator said.
In addition to engaging at an individual level, business owners should also seek out opportunities to engage with groups of like-minded people. Participating in industry associations or business memberships can yield many benefits, such as access to industry data and reports, introductions to potential partners or suppliers, and generally, it can add credibility or legitimacy to your business among other industry professionals. Associating your brand with others in the same industry or geography can open many doors, as it exposes your company to many people you might not have reached - or reached as easily - otherwise.
In addition, there are many other membership opportunities to consider. One example is the statewide marketing cooperative, Made in Nevada, which facilitates and emphasizes connections between Nevada businesses. Through digital marketing and introductions, as well as events like the quarterly BizBash and annual Showcase Nevada, Made in Nevada offers businesses the chance to showcase their product and connect with other business owners around the state.
No matter your business size, scale or sector, creating connections and alliances is crucial to business success. Whether those ties are as small as one impactful conversation or as large as an ongoing partnership, business success is built on connection. Collaborating makes all involved more empowered than they would be individually.
For help growing your network through introductions or association memberships, contact the Nevada SBDC (www.nevadasbdc.org) to set up an appointment.
(Editor's Note: Brad Scribner is the project manager for Made in Nevada. When he's not helping Nevada businesses connect with each other through events and programs, he enjoys connecting with friends and businesses one-on-one, usually at a local pub.)