Will Networking Really Work for Me?
Networking is important to grow your company but as a small business can you compete in the marketplace with bigger fish who have a lot more money for advertising and networking opportunities? The answer is “Yes, you can.” Networking comes in a variety of forms; some expensive, many not. If you are an enthusiastic, creative, motivated small business owner, you can combine a number of networking ideas to get the word out about your services or brand. Here are five great networking tools that can work for you and information to fund them.
What, this tired, old trick? You bet. Business cards are an essential part of networking. Three reasons why: They’re easy to carry, take no time hand out and contain essential contact information such as your brand logo or an embedded QR code that people can scan for additional details. Business cards can carry minimal cost if you create and print them yourself. Some online companies even provide free business card templates or have introductory offers for free cards. At some point you may decide to purchase business cards in bulk, a worthwhile endeavor because business cards give you a bang for your buck.
This site has been around a long time and is still one of the best ways to share business information with others. LinkedIn is accessible online and has smartphone apps in iOS and Android platforms to help other business professionals find you and your services. LinkedIn provides free or upgraded premium accounts.
Social Media Apps
With the advance of smartphones and interactive computers, apps have totally changed the networking landscape for business owners. No matter what computer or smartphone platform you use, there are free apps available to help you connect with others. Most will be free for ad paid versions or you can purchase professional versions without ads and added features. Here are three examples of helpful networking apps:
- Happening (iOS): An event tracker that helps you to know where the action is for trade shows, conferences, and other opportunities where you can share your business brand or services with others. Lists events in chronological order.
- Bump (Android and iOS): Allows users to “bump” their smartphones together and automatically transfer files or other info between them.
- Bizzabo (Android and iOS): If you attend a conference where the organizers use Bizzabo, upload the app to your phone and it will find and connect you with other attendees through Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Let’s Lunch is an innovative way to meet and greet other business owners in your area. It operates much like an online dating site and there is no cost to sign up. Complete a profile and connect information from your LinkedIn site to your account. Then, identify the dates and times you’re available to meet, and Let’s Lunch sets up a business lunch appointment with another member. Let’s Lunch is expanding into many big city areas. Check to see if they are available in yours.
Organizing Your Contacts
JibberJobber is an online networking tool that organizes contacts, tracks referrals and coordinates followups with clients to enhance and expand professional relationships. While geared towards those who are job hunting, JibberJobber is helpful in analyzing ongoing networking relationships for the small business owner. Pricing options range from free startup accounts to monthly, yearly, or lifetime memberships.
Time to Network
The networking tools described above are being used by thousands of successful small business owners. While many of these tools offer some free services, financial costs for professional upgrades can sometimes hold you back. If this is the case, consider financing through Advance Funds Network, which is dedicated to funding solutions to advance your business. Expanding your business through networking will take you places you never thought you could go, and AFN can help you get there. Check us out on the web for more information; we want to see you succeed.