We all have networks. These are groups of people that we connect with on a regular basis because of mutual interests, business, or other reasons. They’re a great source of personal satisfaction as well as potential business leads. Whether it’s a book club, religious organization, or professional networking group, networks can be a great resource for your business.

Here are some ideas for tapping this valuable resource to continue growing your business.

  • Give them a reason to check out your business.  If these people are already in your existing network, chances are they have some degree of familiarity with your business.  For this reason, you need to motivate them to rediscover you.  Perhaps you have recently renovated your space, introduced a new product/service, or expanded your online presence.  Use this change to re-promote your business to your network contacts and keep the relationship alive. Ask them to check out the change and offer their opinion.
  • Offer reciprocity.  Through networking, current contacts often lead to new prospects and future contacts within your network.  To take advantage of this, offer a way to return the favor when someone helps you in your business by either patronizing it themselves or advertising it to others.  For example, a local restaurant owner can recommend a nearby banquet hall for parties and offer a special discount for customers using his or her restaurant for the catering.  Likewise, the catering hall can refer customers to the restaurant for a free appetizer or dessert by mentioning their name at the restaurant after booking a party at the banquet hall.  This helps each business gain new customers, and maintains a good relationship between both businesses.
  • Team up for an event.  Promoting each other’s products and services can be done in many ways, including putting together a joint event that works for everyone involved.  A direct seller of home décor might team up with a direct seller of cookware to create an event that offers people new ideas about how to prepare for a dinner party, covering everything from how to best use your space to what recipes can be used for each course of the meal.  An event like this exposes each business owner to a new group of potential clients while providing the opportunity to show those prospects the best of each one’s business.
  • Make professional appearances at trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings, and industry conventions.  Consider doing a speaking engagement, teaching a workshop, or holding a demonstration of your business’s products/services for other small business owners.  If you run a successful business, you have much to offer fellow business owners and those just getting started.  Making a name for yourself locally will spark interest in your business.

Your network is a valuable resource which should not be overlooked when taking steps to grow your business.  What ideas do you have for tapping your network?  Please share with us in the comments below!

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