I am often amazed at how little value is placed upon business networking as a growth tool for businesses.
This is especially true when it comes to home-based businesses, and the use of online business networks.
There are lots of online business networks on Facebook and LinkedIn. We have two Facebook groups for Support a WAHP – our home-based entrepreneur group – which are extremely active.
I also belong to several other groups on Facebook and LinkedIn as well as a couple of “in real life” business networking groups.
All of the networking groups I interact with have proven to be invaluable in terms of building my business for these reasons:
- Referrals: When you get to know other businesses and they get to know you, guess who’s at the top of their list when they need something you offer (or vice versa)?
- Credibility: Networking in real life and online helps build your credibility in your industry. It shows you are serious, especially when you can answer questions or produce other interesting content.
- Resources: We all need help from time to time and networking groups are a great place to seek help with your business. There is always someone who knows how to do something that you don’t.
- Support: Sometimes we just need to talk about our business ups and downs with others who understand and we can also encourage others.
Online business networking does not mean spamming other businesses’ Facebook walls with your latest, greatest offerings.
Instead, it is about connecting with other business owners in a meaningful way. Hence, many networking groups frown upon flagrant self-promotion.
If you are looking at connecting with other business pages, don’t underestimate the value of just saying “Hi!” and then take the time to interact with that page.
Where do you find find free networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn?
Do a search for business networking groups by state, country, city and niche interests. Then look at the numbers of people involved and how active the groups are.
If you see a gap in the groups, why not start a group yourself? True networking is about relationship building.
If you do it respectfully and well, your business will reap the rewards.
What online networking communities do you belong to?