As mentioned in our blog Small Business Support Groups, one the best ways to get support for your small business is through peer groups such as MeetUp groups for small business. But these and other groups can also be useful in finding customers and people who will promote your business both online and face to face.
Some great places to find small business networking opportunities are online groups on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has many groups dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to not only network online, but also to find local groups who also have offline gatherings for the purpose of networking with others who may need your business service – or know people and businesses that do.
Google plus also provides groups that are dedicated to small business networking, both for business-to-business networking and for business-to-consumer networking. While there are plenty of groups, the key is to find active groups whose members regularly interact with the group and are engaged on a regular basis. Within those groups there are business owners and those interested with what those businesses have to offer. Those are the ones you need to get your message to and engage with.
When looking at groups on MeetUp, you need to find the networking groups that have actual meetings that are face-to-face and local. These groups do not need to be the biggest groups; they need to be the groups where they have the most active membership that actually attend events and have communications outside of a online group. For example, if a group has only 400 members and 50 of them go to an offline meet-up on a regular basis, then that group is better than a group that has 4,000 members and never has an in-person meeting.
There is nothing wrong with groups or online communities that have strictly online engagement, but make sure that you are learning or benefiting from the time you are engaging with them. Rather then being a member of many groups that have a multitude of members, find relevant groups whose members are actively engaged, regardless of their size.
Networking online or offline is important to the success of a small business, but dedicating networking time is a balancing act that takes time and resources away from performing the primary tasks of conducting you business. Finding the most productive ways of spending your time and money on business networking is important, so make sure that non-productive engagement does not take up more of your time and resources than you can afford.
Many office space environments will have BBQ’s and social events in common spaces. Attending these types of events may seem trivial, but you never know who you might meet and what the effects of those encounters may have on your business. Several of our office for rent clients have told us that they have met business associates at the various events we have had, or during a casual talk in the kitchen while getting their coffee. Whether it was a chance meeting with an another office space client or a formal introduction that may have changed the way they looked at doing business from an office business centre, they certainly benefited.
Some Telsec office space clients have even had their own business networking events utilizing the various boardrooms and meeting rooms they have free access to, both for lunch meetings and for after-hours meetings. Because they have access to meeting rooms 24/7, some office for rent clients have even had small networking meetings on weekends or on holidays.