Why ‘Community over Competition’ Helps Your Business Fly
Networking is crucial to small business success. For Support, Referrals, New Customers and Suppliers, Collaborations, Guest Speaking Gigs and the myriad of other Opportunities it can create.
But if the word ‘networking’ makes you shudder (cue visions of 1980’s power suits and “working the room”), you can breathe easy.
Gone are the days where building your network meant Attend. Every. Event. And give out a stack of business cards. Or cold call. Networking is yet another aspect of business that’s been made incredibly easy and rewarding thanks to Social Media.
Tap into the power and potential of Facebook Groups, Instagram and Facebook Stories, LinkedIn and the reach of our own business pages, and you can be amazed at the genuine connections you make and the rewards they create.
So, let’s dive in now to the benefits of networking in small business.
Working Solo? We’ve Got Your Back.
With the rise of the solopreneur, it’s so easy to feel isolated.
And this is where Facebook Groups have come into their own. They’ve EXPLODED in numbers, popularity, engagement and in the sheer amount of time users are spending in them.
In fact, people are now often more involved in Facebook Groups than they are in their feed.
Groups provide the perfect networking opportunity, and can offer a space with:
- an untapped flow of knowledge and support,
- others in the same boat as you,
- people to learn from who have been there & done that,
- a range of businesses that you can reach out to or refer,
- those who will become your advocate and refer you, and
- the potential to make new friends!
But you’ll need to find the right fit. For you.
Here at Crane Creative, we’re massive advocates for membership with SA Woman Australia. Because it was where I felt I found my people. Sometimes you just click, other times you don’t. What’s important is you find groups that match your groove.
We also love Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine, Mums with Hustle, AusMumpreneur and The Women’s Business Tribe. All of these groups are an amazing sounding board, a space to seek support and have generated tangible value from referrals.
Group. Karma. You get back what you put in. Being active, engaging with conversation threads and members (in an honest and ethical way), providing shout-outs to other businesses, and referring where you see a good fit all comes back around.
Avoid mindless scrolling! Like all things you spend your valuable time on, have a strategy in mind. Look for what benefit you get from your time spent, and filter accordingly.
How else can Social Media Networking Benefit Your Business?
For starters, it’s where some cracking collaborations are born. Within your industry, or even – wait for it – with competitors.
I know right, shock horror!
Despite how contradictory it can seem – the new breed of small business owner and entrepreneur know that you can grow your customer base by standing alongside, or working together with your competitors, or those within your industry.
Facebook & Instagram Stories are a perfect example of how you can reach out and build your network, and gain new fans too.
You can connect with thought leaders, and others in your space, both around the country and the world – and leverage that connection.
Just be careful that you don’t place expectations on the ‘return’. Networking is a long-term game, and a necessary part of building a successful business, but it doesn’t generate a direct ROI.
You Never Know When Your Network Will Strike!
The recommendations, opportunities and referrals that can come from your immediate and extended network can sometimes surprise you!
A great example here at Crane Creative was my nomination for the AusMumpreneur awards, which celebrate mums who have achieved success in their professional life. (Massive happy dance moment.)
I was nominated by someone in my network – all because of what I’ve cultivated over many years. Relationship building has always been an integral ethos of mine, before I even started Crane Creative.
Then there’s the opportunities to learn something new or grow your skillset.
Whether you get the chance to feature in an online summit, get asked to jump into a Facebook Live or take over someone’s Instagram Stories, or present at an in-person event.
I loved getting out of my comfort zone to deliver a TedTalk-esque presentation at Strategy Road, I’ve improved my public speaking in a big way through WISA and I will be presenting at the IFITT Talk Workshop at UniSA, which is a huge achievement! However, again, it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for my network.
The other thing about great networks is that genuine connections can also lead to new customer referrals. Whether they come from your immediate network, or extended.
So often you’ll find your business tagged in Facebook threads starting with “I’d love recommendations for…” or “I really need help with…”. And I don’t know about you, but I’m someone who has a chat & goes “Oh! I know exactly who could help you…” and dishes out a referral.
With Networking, You Grow as a Person and as a Business
There’s no doubt about it – here at Crane Creative, we are massive fans of using social media to reach out and form mutually beneficial networks.
In fact, we see it as critical to business success.
Savvy small businesses know that you use social media networking to:
- Broaden your horizons
- Create speaking opportunities
- Form partnerships and collaborations
- Gain support and make genuine connections in Groups
- Generate new ideas
- Build your profile
- Receive referrals and recommendations
- And much, much more!
And it brings the added bonus of the potential to make new friends, have fun along the way and create opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and grow.
Wins all round.
As a final note, while we love the socials for networking – don’t undervalue the importance of ‘traditional networking’ either.
Nothing is linear anymore.
Not marketing channels or sales funnels, and neither is your networking.
We all spend so much time behind the screen, but going to events, making in-person appointments, attending networking events, training workshops and industry events are still valuable in today’s digital age.
And again, you simply never know where it can lead, and what it will create. By you personally, or by the extensive network you create!
So get out there, and network.
If you need help creating a tight Social media strategy, and an ever-expanding Network for your small business…give us a shout.