B2B Networking: How to Get Started
For most businesses it’s essential to network and integrate your services with those of other complementary businesses.
Those relationships are diverse and could range from symbiotic referrals to seeking out vendors or customers for your products to just raising awareness for your brand.
Whatever your reasons, figuring out where to start when you’re trying to get your voice heard might seem a bit overwhelming.
To help you get started with building your b2b network, here are a couple of easy things to do to reach out to your field’s community.
Tradeshows get a bad rap because they’re suspiciously similar to speed-dating, and even less entertaining. Despite this the benefits of attending such events far outweigh the temporary discomforts.
The tradeshow itself isn’t really where you get to know people; it’s just an environment where lots of local businesses are all milling around together so that you’re more likely to meet someone who might be useful to you.
Ideally you’ll profile the types of businesses that you know will be useful to you ahead of time. For example if you own a coffee shop you’ll probably keep an eye out for local bakers or local artists that want to peddle their wares through you.
Whatever the case be sure to accept business cards and promotional materials from everyone you talk to, even if you don’t think it’ll turn into a business relationship right then.
Go through everything again after you get home and sort out then what you’d like to pursue.
There are a variety of tools available to help you get into contact with other businesses, from social networks like Facebook or Google+, to special b2b search sites.
Taking advantage of these can be extremely beneficial when done well. Many small business owners (the ones that aren’t web-based) think of the internet as a bit gimmicky and not very lucrative, but often that’s a direct result of user error.
Take the time to learn how to perform an effective search, how to design a good social profile, and how to approach other businesses online (a quick query on google can explain each how to do each of those in relatively short order).
The Phone Book
On the opposite end of the internet-phobic crowd stand the young up-and-coming businesspeople who operate almost exclusively over cyberspace.
To them it usually comes as a shock that the book propping up their computer screen is still a valuable resource, despite the internet and all of its delights.
The phone book can help you find local businesses that don’t have a web presence (they exist, really!). This is especially useful if you’re in the business of web development or graphic design, because you can turn them into customers.
In any other case it’ll put you in contact with businesses with which to build referral relationships or that you can use to proliferate your brand and gain new customers.
When you’re trying to get started in the business world it’s important to take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you to the best of your ability.