We have previously put together an article about Networking For Construction Contractors within the industry. This time, our focus is on connecting with local business owners. Here's how to start networking more effectively with business owners in your neighborhood.
Pay it forward
One of the simplest ways to connect (without feeling like you're networking) is to get involved in projects that benefit your local community.
Consider these opportunities to work with community leaders and business people for a good cause –while spreading positive word of mouth about your business.
- Host a community fundraiser
- Volunteer for a local hospital, shelter, or school
- Serve on a non-profit board or offer pro-bono services
Doing good work in your community will help you get to know other small business owners you can refer your customers to, and who may return the favor.
Join local business groups
Getting involved with your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, industry associations, or a regional meet up group is a great way to increase your visibility.
As an active member, you'll quickly get to know a host of other small business owners to bounce ideas off of, partner up with on going projects, and support each other's professional growth.
Here are a few ideas for expanding your list of local business contacts:
- Run an ad and offer a member discount in your association's newsletter
- Participate in networking events organized by and for members of your business community
- Host a workshop that helps members increase profits or improve an aspect of their business or personal life (Example: Home Renovation Tips)
The True Value Of Networking
Keep in mind that not every group is right for every kind of business. There are all kinds of groups dedicated to networking. Some are highly structured with performance requirements, exclusive membership, and the payment of dues. Others are free form, come as you please, and no charge.
You will find that some groups may not have connections in the market you are seeking to attract. You will find some groups have rules that just don't fit with how your business works.
Yet there is one factor that is often overlooked when considering a networking group; does this group offer more long-term value or short-term value?
When you focus on short term value, you see each member of the group only as a prospect. This limits the business potential of the group because you can't reach beyond the people who are present in the room.
The long-term value of networking groups lies in building strong, trusting relationships that will give you influence beyond the people in your immediate group.
- Discover needs
If you are like most people, you are already pretty clear about what you need. What you may not be so sure about is what your business connections need. Do you know anyone who is a good prospect for them? Can you recommend or offer services that will help them? Find out what your contacts need and act to fulfill those needs.
- Be generous
Stop looking at every person in your networking group as a potential sale. Especially early on, be more concerned about what you can give than what you can get from these meetings.
Give materially by sponsoring group events. Give of your time and effort by contributing time in a service position or be free with great ideas and a welcoming smile.
Especially give liberally by helping others make valuable connections. If you can help one of your fellow group members by making an introduction, do it. If you are generous, the effort will come back to you.
- Build trust
People seek out people they can trust. Cultivating trust takes time and effort, but is worth it. When it comes to business, trust is based on three factors:
Value – do you consistently bring value to the relationship?
Dependability – are you the real deal? Can you be depended upon?
Consistency – are you consistent over time?
If you are an occasional participant, or just passing through, it is harder to develop trust.
Actionable Networking Tips
Here are a few proven ways to make better business connections at your next community event:
- Do a bit of background research on the people you'd like to connect with. When you meet in person, you'll be able to break the ice more efficiently with a question or two prepared in advance.
- Follow up immediately after meeting someone. Stay connected to your shared social networks. Email a useful article from time to time to build goodwill and stay in touch.
- Use social media to stay abreast of what's happening in your area, chat with local businesses, make referrals, and target new customers.
- Be helpful. Networking isn't about what a new connection can do for you. Ask how you can help your fellow business owners. Be supportive. Share ideas and information.
Networking with local business owners can do much more for your business that helps you gain exposure in your community. Networking groups provide you with valuable business allies who can open doors and remove obstacles. Cultivate relationships instead of just asking for sales appointments. Strong relationships build strong businesses; over the long-term, this is the most valuable approach to networking.
Running a small construction business can be a lonely venture at times – primarily if you work with remote staff or you're operating on your own.
Connecting with other businesses in your area can certainly boost your business. It can also lead to close friendships, as well as mentorship opportunities you'd never come across any other way.
With networking and building connections in mind, we are excited and honored that Randal is nominated for the 2020 Small Business Person Of The Year award in our city. If you are on Alignable, I would appreciate it if you can connect with us and "like" our recommendation.
Screenshot of Alignable nomination
About The Author:
Sharie DeHart, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations and offers insights on how to manage the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or email@example.com
Access Code: FEAHEROS
Simply scan the QR code or search for ‘MyAccountants’ in the App Store and enter the Access code: FEAHEROS to utilize the powerful App features and capabilities, and benefit from having our Construction Accounting App at your fingertips, 24/7."
PS: Even if you are not a Construction Contractor you will find a plenty of benefits in the app so we invite you to download it too! It's Free so why not?