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Five Building Blocks For A Strong Support Network
  • 27 February 2019
  • Maya Harper

Five Building Blocks For A Strong Support Network

As a small business owner, you have probably heard it a million times: Business is all about who you know. It is true that your existing connections are extremely important in growing your business, but in addition to who you know, it can also be about who you may not know, who you want to get to know and who you might have forgotten you know. Building a strong support network can be essential to the success of any small business, so whether you are new to the game or have been managing your business for years, cultivating your support system should always be a priority.

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So what constitutes a strong support network? A pile of business cards collecting dust on your home desk? A list of LinkedIn connections you haven’t spoken to since your Business 101 class? While having contacts never hurt anyone, there are much better ways to surround yourself with a group of people who are truly invested in helping you succeed. Here are five tips for developing a network that can help propel your business forward.

1) Quality over Quantity

Contrary to what some may think, networking should not be about selling yourself to as many people as possible. When it comes to building a truly meaningful support system, a few deep and personal connections have the ability to take you much further than lots of surface-level ones. Avoid the leeches of the networking world—the people who take from you and offer nothing back—and instead focus your energy on mutually beneficial connections where both parties have genuine interest in each other’s success.

One way to initiate this kind of relationship is by finding something memorable that you both have in common and then build from there. New contacts are much more likely to remember the person they bonded with over the World Cup than the eighth marketing specialist they met in a single afternoon.

2) Make It Fun

Aside from the clear business benefit, having a strong network is also about the social benefit, especially if you work from home or by yourself. Even as the world becomes more digital, the benefits of face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable in forming and maintaining meaningful business relationships. Fun gatherings with current and potential contacts provide great opportunities to connect while easing the tension of networking. Try organizing a happy hour or hosting a dinner party, and invite all of your guests to bring someone you have never met. It is an easy way to expand your network, and your Meatball Monday dinner could become a fun tradition that helps you keep in touch with the contacts you already have.

3) Phone a Friend

The encouragement of friends and family is helpful in supporting your business through those unavoidable canceled plans or late work nights that come with being a small business owner. Make sure not to neglect your personal connections, even if it means pressing rewind to chat with an old friend you’ve lost touch with. A strong emotional support network is a necessary foundation for success as a business owner.

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4) Look in Unexpected Places

Sometimes your most valuable support comes from the places you might not anticipate. Check out local groups that pique your interest, like volunteer organizations, sports leagues or faith groups. Writing for Forbes, Alisa Liddle suggests casting a wide net to find people you connect with on a deeper level. You never know when a personal connection could turn into a business contact.

5) It’s All in the Prep

When you do get down to the nitty gritty of making meaningful connections, one of the most important thing is to be prepared. Whether it means writing a strong elevator pitch or turning your business’s LinkedIn page into an always-on advocate for your company, half the effort is being ready when opportunity does strike. As long as you know who you are, what sets your business apart and what kinds of contacts you are looking for, you will be on your way to forging connections that can help build your business.

Still not sure where to get started? Small Biz Buzz is a private online community made just for small businesses, giving you the opportunity to connect with other small business owners as well as the team at The UPS Store. It is a great first step to start or continue on your networking journey.

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