Why Small Businesses Still Need to Network in the Local Community

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Deborah Sweeney – Enjoy!

Why Small Businesses Still Need to Network in the Local CommunityDespite the rise of social networking and the perceived crumbling of face-to-face interaction it has caused, community is not dead. I have always been very passionate about local small business, but when I talk about real life networking within my community, I often get a few raised eyebrows. After all, I run an internet-based business – it isn’t like we get a lot of walk-in traffic! But establishing roots in your local community, regardless of what type of a business you run, is absolutely vital to your continued success. These relationships can help lead to partnerships and, though the internet has made it easier to market, word of mouth in the flesh is still invaluable to brand recognition.

Local recognition is priceless

A few years ago, American Express sponsored a ‘Small Business Consumer Pulse Survey’ to gauge how the average person felt about local small business. According to that survey, 9 out 10 Americans believe it is important to support local small businesses, and 73% of respondents said that they make a conscious effort to shop at local businesses. If your business is known as a local company, a solid majority of the nearby population is going to try to frequent your storefront as much as possible. However, if you hide behind a computer screen and refuse to connect with anyone within your community, they may very well pass you over. And even if you don’t run the type of business that does a lot of walk-in sales, that local recognition is still invaluable. Whether it is through hosting an open house at your office, offering a scholarship, or even sponsoring a banner ad at a local baseball game, making your name known to your community is a precious marketing asset. People who live in the city you do business in will go out of their way to look you up online if they know you are active in their community.

Small businesses that support each other do better

Are you active in your local chamber of commerce? Well you should be! Studies show that by simply involving yourself with your Chamber of Commerce, you increase customer favorability by 44%, and increase the likelihood of future patronage by 64%. The Chamber of Commerce is also a goldmine of information about local economic trends and policies. Business owners swap ideas, and studies are sponsored to help give chamber members a competitive edge. If you are skipping out on your Chamber of Commerce, you are really missing out on some great opportunities to network and mingle with area leaders.

Trust me, it is inspiring

While I love the fact that both my business and my work as its CEO is bettered by becoming involved in the local community, it really is inspiring to be included in a network of small businesses and entrepreneurs. I often try and give talks at local schools and colleges about becoming an entrepreneur because I want that network to grow. According to the SBA, small businesses have generated 64% of all new private-sector jobs over the past twelve years. Taken by itself, the lone small business may not seem like it impacts much at all. But when we work together to build and foster a network of small businesses, we make our community, and our company, better all around.

Marketing is all about increasing brand recognition and bringing in new customers. And while traditional marketing through television, radio, and the internet definitely works, you are missing out on a real opportunity if you aren’t involved in your local network of businesses. Your company should be recognized as the pillar of the local community that it is, and that only happens when you become involved with your town. So when you’re planning out your marketing strategy, remember to include your local community. Not only will your involvement help you to do more business, it will also help make you a better businessperson.

deborah sweeney headshotDeborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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  • LDBusinessSolutions

    Getting out from behind the desk and shaking hands with other members of your community is definitely an important piece. The comradery alone that’s generated is enough to keep you motivated and focused especially if you’re just starting out. You’ll make a few mistakes and will attend some non-pertinent events along the way, but you’ll be much better for it in the long run. You’ll sharpen your elevator pitch and make some great connections both for professional and personal development.

    • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

      I agree – even totally online business should seek out mastermind and peer groups locally to stay plugged in to the very human side of biz.

  • Aaron

    I agree, the small business want to expend the business. The most important thing is to build the good relationship between the customer and companies in local. For that the community network is very important.

    • John

      Yeah, that is right. If the small business want to expend business to other places or they want to expend the scale of operation, they can not be successed without the support from the local customers. That means the mangers of the company need to consider the importance of the local community.

  • http://thetopfivepercent.com/ Stephen W. Anderson

    So true, the world searches online for millions of things everyday, but what people are really craving is honest human interaction. They want to shake hands with real people, meet them at their offices and in general do all the things that seem to have taken second place behind the internet. But those things are still first place in their hearts and in doing business.

  • Julie Harris

    Great article, it’s a reality. I can reflect this one with the famous quote
    “ a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Any
    business cannot go further without staring it in its local community.
    Its a very good foundation for you and for your business as well.

  • http://www.i7marketing.com Sean Gallahar

    Nothing can compare to local businesses helping and supporting each other. It also helps build the community too.

  • http://www.TheSocialNetworkingNavigator.com/ Laurie Hurley

    In person networking is a must for every small business, even if your product/service offerings expand beyond your local market. Some of my best referrals have come from “someone who knows someone who knows someone” as a result of putting myself out there regularly.

  • http://www.tubblog.co.uk/ Richard Tubb

    I’d agree with Deborah – actively engaging with your local business community is a must for any business. My own business has a niche market (IT businesses) and when I attend local networking events I rarely meet a potential client. But as Laurie put it, referrals come from “someone who knows someone who knows someone”. I can’t count the number of these types of referrals I’ve been given — all through attending local networking events.

    Going into these local events with a mindset of helping to connect the people you meet with others in your wider network is much more powerful than going in expecting to meet new clients directly.