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In my last entry I mentioned how important it is to get the word out about your business and the importance it plays in the economy.
However, you also need to build a network that will not only help you and your business but also be beneficial to other small business owners. Look for small business owners that own complimentary businesses of yours so that you can work together to promote each other’s business.
As a small business owner you do not have the money to go out and plaster the television with ads like your big time competitors. Therefore you need to look at less expensive ways to promote your business and creating a network is the best, least expensive way to do it.
One of the ways to build your network is to check with your locally owned business association for complimentary businesses. If you do not have that type of organization in your area check with the chamber of commerce, SCORE plus friends and family that may have suggestions for you.
You should be able to find many businesses that compliment yours. For example if you run an appliance store, you could work with repair people, stores that sell furniture but not appliances, home decorators and so on. You can refer clients to them with them referring clients to you.
Make sure that you feel comfortable with the people you network with. If you do not feel they will provide excellent customer service, consider finding someone else because you are putting your reputation on the line with a referral and joint marketing. Also make sure that the referring and the marketing are a two way street. If you find that you refer many clients over to your network but you never see any referrals from them then look into it. Sometimes it could be that you just have more people to refer than they do but you also don’t want someone to take advantage of you either.
Networking is an important marketing strategy for small businesses. Be sure to network with complimentary businesses that will fit your niche and your comfort level.