The technique of networking is a different type of marketing.
Networking is the exchange of ideas and information that takes place everyday. The more businesspeople meet with others, the more they can promote their businesses.
Networking will provide knowledge about what is happening in the community. Membership in social, civic and business organizations can provide opportunities to network with others who might have an interest in your product or service.
The three local chambers of commerce provide a means for business networking. The three chambers include Belen, Hispano and Los Lunas-Bosque Farms.
Most people have networked their whole lives. People may think that networking is a formal business tool, but it is basically people talking to each other and sharing information.
Students network about classes and teachers. Neighbors network about doctors, dentists, babysitters and lawn care. On-the-job networking can lead to sales and problem-solving.
Small business owners seldom have the financial resources to advertise as frequently as they might desire. They need other methods to reach people to inform or remind them about the product or service offered.
These methods need to be able to be done with few dollars. Networking is a method that can be used by any small businessperson.
It is possible to create your own network by assembling a group of influential individuals that share common interests. This group needs to be diverse and not be competing for the same target market.
Sometimes these groups are called sales lead clubs with members from real estate, insurance, banking, manufacturing and a variety of retail or service businesses. The group might meet once a week and bring leads for each other.
Networking allows business people to pass on helpful information to others that they are not in competition with so they’ll be able to receive the same kind of information.
There is a women’s networking group in Los Lunas that meets each Tuesday morning for breakfast. It is a group of non-competing women who are trying to expand their individual businesses.
Networking can not only be used to gather sales leads but also to carry the image of your business into the community.
Networking groups can be informal and include friends, family and co-workers or formal, such as service clubs and sales lead clubs.
Whether in an informal or formal group, always carry and hand out business cards; they are an inexpensive way to inform others in the community of your business.
For additional help with marketing, networking, business cards or any other small business concern, phone the Small Business Development Center at the UNM-Valencia Campus at 925-8980 to arrange for a one-on-one appointment with a business analyst.
(Editor’s note: Roberta Scott heads the Small Business Development Center at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus. She offers advice about starting and succeeding in your own business.)