Networking has always been a major part of business, even when we didn’t have a name for it. What has changed in recent years, however, is how networking actually works. Where it once was the case that face-to-face interaction was required to build relationships, we can now build relationships online that are just as profound and mutually beneficial.
Setting up a small business network solution in 2022 isn’t just about wining and dining clients and making sure you’re frequenting the right conferences; it’s also about online networking and ensuring you have the capabilities to do so. But before we explore the benefits of small business network solutions, let’s focus on the basics.
What is networking?
Networking is a term that’s always been used to describe business owners meeting and building relationships with other business owners. This can be fundamentally useful for developing supply chains, sharing contacts and developing a deeper understanding of the market and your place within it.
Business networking is often used as a means of introducing new concepts and ideas into a sector and facilitating connections between smaller businesses so they can grow together.
The benefits of business networking
Not only does networking allow you to keep up to date with the latest trends and ideas but it could put you in touch with the people who could help take your business to the next level. If you’re looking for an investor, for example, networking could put you in touch with investors that believe in you and your business. It also allows business owners to explore other viewpoints and experiences, which can be invaluable in the long run.
How to network
Face-to-face networking is all about making an immediate connection. This means business owners should have an “elevator pitch” ready to go at all times – a description of their business, what it does, what value it offers and what it hopes to achieve in the future that lasts less than 60 seconds and can be delivered in a conversational manner.
Business cards are also incredibly helpful, particularly at small business conferences where there might be hundreds of other businesses to differentiate yourself from. In these instances, a strong business card can make all the difference.
Small business networking post-COVID
Of course, a lot has changed in the last two years, with the pandemic normalising the concept of remote work for millions of people. With those changes has come a greater reliance on online networking.
LinkedIn is the most famous example of an online networking resource and represents perhaps the gold standard when it comes to a platform that brings professionals together. Moving your networking online also means you’re not limited to other businesses and entrepreneurs in your area.
Online and cloud-based resources can also help improve the efficiency, reliability and scalability of your business. A study by IDC, for example, found that by using the GoCardless platform to collect invoices and recurring payments automatically, as well as take one-off amounts instantly, businesses can cut the cost of taking payments by 56% due to staff efficiencies and lower cost-per-transaction.
Small business network set-up
To access all of the networking possibilities of LinkedIn and other business-centric social media platforms and tools, you’ll need to set up a local network at your office. Your best bet is to start small but go for a system that can expand over time with added functionality such as video surveillance and more wireless applications.
The fundamental parts of the network are the switches that connect your devices and the router that connects all of these switches to a wider network and allows access to the internet. Setting up a small business network is a task generally undertaken by the IT team but if your business is particularly small, it’s feasible for anyone with a decent understanding of technology.
We can help
If you’re interested in finding out more about setting up a small business network, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.