Small business networking and collaboration during Small Business Week
By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday October 17, 2023Updated : Monday October 16, 2023
This week in October marks the BDC Small Business Week – and this year it’s all about small business networking and collaboration. Not all competition is unfriendly, and there can be a lot to gain by getting together with your peers to celebrate your successes, learn from one another, and look towards future growth.
Small Business Week – Business Growth Advice from Advisors
Advantages of networking for small businesses
There are many benefits to small business networking, including:
- Problem solve – the adage “two heads are better than one” was written for a reason. When business owners come together, they can help create innovative efficiencies, and find solutions.
- Explore and assess industry trends – by comparing notes, you can find trends and patterns that may not have been noticeable as individual companies.
- Up your game – discover new business opportunities or ways to find them. Together, you can share and learn trade secrets, and uncover new ideas and possibilities.
- Build credibility – networking consistently means people will start to recognize you and listen to your insights, as you build relationships and trust within your industry. The more you show up, the more credibility you will build.
- Look out for one another – small business networking allows you to share information and support each other so no one is left behind. Information such as new government regulations or changing industry standards. Or information that could help each other thrive despite competition from big corporations.
- Associations – there’s power in numbers, which usually only the large companies have. Associations even the playing field. Plus, they usually have a lobbyist or representative that will advocate on behalf of the industry, so you don’t have to go it alone.
6 small business networking and collaboration strategies
We’ve collected a few small business networking ideas ourselves over the years at Benefits by Design (BBD). Here are some of our favorites:
Supporting Advisors & Small Businesses for Small Business Week 2021
1. Attend small business networking events
There are many networking events that happen throughout the year for all types of areas of expertise. Sign up for business newsletters and stay active on social media, and you’re bound to run across a plethora of small business networking events, ranging from:
- Local industry events where you can meet like-minded peers.
- Business conferences and symposiums where you can learn about new and innovative ideas and technologies within your industry and beyond.
- Human resources events where you can learn about trending issues and solutions affecting your employees and day to day business affairs.
- Charitable events where you can show your corporate social responsibility (CSR).
- Business strategies events where you can learn techniques for streamlining and growing your business.
Remember, these events could be both in-person, or virtual. However, if you are truly interested in building new relationships, being there in-person goes a long way.
2. Join an association
If you are in an industry that has an association, join it if you meet the membership criteria. And the sooner the better. This can give you access to association only events and information and puts you in touch with your industry leaders. The more you interact with them and your peers, and show them your passion for the industry, the stronger your relationship will be.
Are you in an industry that does not currently have an association? Consider creating one. Now there’s a powerful way to show your authority within your industry, and build your network and credibility.
What is an Association Health Plan and What are the Benefits?
3. Be active on social media
Being active on social media is a great way to connect with other professionals – both in and outside of your industry. It can also help you connect with current and potential customers, and is a great way to continue building trust and credibility. Remember, being active means posting consistently, plus watching, reading, reacting and commenting on your fellow professional’s posts. It also means monitoring your own posts for responses and replying if needed and researching industry hashtags to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest news and updates.
4. Once connected, stay connected
When you do make a new connection, make sure you keep it. Follow-up with either a phone call, email, or LinkedIn connection request. Assess the situation and make the appropriate gesture. And then continue to nurture your relationships. A contact management system (CMS) can help you stay organized, so you can prioritize your connections. For example, when and how you want to contact them, and the type of information you want to share with them when you do.
5. Offer your expertise
Are you a subject matter expert? An authority in your field? Or maybe you’re good at presenting ideas and information in a cohesive manner? Offer to be a guest panelist or expert at events or on webinars. Or create your own event and host your own webinar series to showcase your experience and expertise.
6. Use a third-party administrator for your employee benefits plan
A third-party administrator (TPA)’s business model is built around helping small businesses like yours access affordable, sustainable benefits. We essentially create a network, or pool, of small businesses with employee benefits, and then leverage that scale to negotiate rates with the large insurers.
Four Benefits of Using a Third-Party Administrator (TPA)
TPA’s also act as a kind of network for benefits information. By drawing on our expertise, you basically have your own personal network of health insurance gurus at your disposal. We are there to answer questions about how the benefits plan works, claim submissions deadlines and requirements, invoicing, employee eligibility and late applicants, taxation of benefits, and more.
A TPA can also collaborate with you on creating or updating your employee benefits plan. When setting up or reviewing your employee benefits plan, it’s important to start from the beginning. Ensure your benefits philosophy – why you offer benefits – aligns with your business goals. This, in turn, will give you a starting point from which to build your employee benefits. That’s where our small business handbook comes in handy.
We go over everything from finding your benefits philosophy, to the most common employee benefits and beyond. Plus, we add an explanation of each benefit, as well as the benchmark for employer uptake, so you can remain competitive. Now how’s that for instant collaboration?