By Jennifer Sugarman
(This Column Ran on FloridaToday.com 11/12/2007)
Oh no, it’s another one of “those” articles – about how networking is important. I can hear your collective sighs and visualize your eye rolls from here! But what if I told you that your business could experience an increase in revenue without spending a dime? OK, maybe a few dimes along the way, but not many. The truth is, it’s not just about who you know, it’s about who they know.
For many years, local Chambers of Commerce and other business networking groups have provided hundreds of different ways for local businesses to put their fingers on the pulse of their local community. Networking, although now a cliché word to many, is a vital part of business growth.
One of the most exciting parts about my job as the head of a Chamber is watching connections happen every day on account of networking! I had someone come up to me just last week at our monthly networking event, Wednesday Friendsday (silly name, serious business), asking if I knew of any job opportunities. I personally didn’t at that exact moment, but across the room I saw one of our staffing companies and I walked him right over to our contact for assistance. I can’t tell you how many “because of the Chamber” success stories I have rolling around in my brain, but I can tell you that 99.9% of them are success stories because of the networking opportunities our organization provides.
Local chambers and business networking groups work hard on behalf of their local businesses to not only teach them how to properly network, but also how to promote their products and services more effectively.
With today’s technological advances, networking has evolved in most markets and is no longer solely about meeting face to face and shaking a hand. While in-person contact will always be the preferred networking method to get people to know, like and trust you, some groups are getting innovative with their networking events. For example, the Cocoa Beach Chamber has created a “virtual” business card exchange, allowing small business owners who don’t have time to get out of the office, to still effectively communicate and network with other local businesses on a regular basis.
I mention all of this to say, there is absolutely no excuse today not to be networking. If growth, sales, expansion, sustainability and profitability are goals in your five-year plan, then networking should be at the top of your to do list. The Cocoa Beach Chamber – or any local chamber or networking group – can help you get there. If you’d like to see what upcoming networking events are happening through the Cocoa Beach Chamber, visit CocoaBeachChamber.com and keep tabs on our event calendar. LinkedIn is also great resource for finding the local business networking groups that may benefit you and your business. Happy networking!
Jennifer Sugarman is the President & CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce serves as the voice of business, enhances quality of life in the community and acts as a catalyst for business success.
Columnist series is sponsored by weVENTURE, powered by the Florida Institute of Technology. weVENTURE has locations in Melbourne and Rockledge. The Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information, visit weventure.org or call 321-674-7007.