Updated: Mar 27
Small Business Networking vs Meetings
Emphatically, YES, virtual small business networking is here to stay. Let's not even call it networking. Let's call it a vital function of any small business owner. As the solopreneur, you may pride yourself on shifting out of the corporate 'I spent my day in meetings about meetings about other meetings' to get things done. No doubt, all of those meetings, related to actual sales of products or services. You know, the thing that keeps a company solvent, sales of products and services. So the solopreneur/micro business owner gets rid of much of that corporate red tape by going it alone. He or she has also traded a steady 40-hour workweek for a career that they cannot just hang up at the end of the day or Friday at happy hour. Most solo, micro, and other small business owners have their businesses on their minds at all hours of the day or night, weekday or weekend. Strategies and ideas flourish and wane at all times. The thing about being solo, to spell this out in a kindergarten kind of way, is that there is no immediate team to troubleshoot or float ideas. No meetings about meetings about meetings. You don't buzz to your marketing department and declare 'run with it, let's start selling!'
As a solo, what is one great assist to your sales strategy?
What kinds of solo-micro businesses are there?
Direct business to consumer products and services (multi level marketing products, healthcare, massage, wellness, financial services, real estate, mortgages, insurance, solar, flooring, roofing, travel, interior design) or business to business products and services (social media manager, SEO manager, IT, payroll, insurance, graphic design, website design, marketing, advertising, sales, blogging, public relations, networking, legal, real estate, property management, construction, accounting, consulting), and many more possibilities.
Burning questions coming. Do any of these solo-micro business professions boost sales by being silent? Do product and service sales just automatically happen? Do sales come out of thin air? We know from experience, that small and micro business owners have figured out the answers to these questions. The answers are a resounding, NO. What is one reasonably effective and affordable way to get the word out? Networking! Talking face to face. It's not developing a slick and costly ad campaign. It's presenting your business to others in a slightly imperfect way, asking for help, and giving help. Developing trusting relationships to make connections that will foster business visibility and profitability on both sides of the equation. Stoke warm embers to create fire. Pass the marshmallows.
Meet George Jetson........Space Age or Twilight Zone?
Let's talk virtual networking. The year is 2021. Small businesses have been hit hard by a pandemic. Women have been displaced from their jobs at a rate of 4-1 versus men. There could be as many as 45 million (U.S.-based) solo and micro businesses competing for visibility and sales in an ocean of about 1.6 billion websites and flooded social media platforms. Before the pandemic, small business networking was traditionally community-based and in-person. Enter the pandemic world. We became masters of virtual communication. Every day became like working with George Jetson (ha, you might not be old enough for this reference.) 🤣 🚀 Faces on screens. Virtual communication. Did we enter the space age or just the twilight zone? We may never know. It's been a year like none other. My local networking group went through the many phases of grief when faced with virtual networking for the foreseeable future: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, reconstruction & working through, and acceptance. Now, we love it, have grown it, we embrace the time savings without travel, and just value the overall convenience and fewer expenditures. We have a bigger and more productive group with several members that live at further distances, even across state lines. Virtual works for us.
For most of our represented professions, defined geographic boundaries have become a thing of the past. We can consult, refer, sell, and buy from almost anywhere. Geographic boundaries still exist for many licensed professionals and/or those with brick and mortar locations, but the virtual space has opened up a geographically expansive sales frontier. Do I dare say, many of us can call the world our oyster? Ok, that might be an overstatement considering language barriers, technology barriers, time zones, and the limited resources of the solo-micro business owner. That said, my virtual journey with PinPoint Networking has taken me to Scotland, California, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Florida to name a few. I can attest that making new alliances near and far, each week, feels productive. I've met so many interesting, innovative, purposeful, creative, daring, and funny small business friends and allies.
While you may be desiring the in-person meetings after a year+ of staying away from people, don't discount who you may meet through the virtual space. This is a space that's here to stay. This is a space of growth, focused communication, learning, and humility. We are imperfect business owners with imperfect sales pitches. We don't have our ducks in a row or the next zillion-dollar contract in hand. We are everyday people exploring, soaring over, meandering in, wading through, and questioning the small business world. Networking meet-ups are our corporate meetings about meetings. Virtual networking feels purposeful well beyond hanging out on social media. You never know who you will meet and how that might transform your day. You've taken the small business plunge, now reach for the stars.
Finding a Grain of Salt in the Milky Way
Since solo and micro businesses are promoting themselves amongst billions of marketing messages each minute, PinPoint Networking always strives to highlight a few good ones. The following are some amazingly talented providers of small business services, on the off-chance you could use a referral!
eNTWKS: Female owned, electronic business networking app that will support you with an electronic business card, member directory, nationwide and worldwide referral system, and business education. A great tool for anyone who hosts a formal or informal networking group. For more information visit eNTWKS.
The Brand Therapist: Take your small business from ideas to implementation with a heart-centered consultation with Jamie. As imperfect as small business building is, Jamie can offer you grounding, humor, & creativity while delivering tailored brand definition to your company. Get to know a little more about Jaime's style and offerings through her website where you can listen to her podcasts, read her blogs, set up a strategy call, or just enjoy the warmth cuteness of her website.
Haymaker Marketing: Maybe you really just can't do it all. Appearing and being present on social media is a big job. Maybe you have wondered exactly what a social media manager does. Schedule a chat with Marissa to learn more about hashtags why you might consider hiring a social media manager. Haymaker Marketing website.
Positively-Funded: Feeling stuck in your business growth? Need help identifying next steps? Barbara rolls up her sleeves and dives in with you, through her experience and intuition, to create some next actionable steps for your business growth. You will feel empowered and you may strike new opportunities once you put Barbara's strategies in place. What we know is that Barbara is a true connector. Positively-Funded website.
Youtz Design: Graphic design. Mike Youtz has been in the creative and artistic realm for nearly his whole life. For all things visual like logos, infographics, signage, and so much more, set up a consult with Mike. Youtz Design website.
PinPoint Networking: Definitely can't forget about PinPoint Networking! Ha! Self plug time! PinPoint Networking believes that small businesses grow best through communication. Very rarely is a solopreneur so polished in marketing and sales that every effort turns to gold. Communication, relationships, and trust take time and effort. Joining our membership provides you the ability to jump into a networking meeting when you feel like it or on a regular schedule, affordably. Have you taken a look at what big networking corporations charge? And they are not exactly forgiving with respect to absences, point accruals, and cost. Let's face it, they are corporate. Please check out what we can do for you affordably: personal blog posts, live interviews, and meetings. See you soon! Visit our EVENTS page!
Disclaimer: All links provided at time of publishing this blog were accurate. We make no assumption that these links will be operational from this time forward. Small business is fragile and often close before really being open. Support small business when you can, they've had a rough year. We have done our best to verify businesses mentioned in this blog, however, it is always your responsibility to research companies before interacting and doing business with them. Be safe out there!