A woman business owner of a popular food truck hands a customer her order.
One invaluable but overlooked benefit of social media for small businesses is the advice you get from fellow entrepreneurs that can help you sharpen your competitive edge. — Getty Images/Maskot

You may view social media as a way to find new customers, but it can also be a great way to connect with other small businesses. Building a strong business network can pay off in a number of ways. Here are six reasons why you should connect with other businesses on social media.

[Read more: Why Online Networking Matters for SMEs]

Begin building a strong network

When you connect with another business owner, you begin building connections with their network. People like to recommend businesses they know and trust. If someone needs a product or service like the one you offer, you’re more likely to be referred for new business.

You can encourage this practice by referring other businesses in your network as well. This kind of reciprocity will strengthen your relationship with other business owners, creating mutually beneficial relationships.

Connecting with other businesses on social media can also be a great way to network with local businesses. This can help you raise your profile in your area.

Share knowledge

A frequently overlooked benefit of networking is the opportunity to learn and expand your current perspective. The business landscape is constantly changing, and if you never get out and talk to other people, it’s easy to fall into a rut where you keep using the same tactics day in and day out.

When you connect with other business owners, you gain access to new ideas that can help you maintain a competitive edge. For example, you may learn about a vendor that offers lower prices and higher-quality products than the current one you’re using.

You may also learn about upcoming trends in your industry or new strategies for improving your business processes. Plus, you’ll have new connections you can turn to for advice or help.

You may find that the business connections you make become some of the strongest and longest-lasting.

Gain exposure to a new audience

Networking with other businesses can help you access a new audience and find new leads. When you partner with other businesses on social media, it opens the door to new business opportunities.

Connecting with other businesses online allows you to collaborate with and leverage new contacts in other industries. For example, by partnering with another business, you could gain access to a new market or geographic location.

Build authority in your industry

Networking on social media gives you a chance to share your ideas and strategies with other business owners. By demonstrating your skills and expertise, you’ll start building your brand and demonstrating authority in your industry.

You’ll also create a reputation for being someone who enjoys interacting with and helping other business owners. This type of credibility opens you up to new opportunities and resources, since people want to do business with companies they trust.

[Read more: ​​Emerging Social Media Strategies Businesses Must Know to Grow]

Find (or become) a business mentor

Other businesses aren’t automatically your competition, and there’s a lot you can learn from other small business owners. By connecting with other small businesses on social media, you may find a business mentor you can learn from.

Mentorship is invaluable, because you’re able to learn from that person’s experiences and insights. The right mentor can guide your business in a completely new direction. You may also get the opportunity to mentor others and help them advance their businesses.

[Read more: How to Build an Effective Small Business Mentoring Program]

Develop long-lasting personal relationships

Of course, not everything is about business or making more money — by networking with other business owners, you also develop personal relationships. Other business owners likely share similar values and interests as you. As a result, you may find that the business connections you make become some of the strongest and longest-lasting.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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