Group of professionals at a meeting shaking hands.
Joining a local business group can help build partnerships, foster connections, and bolster your business reviews. Here's how to make the most of joining a business group. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

Joining a local business group can help you and your business to continue to expand your company and network with other local business owners. Additionally, there are multiple resources available on the type of local business groups you can join depending on the stage of your business.

Here are a few ways to make the most of joining a local business group.

Set goals and intentions for joining the business group

Entering a business group with goals in hand allows you to make better use of your time, share specific needs and skills with your new network, and increase the chances of positive results. Examples of optimal goals for a business group include networking to share ideas and resources, getting involved with your community by connecting with organizations, attending events, and exchanging advice with other local businesses.

Before you join a local business group, ask yourself: What would you like to receive from this experience? Are there specific goals you’d like to achieve by connecting with this group? How much time and capacity do you have available to share with your local business group members upon joining?

Ask for referrals

A local business group can be a space to share more information about your business and ask for referrals. As a part of this supportive community, other businesses will be inclined to help and support you as you grow and maintain your business. You may attract reliable and supportive customers through your broader network. Don’t be shy to ask fellow members to refer their loved ones or even ask their customers to contact your business for more information.

To make the most out of this offer, be specific about what you’re looking for. Do you want to widen your audience? Are you hoping to share a specific event or launch date? Maybe your business provides deals or discounts benefiting new customers. Communicating your specific needs will be helpful in the long run.

Build partnerships

Spaces like local business groups attract like-minded companies and businesses interested in connecting with others. Utilize this space to network with other local businesses, build genuine connections, and seek potential partners who can assist your business development.

You can utilize partnerships made within a local business group in multiple ways, including working with a service-based company that can provide tools and resources for your organization or collaborating on a product or project for a limited campaign. Your business can also partner with other businesses to create an event based on your industry, locale, affinity, etc. Not only will these partnerships allow you to expand your network, but you can also combine forces to widen one another’s audiences — which is a win-win for each company involved.

[Read More: 8 Small Business Organizations for Entrepreneurs Looking to Network]

A local business group can be a space to share more information about your business and ask for referrals. As a part of this supportive community, other businesses will be inclined to help and support you as you grow and maintain your business.

Ask members to write reviews

One of the benefits of joining a business group is having the ability to cast a wide net to your targeted audience and create a larger reach. Once you feel open and comfortable in your local business group, ask members to write online reviews about your products, services, or business etiquette to boost ratings. In today’s digital age, many consumers will most likely find out about your company online. Encourage fellow members to write reviews by linking to your social media pages, Yelp or Google profiles, other local business groups, and more. In exchange, share reviews of companies within your group to further build connections and networks.

Attend local events

Though some local business groups organize and exchange mostly online, attending in-person community events can further involve you within your community and strengthen those online relationships. Meeting with other local businesses in person allows you to get to know people on a personal level, learn more about their products or services in a more hands-on way, and expand your potential client base.

Local events can be centered around specific holidays or gatherings (weddings, winter holidays, etc.), affinity (BIPOC business owners, women business owners), city-specific, and more. Finding specific events will help you connect with the type of businesses or customers that will further your business growth.

[Read More: What Is a Chamber of Commerce, and Why Should You Join One?]

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.

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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