Over the past ten years or so, leads groups have become a staple of networking for small business people. Unlike the more familiar referrals groups and peer advisory groups, leads groups allow any number of the same businesses and membership is open with a small fee only when attended. Like its predecessors, however, leads groups are most effective when attended regularly and relationships are built.
LinkedIn (www.Linkedin.com) is a business network that has emerged as a replacement for the old rolodex because it is online and self-managed. LinkedIn offers a much more robust way to maintain your business connections and see what they are up to. But beyond that, LinkedIn has become an indispensable tool for business introductions.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you are your best salesperson. If you develop a networking plan and invest the time to get out there and build those key relationships, it will pay great dividends over time. Networking is not a quick-fix — it’s a long-term process. Develop your plan, then exercise patience and discipline by giving it time to work.