Growing your business through professional collaboration
Four places to find potential collaborators, according to Stephanie Burns, founder and CEO of Chic CEO, an online community for women entrepreneurs.
1. Social media
Social networks are a powerful way to build relationships with your customers. Consider joining Facebook groups, online communities started by Facebook users looking to connect on topics of shared interest. To find a group, search for a desired term via Facebook’s search tool, then click the Groups tab. You can find similar features on LinkedIn and Google Plus.
2. Business matchmakers
Matchmaking isn’t just for dating. Business matchmakers specialize in connecting small businesses with customers, vendors, and partners. Volunteer mentors at the U.S. Small Business Administration's SCORE Association often serve as matchmakers, as do online services like Swaaap.com and PartnerHere.
3. Professional associations
Trade associations, professional societies, and local chambers of commerce often host networking and education events that are prime opportunities for meeting potential collaborators. Make it a point to attend large annual conferences, in particular. Potential collaborators are everywhere at such events, whether in line for coffee or waiting for a session to start.
4. Mastermind groups
Also called peer accountability groups, mastermind groups consist of individuals who meet regularly to help one another establish and reach personal and professional goals. To find the right one for you, explore small business owner forums and Meetup.com, or ask colleagues directly. The objective of these groups isn't networking in the traditional sense — rather, it's helping group members brainstorm new possibilities, then holding them accountable for making their visions reality. Along with new ideas, they often result in new partnerships.
Learn more about online business networking.