What is the value of networking? It’s not easy to put a price tag on networking, as good will, brainstorming, mentoring, lessons learned, and all the too-many-to-name benefits are freely given. (Bean counters hate that — they’re much happier with goods and services that easily translate into numbers on spreadsheets.) So — if not in dollars and cents, how do you determine the value of connecting with others who have similar goals and interests?
Think about it — it all adds up.
1) Knowledge. You don’t have to sell the same things to learn from someone else. How can you apply their wins to your business? Which of their marketing, salesmanship, point-of-sales tips can you apply to increase your own sales? If you sell online, what can they teach you about photographing and describing your product, improving your commerce page, or promoting through social media?
2) Connections. No matter how great a selection you offer, at some point someone will ask for something you don’t have. What do you do?
You make sure you know where they CAN get it, and help them find it — you’ll gain a return customer, even if they don’t buy anything that day. They’ll see you went the extra mile to help, knowing you weren’t going to make a sale, and they’ll remember that.
Connect with others on your block, in your town, or in your area, and know what’s available locally or within a reasonable drive. If whatever it is can’t be found locally that day, know who might be able to help order it or find it online
3) Support. Operating a small business isn’t a picnic. It’s hard work, often with little or no back-up. Get to know your fellow small business owners, in person and online. Grow your own support group to help you out in a pinch when you need a resource, have a problem to solve, or just need to hear “it’ll get better — you can do it!”
It’s not an exact science, but the benefits are clear. How do you pin a price tag on the tip that increased your sales 8 percent in 4 months? Or when the customer you had to refer to someone else two weeks ago comes in an spends a bundle with you — because you helped them find what they needed, even though you didn’t have it? Or the day a fellow entrepreneur cheers you up with his or her “worst day ever” story to get you through yours?
Reach out, network, and be a part of the give and take. Connections give small business BIG impact.
There are a multitude of reasons WHY a community should have teenagers participating on the boards and councils. ~ But I will limit my self to just a few!
1) According to a University of Nebraska national survey of rural youths, 50% (that’s right folks! FIFTY PERCENT) WANT to return to their communities in the future.
That’s a fabulous number! Now what are YOU going to do with that information?
What is your community to have to offer these returning ‘youngsters’ down the road?
Jobs? Things to do? Places to hang out? Wi-Fi hot spots? Entertainment for new families? Buildings to start businesses in?
I would bet if you asked these youngsters what they would want to have, you would be surprised by their answers. If you let them, they will help you carve a new future for your community.
I met two extraordinary young men at the RuralX conference in Aberdeen a couple weeks ago. They were the youngest attendees at 16 & 17 years old. Both want to “come home” to Miller SD when they are done with school. Both want to open businesses. Both want to be able to express their ideas now to council and desire to be a part later. They want to listen us and for us to listen to them. Luckily, they live in a rural community that embraces young and old alike!
2) A vested interest in the community makes a difference. Most of the time it seems that my father’s generation is the last to truly be a vested part of a community at a young age. Really think about that. For hundreds of years, people were expected to shoulder adult responsibilities and participate in community events at a young age.
When and Why did we stop expecting our children to be a part??
When these youth feel valued and a part of the community, they are more likely to participate and volunteer. They will readily step up and lead the charge for whatever task is at hand.
(I could name a number of communities where the youth are put on ignore. It doesn’t bode well for those particular towns future.)
You could coordinate with the school so these youth get credit for attending meetings and so on.
I believe this is doubly important in rural communities. Without a large population to draw from, we need to build from within. Let them participate, share ideas and be a part.
3) Trust ~ Pretty simple, huh?
Let me give you an example; You trust the local teenagers to be LIFEGUARDS at the pool, responsible for your children. You have faith in their judgement that they will save a drowning child.
So why would you not trust their opinions or ideas?
Sure! Some of their ideas may be far fetched to us. But I am sure some of ours were just as far fetched to our ‘elders’. But without the dreams and forward thinking and enthusiasm, rural communities will wither away.
So put a little trust in these kids and give them a seat at the big table.
Together we can make our communities better for all.
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Annette & Kate
If it involves small towns, rural, business or people, we write about it. Both the good and the bad. Part of our passion is helping you be the best you can be.