Small Business, Big Connections: Networking to Generate Leads


a line art of a small business owner in a store


You’ve got the fire in your gut ready to grow your business. You know you need to attract more quality leads will convert into clients.
a question mark above a signpost


But, you’re a solopreneur without the funds to hire help just yet. What do you do?
a logo of people with a magnet


You need to network to generate leads. Make a gameplan to network online and in-person with this blog.

Gut check: You’re a capable and confident service provider in your second year of business. You have a couple of happy steady clients. There’s no hint that they’re ready to let you go. But, your Spidey-sense knows that if either one of them dropped, 50% of your revenue is gone overnight. You start to think, “wait a second, this feels like another job without the benefits. I need more clients and more security.” This proactive thinking means you’re on the right path as a business owner. And, one thing is for sure: you need to start networking to generate leads.

You’ve got the fire in your gut ready to grow your business. You know you need to attract more quality leads will convert into clients. But, you’re a solopreneur without the funds to hire help just yet. What do you do?

The best way to grow your business is to prioritize your time and laser-focus on your ideal client.

They won’t magically come to you. You need to put yourself out there where quality leads are likely to be. Then, clearly, and consciously address their pain point with you as the solution. And let the magic happen. This is networking. Making big connections for your small business to grow.

Make an actionable plan of networking to generate leads with the help of this blog. Whether that’s online or in person.

First, Get Out of The Assumption Trap

The first step is to get out of the assumption trap. If you’re not a nationally recognized brand (nor willing to spend like one!) don’t assume people will come to you.

It’s not enough to post once or twice a month on a LinkedIn business page and expect leads. You might have fallen into this habit because networking feels uncomfortable to you. Or you “don’t have the time” to network in person.

But, social media is not a one-way communication street. For any networking to work, either online or in person, you must be willing to actively engage in dialogue. And people, aside from your mom, won’t follow your company page. Consumers don’t really care about brands; they want to know the people behind the company. Using social media as your lead generation engine will still require you to network.

Also, LinkedIn may not even be where your ideal clients are actively engaged. That’s a double-whammy of wasted time.

You need to get comfortable networking where your people can find you.

Define Your Ideal Leads Before You Start Networking

To get out of this trap, you need to define a few key things:

  1. What is an ideal client for your business? Ex: A millennial first-time homeowner who needs consistent HVAC maintenance. You can give a free workshop with DIY home maintenance tips to attract these ideal leads.
  2. What is necessary to know about a lead to determine if they are a good fit for your business? Ex: Someone who has shown interest in and requested more information. Maybe they filled out a form on your website. Or maybe you had a good conversation at an event and exchanged cards. If they showed interest, follow up!
  3. How does this ideal client make decisions. Are they spontaneous and make gut decisions? Do they want to feel a connection with the company? Are they methodical and do a lot of research? Do they like to quickly compare lots of options? This information is helpful because you can tailor your pitch using their language.
  4. Where does your ideal client get information? Do they value recommendations from friends? Do they frequent reddit forums for advice? Are they constantly on Facebook or TikTok? Wherever they are, make sure you’re seen there.

Network 101: Be Where Your People Are

Have you ever asked a lead “how did you hear about us?” They may not remember. Was it the Facebook post that they saw a few days ago. Or was it a Google search when they finally sat down at the computer? Did that search direct them to a blog post you wrote last year? Was it a conversation with a friend from 3 months ago they forgot they had?

There are so many touchpoints in the customer journey that are out of our control. All we can do is add value for our audience wherever they spend time, whether that’s online or in-person. The goal is to capture their attention and build credibility over time.

Make it easy for your ideal client to find you. But, the trick is to be selective and follow up.

Networking Online:

  • If your ideal clients are actively online, join groups and take part in the discussion. LinkedIn has a new feature where you can contribute to articles along with your peers.
  • If your ideal client likes to do a lot of research before deciding, write SEO-aligned blogs. Then add a link to your post on those forums offering assistance.
  • Let people see you in action before having to engage with you. You can do this with Facebook Live videos, or YouTube shorts.

Networking In-person:

  • Give a free presentation to a relevant group on a quarterly basis.
  • Lean on your referral network. Identify a “power team” of people who can be your cheerleaders. Or offer a referral program discount.
  • Join a local networking group such as SCORE, NIA, BNI, or your city’s Chamber of Commerce.
  • Check out MeetUp or EventBrite for local free networking events in your area.

Not every group nor method is for you. Try them out and pick a couple. Challenge yourself by going to at least one networking event per week. A sample roadmap could look like this:

Week 1: Attend 2 free networking groups via MeetUp or EventBrite. After the event, find the specific people on LinkedIn and connect with them. Send a follow up message indicating you’re looking forward to staying in touch. Offer a specific date for a follow up.

Week 2: Join 2 relevant Facebook Groups and introduce yourself. Go through the group members and find people who might be a good lead. Send them a direct message to learn more about them.

Week 3: Attend 1 in-person networking group that requires a membership. They usually let you attend a few meetings for free. Follow up with the connections you made. Schedule a one-on-one meeting to get to know them. Ask questions to assess if this is the right group for you.

Week 4: Decide on a paid networking group and join it.

Be Patient. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day.

Networking doesn’t need to feel pushy or salesy. It’s about making the big connections to help your small business grow long term. It’s about being selective with your time and finding the people with which you gel.

They’re not going to magically find you. You need to learn to communicate with them on their level. Otherwise, no one will listen.

You can’t neglect to follow up. Leads and prospects need on average 5 touchpoints before they decide. Master your skill of tactfully following up without scaring them away. You don’t want to chase after uninterested people. You want to create a strong network by forming bonds with your ideal clients.

It’s not going to happen overnight. Building momentum takes time to go from a snowflake to an avalanche. And it all starts with a conversation.

We Are The Story Tellers

If you’ve tried networking before but still can’t seem to generate leads you might need to revise your pitch offer. Aducate Digital are expert storytellers. We can help you craft an authentic message that people will hear. It’s your story. We’re here to help you share it. Let’s get the conversation started today. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation.  


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