Peer networking might sound kind of daunting, but it’s really not complicated. In fact, it’s quite simple. All it really means is having conversations with co-workers, friends, and other people within your industry or in related businesses. Whether you realize it or not, these everyday conversations that you’re already having are part of building relationships that can end up leading to others being willing to help you in the future.
Feeling Less Alone Through Peer Networking
Maybe in your community, you are alone. Maybe you’re the only dance studio or even the only children’s activity center in town — or at least the only one with similar goals and values. You can leverage the power of social media through discussion boards, Facebook user groups, and other online forums to contact myriad business owners just like you! You can also use social media to connect with other local professionals who can become assets to your business.
Emily Finch, who owns Dance 101 in Tempe, AZ, knows what it’s like to experience how peer networking can counteract that sense of isolation. “Running a dance studio can often feel like you are alone on an island in the middle of the ocean! We encounter so many different issues everyday that it can be overwhelming. And sometimes those outside of our industry just don’t quite understand our complexities. This is why I take the time to nurture my dance teacher and studio owner network.”
Getting Recommendations When You Need Them
Most of the time, even your competitors will be willing to share with you their own experiences and best practices. Many activity center owners meet with local colleagues to discuss a variety of non-competitive topics ranging from sources they use for equipment and supplies, facility needs, and human resources. You might not want to share your bottom line or your new ideas for increasing enrollment, but tax tips that apply to all small businesses or local companies you’ve found to have pricing favorable to your organization can be helpful tidbits to share — and ask your peers about.
If you’re in the habit of nurturing these local friend-competitive relationships on a regular basis, you’ll be in a much stronger position to hear back from an e-mail you send out requesting suggestions that relate to an urgent need. The most successful clients that Jackrabbit has report to spending time with industry-specific as well as general business-owner peers from whom they learn best practices which they apply to their own organizations.
Peer networking can enhance your business and your professional life in countless ways; the ones we’ve mentioned are only some of the most obvious or frequently observed. But peer networking is a way of building rapport, and it can come from a variety of sources: family, neighborhood, church, and other social networks. By interacting with your peers in various areas of life, you’ll become a more well-connected individual that will be sure to attract others to your organization and promote personal growth.