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How to Get Local Business Owners Together

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 11 Jul 2012 | comments*Discuss
Local Business Networking Small

If you're going to make a success of joint local business enterprises, it's essential that you know how to bring business leaders together in the first place. Small businesses are used to operating independently, often on tight budgets - they're wary of communicating with what they perceive as competitors and they're wary of making unplanned investments. You'll need all your networking and negotiating skills to interest them in your project, but once you've done that, how can you interest them in working together?

Leadership and Delegation

In order for a team to work, it needs a strong leader. As the person who brings the team together, you are the natural choice for that role. But being a good leader doesn't simply mean telling people what to do. It means providing a vision, inspiring your team to share it, and helping them to determine how they can work towards it. The most important quality you must bring to bear in this situation is confidence. When they're unsure what to do, most people follow the lead of the most confident person present. To have real confidence, instead of just a show of confidence which people will easily see through, you'll need to really know what you're talking about, to have researched your local business enterprise idea thoroughly and to be wholeheartedly committed to it. Don't rush getting your team together - wait until you are in a position to do this.

As a leader, it's important to delegate some responsibilities to other members of your team. This isn't just a way of offloading work, it's a way of giving other people some authority within the project and thus encouraging them to make an emotional investment in it. The best way to do this is usually to give your fellow business owners authority over project areas that reflect their particular skills and experience. Try to avoid constructing teams where there is likely to be competition for these positions.

Finding Common Ground

Just because everybody in your team is drawn to the same local enterprise doesn't mean that they'll feel they share very much else. When you first get together, it's a good idea to share social as well as business planning activities - for instance, by going for a drink after your meeting is over - so that you can get to know one another better. This will improve everybody's networking skills and will help you to bond as a team. As team leader, it will be your job to steer the conversation toward appropriate subjects. Remember that you all have one thing in common to begin with, and that's the local area. Try to find positive ways to talk about it to make everybody feel that they're doing the right thing.

As well as talking about the local area, you can find common ground on the subject of business experiences. Try talking about your experiences of starting up and hurdles you've overcome. This will enable participants to feel positive about themselves and about their abilities to contribute to the new project, as well as demonstrating that the others are capable professionals.

Building a Business Community

When you get your team together, at every stage in the project development process it's worth emphasising the importance of small businesses to the local community, and the symbiotic relationship they have with it. You can bring your team members together by demonstrating that they are already part of a single entity - the local neighbourhood. It's up to you to show them that working together with this in mind can make the neighbourhood economy stronger in comparison to those in the surrounding area, putting all of you in a stronger position and improving your business prospects.

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