Why networking in small towns?

In small towns, we’re naturally networked. We know lots of people, we work together on community projects, and we run into each other casually around town. (Ever spend 30 minutes in the grocery store just to get 2 items, because you stopped and talked to 5 people you know?) So you might think that a formal networking exercise would be a waste of time in a small town. It’s not. 

Intentional networking activities have a place in small towns.

Norfolk County, Ontario, did a networking exercise at their recent Economic Development and Tourism Symposium. People signed up, and they could choose from a list of other participants who they wanted to meet for a short session. Clark Hoskin had the unenviable task of working out all the schedules. (I’ve saved you a copy of the details as a PDF, including the hilariously perfect photo they sent by email with the caption, “This man is not a criminal.” Go read it, and save a copy to refer to later.)

One surprising finding: people asked for meetings even with people they already knew. They weren’t looking for an introduction. They were looking for a time to make a pitch or open a conversation about a future project. Even people who run into each other around town may not get a chance to start a deeper conversation. You know, the post office lobby often isn’t the right place to ask about earning someone’s business. 

This deliberate networking exercise became the right time to kick off those important conversations.

The lesson learned:
Intentional networking activities have a place in small towns.

So, how about your town. How are you facilitating intentional networking even among people who already know each other? Hit reply and tell me about it. I’ll share back all the good stuff on Small Biz Survival.