Nothing beats face-to-face networking when it comes to driving new revenue, small business owners say. Online social networks don't hold a candle to in-person efforts when it comes to making the cash register sing, a new survey shows. And what really makes it work is that artifact from the olden days of business, the humble business card.
Nearly 90 percent of small business owners (SBO) reported that networking has led to "at least some" new business and nearly one-third said it has brought "a lot" of new business to their company, according to a survey of more than 1,000 consumers and business owners sponsored by MOO, an online printer.
The linchpin for all this networking is the business card. A majority of both the general population (67 percent) and SBOs (78 percent) agree that the business card, long thought to be a dying medium, remains a critical component of successful networking, the survey found.
And nearly half of SBOs (48 percent) said that they were giving out more business cards today than they did five years ago.
Nearly half of them (44 percent) said they believe that handing out 100 business cards would generate $5,000 or more in revenue.
However, business cards are not the only golden oldies seeing a resurgence in the networked world. Among all respondents, traditional methods of follow-up such as email, phone calls and notes remain the standard after making a new business connection, as opposed to just sending a LinkedIn or Facebook invitation.
Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed said that email is the best way to follow up for all respondents. Email (38 percent) and phone (32 percent) are the preferred methods for SBOs, with 4 percent continuing the tradition of sending a handwritten note.
Though a majority of SBOs use online social networks, their impact remains to be seen, the survey found. Only one-third of SBOs find social media "very valuable" in their business and one half of them don't even list social networks on their business cards.
"It is imperative for small business owners to leverage every tool at their disposal," said Richard Moross, founder of MOO. "This study supports the idea that face-to-face networking is an anchor for building a thriving business and is complemented by the growing social media platforms available today."