Business Community: A Closer Look

One of the phenomena I’ve observed in producing and hosting the Small Business Summit, http://smallbiztechsummit.com, over the past 5 years is the business community that has built up around this activity. In addition to attendees we have a number of loyal sponsors who have come back year after year to support our efforts and take advantage of the growing small business community interested in business and technology.

At the Summit you get to reconnect with old friends and have the opportunity to make new ones. We have heard time after time that great new business connections are made at the Summit each year. That’s the bottom line value of the Summit. I hope you will join me at this year’s Summit and experience what I’m talking about.

The Summit is an example of an Informal community; people in a variety of tech and other businesses who come together annually to be updated on technology for small business, make new connections and reconnect with old friends. In this year’s afternoon Summit panel you’ll be hearing from three ladies who have built business communities, “Building Community: Three Successful Women Share Their Stories”.

As I see it there are three types of business communities:

Informal – There is no structure. You come together with others for a variety of business-related purposes. You often see the same people at different events and you begin to gain a level of recognition by your sheer frequency of presence. If you participate in a visible way, your recognition and reputation will grow quickly. Social networks are an informal community.

Formal – These are communities organized for specific purposes, industries, connections and more. The value for most small businesses is being able to use these communities as connections for information, resources, education, networking and growing their business. Here you have the opportunity to contribute in a more structured way. You can serve on committees, help at events, organize programs, etc.

Personal – Then there is your own personal business community; those you do business with, look to for expertise, obtain services and resources from. The more you make yourself available to the members of your community the faster your connections will grow.

Chances are you are a member of all three. For any community of which you are a part, it’s good to know why you are involved. Then participate at the right level to fulfill your intent.

And what they say is true; you do get out of your community what you put into it. Participation at an appropriate level for you is where you will get the most value.

NOTE: Stay tuned to learn about the new structure I have created to organize the small business leader community, BizLeaders Network, being introduced at Small Business Summit 2010.