To be successful, all business owners need reliable employees. However, finding and retaining quality employees has a unique set of challenges, and these days it seems even more difficult. But with a well-developed business network, hiring a team of dedicated long-term staff is very doable.

When you’re a business owner with primarily regional customers, finding talent within your local pool is necessary. The goals for any new hire are pretty standard; hard-working, honest, efficient. While there’s plenty of other criteria for hiring the right person for the job, these are pretty core to the individual regardless of the position. Attempting to detect these things from an interview or a resume takes a keen eye and experience, and even then, the employee may not pan out.

Trying to rely on recruiters or employment agencies when your business is localized can be pricey and does not come with many guarantees. A personalized and curated network of trusted business leaders can help fill your employment pipeline. Local candidates referred by your business network are in a way pre-vetted, giving you some assurances before even meeting. Also, local job seekers are less likely to misrepresent themselves because of how easy it is to verify their information.

Hiring locally also reflects well for a business that is primarily doing business within its region. It shows customers that you care about your community, inspires positive word of mouth, and supports the local economy. Utilizing your network and hiring locals also ensure a better culture fit within the organization. Sharing a community-centered background is an excellent way for employees to find common ground and work well together, which can bolster productivity.

Treating and caring about employees’ wellbeing is a critical part of the networking equation too. If you treat employees with the respect they deserve, they can be vocal advocates for additional hires. Even if there isn’t a fit between an employer and employee, that doesn’t mean the employee can’t be an asset for new hires in the future. Circumstances change all the time, but if the working relationship ends on good terms, then bringing that person into the network’s fold for potential future hires is a good idea.

It’s essential to always be networking, for your sake and your business’s sake. Volunteering, becoming involved in organizations with meaning for you and your family and staying active on social platforms like LinkedIn or Alignable all help build a healthy network. Local chambers of commerce are essential organizations to become a part of, and networking with local colleges can also give you a leg up for hiring. In addition, there are often peer-to-peer business groups to consider joining where other local leaders will have hiring suggestions and recommendations.

Having a solid network is crucial for growing a business. It can take years of building that network before the effects on your business take place but ultimately will happen. To use a simple plant metaphor, the more you water it, the more it grows. So put yourself out there, talk about your business, future goals, hiring initiatives, and what an ideal employee is for you. Sooner than later, you will reap the many benefits a well-established business network can have.