In today’s economy we are seeing a rise in entrepreneurs who are starting up businesses in literally every industry imaginable. From technology to homemade crafts, startups are on the rise, creating a need for wholesale supplies to keep those purchases cost effective. In the past it took literally hours, if not days, to research wholesalers that provide the products needed at costs that were affordable to a small startup or a growing SME. With the rise of social networking and B2B portals, this task is no longer as time consuming as it once was. What Exactly Is a B2B Portal? Since a portal can be simply defined as a doorway, a B2B portal is a door through which one business can go to enter a place where other businesses ‘reside.’ Sometimes B2B portals have the intent of building networks where business owners can interact with, learn from and/or gain contacts from other business owners in the same or a similar niche. One of the earliest types of B2B portals was used by sales professionals for lead generation. For example, insurance salesmen would join a B2B network to get leads on potential customers who may be in need of the type of insurance they were selling. If you were selling home owner’s insurance you might join a real estate network for leads on new home buyers. Today’s portals offer so much more than mere lead generation, but that is also a viable option. What B2B Portals Have to Offer Often, putting a new product into production costs more money than an entrepreneur has access to. Not only is it possible to find wholesale products on a B2B portal but they are also great sources for rounding up funding. Some B2B portals are designed as crowdfunding sites where other business men and women and random investors can help raise the capital necessary to get a project off the ground. Other times a business owner is looking for particular materials at wholesale prices so that the production cost per item can be kept low, keeping profits proportionately high. This is just some of what B2B portals have to offer. B2B Portals Can Help to Move Products Alternately, some businesses are looking for an outlet for products they offer for sale. Wholesalers can take advantage of B2B portals as a means of finding potential customers for their product line. Not only can business owners find cost effective parts and merchandise that they need to produce their own product lines but they can also offer what they have for sale on a B2B portal. The whole idea of a doorway between businesses is to provide a means for growing your own business, helping others to expand and keep the economy flowing smoothly through these joint efforts. B2B Portals Offer a Global Reach Also, a B2B portal offers a way to search by industry, making it more time and cost effective to find exactly what you are looking for in one location. Perhaps you could think of it as a way to list your products much like you would have in days gone by in the business directory of a telephone book. However, B2B portals are set up in such a way as to attract other businesses in same or similar industries and due to the global reach of the internet, your audience becomes much broader as well. You may find manufacturers in China or India even though your business is located in Manchester or Bristol. How B2B Portals Work When first encountering a B2B portal it may be a bit confusing as to how they work. Actually, a B2B portal is much like a social networking site in that you join the group and then usually are allowed to post products or services you either need or have to offer. Not all portals work in exactly the same way but most often you will be required to set up a profile to tell others who you are, what it is you do and generally what you want other business owners to know about your company. Not only is this a great way to make new contacts but as mentioned, you can often find products or services that are difficult to locate through more conventional methods. Can Anyone Join a B2B Portal? Here again, each site will have its own rules and regulations. Some B2B portals require you to be an established business with all the proper documentations and others simply let you list your business, registered with the proper authorities or not. Most often membership is open but there may be some portals that are designed to cater to a specific industry or niche within. The narrower the niche, the more restrictions which may be placed on who can join. Depending on your specific industry, you may opt for broader or narrower portals. Some business owners choose to join more than one portal to ensure getting the most contacts and leads possible. Does It Cost to Join a B2B Portal? One of the most common questions many ‘newbies’ ask is whether or not there is a cost to join a B2B portal. Although each site will be set up a bit differently, the most common B2B portals are probably going to be ad driven. It is no secret that the cost of setting up and running a website can be quite high so the site owner will need to determine how best to recuperate those costs and make a profit as well. Some, as stated, have ad-driven sites whilst others will charge nominal fees for listing product availability. There is no set standard so you will need to read the site rules before joining. For those portals that charge, many may offer a ‘trial’ period where you can test drive the portal before opting for a paid service. B2B portals may seem like a new idea but they are built on the age old concept of networking. However, today’s portals/networks offer so much more than mere lists of names that may or may not turn into a saleable contact. B2B portals of today offer everything from a place to find leads, a place to find product and a place to offer merchandise for sale to other businesses also striving towards growth. With so many new businesses popping up on a daily basis, B2B portals offer a direct avenue to growth unlike anything known in the past. Images “ businessman and businesswoman, business to business concept / Shutterstock.com“ ________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. 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