Local Businesses Partner UpYou know the local business networking opportunities like chambers of commerce, neighborhood merchant associations and Rotary Clubs.  Meet the next generation: Online platforms designed to help local, vertically related businesses work together in sharing customer lists, developing joint promotions, creating local shopping zones, and trading industry insights (such as the best approach to working with local landlords, business organizations, and government bodies). .


Having branded itself as the “social network for local businesses,” Alignable provides a user-friendly forum through which small business owners are able to connect, collaborate, and build relationships. In their mission statement, cofounders Eric Groves and Venkat Krishnamurthy state, “We believe that local businesses are stronger together.” Beyond relationship building and word-of-mouth referrals, Alignable focuses on “unlock[ing] access to the collective wisdom of the local business community.”


In the “Shop Local” movement, coalition loyalty programs have become a powerful way for merchants to cultivate a strong local economy. LoyalTap provides a forum through which local small businesses can partner and develop such a program. According to the website, “LoyalTap offers customizable challenges and rewards based on the distinct nature of each individual business…and can be custom-branded towards your unique local business community.”


VentureBeat calls Powerlinx “the eHarmony for business,” as this tech forum is focused on providing a space in which strategic business-to-business partnerships can be established and developed. What makes Powerlinx unique is that it is leveraging the latest in big data and algorithm technology to help corporate partners connect. As the company explains, “Powerlinx is building a better way to identify and connect with new strategic partners…all based on hundreds of millions of data points.”


In today’s business world, networking is more important than ever, and Townsquared provides a free online network where small business owners can do just that. Offering business news and information along with topic forums (focused on everything from marketing to local crime), the forum allows merchants to join individually and/or form local small business industry groups. As explained on the website, “Townsquared verifies every person who joins to ensure you’re communicating only with actually business owners…from your neighborhood.”