Few social network holdouts among small-business owners

An increasing number of smaller companies see social connections and face-to-face relationships as equally valuable to growing their business.

If your small business has been a holdout when it comes to social networking, you might want to reconsider.

Fully 90 percent of the 600 small-business owners surveyed by online community Manta in August 2012 are using online networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and (as you might expect) Manta to connect with potential customers and business partners.

And slightly more than half of them believe social networking and face-to-face methods are equally valuable.

The biggest benefit? Approximately 35 percent said being found by new customers was the main reason to invest in online networking.

Realistically, most of their sales leads still come from offline methods: 42 percent of the respondents said about one-quarter of new customers came via social networks or online channels.

The amount of time that small-business owners dedicate to nurturing online contacts might be less than you think – 38 percent of the respondents said they spend a quarter of their time there.

The top place to cultivate new business? As you might expect, the answer was Facebook. 

Here's the complete Manta infographic dissecting the results:

Manta SMB Survey Infographic_final