Networking Locally to Power Your Business Globally
Finding like-minded small business owners can be a lifeline. Read more on the benefits of building beneficial business relationships
Starting out in business is challenging; it can sometimes feel like you’re an army of one facing competition that’s better resourced. Therefore, like-minded small business owners can be a lifeline to each other for sharing experiences and improving in-house knowledge.
Regional economies depend heavily on small businesses for growth, and in turn these firms depend on locally supported network groups to keep up to date with local developments and gain new skills. According to statistics carried out by Business Network SW, 87% of small businesses benefit immensely from networking.
Active networking can help to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Other top benefits include:
- Discussing issues of common interest
- Developing shared ideas
- Raising business profile
- Expanding markets
How to meet network partners:
- Personal introductions by an existing network member – get in touch with Business Link for details and scope of local network meetings or the Chamber of Commerce for networking opportunities for members.
- Talk to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which provides advice and funding for work-based training and workforce development, and may have links with local educational or skills providers.
- Meet well-connected people by getting involved with non-profit organisations; volunteer for a core committee, such as fund-raising or events planning. Your good deeds will get noticed and could ultimately lead to new client and customer referrals. You’ll also have a chance to polish new skills and attend great parties.
- Identify the ‘connector’. At your next event or gathering, look around and locate the man or woman who seems super confident, is surrounded by people jostling for his or her attention, and seems to know them all by name. That’s the connector. The connector is masterful at winning friends, introducing people and networking. Find a way to introduce yourself to the connector and you’ll gain access to a whole new community.
A network’s strength in any particular area or service depends on how actively its partners exchange information with each other and reciprocate. A well-run network will thrive if its participants play an active role in keeping the network topical and relevant. If you have experienced the benefits of a network, consider any other contacts that would enjoy them. Talk to other businesses about what you have gained and introduce them to the network.
You can research international networks through UK-based overseas chambers of commerce. For details, visit the British Chambers of Commerce. The British Council also provides businesses with introductions to high-quality professionals in key industrial sectors from important developing international markets.
John Davis is Managing Director of Business Centric Services Group (BSCG).