Business Networking - the options

by Christine Rayner

Business networking is a really valuable tool for any business, existing or new. It is not just about finding new business/selling it is also about getting support and advice. In this blog we will explore the various types of groups and how you might decide the one that would work for you and your business.

If you enjoy meeting new people and generally networking then just try as many business networking events as you can fit into your timetable. It will become clear the ones you feel work best for you. If you are a little shyer and find these type of events a little scary then there are ones that are easier and less scary.

Let’s explore the different groups - they are in no particular order just as they came to me as I was writing this blog. Firstly there are membership groups - typically you will be expected to join for between 6 and 12 months paying a membership fee in addition and you may also need to pay for your breakfast. Meetings will be weekly, fortnightly or monthly and will most likely be a closed group where only one representative from a specific profession is allowed to join. Events are normally structured and will include a one minute presentation (sometimes known as an elevator pitch) by each member. Guest are allowed and encouraged and they will also have the opportunity to say a few words about their own business.

The other popular groups are those were you just dip in and dip out - there is no membership and any guests are welcome -there are no limitations to professions. These types of Business Networking events are often less formal and there may be no opportunity to do a one minute. They are likely to be held regularly often monthly. Another opportunity for business networking is any of the many seminars, workshops and presentations that are available to businesses through various organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce or the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment).

I would recommend trying different groups - they are all different according to the members. Once you have been to one you will find contacts who can recommend others. This is a fun business activity that can bring about great rewards both from a business perspective and a personal development perspective.

Share your experiences of that first networking meeting, how you found out about it and how you approached it.