As we roll into 2014 (literally in my case, far too many chocs over Christmas) many small business owners are contemplating their goals and plans for the coming year. As business development specialists this is usually a very busy time of year for us, we receive significantly more enquiries during January than at any other time of the year. Perhaps one of the reasons is the break which allows us time to consider the direction of the business. Although only on the 2nd of January we have already received a number of communications from existing clients, previous clients and new potentials all wishing to increase, review and develop their business. When discussing these plans I feel one of the most important and beneficial development activities we can recommend is business networking.
can be a key asset to companies of any size and industry. While effective advertising, good customer service and a high quality product will all contribute to better sales for a small business, the potential relationships and exposure which accompany business networking are equally as important. The concept can seem daunting to small business owners and first-time networkers, but the advantages of business networking are especially useful to smaller businesses without massive resources or numbers of staff.
is first and foremost a way to form mutually-beneficial relationships with companies from other industries or sectors, which could lead to new clients and customers further down the road. Even if you’re unsure of how other businesses could help you, or exactly what direction your business is headed in, by simply attending and conversing with other members you’ll be opening doors for your businesses. You may not feel particularly comfortable with public speaking or meeting lots of new people at once, but the trusting relationships and relaxed atmosphere which come with business networking mean you’ll be enjoying yourself and meeting potential clients in no time.
The easiest way to begin business networking is to attend one of the many business and trade networking events, organised by groups like The Last Hurdle™. If you’re interested in forming relationships with other businesses, and enjoying the additional exposure or referrals which could result from these, then you’ll want to know exactly what a business networking event entails.
As with any organised event, informal introductions over tea and coffee generally begin proceedings. Members will also hand out business cards, but with upwards of 20 companies represented at a typical event, make sure to bring enough. Even if you don’t require any services or products at present, business cards can be useful points of contact to hold in the future.
Members may also give a brief presentation about their company, explaining what they offer, why they’re experts and how they can help fellow attendees.The Last Hurdle™, like a lot of business networking events allow only one business per profession, you’ll have the chance to pitch your company without the fear of any competition or compromise.
Many of us find the prospect of a presentation daunting, especially with a subject as important as our business. Fortunately, many business networking events will also feature training and workshops on a variety of essential skills, including public speaking. If nothing else, by networking you’ll improve your business conduct and increase your chances of gaining new clients and customers in future.
As a small business owner, by starting to network you’ll improve your professional skills, form mutually-beneficial business relationships and reap the rewards through referred sales. Some of the largest business networking groups boast referrals worth over £300 million every single year, and with regular meetings across the United Kingdom, what’s stopping you from joining in? What have you got to lose? Better still ask: What can you gain?
The Last Hurdle™ currently have 2 groups running in Potterspury and Buckingham and are developing plans to launch more groups in 2014, additional areas will be announced in the near future. If you would like to register your interest please contact firstname.lastname@example.org