Most businesses and entrepreneurs recognise the advantages of developing their knowledge and understanding of the market they work in. Networking with other businesses in your space can allow you to share experiences and ideas with one another, as well as make some valuable contacts with potential clients or partners.
For small and start-up businesses in particular networking can provide a lifeline of support and extensive business development, by offering that much needed assistance in the early days. Meeting with like-minded entrepreneurs can be a key source of information and support as it allows you to compare and discuss a wide range of common issues, from legal and regulatory developments, to employment matters, supplier contacts and customer services.
Networking is also a great way to boost your business’ reputation and make new contacts. By becoming an established and regular networker, you can propel your business onto the radar of other companies and industry figures. This will allow you to build mutually beneficial relationships not only with other companies in your field, but also with suppliers or potential customers, which in turn will help to expand your market. But the scope goes beyond the UK market, as international exhibitions and conferences can enable you to establish overseas partnerships.
There are a whole host of different networking groups available today for businesses in all sectors and all geographical locations. Online networking has also taken off in recent years, with sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter leading the field of social networking. They are a great way to make new contacts and keep up with existing ones, as well as engaging with customers instantaneously, which can do wonders for your business’ reputation.
With all forms of networking, both events-based and online, the extent to which you benefit will depend on the events and networks you participate in and how actively you become involved. Some businesses are disinclined to attend networking events and seek advice from others because they are concerned about giving a competitor an opportunity to take advantage of. Nevertheless, the benefits of participating usually outweigh any disadvantages for most businesses.