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The hidden benefits of networking

Networking brings benefits beyond meeting new potential customers
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Networking brings benefits beyond meeting new potential customers
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

One great way to generate more business and get known throughout your local community is by getting involved in networking groups. The initial benefits of networking can be massive – word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to encourage sales and influence people to come to you, and expanding your local network is one of the best ways to start. But there are other benefits of networking that are often overlooked; we’ve asked some of our Churchill Square Business Centre customers what additional advantages they’ve found from participating in regular networking.

Why should you go networking?

Networking can be fantastic for growing your business because it’s about sharing, not just taking. If you build a robust network of like-minded businesses, then the referrals you give are highly likely to be reciprocated by your fellow networkers, giving you an ideal platform from which to grow your business. 

The hidden benefits of networking

The initial pros of networking may be fairly obvious, but there are plenty of other opportunities and benefits that networking can bring, not just to your business, but to your personal progression.

Personal progression

Some networking groups will have standard protocols to go through that help to encourage you and your peers to recommend and refer business between each other. For example, the networking giant BNI requires participants to give short pitches during each meeting. This often takes people out of their comfort zone, helping them to face a fear and improve something they may have struggled with before.

This is a key benefit identified by our customer, Paul Woodger, director of creative design agency Mivvy Creative: “For me, the single biggest benefit has been an increased confidence when presenting and talking to clients. I come from being employed and never having to win business myself. Nowadays I have to present ideas to clients and stand up in front of people. Doing this regularly through networking has helped me massively and I feel much more at ease talking to groups and presenting.”

Another of our customers, James King of Quality Bailiffs, who is a member of BNI Gravesend, agrees: “The main benefit I’ve got is personal development.  A year ago, I was just a bailiff, but after 12 months of standing up every week to present my business, I’m now comfortable standing up in front of our clients – solicitors and chartered surveyors – for two hours at a time to run Continuous Professional Development training courses for them.  I’ve learnt how to present, how to pitch and how to listen and speak.”

New business opportunities

Networking groups expose you to a multitude of new businesses, many of which you may never have encountered before. This unique exposure can give you insights into how you might be able to work alongside other businesses that you never realised could help you: "Networking has also given me the opportunity to understand how other businesses who I never thought could be of benefit to my business can help support and develop it,” continued James King. “For example, I never thought social media would be relevant to a bailiff, but I now have a social media expert who is helping me to build relationships and plant seeds through subtle story telling on LinkedIn."

Business support

Gaining the advice and help of your peers is one excellent advantage of networking. This is especially true for new and growing business owners who may be inexperienced. The support and help offered by more experienced business owners who have already tackled the challenges you might be facing can really help you to progress through tough business times.

“Support from business networking groups such as BNI and Ladies Who Latte was vital for me; business referrals aside, you get so much support, and when you’re on your own, you need that,” commented Catherine Overton of Booker Wyatt Accounting.

Paul Woodger of Mivvy Creative adds: “There is a huge level of support you get from networking. In the groups I attend there is this underlying will to see your peers succeed; I want everyone in the room to do well and I believe they want the same for me. There’s this real sense of ‘team’.

“Working from home in the beginning is very isolating and networking means a chance to check in with others in a similar situation. You get support and reassurance, business-driven conversation and a wider audience of people getting to know, like and trust you. Aside from that it’s the meeting and working with other like-minded businesses. I collaborate with and have developed some solid relationships with other business people, whose services compliment my business – this enables us both to service our clients better. I work a lot with a PR and Marketing agency and we pass work regularly to one another. They do the words; I do the pictures and design. I’ve met some amazing photographers, videographers and social media experts through networking too. Having someone to bounce ideas off is always good and offers that much-needed second point of view.”

Networking can be an excellent way not only to grow your business but to develop both interpersonal skills and business acumen.

To find out how CapitalSpace virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667