The top five UK small business networks

Published · 3 min read

Networking is the key to unlocking business growth, but it might not be one of your priorities. After all you have enough to do, such as:

  • Ensuring your cash flow
  • Growing your business
  • Business planning
  • Sales and marketing
  • Staff management…and the rest.

But, what if I told you that networking could help you with all of the above areas of your business and much more?

Networking is imperative for small businesses and is the key to unlocking business growth. Here are 5 ways it can help:

Collaboration

Small business networking events are an opportunity to meet potential collaborators, those whose business are different but complement yours and those who are similar. Collaboration with the right partners can enable you to diversify your offering reaching new markets and to go for larger contracts. Ultimately helping your business to grow.

Customers

There’s nothing better than word of mouth as a sales and marketing method for your business. The business people that attend small business networking events will either be potential customers or they will know people or businesses that they could recommend you too. Nurturing relationships with them could grow your potential customer base exponentially and ensure your cash flow for the future.

Continuous professional development

Small business networking often has an element of learning, whether that is a speaker at the front of the room imparting knowledge, or learning about how other businesses are doing. It’s a great way to stay ahead of the curve, invest in and develop yourself, as well as finding out about the latest trends that could impact your business.

Camaraderie

Daily life as a business owner is a roller coaster, sharing your trails, tribulations and successes with people that really understand what it’s like can give you just the boost you need, particularly at times when it’s feeling difficult for you. Remember that you should attend when things are going well too, a network should be nurtured before you actually need it.

Competition… in a good way

A small business network can serve to stretch your thinking and goals beyond what you anticipated. Hearing and seeing the achievements of other small businesses can inspire you to greater heights, this can take your business to the next level of growth. In addition, you may find other businesses asking you for advice and realise how far you’ve come.

So now I’ve convinced you how important small business networking is, how do you find one? Well, here are my recommendations for the best small business networks around.

1. Chamber of Commerce

The British Chambers of Commerce is an independent business network with Accredited Chambers in every nation and region of the UK, and in key markets around the world. Chambers provide practical advice and support to British companies trading around the world. Chambers are also working to bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work, helping businesses find the talent they need, and boosting the career prospects of young people.

Find out more http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/

2. Federation of Small Business

The Federation of Small Business offers members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government. Their mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.

Find out more http://www.fsb.org.uk/

3. Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors is dedicated to supporting members, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and promoting responsible business practice for the benefit of the business community and society as a whole.

Find out more http://www.iod.com/

4. BNI

BNI is a business networking referral organisation. BNI allows only one representative from each trade or profession to join any BNI group,

Find out more http://www.bni.co.uk/

5. 1230 The Women’s Company

For women looking for business growth, more contacts, support, advice, expertise, training and to connect with other focused, savvy business women in a welcoming, productive and informal environment.

Find out more http://1230.co.uk/

Try one of the above networks, and if it’s not right for you, try another and if you can’t find one you like, create one. There are no excuses, get networking and grow your business.

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