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Importance of local networking to small businesses

24 Jul 2018

Local network of small businesses

Everyone in business has heard the mantra ‘people buy people’, which basically means that you’re more likely to buy from someone you know and trust. With so many companies offering the same kind of products and services as you, why would people give their money to you if they don’t know you?

Which leads to another saying: ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. But if you’ve only recently started up in business, how are your potential clients supposed to know you’re there?

The answer is, by going to local networking meetings.

Don’t sell anything, just be yourself

There is a common misconception that networking meetings are places to sell your goods or services. Wrong. They’re places to build up great relationships with other local business people, regardless of whether or not they’re potential clients or suppliers. Once people get to know you, like you and trust you, they’ll start putting business your way, either directly or by referrals. Networking is a slow burner so attend the ones you like best on a regular basis, and don’t expect to see results for a while.

There are huge advantages to building up relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners by regular networking:

Advice – Networking meetings are great places to get informal advice. Whilst most business people would expect you to hire their services for big issues, they’re more than happy to give free advice here and there to networking colleagues. If you are new to running your own business, they can be especially helpful, as somebody in the room is bound to have come across the same problems at some point in their career, so you’ve got a lot of experience to call upon.

Colleagues – If you employ staff, you will not be able to have the same kind of relationship with them as you can with another MD or leader. At networking meetings you will be in the same position as most of the other people in the room, enabling you to discuss issues with them that they’ll understand.

Friends – If you are running a company on your own, it can be a very lonely business. Networking meetings provide you with a friendly boost and the chance to catch up on all the water cooler gossip you might have missed, so you don’t have to feel so isolated.

Buying local – By doing business with local companies, you will be contributing to the local economy – especially important when the big chains are so dominant on every high street.

There are many different types of networking groups in and around Hertford so you are bound to find one, two or more that are suited to your needs, whether you are looking for drop-in sessions or regular meetings such as weekly/monthly breakfast or lunchtime events. How much you do depends on how much time and money you feel you can afford to invest in small business networking.

We also find that business people who rent desk or office space at the UOE Hub in Hertford gain huge advantages because of the informal networking opportunities available. Click here to find out more. We will also be opening a new UOE Hub in Stoke Newington later in the year – watch this space!

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