In this month’s article, we’ll define business networking, look at the different types of networking events available to you, and outline the main benefits of attending a B2B networking event.
‘The people in attendance at The Cheshire Business Directory networking event were a great cross section of local businesses – who were great advocates for what they do. Small business networking was important before the pandemic, but it is even more vital now, both for support and to find new opportunities. I look forward to continuing to work with the group.’
Esther McVey, Conservative Party politician, serving as Member of Parliament for Tatton
What is Business Networking?
Networking events give businesses a platform within the community to showcase what they do. They provide people with the opportunity to come together to meet potential new clients, suppliers or collaborators. Business representatives can share ideas, offer support and advice and arrange future partnerships.
Businesses will get the chance to engage with colleagues from a range of sectors and backgrounds, each with differing levels of experience. This diversity stimulates creativity, and provides business owners with a renewed sense of perspective and purpose.
Ultimately, networking gives attendees the opportunity to solidify their business within the local community. Being armed with a team of loyal supporters allows businesses to connect, grow and flourish, both professionally and personally.
‘In the past 18 months, Kerry has supported Fox Graphics Design and Marketing relentlessly and we have successfully secured business directly from her online networking events, speed networking and Directory. I can honestly say that her input has ensured we stayed in business. Highly recommend.’
Kate Fox, Fox Graphics Design and Marketing
The Different Types of Business Networking Events
There are so many ways that you can get involved with business networking. Events come in all shapes and sizes. There really is a networking event to suit everyone, although you may need to shop around before you find your perfect fit.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, online business networking has becoming increasingly popular. The accessibility of online events has also levelled the playing field for many businesses, being a cost-effective networking solution for many. Rural start-ups, for example, can now easily jump on a call and meet businesses from right across the country, all before 9am if they wish to. High demand means that many networks are creating out of hours events, from early bird catch ups to teatime socials.
In-person networking attendance rates are now close to those seen pre-pandemic, with many businesses now clamouring to feel a stronger social connection within their local community. You’ll find a whole range of in-person business networking. Some networks hire out exclusive venues and welcome hundreds of representatives; others are more intimate and less formal, capping numbers to ensure everyone present has the time to work the room and achieve their aims.
When finding your ideal business networking event, it’s important to think of the kind of environment where you feel most comfortable. Would you rather be suited and booted, presenting to hundreds of other attendees, or would you feel more at ease in a relaxed and informal setting?
Business networking events also offer different schedules and running orders, from formal, sit-down dinners to inspiring talks from guest speakers. Sticking rigidly to tight schedules can hinder some businesses. Time to network freely is essential if you are to get the most out of the event.
Remember to shop around. Experiencing a range of different events will help you to gain clarity on what it is you’re looking for in a networking group. You’ll know immediately if you feel welcomed or valued, and you’ll be able to quickly judge how receptive your fellow attendees are to the newbie in the room. Do they show empathy, professionalism and interest? Are they warm and accommodating? If not, it may be time to consider whether attending is a wise investment of your time and money.
‘I have been attending Kerry’s networking events for 8 months now and I have met a lot of great people. They are very organised, and Kerry always ensures there is a wide variety of businesses attending each month. She gives top tips to ensure your business is visible. Being a Business Directory member, you get lots of support and advice, and I highly recommend it!’
Nicola Smith, HR
The Benefits of Business Networking
Most people attend business networking events to find new clients, form strong B2B connections and improve their reach, but there are many other reasons why you should join a business network. These include:
Ultimately, whether we like it or not, we are social animals. A sense of connectedness roots us in the community and builds our self-esteem and self-worth. For example, researchers have found that higher levels of relatedness and connectedness during the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with greater well-being. Being part of a network gives you direct lines to support and advice, from experienced and caring colleagues. And when you have formed those strong professional relationships, you’ll be surrounded by people who are committed to championing your business.
Networking events give you the chance to come out from behind your desk, to break away from your work schedule, and take part in something creative and exciting. Telling others about what you do and why you do it often gives you the time and space to reflect upon your achievements. It’s an opportunity to shine, to get feedback and renewed insight. This sense of pride builds us up and makes us more resilient to any challenges we may face in the future.
When we’re wrapped in the comfort of a caring community, we’re more likely to exhibit prosocial behaviour, such as caring for and supporting others. And we know that displaying kindness is a protective mental health factor. A study of over 50,000 U.K adults found that they reported greater life satisfaction on days in which they engaged in prosocial behaviour.
We learn from experience. If you attend a networking event, and it’s just not for you, then don’t let it put you off joining a new group. Being uncomfortable is a positive thing. It helps us to cement who we are and what we do. It also allows us to define what we offer, and how we wish to run our business.
Networking events allow you to keep up to date with the latest industry developments, regulations and policies, as well as sector specific news. Meeting new businesses also gives you a fresh insight into your competitors’ choices. Having the chance to assess other businesses helps you to redefine your values and strengths, and really cement your USP.
Networking generates financial, professional and personal growth. Well-managed events allow you to meet potential customers, build your network, and nurture future business opportunities. If you’re new to networking, you can find out more about how to make it a success here.
‘I highly recommend this Platinum Business Networking event! Kerry is completely amazing at bringing people together in a relaxed and happy environment. ‘People buy people’ and Kerry is a master at making this happen.’
Karen Jones. The Perfect Copy
Join The Best Business Directory in Cheshire
Here at The Cheshire Business Directory, we host thriving networking events for businesses across Cheshire and Greater Manchester. Our professional and relaxed events are informative and supportive. Think exclusive venues, inspirational speakers, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
With businesses of all sizes represented, from across a range of sectors, we offer a truly diverse and inspiring networking experience.
The team here at The Cheshire Business Directory value honesty, respect, and creativity, and thanks to our person-centred approach, we’re continually growing our community of members. We know the true value of the phrase, ‘people buy people’.
Letting others get to know the face behind your business can have an instrumental impact on sales. If we have a strong attachment to a person, we’re much more likely to buy from them. I’ve known businesses switch suppliers after getting to know them at a networking event.
So come and join us at one of our exclusive in-person or online networking events, and see what our community can do for your business. Feel the benefits of business networking, with The Cheshire Business Directory.
To find out more, or to book your place on our next networking event, call me, Kerry, on 07501 896445.
Get seen. Be heard. And increase your profit.