It is said that no man is an island. As an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself with the right company.
An entrepreneur network will go a long way in determining how successful your entrepreneurial journey will be. Your support network need not consist of only entrepreneurs and professionals in your industry. Possessing a versatile and highly-skilled entrepreneur network would be beneficial to your career and your personal growth as well.
What Business Networking Entails
It involves the establishment of mutually beneficial relationships between business owners and potential customers. The primary objective of business networking is to inform people of your business and to attract a customer base. It goes beyond attending networking events. It is all about building trust and authentic relationships that help both parties.
Business networking must be strategic and focused, for it to be effective. The entrepreneur must have a clear understanding of what he does, his goals and objectives. It also involves a high degree of being proactive. The entrepreneur must be able to efficiently and speedily follow through on referrals given.
Why do you need an Entrepreneur Network?
Networking is one of the essential skills an entrepreneur should possess. It is an incredible tool that helps in the growth and development of a business. An entrepreneur network is a useful resource every entrepreneur should have. Being a part of a networking group is essential because it provides entrepreneurs with opportunities to meet potential investors. It also offers opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts in your industry.
Another advantage of an entrepreneur network is that it helps to generate referrals which could help establish a customer base. It also helps business owners stay up-to-date with information concerning their industry. Also, it provides entrepreneurs with solutions to challenges they may encounter on their entrepreneurial journey. It also helps to inspire entrepreneurs while boosting their morale and confidence. Finally, it allows entrepreneurs to share ideas and experience amongst themselves.
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Types of Networking Groups
There are several types of networking groups, with their respective advantages and disadvantages. Even though some may seem to be similar, they do not offer equal opportunities and benefits. Here are some of the most common business networking organisations:
• Informal Networking Groups: They are also referred to as casual-contact groups. They are gatherings of people from various professions.
A typical example is a local Chamber of Commerce.
Many of them do not require special meetings nor stringent membership rules. They help to promote healthy and more fulfilling personal connection relationships. However, this may take some work as they are made up of people from different fields. A downside to them is that they do not promote tremendous referral opportunities for entrepreneurs.
• Online Networks: They refer to social media networks and are useful for building entrepreneurial brands. They also help entrepreneurs stay connected with their customers or clients.
A significant advantage of online systems is that they contribute to expanding an entrepreneur’s customer base globally. However, to yield maximum results, social networking may prove to be quite time-consuming. Furthermore, personal security issues may be a significant concern.
• Professional Associations: They are groups that are very specific in purpose. They are formed based on qualification or some shared interest. They may focus on a particular industry, such as accounting, architecture, health or trade. The primary purpose of a professional association is to share ideas and information.
An advantage of this networking group is that it helps you know your competitors. However, this could also be a disadvantage in that it may promote adversarial relationships.
• Lead Groups: They are also referred to as strong contact organisations. Although smaller than professional associations, they are also made up of professionals. Their smaller size also helps to boost their effectiveness. Examples include the Business Network International (BNI) and Le Tip. Lead Groups have very organised and structured meetings, with each chapter following the same procedures and agenda. The focus of this kind of networking group is to help its members with referrals.
Due to their highly organised structure, lead groups ensure all their members are committed. They also promote equal exposure and participation among their members. Furthermore, they also host a wide range of business networking events for their members.
• Community Service Clubs: The emphasis of this kind of networking group is on community service. It does not mainly promote referrals among its members. The primary advantage they offer is that they help to build lasting relationships.
Which Networking Group do you join?
As an entrepreneur in the UK, you may be looking to be a part of a networking group. Perhaps, you are looking for one that offers advice or provides development opportunities. You may also be seeking to join a group that gives training or start-up funds.
No matter what your objective is, there are several available networking groups that you could join. However, it could be quite overwhelming trying to decide on which one to join. Here is a list of the best business networking organisations in the UK:
• The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC): It is one of the oldest and most reputable business networking organisations in the UK. It assists British businesses in building relationships on every level. It also connects businesses locally, nationally and internationally with other enterprises and opportunities.
Members can benefit from its online services or by attending one of its business networking events. Simply put, the BCC helps businesses to connect, succeed and grow.
Membership fee of the BCC varies, depending on your local chamber. You could reach out to the national chamber here or search for your local chamber on the internet.
This is the business networking organisation with the largest membership in Britain. To become a member of the IOD, you must be a company director or senior business leader. This organisation hosts a variety of business networking events and other related programs.
It is one of the oldest lobbying business networking organisations in the UK. It helps its members expand their entrepreneur network and provides them with the latest information in the industry. The CBI also tackles national and international issues affecting British businesses.
With over 200,000 members, this is the biggest pressure group in the UK. It seeks to protect and promote the interests of small businesses. It achieves its objectives by hosting business networking events for its members and providing online discussion platforms. It also offers business advice, support and financial expertise to its members.
• The Met Club:
They specialise in business networking by providing entrepreneurs with access to decision-makers. It is an informal club where entrepreneurs can meet and discuss business-related issues. Although members and non-members can attend all Met Club business networking events, membership offers a lot more benefits.
Single membership of the Met Club costs £300 annually.
It offers protection and support to small and medium-sized business enterprises in the UK. It also hosts free business networking events for its members where they can get to know other entrepreneurs. They could also receive business advice from experts.
It is a global business networking organisation with over 186 Chapters in 58 countries. It is designed for entrepreneurs who wish to meet other entrepreneurs and share contacts. It seeks to promote the growth and development of entrepreneurs within their industry. It also hosts business networking events that allow its members to receive advice from expert speakers.
It is the international cultural relations organisation of the UK. It helps entrepreneurs become acquainted with professionals in different industry sectors.
It is a global non-profit community of students, academic and business leaders from all around the world. With about 72,000 members annually in different universities in 36 countries, it is the largest on-campus student business organisation worldwide. To find about more.
It is the leading business organisation in the UK that seeks promotes student entrepreneurship. It has a vast network and a wide range of business networking events.
No matter what you seek you achieve, there is a business networking organisation you could join. Do not be afraid to make inquiries or attend networking events. Business networking is a huge part of your success story as an entrepreneur. After all, it has been said that your network determines your net worth.