Business networking is a key activity for many successful businesses, be it online or face to face. By dedicating some regular time to networking with the local business community, it gives you the chance to build contacts, share experiences and ideas as well as learn something new to help your business and boost your own business profile.
At Venture House we understand the benefits of networking … which is why we’ve created Donut Time, our free monthly networking event for small businesses! The event is currently being held virtually and includes a short Top Tips session designed to help improve your business as well as time to interact with other local businesses.
So come and join us at Donut Time on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, 10-11.30am currently on Zoom. No need to join and there’s no charge, we just ask that you book your space in advance as places are limited to 30 and the event is very popular!
A few networking tips …
If the idea of walking into a room of strangers fills you with horror, don’t worry! We’re a welcoming bunch at Venture House and have all been in that position at some point. Here’s a few general networking tips you might find useful…
- Smile, use a nice firm handshake, be genuine and enthusiastic. Look people in the eye and use their name, it might help you remember it!
- If you find yourself on your own or when you first arrive, you might like to join a group of three people, as there’s always one in the group who will be less engaged in their conversation and will welcome you in.
- Ask easy questions to get to know people and make sure you listen to their replies.
- Ditch the sales pitch and try to build relationships instead. Be fun, light and informal. People are more likely to do business with people whose company they enjoy.
- Sometimes it can help to wear something memorable e.g a bright colour to help people remember you.
- If a potential customer does ask you about your product/service then be ready with an easy description of what you do and how you may be able to help them. Don’t forget to ask them questions so that you can tailor your answer accordingly. If you’ve been in business a while, it may be useful to create a mental list beforehand of accomplishments, projects and clients that you have worked with. If you’re new in business, be honest and convey your skills and experience to date.
- Have some business cards or leaflets available to hand out if appropriate.
- Make notes during the event if you can to remind yourself of the conversations you’ve had and ways in which you might be able to help people. Scribble on their business card so you don’t get people muddled up.
- After the event follow up any contacts you have made, either by phone, email or social media. Use it to continue the conversation or try to start a new one. Get in touch within 48 hours to show you’re interested and reference something you spoke of so that the contact remembers you.
- Even if it didn’t appear useful, go back to the same event again. Visiting a networking group as a one-off is as waste of time as you cannot expect to build a rapport with people based on one meeting.
- Experiment with new events and networks, try new pitches and branding, and offer new products/services. Use networking events to test new ideas and gather useful feedback. Don’t be afraid of criticism.
Local Networking Groups
Please note, many of the groups listed below are running online networking due to the pandemic, although some may be suspended.
- Alcester Chamber of Commerce
- asSIGnations Meeting (Self-employed Special Interests Group)
- Be Your Own Boss (Rugby)
- BNI (Stratford, Studley, Warwick, Leamington)
- BookCLUB and Business Social
- Business Biscotti (Leamington, Stratford)
- Business Buzz Networking
- Business Ladies around Henley
- Campden Business Forum
- Coventry and Warwickshire First
- Creative CakeStorm
- Donut Time
- Entrepreneurs Circle (Stratford, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Kenilworth, Southam)
- #FSBConnect (Federation of Small Businesses)
- Green Business Network
- Henley Hub Business Networking
- ITECOPeople Networking
- Ladies First Professional Development Networking
- Leamington TweetUp
- Midlands Brain Friendly Learning Group
- Mindful Motivation Membership (Squirhill)
- Negotiation Club (Stratford)
- Network B2B
- Network With Us (Redditch)
- Screen Pop Digital Networking
- Small Business Connect Up (Warwick)
- Socially Shared (Alcester, Kenilworth, Stratford)
- Southam Business Forum
- SPIN – Stratford Property Investors Network
- Stratford TweetUp
- Studley in Business
- The Athena Network
- Talk Business (Previously Stratford Business Forum)
- The Connexion for Women in Business (Stratford, Warwick, Leamington, Pershore, Solihull and others)
- The Family Network
- The Warwickshire Virtual Assistant Network Forum
- Thrive Live (Warwick and Leamington)
- Warwickshire Coaching Forum (Budbrooke)
- Warwickshire Property Forum
- Warwickshire Wellbeing Network
- Woman Who
- Women Empowering Women Business Network UK
- 1 Networking (Stratford)
- 12121 Networking (Leamington)
- 4Networking (Stratford, Southam, Leamington)