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Networking is the number one tool that every business should be benefiting from, but entrepreneurs, new start-ups and small businesses should definitely be getting themselves ‘out there’ by networking with key influencers to help drive their business forward.

The term ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ is incredibly apt when it comes to networking as you really never know where a contact or business meeting may take you.

The larger your network the more opportunity you have to win new business and grow your own.

I recently joined a networking group called the Women In Business Network (WIBN) and have seen first-hand how effective these groups are and the potential they have to help you improve upon your business and your offering and really catapult it forward.

Once a month we meet over lunch to discuss businesses, seek advice and debate certain topics. Each member and guest at the meeting gets a 60-second opportunity to pitch themselves and their business and let the group know what they’re looking for from others. Each month a member gets the opportunity to have their own ’10 minutes’ to talk about themselves and their business in more detail. It takes the stereotypical ‘ladies who lunch’ and gives it a purpose.

They also run a nationwide twitter hour  each week where members can get involved in the conversation, share tips and advice and raise awareness of their own business.  It’s all very social and helps support women and build themselves and their business. It’s a fantastic community that I’m already reaping the benefits from.

Each month you’re encouraged to meet other members for a 1-2-1 meeting to get to know each other better and gain a better understanding of their business. That way you can recommend them at a later date when opportunities arise.

I’m based in Hertfordshire and there seem to be networking groups popping up all over the place, from informal, pop-in groups such as Cuppa Connect in Hitchin, Biz Buzz in Hitchin or Letchworth or Ladies Who Latte, also in Hitchin.

Then there are other groups that require a monthly membership to be part of the organisation, such as WIBN, Business Babble and BNI.

Each network has it’s own ‘feel’ so shop around and pop along as a guest to experience what each one is offering before making a financial commitment.

Remember to take plenty of business cards, swap numbers and get dates in the diary for 1-2-1 meetings. Networking is a two-way thing so be prepared to help out others if you’re expecting them to help you.

Networking is an incredibly exciting opportunity to raise brand awareness and meet other like-minded business people who can share tips, advice and best practice and offer a network of support to help you in times of need.

Running your own business isn’t easy and, if like me you work from home, you often miss the social aspects of working in an office environment, so joining a networking group can be just as beneficial for your sanity as it is your business!

Do some research in your local area to see if there are networking groups that you can join, then get out there and do great business!



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