This year has been critical for businesses everywhere, and for most, networking has been at the bottom of the priority list as the fight for survival has become more economically cutthroat than ever before.
But in 2021, as businesses seek to get back on their feet, networking is a valuable opportunity to connect with other professionals in the same boat as you, observe their expertise and prepare your business for the future.
Networking is also crucial to building relationships with customers, whether that’s securing existing bonds or expanding your outreach. Not to mention, networking is an opportunity for personal growth, something that every enterprising professional should aspire to.
With that in mind, here are just three unmissable business networking opportunities for the New Year.
1. Join a business hub
Business hubs are an underrated method of networking designed to open up new channels of connectivity between you and other businesses.
Arise Innovation is one of the most unique such organisations around. An arm of Anglia Ruskin University, it aims to connect business-minded individuals with academics as well as like-minded professionals, allowing all parties to benefit from a wealth of valuable experience and expertise across industries.
Their Chelmsford and Harlow branches play host to an array of specialist events, workshops and seminars, and their membership packages also offer access to meeting spaces for a range of uses – ideal for businesses who are happy to continue working remote in the future but still require physical spaces for some elements of their work.
2. Connect locally
As an SME owner, competing with big business is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face.
But being a local business can give you a serious edge over your competitors when used to your advantage.
Get to know potential customers in your area. A great way to do this is to attend local community events, from village fairs to charity fundraisers. If possible, contribute to these in some way, by donating time, money or resources.
This not only increases your local profile but shows customers that you are invested in the community, which can add a significant appeal to your business.
3. Get social!
Social media is regarded by many businesses as an advertorial platform, but whether you’re looking to connect with potential customers or other businesses and professionals, it can also be an excellent networking and growth opportunity.
Remember that hard selling is not generally the most effective social media tactic for promoting your business. Instead, it should be an opportunity for customers to get to know you and vice versa. Your content should reflect your expertise in your field and leave customers without any shadow of a doubt that your knowledge, quality and professionalism outshines that of your competitors.
Social media is also a great opportunity to collaborate with other business owners through posts such as giveaways and other mutually created content, allowing you both to gain traction from one another’s followership.
These are just three ways for small business owners to broaden their network in the new year.
Interesting related article: “What is Networking?”