Online networking is a life-line for small businesses
At a time when the economy is struggling, small business owners are turning to online networking to build meaningful connections, raise their profile and generate leads. So much so, that networking franchise, Your Partnerships is expanding into new areas. Recently launched is Your Partnerships Isle of Wight and Your Partnerships Taunton and Somerset. More regions are following suit with franchisees opening in Your Partnerships North Bristol this month and Your Partnerships North Devon and South Hams networking will begin in July.
“Businesses have had to find new ways of connecting during the COVID-crisis,” says David Brock, founder of Your Partnerships. “We have always known how effective face-to-face networking is in helping business grow. Online networking is no different. With over 700 people attending our online meetings each week, we are reaching organisations all the time. With many marketing budgets in quarantine, companies are looking for cost-effective ways to reach new audiences, survive and thrive. They are turning to Your Partnerships to create connections, enjoy support, find answers and gain leads.
People realise that more than ever, survival may be determined not by what they do, but by their ability to work with like-minded businesses who share their values. Networking is helping people make these all-important connections.
The new online networking platform developed as a response to the lockdown is an opportunity for many businesses to expand into new regions. Now, people at different ends of the country can meet like-minded business-people they would not have come across in traditional face-to-face meetings.”
Your Partnerships is a south-west based business, yet they are frequently joined online by companies as far afield as Sheffield and South Africa. One area that has seen particular success is the Isle of Wight. Here businesses benefit from networking with other island businesses as well as those on the mainland. Gavin Hampton, franchisee, says “Your Partnerships has been the life-line that many island businesses need, providing both business and social support when we needed it most.”
Face-to-face networking has always been at the heart of the Your Partnerships ethos. Franchise owners and networkers are looking forward to the return of these in-person meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. However, it is quickly becoming apparent that online networking is also here to stay.
Business owner, Laurence Finn from Elite Player Management UK joined Your Partnerships networking after the lockdown began. “I joined the network to give me some sanity and allow me to meet new people, and I’ve made some fantastic connections. Networking is about friendships, connecting, laughing and getting to know people and helping others. And have I done business? Absolutely. Will I continue to do business? Absolutely. Networking works. Even if you are new to networking get involved, ask and give help.”
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make new connections, raise your profile, enjoy business support and gain new leads. Register for Your Partnerships networking events at https://yourpartnerships.co.uk/business-networking-events-uk/
Getting started? Our Top tips for networking:
- Show up regularly – the more you show up, the better the relationships you build and the higher the impact on your business. Book three or four sessions at a time to get them in the diary. It’s the best way to incorporate networking into your weekly routine.
- Just like in social relationships, you build business relationships based on trust. Take the time to get to know people and develop trust before you start to sell. The most successful networkers add value before they start asking for business.
- Ask questions. No matter what issue you have, there is a good chance that someone you network with will be able to help, and if they don’t, they will know someone who will. Networking is a support system. Be prepared to help and be helped.
- Be present. Switch your phone to silent and if you’re networking online, turn off email notifications. To get the most out of your meeting, you should be engaged and be engaging. You may be in your home but remember that you are on camera. People will soon see when you are distracted. And worse, you may miss that vital connection.
- Reach out to those you meet outside of the meetings. Connect on social media, send an email, arrange phone call – they are all ways to build on the relationships that you make during your networking sessions.
- In the meeting, you will get the chance to introduce yourself and what you do. This is your chance to stand out and illustrate how you well placed you are to help other attendees. Keep it short and concise – it can be worth preparing your 30-second elevator pitch, so you are ready to go