Online Networking: A Lifeline For Small Businesses

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With the economy struggling, small business owners are turning to online networking events to build meaningful connections, raise profiles, 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 set to follow, with franchisees opening Your Partnerships North Bristol later in June, while Your Partnerships North Devon, and South Hams Networking, will both 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 businesses grow. Online networking is no different. With over 700 people attending our online meetings each week, we are reaching new organisations all the time.

With countless marketing budgets in quarantine, companies are looking for cost-effective ways to reach new audiences, survive, and thrive. Many are turning to Your Partnerships to create connections, enjoy support, find answers, and gain leads. 

People realise that, now 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 to make these all-important connections. 

The Your Partnerships online networking platform developed as a response to the lockdown, and it has become an opportunity for many businesses to expand into new regions. Now, people at different ends of the country can meet like-minded business owners, who they would never have come across in traditional, face-to-face meetings.’

One area with a flourishing networking scene, is the Isle of Wight. Here, businesses benefit from networking with other companies on the island, as well as with those on the mainland. Gavin Hampton, franchisee, says, ‘Your Partnerships has been the lifeline that many island businesses were crying out for, providing both business and social support when we needed it most.’

Your Partnerships is a South-West based business, yet their online networking events are frequently joined by companies based throughout the UK, and even by those from more far-flung locations, such as South Africa.

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 here to stay. 

Business owner, Laurence Finn from Elite Player Management UK, joined Your Partnerships after the lockdown began. ‘I joined the network to give me some sanity, and to allow me to meet new people, and I’ve made some fantastic connections,’ he says.

‘Networking is about friendships, connecting, laughing, and getting to know people while 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!’ 

Getting Started? Here Are Our Top Tips for Networking:

  • Attend regularly – the more you show up, the stronger the relationships you build, and the bigger the impact on your business. Try booking three or four sessions at a time to fill up your diary; it’s the best way to incorporate networking into your weekly routine.
  • As with social relationships, business relationships are built 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 even if they can’t, they’ll know someone who can. 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 both engaged, and engaging. You may be in your home, but remember that you are on camera. People will see when you are distracted! And worse, you may miss out on making that vital connection.
  • Reach out to those you meet outside of the meetings. Connect with them on social media, send them an email, arrange a phone call – these 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 beforehand, so you’re ready to go when it’s time to speak. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make new connections, raise your profile, get business support, and gain new leads!

Register for Your Partnerships networking events at https://www.yourpartnerships.co.uk/business-networking-events-uk/

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