Business networking is the term used for developing and maintaining contacts within a business community. It provides a platform for business owners and entrepreneurs to meet, share information, and is an excellent source of referrals, leads and business collaborations.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs in particular, business networking is vital for sustained growth and success. It may seem counter-intuitive to share your prospects and impart wisdom to help others avoid pitfalls, but it’s actually incredibly beneficial for all parties. New start-ups can gain knowledge, raise their profile and establish strong local business connections; established business owners will expand their network. This sharing of knowledge is all about identifying new business opportunities and potential business collaborations. In essence, business networking is all about synergy – people working together, sharing ideas and forging relationships, for their mutual benefit.
Here in Hampshire, we’re lucky to have a thriving business community. Indeed, despite the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of new businesses were formed in the county during 2020. According to data from the office of National Statistics and Companies House, over 15,000 new companies were registered in Hampshire last year, a figure that’s up 2.4% from 2019.
This statistic is reflected in the dynamic business networking sector that the county’s business community benefits from. You'll find a wide range of businesses to network with, from accountants through to web designers like ourselves at Planet Wide City. Where you’re based and your business sector will determine the best networking group for you, but we’d like to highlight some of the best regional and local networking groups in Hampshire:
The Hampshire Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive events programme, which offers a wide range of activities. This includes everything from formal Trade events to informal meetings at business venues around the county. With something for every business owner, this is a great place to start on your quest to finding a networking group.
Enterprise Connexions provides networking opportunities and online marketing support, so it’s an amazing resource for business owners and entrepreneurs. Breakfast meetings are held fortnightly across the county. There’s a fee to attend, but we think it’s well worth it.
BNI Hampshire is billed as ‘the world’s leading business networking and referral organisation’. As soon as you open their website, it’s clear why. Globally this network has an incredible 255,000 members, so their reach is far and wide. It’s a superb group for increasing business connection, learning new skills and getting those crucial business prospects and referrals. To find your nearest Chapter, click here.
4Networking has a great slogan: ‘Making business networking great again’. By joining this group you’ll gain access to thousands of like-minded professionals, to share ideas and generate new business opportunities. Within North Hampshire, the group meets for breakfast meetings at various locations in Basingstoke, Farnborough and Fleet. There’s a membership fee to join this group, and you’ll also need to pay per event.
This vibrant, energetic networking group encompasses people from all trades and professions. You’ll not only find a wealth of combined knowledge at Omni Business Networking sessions, but you’ll also gain access to the best local suppliers. Meetings are held over breakfast or lunch and there’s a fee to attend, although discounts are offered to charity and non-profit organisations.
This Fleet-based networking group is all about making great local business contacts, in a friendly and informal setting. Come along and network with other B2B contacts, to share ideas, discuss business problems and gain new clients. The group meets every Thursday morning. To learn more, click here.
Founded in 2017 by James and Kelly West, the nationwide ONLE Networking group has an ‘online first approach’, breaking the barriers to traditional networking. Their mantra is ‘the business network for people who like people’ and they see the future for online networking as limitless. Events can be booked via Eventbrite.
Please note that the current coronavirus restrictions have forced these events online. Keep checking the links though, at some point (hopefully very soon) we can meet up in person again for brainstorming, blue sky thinking and great collaboration.