Be it developing new ideas, expanding your database or promoting your organisation, the new year is an exciting time to put plans into action and reap the rewards.  

While the corporate world is diverse and ever-changing, one common approach which can help virtually every business is to join a local networking group.

Successful networking is based on building new relationships and nurturing existing ones and there are many benefits to connecting with other professionals in your community. And, while LinkedIn is a great online networking tool, you cannot beat meeting people face to face to forge meaningful business associations for the future. Thinking of joining a network group? Here’s how to make the most out of your membership:

Raise Your Profile, Raise Your Game

The main advantage to networking is the increased business exposure. Connecting with people from different sectors will ensure you are visible to the right people, and make sure you attend events regularly to enable other members to get to know you.

Exciting Prospects

The more successful contacts you build, the more likely your business is to be referred to prospective clients. Network clubs thrive on culturing a robust referral system – do check each group as there may be agreements in place to ensure a fair procedure for all members.

Collaborative Connections

Small business owners can find it tricky ‘going it alone’, yet all network members share a common goal – to succeed in business. By linking with peers who have faced, or are facing, similar challenges, you gain relevant advice and different viewpoints. It is inevitable that you will also meet professionals working in the same field as you. These connections are incredibly valuable as you can find out the latest developments and foresee any potential problems with your own business. You can also share your insights to build your reputation.

Sharpen Your Skills

Many groups organise regular presentations and training with industry leaders. These sessions help develop your business acumen and can give you the confidence to make informed decisions, shape strategies and develop your ideas for the future.

From breakfast clubs to large expos with keynote speakers, there is a fantastic range of networking events across Sussex*:

  • First Friday Networks (firstfriday-network.co.uk) host free monthly events across Sussex and are a great, informal introduction to the world of networking.
  • Haywards Heath Business Association (hhba.co.uk): Ideal for companies based in Mid Sussex, HHBA members are encouraged to engage with their community and to play a part in local issues and policy. There are also regular training events.
  • The Institute of Directors (iod.com) offer regional networking events all over Sussex and there are several free events to give newbies a glimpse of what the group can offer.
  • Net XP (netxp.co.uk) hosts a series of business marketing expos throughout the county, all with keynote speakers. The aim is to give a relaxed approach to networking with the opportunity to exhibit at the event.
  • Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce (worthingandadurchamber.co.uk) and Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce (www.businessinbrighton.org.uk) have a range of networking opportunities and training available, including free events. Brighton hosts a monthly breakfast club with ‘Ambassadors’ to help new members get started with introductions.

          *Membership fees may apply and will vary.