How best to connect?

I have long believed that effective networking is key to business success. This is particularly so for business to business services. However, it is always difficult to decide which of the numerous networking groups are best for your particular business. It is very easy to waste time and money doing lots of ineffective networking – by ineffective I mean networking which does not result in building ‘real’ business relationships.

I believe that successful networking is less about the format and the networking organisation and more about the individuals in the group. Are they the type of people who are moving in the same markets as you? Are they talking to the people you want to talk to? Can you see yourself building great referral relationships with them? If the answer is yes to any or all of these questions the chances are you have found a netwoking group which may well work for you.

Recently, I drew the short straw and now find myself organising the year’s programme for the Mendip Business Women’s Forum. We have meetings on a monthly basis at which speakers are invited to cover topics of interest to the group. Subjects range from NLP, to your relationship with your business, to building business relationships,  and succession planning. If you would like more details please go to

Another networking organisation I have become involved with is NRG. They have groups all around the Bristol area and a key benefit is that once you are a member you can go to as many lunches as you like. NRG is about building a great referral business and for me is an ideal platform from which to extend my strategic introducer base. More details about NRG groups can be found on

I would like to sign off by saying that it does not matter how many people you meet during your networking – what matters is how many of them follow up and build a mutually productive relationship with.

Fiona 🙂

Opportunity Knocks?

This week I went along to the Somerset in Business Conference at Haynes Motor Museum in Sparkford.

The title of the conference was ‘2010 – The Decade of Opportunity’ and much of the first half was dedicated to large inward investment planned in Somerset – noteably Hinkley Point; Building Schools for the Future (in Bridgwater and Taunton); Taunton’s Firepool development; and plans for the Royal Bath and West Showground. Clearly the opportunities here were for larger construction companies and not the vast majority of businesses in Somerset who are small.

The second half of the conference was given over to 4 business people who had moved their business into Somerset and were keen to encourage others to do the same. Whilst these talks were interesting, and we would all benefit from more business opportunities in Somerset, I couldn’t help but wonder if I wanted the county to be swamped with people wanting to escape the South East. Surely the benefits the speakers mentioned – little traffic conjestion, for example – would dwindle if lots more business people needed to use the road network!

Unfortunately, the conference was largely focused on Taunton and the west of the county. There was no discussion on opportunities for small business spread across the county, or the role Bristol and Bath play in Somerset business life. Although they are not in the county they play a vital role in providing quality networking for many Somerset businesses.

Somerset is a rural economy, which is why many of us chose to live here, and it provide challenges and opportunities because of this.

For me, the biggest opportunity the conference offered came from catching up with good business contacts who were delegates!

Fiona 🙂