Business Networking in Portsmouth
As part of our commitment to local businesses, we want to help to encourage a busy, healthy, networking scene in the local area. We understand the value it brings to SME's, CIC's and charitable organisations.
What is Business Networking and how does it work?
Networking has no rule book that we know of, and there are plenty of opinions, but we think that the following benefits are key:
Increasing awareness of your business - networkers are often curious people and will tell others about it
Potential for leads being provided by your network
You can ask if anyone knows someone that you want to meet, to facilitate an introduction
You can arrange 1 to 1 meetings with people you meet for more in depth discussions
Business education, you will learn from your peers
You will find trusted suppliers of services and goods for your business and home life
If you want to expand your social life, you can make new friends with whom you have things in common
Access to events - business, charitable and social events are promoted
You can showcase your talents
You can test ideas on unbiased colleagues, and brainstorm challenges you have in your business
You can discuss business trends and the latest Social Media and marketing developments
You can feel supported and encouraged by a group of people, or hear some home truths
What is the difference between organised and informal business networking?
Organised networking is simply where a group of people agree to meet periodically, either on Zoom or face to face (or sometimes a combination of both) meeting at a venue which has refreshments on hand. Periodically can be once a month, fortnightly or weekly, Formats and the level of formality will vary, and sometimes finding a group that you feel most comfortable with is the hardest part, so don't be put off by one or two bad experiences. You will usually have an opportunity to do a 30 second or 1 minute pitch about yourself and your business to other members, whilst breakout rooms give an opportunity in smaller groups to talk about your business and hear about theirs.
Informal business networking tends to happen in a much less structured way. For example, meeting other business owners at a charitable event, on the golf course, online at a webinar or maybe at an industry meeting - an example would be the Portsmouth Property Association. Organisations such as Shaping Portsmouth (www.shaping-portsmouth.co.uk) host an annual Conference where hundreds of people attend from all walks of life. Whilst informal business networking is not something you sign up for, it is up to you to seek out these opportunities and then do plenty of mingling to get to know people,
Are there any pitfalls?
Some organised networking meetings are at "silly o'clock" in the morning, so if you are a night owl by nature, that might be a problem so check the start time. Be aware that some groups are more business focused and structured than others, Business focused groups such as BNI may refer to other groups as "coffee mornings", and those groups may refer to the business focused ones as "cult like" and neither of these extreme stereotypes are true of course, but it does give some indication of what you might find if you attend. You might also find yourself at a meeting with your competitors, although some groups have a no-competition policy.
Does it cost anything?
Organised networking is often free of charge, especially when on Zoom or organised by non-profit organisations such as Portsmouth City Council. BNI are the largest networking group in the world and charge for an annual membership, which they claim will be dwarfed by the extra income you will generate by following their networking system and you get plenty of bells and whistles attached, such as their App and their educational videos and podcasts. They certainly make some pretty impressive claims. You can attend BNI as a visitor, free of charge to test-drive them. Face to face meetings will certainly have breakfast, lunch or coffee and danish costs attached which may be PAYG or a set fee to cover. Other groups might charge a monthly subscription to be a member, so do your due diligence, and because they almost always allow a free visit, you can try before you buy.
Where do I find groups?
You will often bump into them on Social Media, especially on LinkedIn, so if you don't yet have a profile, we'd recommend getting one.
However, as we are so generous here at Pompey Mag, we thought we would list most of them here. Please be aware that the list may not be fully up to date, and if you are reading this as a member of a group not shown, feel free to contact us to get it added.
BNI - groups are known as Chapters and are named. Local groups include Southsea, Boardwalk, Havant, Elite and Fortress Fareham.
MNC - once known as Mumpreneurs now rebranded as My Network Club, not to be confused with Network My Club, but will be!
Network My Club
Synergy Success Network - focused on Trades
LinkedIn Local - was suspended over Lockdown rather than go onto Zoom
Portsmouth Business Exchange
Portsmouth City Council monthly - 3rd Thursday of the month, contact Danielle Eberhardt