Why Your Business Should Actively Network
Building and sustaining connections is essential in enabling SMEs to maintain and improve their business development objectives. Yet, a great deal of them believe they don’t know how to go about it.
Research, undertaken by the Business Schools within the Universities of Surrey and Greenwich, shows that SMEs devote less time in creating these networks than larger organisations.
The report, ‘Generating Social Capital’ highlights the importance of generating networks and valuable connections; in other words, having an abundance of social capital.
Social capital can be defined as networks of rapport amongst those who live and work within a particular society, enabling that society to perform efficiently.
Online and offline networking can prove beneficial for SMEs; the higher the number of networks one has, the greater the number of approaches or referrals one receives. While SME’s recognise the importance of both online and offline networking, most look upon social media as a “necessary evil”.
Research suggests that SMEs who frequently engage with social media can steadily boost their profiles to compete successfully with larger organisations. There are plenty of potentially powerful mediums online from LinkedIn to Youtube, Facebook and Twitter however to increase social capita they must be fit for purpose and appropriate to your business model.
The challenge that SMEs are faced with is how best to integrate their online and offline activities to compliment their business and generate social capital. A high percentage of SMEs believe that social media should never become a substitute for face-to-face networking and events; these are highly valued with approximately two thirds dedicating one to six hours a week on this activity.
Professor Mark Saunders of the University of Surrey states that “The research conducted shows that SMEs must be more strategic when engaging in online and offline activities in order to maximise their effectiveness and avoid plummeting into a trap of time-wasting.”
“Developing a strategy that includes both online and offline activities is vital to the business development of SMEs” concludes Sir Michael Snyder, who commissioned the research.
Love Energy Savings top tips for integrated networking;
- Don’t become an ‘event junkie’ – be selective about which events you attend by having a clear strategy
- Blend traditional face to face networking with online networking
- Broaden your reach by networking with a number of different communities
- Don’t be afraid to start the conversation, or join in with other peoples
- Seize the opportunity that networks offer, doing so will unquestionably produce strong financial benefit in the future
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