Small business Advice | 18 places to indulge in face-to-face business networking

Networking can be a great way for business owners to meet with new prospects and re-connect with others they already know, offering the chance to build relationships of partnerships, referrals and resources. So, if you’re looking to network with likeminded entrepreneurs but you don’t know where to start, check out  Real Business’ 18-point guide to finding great business networking events.



Small Business Advice: Getting Your News Out

June 2010 is likely to be remembered for two things – Budgets and Sport. These are in no way related really except for that at some point, workers across the UK have probably followed budget updates and announcements, and the World Cup and Tennis scores using some kind of online media. I’m sure, of course, it’s not just the UK’s workforce going online for the latest news but with a lot of the action taking place before clocking off time, it has meant that replays and news has had to be followed using online video or live news streams as we go about our day to day work; whereas go back a few years and we’d be turned into a radio or waiting for the evening news or the following days newspapers to get our fix of the action. What it’s probably highlighted is that now, more than ever, is that we are so used to getting information, right here, right now, where and when it suits us.

Despite yesterdays disappointing football results, it does seem that there are some lessons to be learned from the World Cup. Businesses can learn a lot from the importance of updating content and news all the time as well as how they can use tools such as Twitter, blog, videos and other such tools to drive interest to their business and website. Here’s a few ways that businesses can do this:

  • Videos, viral and VODs – well-made video can be an excellent medium for showing off the best bits of your business and  today, it doesn’t have to cost the earth either. In fact, it’s become a cost effective way for small businesses to promote themselves and stay in touch with their customers; after all, an image can tell a thousand words. The key to compelling video content is the balance between relevant information and visual appeal so keep it as natural and spontaneous as possible, without diluting the message.
  • Blogging for business – a corporate blog can be a great extension of your company and its identity but it has to be more than just an advertisement for your products. The goal of a blog is to engage with customers (current and potential) by providing information and opinions in an informal, yet insightful way so aim to make it a forum to discuss broader industry issues, rather than just your company and its operations. Blogs are also a great place to encourage two-way dialogues with your customers so encourage constructive feedback by responding in a timely fashion to any comments received.
  • Social networking – tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and online Wiki sites can help to bring in the ‘social’ element of social networking into the business arena. Besides providing a common forum for your organisation’s external stakeholders to communicate in, they can also play a role in encouraging internal conversations and social interaction between staff, which in turn lead to better productivity and morale as well as keeping everyone up-to-date with your businesses latest news.
  • To Tweet or not to TweetTwitter has become something of a buzzword in business circles lately, so it’s important to get it right, rather than risk being seen as simply jumping on the bandwagon. If your target audiences are likely to be on Twitter, it’s a great tool for keeping them informed of what your business is doing.  Tweeting as an individual rather than an organisation, as well as striking a balance between work and non-work related Tweets, all go a long way towards making your Twitter persona more credible and, indeed, more likeable.