Business networking events are a great way to meet other businesses in your area, share experiences, build relationships and promote your goods and services.
Once you meet the network group, what should you talk about, and why?
First you need to decide what kind of business network you’ll be attending (or organising!). In-person networking events come in three main formats, and each gives a unique opportunity to start a discussion.
Social contact networking
These are relaxed meetings where you mingle with local businesses of all types. You’ll have an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business. There may also be guest speakers who will present on relevant business topics.
Strong contact referrals groups
This networking format is designed to help your business exchange referrals with other businesses. Usually held over lunch or breakfast, these business and corporate networking groups often limit membership to one person per profession or market. You’ll need to attend regularly to gain maximum benefit.
Joining up with other people in your profession or business area is a great way to get new ideas, exchange information, and form potential partnerships. These professional networking meetings are often geared toward specific topics, concerns or interest.
Five top discussion topics for business networks
There are certain topics that apply to every business, even if you work for yourself!
1. What are the business benefits of social media?
This is a cracking subject as everyone has a different viewpoint! It’s also a subject that due to its ubiquity and low start-up costs crosses the divides between big business and single traders. It’s also a great topic to turn into a question for 1 to 1 discussions: “What’s your most effective social media channel?”
2. The three “R”s of Customers Satisfaction – Retention, Related sales and Referrals
Customer satisfaction is a hot topic at any time, especially with increasing pressure on stores from online competitors. If you have an expert within the group, ask them to present a short talk including top tips, and a takeaway action sheet to be used as an action guide.
3. The best personal development opportunities
As business owners and employees, we need to recognise the need for continual personal development to keep our minds engaged and our ideas fresh. However, sometimes it’s hard to know quite where to look for the next move beyond our own professional courses or conferences. Asking the question “What’s the most effective/influential personal development you’ve done?” opens up the floor to a wealth of ideas, inspiration and potential cooperation!
4. Updates on employment legislation
Federal and Provincial legislation is ever changing and misinformation is floating around on social media. Having an expert present a 15 minute “executive briefing” to your networking group provides them with quality information to take back to their business, or to understand the effect it might be having on the wider business community.
5. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
This is a terrific ice-breaker topic that can be a 1 to 1 conversation starter, or even a theme to prevent those short business introductions getting stale! Imagine the inspiration from 30+ business people sharing that nugget of golden advice, and it’s a great opportunity for humour and laughter too. Needless to say, ours would be “Join your local Chamber of Commerce!”
Why attend a Chamber of Commerce networking event
Chamber of Commerce networking events enable you to meet the people behind companies, manufacturers and services in your local area. As Entrepreneur magazine says:
“They offer participants an opportunity to make valuable contacts with many other businesspeople in the community. By attending chamber events, you can make initial contacts that will be valuable in other aspects of developing your referral business.”
For more details on how to join Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, and the many benefits for your business, click here.