Running your own business is fantastic, stressful, rewarding, challenging and the rest! I personally don't think I will ever go back to being employed. I just love being in control of my time and my destiny too much.
However it can get lonely out there when you do it on your own or as part of a small team so there is much to be said for gatherings where business owners can share their children stories or hear new ideas that is what networking is all about!
Once upon a time the Chamber of Commerce or The Rotary Club filled this role.
Newer generations of business leader can find these organisations stuffy and old fashioned - though I have to say that in Croydon we are lucky to have a Chamber of Commerce that is both dynamic and proactive.
About 12 months ago I started The Best of Croydon networking events, a monthly get-together in Croydon. The events are simple and informal - an occasion to network: to find deals, investors, partners, recruits, clients and suppliers. Entrepreneurs and business owners can exchange knowledge and gain inspiration from like-minded individuals.
These days, networking forums have moved online. There is a multitude of sites for managers who want to network online. I am a member of / registered on the most successful one: Linked In, which claims 17m users. It is supposed to be a sort of professional equivalent of social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.
These business networking sites bring together members of a virtual community who are interested in building business relationships with each other. But these can not and will never replace the connection you make when meeting face to face - they are no substitute for personal references from a real friend.
I started using another one: Facebook about 6 months ago and now have 175 friends, most of which are work related / networking buddies I have met over the months whilst networking in Croydon.
I have also set up The Best of Croydon group on Facebook.
But this is it. I am not doing anything more productive with all these newly found 21st Century avenues because quite frankly I am not sure how to explore them fully.
For me, the ideal network is face to face, small (up to 50 attendees as anything bigger is a bit intimidating and quite frankly you don't have time to speak to all) and local, with a changing line-up to keep it fresh. It should be unfussy and relaxed, with an emphasis on the attendees interacting to both of their advantages. Ideally, it covers all sectors and ages: start-ups, family businesses and established companies. Building a business is never easy, and the best support always comes from those who have been there before.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi - me and my gang champion and promote the best businesses in the Croydon and Bromley Boroughs. If you are a local business owner, then we'd love to help you grow your profile, profits and get more business.