Online business networking is all the rage at the moment. It took a while but businesses are now realising the potential that social media sites have to generate genuine networking opportunities, helping to forge new contacts, increase brand awareness and boost sales leads.
Businesses have embraced social media platforms the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help spread their brand to a growing audience across the world. The popularity of social media sites continues to increase year on year and professional networking site LinkedIn now retains more than 100 million users based in over 200 countries.
In-house networking has also recently become more high profile in business centres as clients look to find new ways of generating business closer to home. Business Environment, a serviced office operator with a network of 18 centres across the country, recently launched an internal B2B networking group. Becky Hursthouse, UK Client Retention Manager for Business Environment, commented that with so many “ready-made business opportunities” in the business centres launching an in-house networking group made sense.
It is interesting to consider that in-house networking is increasingly being promoted in business centres at a time when online networking is booming, could it be that the industry is being inspired by the success it has seen online? Finding contacts through neighbouring businesses is not a new concept in the business centre industry, indeed breakout areas have traditionally been promoted as offering great onsite “tools” for creating informal networking opportunities day-to-day. However it is somewhat ironic to consider that the growth in online social media communications may have influenced a revival in the promotion of face-to-face networking groups.
The team at Portal Business Centres in Warrington are regular business networking hosts. I contacted Sallie Maskrey, Marketing Manager at Portal, and asked her what she thought the networking events brought both her clients and her business centre in terms of added business value. Sallie told me: “Portal runs informal networking events about every 6 weeks with the aim to bring together like minded businesses to share experiences and discuss issues relevant to the local business community.
“Our Fruit Cake Friday meetings have been extremely popular attracting interest from within the local LinkedIn business groups as well as other networking groups. We always have a speaker covering topics of local interest with the most recent being Warrington Wolves ‘Backing the Bid’ for the Rugby League World Cup in 2013 which has tremendous business opportunities if successful.
“This has increased awareness of the centre and its services in the area especially the use of meeting rooms and virtual services.”
Finding a way to harness the power of networking to increase one’s business reach can provide big returns for both business centres and their clients. Through encouraging networking events Portal Business Centres is helping to increase business opportunities for clients in-house while improving awareness of its own brand and business services at the same time.
Do you work in the Business Centre industry? Write in and tell us your thoughts on the role of online and in-house networking in Business Centres, we’d love to hear from you!
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This article was written by Ceri Lenahan for the exclusive use of Nuclei websites, please do not cut and paste our blogs without the permission of the author.