PRESS RELEASE: Getting by with a lot of help from your business friends
Press release issued for The Bath Business Club
The true meaning of social networking
For many small business owners, networking plays an important role in generating new leads, but its advantages can outstrip potential sales in the longer-term. Taking the time to find the right group or club in which to invest your marketing spend and energy could continue to pay, in unforeseen dividends.
“I was 26 when I started my own business in 2009 and had no friends who had done the same” says Jayson Godridge, owner of Freestyle Designs, a digital printing company based in Bath.
“I felt very alone and I can very clearly remember sitting in my first premises six months after going it alone, with no orders coming in and feeling very scared. It was then that I looked into business networking. The first event I tried was held by the Bath Business Club.”
Jayson’s initial reservations and bucketful of nerves were soon overcome when he realised he knew and recognised other people at the breakfast time event. He decided to join up as a permanent member and soon after attracted his first large order, through a recommendation made by a fellow club member.
Four years later, Jayson has continued his membership of the Bath group, reporting that it continues to bring him orders, thanks to work referred by others, but its value extends far beyond the 10 per cent worth of revenue it attracts to his business each year.
“Being part of the Bath Business Club has taught me that relationships are the most valuable thing in business.”
He says that the success and growth of his business would not have been achieved without the support and guidance from fellow networkers.
“Shortly after joining the club, business started to really pick up and I was then approached by another printing firm, offering a buyout deal.
“It looked attractive on paper, but I wasn’t too sure. So I turned to members of the business club, for business accountancy and legal advice, but also experience on how to weigh up whether I should take up the offer.
“Having this option – to be able to turn to people who you can trust and are willing to advise you, without the clock ticking – was invaluable.
“I hadn’t appreciated these benefits from business networking, but now I’m not sure what I’d have done without them. I now realise that time was a real turning point and I made the right decision because the guidance and genuine support was there. Through this advice, I know I made the right decision – to continue growing the business.”
The trust and relationships Jayson has built with fellow members of the Bath Business Club means he regularly refers his own customers and contacts to its members for work and jobs, as well as using these himself.
“It’s not a closed shop, I could have found these services elsewhere, but I’d prefer to work with people I know and trust to get things right. Through our various contacts and relationships we’re a well-connected club and everyone shares the same ethos of doing their best to help others out. I’ve gained lots of business confidence and had so much support from others in the club, which I just can’t attach a financial value to.”
Jayson has since grown Freestyle Designs, employing four members of staff, moving to a larger premises, investing in new printing technology and aiming for £500K turnover next year.
“I don’t want to build it too quickly – I started during a recession and have seen the benefit in focusing on steady, manageable growth through constant reinvestment. We’re now a really established business with a good spread of Bath-based clients – many of whom have come via the business club and our reputation: that’s how I’d like to keep it growing.”
The experience of business networking is unique to individuals, but after four years of using it to grow his business, Jayson offers these seven pointers on how to approach it – whether trying it for the first time, or revisiting:
- Don’t be scared to ask questions – they are usually shared
- Be prepared to put the effort in, some events may involve an early start
- Be open-minded. The nature and character of networking groups varies – take time to attend more than once and talk to other members to find out if it might be right for you.
- Don’t hard sell, or sell at all. Sales come through relationships, not force-feeding
- Understand what you want from networking – from the people and businesses you’ll encounter – and accept this may change
- Be sociable and receptive to friendly advice
- Don’t worry about whether or not you think you can pass on business immediately, this will grow
The Bath Business Club is an independent group of business owners from a range of backgrounds who meet weekly for breakfast to exchange business opportunities, knowledge and experience. Its meetings are structured, but also informal, helping sound business relationships and trust to grow. As well as encouraging valuable business referrals between its members, the club also hosts training, seminars, guest speakers, as well as charitable and social events. To arrange to visit or find out more about its membership, visit bathbc.com.
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