Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striking a Networking Balance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Striking a Networking Balance

Article excerpt

RECENT research published by a top 20 accountancy firm has indicated that SMEs need to get better at networking in order to improve their connections, and develop and grow their businesses. But according to the research, many don't know how to go about it. Simon Green, head of business support at Newcastle Science City, explains the need to strike a balance between online and face-to-face networking.

"Whilst many SMEs are well aware of the need to improve their networks to help grow their business, it isn't always easy to know where to start, especially when there are so many different tools and events to choose from," explains Green.

The variety of online networking and promotional tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, coupled with the sheer number of business networking events can prove overwhelming and time consuming for owners of small to medium-sized businesses.

But according to Green, it's all about striking a balance and knowing what works best for your business. "Many business leaders feel that tools like social media are a 'necessary evil', rather than something that can be used for free in order to network and market their business. But tools like Twitter and LinkedIn are invaluable to establish their brand and expand their networks," Green explains.

According to research of over 1,000 successful SME leaders, nearly 90% used social media, but over 35% didn't consider it to be an effective networking tool.

"Speaking to someone in person is the only way to "Understandably, when resources are limited, there is an element of caution amongst small businesses when it comes to using social media. It is often feared that online activity can take over what some might consider as more 'genuine' or traditional methods of business development. However, if used in conjunction with other tools like a business's own website or blog, social media can prove an excellent tool for networking and relationship building. Having said that, it is vital to strike a balance between different styles of networking."

really get under the skin of a potential customer " According to Green, social media is not, and should not, substitute face-to-face networking, but should be viewed as supplementary activity to meetings in person. …

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