5 Business Networking Groups in Birmingham
How many business owners can say they have attended at least one networking group event this year? If you have, that’s great news; you are taking advantage of one of the most powerful ways to meet new people, share ideas and generate leads for small businesses in Birmingham.
If you haven’t, we hope that you will have signed up with one of the popular Birmingham networking groups by the end of this article to attend your first networking event. But first, let’s explain why you should be networking and how it can benefit your business.
Why should I be networking?
Before the coronavirus pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for someone from a small business to attend one of the many Birmingham networking events at least two or three times a year (hopefully more!). Then the pandemic hit the UK, and networking events went online, not that it was a bad thing, it wasn’t… once we’d all got used to Zooming our way through meetings anyway.
However, since the pandemic, or since the start of 2022, when networking events emerge from the virtual world, we seem to have forgotten just how important networking events are for our businesses. We’ve got so used to communicating online, through social media and email, that we’ve lost the art of face-to-face communication.
So, why should you network? Here are some benefits for you to consider:
Building connections – the adage of ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ comes to the fore in business networking. Birmingham networking events give you a golden opportunity to build connections with like-minded business people. If you’ve made an impression, you will probably get a referral.
Opens up new opportunities – talking of opportunities, you might get a referral, someone might request your services or products, it could be an offer of partnership; the important thing is that any networking event opens up new doors – just be ready to seize the moment!
Knowledge sharing – networking is not a one-way street; it’s a great place to share knowledge. Everyone can learn something from someone else in a networking group. You may have a new idea, or you may have the solution to someone’s problem.
Raises your profile and brand awareness – the more visible you are, the more notice you get and that’s probably one of the biggest benefits of networking. The opportunity to be supportive, reliable and offer useful advice or information is invaluable to building your reputation as a business people can trust. That, as we all know, leads to more referrals and recommendations.
Boosts confidence – let’s face it, we all need this!
The top 5 business networking groups in Birmingham
There are a plethora of Birmingham networking groups to choose from, so we understand it can be confusing to know where to start. As a Birmingham web design company that gets involved in networking events, here are our top five recommendations.
1. BNI – although the BNI is a national networking organisation dedicated to networking and referrals for businesses, its regional branches are hugely popular, including BNI Birmingham. Their networking events, known as local chapter meetings, are based around their core value, Givers Gain®, with the ethos for business people to meet, build and nurture lasting business relationships as well as pass on qualified business referrals. BNI membership also includes training opportunities, peer learning and the chance to network with representatives from international businesses worldwide. This one is really a business networking meeting in Halesowen, not far from Birmingham. BNI is our favourite 😊
2. The Business Network Birmingham – this thriving national networking group has been around for a long time, and its Birmingham branch has been hosting face-to-face (and online) networking events since 1993. It’s a membership networking group that hosts monthly networking events and there are plenty of other benefits including a dedicated Business Network Host, access to seminars, expert insights and the group’s national database of members, and the opportunity to present your business at events and supply articles. The mantra is to ‘provide business owners and directors with an effective and focused environment to do business.
3. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – this is another national networking group that has been around for a long time. Their Birmingham & Solihull branch is very active in encouraging small businesses, entrepreneurs and the self-employed to join and take advantage of the benefits of being a member. At every networking event, you have an opportunity to introduce your business, collaborate and support other business people in a relaxed, friendly environment. Other member benefits include preferential rates on a variety of services, cyber and employment protection, health and safety advice, a legal hub and help with taxes!
4. Chambers of Commerce – probably one of the earliest networking organisations, the national Chambers of Commerce is very well known, and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce is no exception. An advantage of their events is that you don’t have to be a member of the Chambers of Commerce to attend; you’ll need to pay a small fee though. You also have the opportunity to sponsor one of their networking events, giving your business an even higher profile. Your business could also be nominated for the annual Chambers Awards, plus you can attend gala dinners and also benefit from the Chamber Expos.
5. Thursday Brunch – last but by no means least is Thursday Brunch, a networking group that is a little more outside the box than the more traditional networking groups above. Yes, they have industry-leading presenters and speakers. Yes, it is a group of like-minded business people that are genuinely interested in networking, talking and sharing ideas. The difference is that it’s in a less formal, more fun environment – so, no exchanging of business cards, no sales pitches; just a networking ‘get together’ with a sing-song at the end (yes, we do mean it!).
We hope this has given you a better idea of the importance of networking if you are a small business (or a large one), an entrepreneur or are self-employed/a freelancer. We are sure you will benefit from joining one of the Birmingham networking groups we’ve listed but if we’ve missed one out that you attend, do let us know!
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