Networking Groups / Events:

Are they of value to small to medium businesses on the Sunshine Coast?

Lisa Evett

Senior Marketing Manager for ConceroTel

There are three main reasons businesses on the Sunshine Coast should question the value of networking. Firstly, if the primary goal of your networking is to expand your business through increased sales, you will need new customers. What if everyone attending the networking event has the same objective – that they are there to sell too? If you have a room full of sellers and no buyers, that’s a problem.

How often has someone said to you at a networking event “I’m here to find products or services to buy”? Market forces rely on supply and demand. Sellers and buyers. When people say the purpose of networking is to build relationships, they are simply justifying the time they have wasted on networking because it has not resulted in any new sales. There is little value in “building relationships” if those relationships never eventuate in new sales.

By focusing on the local market, we tend to forget we exist in a global market. 

Secondly, what if the people you meet at networking events are not your target market? Have you experienced sit-down networking events where the people on either side of you provide no link to your own business? It is time you will never get back. It’s the pot luck of networking. Do we really want to leave the future prosperity of our business down to luck?

Finally, and most importantly, local networking restricts business growth. By focusing on the local market, we tend to forget we exist in a global market. Some business people don’t give themselves permission to think big and reach for markets beyond the borders of the Sunshine Coast.

There are around 300,000 people on the Sunshine Coast. Your potential global market is 7.2 billion people. But what if my business can only service people on the Sunshine Coast, I hear you ask. Just because you provide a lawn mowing service or a hairdressing salon, does not mean that your knowledge, products, services or processes can’t be monetised for an online customer. Of course there are exceptions, but the lawn mowing company can develop an app to remind customers their lawn needs mowing and connect them to local suppliers, no matter the geographical location. The hairdresser could develop their own hair care range to sell to customers online. Our world is now digital. You can spend your time networking locally or you can spend your time selling your business to the world.

Richard Moye

Dealer Principal Audi Centre, Sunshine Coast

I definitely am a positive for effective networking. Running a business can make the most efficient of us time poor, what better way to let your peers, friends and potential partners know how important you value their time, conversation, thoughts and ideas than to get out and be part of your local community.

With a family and a hectic schedule how do we know which events to attend? As simple as it sounds, we have to make sure we pick the events that best expose us to the type of people we want to attract or surround ourselves with.

Get out, be active, the next event you miss could be the one that wins you that promotion, job offer or contract. 

We have all seen the benefits directly transfer into mutually beneficial relationships and it always has to be two sided. If you neglect those relationships you are neglecting your business. Get out, be active, the next event you miss could be the one that wins you that promotion, job off er or contract.

There aren’t many websites these days advising you to stay at home to promote your business, getting out and about will turn those relationships into friendships and that is the ultimate reward.

Now, social networking …? That’s a whole other debate.