Here at itseeze Web Design Twickenham, we know how challenging it can be for small and medium sized businesses to find new clients and keep the work flowing in.  
 
One of the best ways to do this is to network with other local business owners, who may give you work directly and/or introduce you to third party contacts who need your services. 
There are lots of other benefits to regular networking, such as finding trusted suppliers for services you need to outsource, expanding your business development knowledge and relationship-building skills – and of course, making friends and having some fun along the way. 
 
For business owners in Twickenham, Kingston, and Richmond, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to networking groups, with international, national, regional, and local organisations all represented.  
 
One of the keys to successful networking is finding the groups that fit best with your business, both in terms of ethos, aims and culture, and the types and sizes of companies that attend. 
 
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the networking options available in our local area and how they work, to give you an idea of which one(s) might suit your business.  
 
Of course, there’s no substitute for personal experience, so give a few groups a go and visit your ‘shortlist’ at least twice before deciding whether to join. 
 
 
1. Business Networking International (BNI) 
 
As the name suggests, this is a global company and the biggest networking and referral organisation in the world. BNI is highly prominent throughout the UK, with most towns and cities having at least one group, or ‘chapter’.  
 
The organisation is characterised by its referral-focused meeting structure, with much emphasis placed on the financial value of businesses passed ‘around the table’ by members and their third-party contacts. 
 
Whilst there are certain pressures placed on BNI members that you don’t always find in other groups (such as obligations to attend most weekly meetings, undergo training, and make regular referrals) many businesses credit their BNI membership with bringing in the lion’s share of their revenue.  
 
The training opportunities are also high quality and the ‘one seat policy’ means you’ll never compete for work within your chapter. 
 
Click here to find your local BNI chapter in Richmond, Kingston or Twickenham. 
 
 
2. 4Networking 
 
4Networking, or 4N, is the polar opposite of BNI in many ways. Whilst both groups operate throughout the country and are relatively expensive to attend, that’s where most of the similarities end.  
 
As a 4N ‘Passport Member,’ you’re free to attend as many fortnightly meetings as you like (whereas BNI members can only attend their own chapter), giving you fantastic opportunities to make contacts across the whole region or even the country. 
 
The 4N meeting format is relaxed, with a ‘50% business, 50% social’ ethos. Each meeting includes a 40 second presentation from each attendee, a 4Sight presentation (an interesting talk that can relate to the presenter’s business without being ‘salesy’) and three 10 minute 1-2-1s with other members or visitors.  
 
All business passed is done in private and there’s no obligation to make referrals or attend meetings. However, the lack of a ‘one seat’ policy means you could find one or more companies from your sector in attendance. 
 
Click here to find out more about 4N and view details of meetings in the Richmond, Kingston and Twickenham areas. 
 
 
3. Business Biscotti Clubs 
 
Another national organisation, Business Biscotti, has Clubs in Twickenham and Kingston that meet monthly. Meeting formats vary between Clubs, but each event includes informal networking, Elevator Pitches (short presentations) from each attendee, and a 5 minute ‘Top business tips’ session from a member.  
 
Like at 4N meetings, members and guests can display marketing materials on a dedicated table. 
 
Business Biscotti is a members-only organisation, but each Club holds regular Visitors’ Days so you can find out more about how the Club meetings work and the benefits of joining.  
 
Membership is relatively inexpensive at £99 per year with a £10 per-meeting fee on top. 
 
 
4. Business over Breakfast (BoB) 
 
BoB meetings take place every two weeks, with our local group being Twickenham. The group is currently in formation and is actively seeking new members from a wide range of professions (there’s a ‘one seat’ policy).  
 
The meeting format features a mix of informal networking, Elevator Pitches, and a 10 minute ‘Showcase’ presentation by a member about their business. There is also a group available in Kingston
 
In terms of networking experience, BoB claims to take all the best elements from organisations such as BNI and 4N to offer something unique. A plus for start-ups and smaller business owners with limited contact networks is that there’s no pressure to make referrals.  
 
Membership costs are mid-range, with per-meeting fees to pay in addition. 
 
 
5. Network My Club 
 
This is a regional organisation with six groups that meet in sporting venues including the home of English rugby, Twickenham Stadium.  
 
Membership fees give you access to monthly networking events (one free place per member), marketing support and promotional opportunities, and exclusive perks such as discounts on corporate box meeting room hire. 
 
Each monthly event features open networking, a guest speaker and introductions to members and Twickenham personnel. Membership is relatively expensive at £600 per year. 
 
 
6. Local Chambers of Commerce 
 
Richmond and Kingston each have their own Chamber of Commerce. Both are independent not-for-profit organisations.  
 
Like all Chambers across Great Britain, the Richmond and Kingston organisations exist to support and promote the interests of businesses within their respective areas. 
 
Chamber membership offers a range of benefits, including invitations to networking and social events; access to services such as business training and mentoring; promotional opportunities through email and website advertising, newsletters and sponsorship; and representation and advocacy.  
 
The Richmond and Kingston Chambers both offer a tiered membership structure based on business turnover or number of employees respectively. 
 
 
7. Enterprise Connexions 
 
This is a regional organisation which operates in Greater London, Hampshire, Surrey, and Sussex, including fortnightly breakfast meetings on Thursdays at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Kingston.  
 
There’s a relatively formal structure, with a ‘Dress for success’ dress code and board room-style meetings. However, after this part of the meeting has finished, members and guests can continue to network informally if they choose. 
 
Find out more about Enterprise Connexions and meetings in your area at their website
 
 
8. Startup Richmond 
 
Startup Richmond offers a mixture of face to face networking and mentoring, and online training and business promotion opportunities.  
 
For an annual joining fee of £150, the organisation claims to offer a package worth £1,357 a year. 
 
As the name suggests, the organisation is aimed at start-ups and young businesses, and offers a flexible programme of activities to help entrepreneurs to market themselves successfully in the Richmond area. Find out more here
 
 
9. Omni Local Business Networking 
 
Omni holds fortnightly breakfast meetings in numerous locations in south east England, including Kingston on Thames. As well as the usual open networking and round of Elevator Pitches and referrals, you’ll have the opportunity to have a 1-2-1 meeting with an attendee of your choice and hear top tips or advice from a member. 
 
Membership costs vary, with different joining fees based on the number of visits you make before joining (4N does the same), reduced fees for charities, and higher fees for ‘Legend Membership,’ which offers additional benefits. Per-meeting fees apply, with total costs coming out as mid-range. 
 
Find out more about Omni Local Business Networking at their website
 
 
Get networking today! 
 
As you can see, there are lots of opportunities in the Kingston, Richmond, and Twickenham areas to connect with other company owners, make valuable new contacts and grow your business.  
 
We hope to see you on the local networking circuit soon – please drop us a line if you’re planning to attend an event and we’ll see if we can meet you there. 
 
Tagged as: Networking
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