What is virtual networking?
Networking has always been an important aspect of business, giving you the ability to connect with local, like-minded business owners. Whilst in-person meetings have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, we can still connect online. Virtual networking is a fantastic chance to enjoy the company of local business owners, expand your network and share information.
We spoke to Elanor Godbold, an Operational Support Co-ordinator for the West Midlands area about the new virtual networking events, and how business owners are benefiting from them.
How is virtual networking different from the regular events and what can attendees expect?
As these events are hosted online, they are slightly more formal than in-person meetings, especially as we control mics to avoid distractions when someone is talking. We have moderators who facilitate the discussion so that everyone gets a chance to introduce their business and share any advice. This gives the events more structure, which really helps to focus everyone. It’s great for getting the most out of the session and learning valuable information.
What has been your experience of virtual networking so far?
As a staff member, virtual networking has meant I can continue to connect with the small business community and give back during this uncertain time. We’re able to answer questions that business owners have, using FSB knowledge and expertise. Our volunteers are on hand at each event, explaining the benefits of FSB membership and what FSB has been lobbying for.
Why do you think these events are beneficial for business owners?
Building your support network is so important, and these events show FSB are here to help the small business community. People attend from a range of sectors, from marketing to kitchen suppliers – it’s really all about being with a group of like-minded people. We’ve had people discussing how they can network effectively whilst they’re working from home, something everyone can relate to right now.
During one event, we had a Development Manager show everyone through the FSB Legal Hub and how to access the help available from FSB. It’s an opportunity to find out about the practical help that’s available for your business too, whether it’s from FSB or government schemes.
What would you say to someone thinking about attending for the first time?
Running your own business or being self-employed can be lonely, so these events are fantastic for staying in touch with the business community and remaining visible. The great thing about having a support network is that people are always recommending the people they know, so joining an event keeps you out there and remembered. During this period of isolation, it’s all about keeping in the community and looking after each other.
Virtual networking is just one of the ways FSB is helping small businesses and the self-employed to stay connected. From sharing advice with like-minded people to learning more about the support available for your business, these events are the perfect example of how together, we’re stronger.
Business life doesn’t have to be lonely
Network with other members and non members from across the UK through our National and Local networking framework