The Benefits of Business Forums to the Small Business Owner

Any good businessperson will know the benefits of a trustworthy network of suppliers and contacts. Businesses often grow through word of mouth, but in addition to referrals, you may well need to call upon other professions that you can trust to help and advise in certain situations.

Business forums are a great place to network and make these connections, as well as being a place to exchange ideas and find support. There is a wide range of business forums available, from virtual networks such as HMRC's Small Business Forum, through to physical local networking opportunities, like the Essex Business Forum. If you are pushed for time like many business owners, the virtual route will give you just as much support and encouragement as you would get from spending time at a physical meeting.

Here are just a few of the advantages of signing up to any sort of business forum:

Business Referrals

One of the greatest benefits of joining a business forum is new business opportunities. Members often seek other members out for particular trades, and the conversion rate of a pitch for new custom between members of a business forum is often much higher than when pitching normally. Indeed, the conversion rate can often be as high as 90%.

In addition, there are often opportunities to collaborate with members of the network who work in similar fields to yourself, which in turn generates more business. Furthermore, you are also likely to find trustworthy suppliers and contacts that you can turn to when you require certain types of work.

Promotion

As well as gaining more business from within the forum itself, there are often opportunities to gain promotion for your brand. For example, members' businesses are often displayed on the forum's website, and promoted on their social media.

Members are often advertised as 'recommended businesses', signalling to a mark of trust for those who come across the website seeking a particular trade. Sometimes there can also be other promotional opportunities such as advertising on local radio, or in promotional material, for example.

Exchange of Ideas

Another key benefit is the opportunity to exchange ideas with other members. Whether you're actively looking for advice on a particular subject from someone in a specialist trade, or whether ideas are sparked by conversation with likeminded peers, you'll gain valuable insights into your own business which you may never have thought about otherwise.

Similarly, there are often opportunities for more formal development and training sessions, too.

Socialising

Socialising is a surprisingly important part of any business and shouldn't be underestimated. If you work alone, you may well benefit from the social aspect of joining a business forum, even if only online, as you'll be exchanging ideas with like-minded business people. If you work as part of a team, it's still often a good chance to converse with other professionals who are at similar points with their own business.

From a simple exchange of ideas through to answering questions and gaining advice, business forums are a great way to build up your business. Why not look into joining a business forum to see what you could achieve from it? If you are stuck for ideas of which ones to join, you could always ask your local bookkeepers for recommendations.

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