Time to look beyond your usual networks?

Time to look beyond your usual networks?

Victoria Pargetter from the University of Birmingham looks at why it may be time to look beyond your usual networks to expand your horizons...

Victoria PargetterNot that long ago, before social media flooded our multiple devices (embrace it by the way) if you considered yourself ‘well-networked’ it likely meant that you were someone who, perhaps as part of your job, regularly attended all manner of events, conferences, breakfast briefings, award ceremonies etc.

Today, if you count yourself among those who are social media savvy you can make meaningful business connections without ever leaving your office. But to be truly well-networked you need to embrace both activities. There is a very important point to this of course, because ultimately we all do business with people we like and have a personal rapport with. Perhaps an old-fashioned and clichéd comment, but, it’s still very true-in my opinion and experience.

I’m not suggesting that you should spend your entire working week at every regional event going; you still need to be clever about your choices, and target those where your potential clients and business partners will be.

I have a friend who attends one networking event each day. Her reason? It allows her to build strong working relationships, become a familiar and trusted face in the region, be someone to share an opinion with and also, importantly, be someone who can connect you with like-minded colleagues to help your business. And the same will happen in return. Suddenly you have become an influencer, someone to seek out at events, because you make things happen.

In my own role in the Business Engagement Team at the University of Birmingham, events are a key enabler for building relationships that will hopefully grow from small engagements to long-term partnerships. One of the things we sometimes hear from businesses, both small and large is ‘we don’t know how to access the University’s expertise’. While social media is certainly important for reaching our target audience, true engagement requires more than a few articles on a LinkedIn blog or punchy tweet or two about our research themes. It takes conversation.

Businesses need to continually innovate and find ways to maintain the competitive edge. Sometimes this means looking outside your usual networks and identifying new mutually beneficial partnerships. Universities like Birmingham are a melting pot for new ideas and innovations and are always seeking ways to engage industry to help them find creative solutions to business challenges.

If this statement resonates with you then there is no better place to start than by coming to our annual conference on 6th October 2016 to meet our Business Engagement team, our researchers, and other businesses that are already benefiting from building networks with the University.

The University is hosting its annual conference business engagement conference, 6th October 2016.

Register for Business with Birmingham 2016

Vickie Pargetter is Deputy Head of Business Engagement at the University of Birmingham.

If you are interested in exploring opportunities for collaboration email businessteam@contacts.bham.ac.uk