The Benefits of Business Forums to the Small Business Owner.

As any good business owner knows the benefits of a trustworthy network of suppliers and contacts. Businesses often grow through recommendations and word of mouth, but in addition to referrals, you may need support from other professionals that you can trust to help and mentor and consult in certain situations.

Business forums are a great place to network and make new connections, as well as being a place to exchange insights and find support. There is a wide range of business forums available, such as virtual networks like LinkedIn or HMRC’s Small Business Forum. Sometimes the convenience of passing the time whilst commuting, one can access the hubs quickly and discretely giving you time to get to concentrate on your busy schedules. With time being an important factor the virtual route will give you just as much support and encouragement as you would get from spending at a physical meeting.

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

Business Referrals

The greatest benefit of joining a business forum is to seek out new business opportunities. Members often connect with 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%.

Furthermore there are often opportunities to collaborate with members of the network who work in similar fields to yourself, which in turn generates more business. You are also more 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 marketing and promotion for your brand. Businesses are invited to display on the forum’s website their logo’s or banners, and can be promoted through social media.

Members are often invited to advertise as ‘ sponsored 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 element 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 field, or whether ideas are sparked by conversation with likeminded people, 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 peers. 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