Even in an era of digital business networks, the benefits of face-to-face meetings with experts, influencers or potential business partners cannot be overstated.
However, we’ve all thought at some point: “Why am I here?” So here is a short guide from Enterprise Europe Network to help you choose wisely who you meet.
Know what you want to achieve
That’s obvious, right? But to pick the right events and avoid wasting time speaking to the wrong people and going to the wrong places, you need to know what you want as an outcome.
As an example, a company seeking investment or other business funding solutions will want to draw on the knowledge and experience of investors, brokers and businesses that have been successful in attracting similar finance.
So first, find out who the key people are, what opportunities there are to meet them and, if the opportunity arises, what questions you want answered.
Know the right questions to ask
An effective meeting should be outcome-driven. Your questions might be designed to get a decision, to generate ideas, to communicate a message or to form a plan. In our investment scenario, you’re looking to meet people and organisations with the requisite knowledge and a willingness to help:
- For investor and broker experience, try industry events run by the UK Business Angels Association and go armed with the following questions: What do investors look for in investment opportunities? What support services for entrepreneurs might help? Can you use them to find members in your sector with similar case study experience?
- For national finance, the government’s Finance and support for your business’ portal provides a keyword search facility on a wealth of stakeholder networks. Finance Wales also provides commercial funding to SMEs in Wales, backed by teams advising on new investments as well as portfolio development and monitoring. Business Wales also have a useful ‘Finance Locator’ tool where you can search for grants, loans and other finance for which your business may be eligible.
- Cut to the chase by engaging with regional business networks and sector forums to find businesses with experience of similar investment models e.g. local business clubs and Business in the Community events
Know your own business
Of course, knowing the right questions to ask implies that you understand your business model and your strategy.
Enterprise Europe Network advisers can help you develop those simple but essential questions, especially around the scale of any investment and what type of finance might be appropriate.
Being able to answer those questions will allow you to choose events with greater confidence.
Find out more about each event
- Is it ‘invitation only’ or a free-for-all? Is it industry-specific?
- Do the speakers and host organisation enjoy credibility in your sector?
- Will there be an opportunity to ask questions of the experts?
- Will you be able to network with local businesses or peers in your sector? Sharing experiences with fellow attendees can be as valuable as anything the speakers convey.
Ask a friend. Ask EEN
There’s no substitute for experience, so let us help you to make the most of meetings and events. Your local adviser is only a call away – along with our global network of business support. Explore business events being run by EEN and others.