So, what is the best way to market and grow your business? The rather obvious and inevitable answer coming from me would be to ensure that you have a professional, well designed website. However, that aside, I have to say I have found that having breakfast once a week at Ashton Gate Stadium also seems to work rather well (please do read on if you are a Bristol Rovers fan though – it has been known to work for some of them too!). 
When I started my business over seven years ago I was pretty new to the concept of networking. However, I mustered up the courage to turn up early one dark January morning to meet a group of people who, it was claimed, could help me grow my business. It was slightly daunting to start with - not least of all because the vast majority of the male members appeared to be called Dave, but they were a pretty friendly lot and I put my faith in them and joined the group. 
Initially my main reason for joining was undoubtedly to see my business grow, and I have certainly achieved that. However, I’ve also gained so much more. I work on my own and life can be somewhat isolated at times, but I now have a group of colleagues who I can meet and discuss business with regularly. 
The group initially met at a city centre restaurant. Over time we did move - from venues we outgrew, to those where the scrambled eggs served in the morning were just too green for anybody’s liking, we have now found our home at Ashton Gate. The breakfasts are great, the view is amazing and even the Rovers fans have come to love the meeting rooms. 
Attending the group has given me the opportunity to improve my presentation skills - we all stand up every meeting and briefly present our business. It’s a great chance to educate everybody about what you do, and a few of the members have found some innovative ways to present their slot including rhyme, song and props! Last month our accountant also told us a myriad of “interesting” excuses that people have given for late tax returns. Having said that there is an incentive – the best slot each week walks away with a bottle of wine! 
We also take it in turns to do a ten minute presentation slots on our business – a couple of weeks ago I spent time with the group showing them some before and after examples of websites I have done. I’ve loved watching other presentations too – I know way more than I ever thought I would about businesses providing electrical services, painting, decorating, printing, office services and legal services to name but a few. 
Towards the end of the meeting we take the opportunity to pass referrals to each other, it's great having a workforce out there looking for people who need web design in Bristol! This business is measured and in the last year we have passed close to £1 Million worth of business within the group.  
Over time this great group of people have grown from colleagues to be both my support network and friends, I’m always happy to give them help, advice and support, and the sentiment is reciprocated. It’s also been nice to spend time with them in a more casual setting - we have recently celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the group being founded – this took the form of an evening out with food and drinks at The Quadrant in Clifton village – we’re a pretty sociable lot too. 
So, if you fancy coming and having breakfast with me one Thursday morning (or indeed looking for a friendly local website designer!) then please do drop me a line – I (and a number of great local businesspeople) would love to meet you! 
Call me on 07837 003937 or complete the form below and I will get back to you as soon as possible 
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Tagged as: Networking
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