In October 2017 we ran a pilot survey in Todmorden, a town which had established a new business network in 2015/16, but it was struggling to grow attendance after an initial successful start. Our research provided interesting insights into the needs that a wide range of businesses had from networking. What we discovered was:
When asked to choose three of a list of eight business networking activities that would appeal to them, the top three responses were
- Informal Networking (58%),
- Town/Group/Joint Promotions & Events (57%)
- Social Media support (54%).
This was particularly characteristic of town centre businesses, and the retail, arts and community sectors. The need for business support, discussion forums and updates varied across sectors and business types.
When asked to choose three of a list of nine potential benefits of business networking, the top responses were:
- A Stronger Business Community’ (52%).
- Promotion of my Business’ (46%)
- Expanding my Network of Contacts’ (44%)
- New Work/Clients/Leads’ (44%).
Previous events were valued for the opportunity to meet and connect with other similar businesses, peer support, sharing of information (e.g. other events), and specific pieces of business support.
84% of respondents had not attended a networking event in the Todmorden area in the previous year. The most frequent reason given for not attending was: ‘not aware of events’ (66%).
So in conclusion, in Todmorden, we learned that:
More informal events are likely to be more popular. The sense of place is important to businesses collectively, and they would be draw together for events promoting collective benefits to businesses and the town as a whole. There is a feeling that they are behind the curve with social media and peer support would help boost their confidence and use of social media promotions.
Read the full report here
This survey will be repeated in Sowerby Bridge in January and Elland in February as we continue to support the development and sustainability of business networks in the flooded towns, towards a full economic recovery.