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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March 2005, 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK
The benefits of networking
Business event
Business events are not just about having a good time
No man is an island, the poet John Donne once said, and he could have been specifically talking about business people.

Put simply, the benefits of networking to a small business should never be underestimated.

Meeting up with like-minded fellow businessmen and women can be a very useful way to share ideas, and maybe win some new contracts.

Here Alison White looks at a few.

different ways in which business people can boost their networking.

Ms White also looks at how new small businesses can secure some financial support.

John Yates, England
Please could you advise where to obtain lists of breakfast clubs and other networking groups?

I am starting up an internet consultancy and I believe networking may prove to be of overwhelming importance to my success.

Alison White, acting head of Business Link London
Networking has finally been recognised as a key element of business success.

Because of its importance there are a growing number of organisations that provide facilitated networking events.

Such events enable to meet with other small business owners; share ideas and tips, even make valuable new supplier and customer contacts.

This facilitates the building of dynamic relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs.

Among the groups and organisations organising networking events across the UK are local Chambers of Commerce (telephone: 0207 654 5800), the Federation of Small Businesses (telephone: 01253 336 000) and Business Link (0845 600 9006).

A. Smith, UK
I am currently on a low income but would like some help in starting up my own business. Would I be entitled to any financial help and business advice?

Alison White, acting head of Business Link London
There are a variety of schemes available, most commonly run by government, local councils and business support organisations, providing help and financial support for start-ups and small businesses.

The factors determining whether or not a business is eligible for financial support are typically location, industry, purpose, size and employment.

Additionally, in order to apply for any financial help, it is important to have a well-prepared business plan.

For details of finance and grants available to businesses, as well as extensive information about starting a business, you can see the Business Link website.

To ask Alison White a question about starting up a small business, use the email form below.

Alternatively you can email another member of our small business and entrepreneurship panel of experts by clicking on one of the links on the right.

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