Networking 'can boost growth potential of SMEs'

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Owners of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been encouraged to network with other people in their industry.

According to research by NatWest, half of SME owners believe making connections has helped to make their business more profitable.

Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters said they had secured new business as a direct result of gaining contacts in their sector.

As a result, 86 per cent of SMEs consider building new business connections to be an effective way of fuelling growth.

Marcelino Castrillo, managing director of business and private banking at NatWest, commented: "It’s clear that meeting the right partners and contacts can make all the difference to a business’ growth potential."

More than two-thirds favour traditional means of gaining new connections, such as using existing contacts to help them meet new people.

By contrast, just one in five considered digital platforms such as LinkedIn to be useful tools for networking.

This could partly explain why 33 per cent of SME owners find it difficult to build new relationships within their industry.

"It isn’t always easy for smaller businesses to know how to go about meeting the right people to help grow their business and not all entrepreneurs actively make this one of their priorities," Mr Castrillo.