March 17, 2014 11.33 am This story is over 115 months old

Community in business: The power of six degrees

Strong networks: Penny Reeve explains how making use of local contacts and networking could help your business thrive.

A couple of years ago, there was a huge buzz around the idea of Six Degrees of Separation. You know the one; your aunt, whose nail technician is married to a guy, who is friends with a girl that knows the girl that walks the dog of Emma Watson. Apparently, you could be linked to anyone in the world within just a few short introductions.

Now, I’m not saying that to increase your business reach you set out on a quest to get Johnny Depp to endorse your product, tempting him with some long winded story about how your grandma used to get her hair cut with his sister. However, the idea of working with people you hear about through your community contacts has great benefits.

Here are some tips to get the most out of business in your community.

Use your local contacts

Recently, I was asked if I knew of any animators for a job. Personally, I didn’t but with a couple of text messages to people I’d met through other avenues, I had animators coming out of my ears. Not only does this mean I’ve found a great animator to work with, it also means that I’ve been able to work someone reliable, who could send work my way in the future, too. Make sure to keep a hold of any business cards you receive and Twitter and LinkedIn contacts could be beneficial in the future, so make sure to keep on chatting.

Test the local area

If you don’t have any luck through your contacts, try the local area. If you’re looking around for companies to work with why not search for, say, web designers in Lincoln city centre before searching the internet for your needs? A quick scout around could find you a great pool of talented people, right on your doorstep. The business just down the road could provide invaluable help down the line, and you’re feeding into the local community, too. There’s also an option of meeting them for a quick after work drink on a Friday evening.

Attend networking events

Networking evenings can be great. I’m sure that no-one looks forward to putting themselves out there and saying hello to a bunch of strangers, but getting on with someone you meet could lead to a mutual arrangement. Check Twitter and LinkedIn for meet ups and ensure to have a look at other attendees before the evening, so that you can identify key points to chat about to key attendees.

One of my favourite business models at the moment is the ‘creative hub’. Businesses in various cities across the UK joining together with others in their community to make something exciting happen. Graphic designers, events managers, local magazines and various other businesses are ensuring that their city creates a buzz by working together to promote what the artistic community has to offer. Events become more exciting, business begins to thrive and an area of the city gains footfall. This microcosm of a community is making big things happen, something that might not come to fruition if these businesses were working by themselves.

Community is something that should be cherished, and needs to be brought back into the heart of business. If we all work to support each other, then we help to make our cities a richer, more vibrant place to be and our businesses stronger than ever before.

Fancy chatting about the idea of community in business? Tweet me @PennedPR

After travelling the world, Penny settled back into the UK and entered the world of public relations. After gaining three years experience of the profession in the renewables industry, Penny joined Lava as an Account Manager. In her spare time, Penny is the community editor for Nottingham-based magazine LeftLion and plays roller derby for the Nottingham Roller Girls.