The South West of England is wide open for business and there are several business networks in Devon including some niche interest groups. These range from the well established international platforms such as BNI to church groups that encourage entreneurship. Here is a selection of just a few business networks in Devon / the South West.
Business networks in Devon
Southwest Business Connections is a friendly group that offers new opportunities to grow your business. They have been around for 18 years and aim to be the South West’s #1 business hub. Here you can connect with 27,000 people in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall as well as interact with business mentors. They have four different membership packages starting at £30 per month and offering a range of add on services. Lisa Bailey-Brown is one of the online hosts and soon makes everyone feel at home.
Business Network International (BNI) is possibly the most well known of the business networks in Devon as it operates all over the world with 280,000 members in over 10,000 chapters. As an extension of this global business referral organisation, BNI Devon and Cornwall has local groups that offer members the opportuntiy to represent a particular industry sector. For example there can only be one accountant in each chapter. As one can imagine from an international leader, they have devised their own zoom format which is very slick. Visitors are welcome and given the opportunity to talk about their business for a minute. It’s a bit like speed dating but in an exhilarating kind of way! BNI has a one off application fee and costs around £500 per year.
BBX is a worldwide business community and represented in Devon through it’s local franchise, BBX Devon. It may be a helpful opportunity to find work however it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. This is mainly because it encourages businesses to trade amongst each other as preferred suppliers in a barter system that has it’s own internal currency. This is problematic if you don’t have sufficient cash work coming in as you need to pay your membership in pounds. For those who can embrace the benefits of a barter system it could be beneficial, but not for startups.
4. Entrepreneurs Circle
Nigel Botterill of Entrepeneurs Circle is no stranger to Devon. He has spoken here before, however is now offering a new opportunity to network in the city. Geo-targeted Facebook ads have been promising a new kind of networking as we come out of Lockdown. We will have to wait and see if this delivers on its promises however the opportunity to join free for the first free months will be a definite drawcard to local businesses who want to try it out. Nigel is known as a serial entrepreneur having set up several million-pound businesses and is a best-selling author. The regular monthly fee payable after the initial three-month bursary may make this the most expensive of the business networks in Devon however it may be well worth the money.
Christian groups in Devon
There are also a number of Christian business networks in Devon including CTN Southwest and Kingdom Business.
CTN Southwest is a non-demoninational group that brings Christians together across the marketplace. Led by Barrie Townsend and Frank Bennett, CTN has hosted business breakfasts at the Imperial / Toby’s Carvery for many years. During lockdown the network went on line and currently hosts a Zoom call every three weeks. There are no membership fees and everyone is welcome, people of faith and those who have none. Speakers include local business owners sharing from experience. It’s a relatively small group which makes it easier to connect.
6. Kingdom Biz
Kingdom Business is a group alligned to Rediscover Church that offers a Preparation for Business Course from the Kingdom Biz Academy. It is run by Al Whitmoor-Pryer who is a local businessperson and the author of Kingdom business: You Can Be God’s Entrepreneur. The course has trained hundreds of new entrepreneurs and takes place on Wednesday evenings in Exeter, restrictions allowing. Kingdom Biz also has an online meeting every Monday from 8.15 to 9pm on Zoom. There is a charge for the course however the weekly meeting is free.
Whatever network you select, we all look forward to the days of networking again in person. Although Zoom meetings will probably continue for ease of use.