Small companies are being urged to focus on making new business connections a priority in 2017 after research from NatWest reveals a third (33 per cent) are struggling to make beneficial connections. This is despite a vast majority (86 per cent) of senior decision makers knowing that expanding their network is important for their business’ success.

The research demonstrated the direct positive impact of making new connections with half (50 per cent) of small businesses increasing profits and a further two thirds (70 per cent) securing business from their new connections.

Yet initiating meetings and introductions can be difficult and expensive. Just over a fifth (21 per cent) of small businesses are spending up to £1,000 to make a new business connection.

Despite the increasing influence of technology in the world of business networking, the survey also reveals that nearly seven in ten small businesses (68 per cent) are still making connections through traditional routes such as via existing contacts. This compares to just 21 per cent using online networking platforms such as LinkedIn.

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

‘Out of the businesses we spoke to, only five percent said they make new connections through their bank while others are spending up to £1000 to make a new connection – demonstrating the value they place on establishing such an introduction or meeting.

‘Banks can do more to help though. By leveraging our networks of customers, partners, and suppliers we can introduce small businesses to peers and contacts who can help them reach their business ambitions. That is why we launched our Boost programme and network of Business Growth Enablers.’

Further reading on connections