We are often asked what the best ways are for businesses to market themselves locally. And we’ll always offer the same advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

So yes, go ahead and place a regular advertising space in one of Life In…Magazines’ community magazines and align yourself with a trusted brand, but also consider a few other marketing avenues including social media, digital advertising, email marketing and networking in Bromley.

We email our customers every month and we’ve got a strong presence on social media (especially Instagram!), but one of the ways we benefit about spreading the word in what we do is by networking. And we’ve tried many a group locally.

So when we liaise with potential customers, we’ll often go out of our way to give them details of local networking groups – certainly ones we’ve tried ourselves, so we thought we’d share them with you…

PIB (People In Business)

We’ve been members of PIB Bromley for the last three years and it’s always been a very friendly and supportive group and mostly attended by local businesses. It’s run by Michelle Harvey and Gary Valentine – members of the community who also run local businesses. Events take place at least monthly, usually at Chelsfield Golf Club in Orpington on a Wednesday or Friday from 9am-10.30am.

The meetings are structured and informative and there is usually a monthly speaker. Get your elevator pitch ready too. When you take out membership (£100 a year and £20 per meeting), you can attend the monthly meetings and they also promote members for free on social media. Check them out here.

Friday Winddown

Another very supportive group, but as this is on Zoom (every other Friday), businesses come from near and far. The sessions are structured and the group describes itself as ‘unashamedly commercial’ – they’re there to do business and serious about it. Attendees are encouraged to ‘sell the sizzle’ and votes are given to the best elevator pitch.

The sessions take place every other Friday on Zoom from 4.30pm-6pm and the first session is free with subsequent sessions costing £5 or you can opt for annual membership. Email fridaywinddown@gmail.com or see them online here.

Bromley Business Network

This group meets every other Wednesday morning at 7am at Bromley Football Club. It’s run by Chas Jordan with the help of Susan Wright and a few other volunteer helpers. It’s the only group that offers a ‘hybrid’ meeting, whereby you can attend by Zoom (£12) or in person £23. The in-person event offers a lovely buffet breakfast and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.

The first meeting is free and sessions are structured and typically include a speaker (for 10 minutes). Everyone gets the opportunity to do a 45-second elevator pitch and the group is non-profit – any money brought in goes on the room hire, breakfast, equipment and gifts every now and then for regular members. Find out more about the group here.

Beckenham Business Association

The Beckenham Business Association isn’t a networking group as such, but they do host regular events and networking events – both for members and non-members.

The association is chaired and has a committee (which we’re proud to be part of), and the annual ‘big’ event is the ‘Beckenham Business Day’, which is a day-long event usually towards the end of the year consisting of a variety of workshops, speakers and business exhibitors. Throughout the year other events take place – both offline and online. If you’re a member these are either free or heavily discounted. It’s a friendly group that come up with innovative sessions and events.

Visit the website for more information or email info@beckenhambusinessassociation.co.uk

B2B Marketing

The Chislehurst and Bromley boards are run by Anna Young of Bells Accountants and membership is by invitation only. The 1st session is free then it’s £50 a month and an additional £20 every time you attend a meeting.

The Chislehurst events are on the second Tuesday of the month at the Giggling Squid, while the Bromley Board meets on the 4th Thursday monthly at Miller and Carter Steakhouse. You can also attend other ‘boards’ – from a selection of 5 other ones. Although it’s the priciest of all the groups, the ‘brainstorming’ concept is a great idea; it’s not so much networking, but rather getting a small group of businesspeople together to generate ideas on pain points that people share. And what is said at these groups, stays in the groups! For more information have a look at the website or email Anna@bellsaccountants.co.uk

12.30 The Women’s Company

Jackie Groundsell has run 12.30 The Women’s Company for a number of years. It’s really well established and meetings take place monthly across the borough – and further afield.

Although this is a members-only group for women, businesses are encouraged to attend a meeting to see if they’d like to become a member. The monthly sessions usually take place in a restaurant and you can book online to attend, with the cost including a main meal and a side dish.

The structured meetings commence at 12.30 for an hour and a half and usually include a speaker for attendees to learn more about a certain topic or industry. It’s a very supportive group with different types of events run throughout the year – plus there are a lot of tips and resources on the website.

Ladies Who Latte – Bromley

Finally, Ladies Who Latte takes place on the last Wednesday of each month at CASPA café in Community House (South Street, Bromley) from 10am-12pm.

As the name suggests, it’s a women-only event (currently run by Denise Meade-Hill) and although it’s free to attend (you just buy a drink), you must book in advance. Once you have attended a meeting you are able to join the Facebook Group.

The group is very popular with around 15-20 attendees and although it seems a more supportive and encouraging group, connections, collaborations and business are regularly made. The format is general networking for the first hour, then the group stands in a circle and presents a minute’s ‘elevator pitch’ plus the one thing that they want to get from the meeting (e.g. more followers on social, to be introduced to a certain business/industry etc..). After that it’s more general networking. For details see this Eventbrite link.

So that pretty much sums up most of the regular networking that takes place in the borough, although there are plenty more events and groups so it’s worth asking others and doing a bit of research.

The thing with networking is that one size doesn’t fit all, so it’s worth exploring them all to find out which you prefer. And good luck!