Denise Fielding is Operations Director of business support organisation East Durham Business Service.

The organisation, based at Novus Business Centre in Peterlee, supports budding entrepreneurs to pursue a path into self-employment, and established micro businesses and SMEs to grow.

Here, Denise looks at the importance of networking and why more and more businesses are choosing to collaborate.

“Networking has always been an invaluable tool for businesses. Done right it can be an extension of your sales and marketing team, allowing you to meet potential clients and suppliers as well as showcasing your own business offering to a diverse audience.

The beauty of networking is that the investment generally comes from your time, rather than the bank, which means you can effectively advertise your business without having to fork our huge sums of money with no guarantee of a return on your investment.

At East Durham Business Service, we’ve certainly noticed a shift in attitudes towards networking, with more and more businesses choosing to promote their business in this way.

And because of this, there’s also been an upsurge in interest for programmes such as Boost Your Business, which we’re delivering alongside other enterprise agencies in the area through the North East Enterprise Agency Limited (NEEAL).

Boost Your Business is a three-day residential business support programme which brings together entrepreneurs and managers from around the North East, all of whom want to learn more about growing their business.

Essentially the course is an intensive form of networking, allowing attendees to share ideas, experiences and above all else, come away with tools which can lead to expansion and investment, including two recognised enterprise qualifications and a non-accredited college certificate.

So far, over 300 people have completed Boost Your Business, with many reporting back that it gave them a much clearer idea of where they want to take their company and how they want to grow.

It’s evident, not only from Boost Your Business but from many of the other programmes and groups we’re involved with, that businesses really do want to learn from their counterparts and see networking as the best way for them to do that.”

To find out more about East Durham Business Service or the Boost Your Business programme, visit edbs.co.uk.