When an IT company talks about networking, you'd expect them to only be referring to the physical infrastructure, hardware and software protocols. However, there is another form of networking that is critical to business.
IT seems a scary topic for so many people in business to address. The reason we developed our retail operation thirteen years ago was to help Customers by enabling them to drop-in to an environment in which they would feel comfortable discussing their IT issues.
Our help-centered retail strategy has proven to be a success, although it is based upon people dropping-in only when they encounter a problem that stops them from doing business. IT problems, as we all know, come in many shapes and sizes and not all of them grind business to a halt. Many IT problems are just niggling and annoying. Business networking allows me to take my brand of help and advice on the road and help people with their IT niggles.
I invest a significant part of my week taking time out of the business. For a business such as ours that presents a retail facet, not being in the store may seem an alien way of driving new business. Getting out there and meeting other businesses face-to-face is an important activity for pretty much any business. Particularly now, as so much business is being driven online, that business people are being forced to hide behind websites and email inboxes.
In our digitally connected economy, going offline and taking the time to build relationships with other businesses operating in a similar location or sector to your own builds vital personal connections.
How many times have you heard people say: it's not what you know it's who you know?
I've tasted many flavours of business networking, from full English breakfast meetings and coffee mornings through to boozy evening receptions. All have their positives and most are #opportunities to share and learn. The trick is not to rely on just one meeting alone, it's all about the mix.
Cyber Trust Group
Earlier on this year in May, PC Help Centre was invited to join the Cyber Trust Group being set up by Bedfordshire Police - the first such group in the UK. Our invitation, from Bedfordshire Police's Cyber Hub, to join the soon-to-be-formed Group came from the owner of a web design business we have known, supported and networked with for many years.
PC Help Centre brings to the Cyber Trust Group our expertise in data recovery, cyber security solutions and protecting networks. Together with subject matter experts in cyber crime detection, security training and GDPR consultancy, we contribute by sharing knowledge and experience so that the Cyber Trust Group may protect businesses from cyber crime by raising awareness.
The Cyber Trust Group operates in partnership with Bedfordshire Police and exists to promote its expertise across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. PC Help Centre is participating in this pilot network with a view to, firstly, proving and then, secondly, duplicating the Group's structure throughout the rest of the country.
So does networking work?
For me, I'd answer with an unequivocal yes. Without the business contacts I'd made whilst networking I wouldn't have been introduced to the Luton-based business recently crippled by a ransomware attack that infected multiple sites across the global enterprise.
Too many people have come to regard business networking as an activity that's all about turning-up, equipped with little more than a thinly veiled tactic to sell to those in the room. Some networks operate on a fundamental exclusion principle that prevents same-sector businesses from being in the same room. For me, personally, this kind of mentality is outdated and limiting.
My experience of working alongside other Members of the Cyber Trust Group illustrates that there's a very positive and healthy business contribution to be found by networking and sharing knowledge with companies we'd previously have regarded as competitors.
As we work alongside fellow IT experts to develop the structure and programme of this regional Cyber Trust Group, we'll keep you informed of progress and outputs. The Cyber Trust Group has been founded to achieve the following desired outcomes:
Increased awareness of the threat landscape, risk to potential victims together with the possible impact and harm.
Awareness of the need to comply with data protection regulations.
Reduced instance of Cyber Crime.
Preparedness for Cyber Attack in the business community.
Positive feedback from the business community.
With reference to the final outcome listed above, if you have any thoughts or suggestions of the kind of cyber security advice and support you'd like to see made available by the group then do please let us know here at PC Help Centre.