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(Copied from the Dorset Social website)

Business networking in Dorset

This list of Dorset business networking groups was last updated in September 2016. 

I highly recommend business networking, both in person and online. It’s made a huge positive difference to my business. And I see how it gets results for others. This list is to help you discover the networking opportunities available in Dorset.

If you spot an error or know of a group that should be added, please email me andrew@dorsetsocial.co.uk or tweet me.

Business networking opportunities in Dorset

#dorsethour is an informal gathering of Dorset businesses that takes place on Twitter every Monday, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. To join in, get online from 7.30pm on a Monday, search on the #dorsethour hashtag and start joining in the conversation.

5@7 Networking is a small networking group based on the Ferndown industrial estate, which has been meeting every week for over two years. Membership is limited to one person per trade or profession but visitors are welcome from across Dorset, or even further afield. About 20 people attend each meeting. Find out more from their website or their Facebook page.

Basepoint Networking Hub. The Basepoint business centres host free networking events, which are open to any local firms. In Dorset these can be found in Bournemouth and Weymouth.

Beaminster & District Business Chamber. There is not much information available about the Beaminster Chamber online, and different sites offer different contact details. If you’re interested in this Chamber I recommend looking it up through a search engine.

BNI “BNI is the world’s leading word-of-mouth marketing and networking organisation” says their website. They have various branches in Dorset including: Christchurch, Dorchester, Weymouth, Wimborne. Read about BNI networking in Dorset.

Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce. Breakfast meetings, training events and more from this large and very reasonably priced networking group. Discover more benefits on their website.

Bournemouth Property Association. If you’re a property professional operating in Dorset, you may find this group useful for staying informed and for networking. They run a variety of networking events – click here to see what they’ve got planned.

Bridport Business. The town’s Chamber of Commerce is presenting a more contemporary image with its ‘Bridport Business’ branding. It holds regular networking event. Click here to view the website.

Networking breakfast

Business Biscotti. This networking group describes itself as the ‘Only crowd networking organisation across the country’ and in the last four years has grown to 80 groups. The Weymouth & Portland group was set up in 2015 and there’s now a group in Dorchester. You can attend two meetings before being required to join up.

Business 4 Bridport (B4B). This group runs on the same principles as BNI, that is, only one member per business sector is permitted. It meets every two weeks. More information is available from the group’s website.

Business Breakfast Club. This group is based in Bournemouth and meets twice a month. According to its website there is a small annual membership fee and each breakfast costs around £10.

Business Golf Network. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this relatively new networking group is only open to golfers. It currently has four branches across Dorset and Hampshire. The two in this county are in Bournemouth and Poole. General information about BGN is available from their website.

Dorchester and District Chamber of Commerce. This group has around 100 members and holds regular meetings. You can find out more from their website.

Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry. While it covers the whole county, in practice the majority of DCCI events happen around the Bournemouth area. We hear that new Chief Exec Ian Girling wants to broaden the Chamber’s appeal across the county.

Dorset Entrepreneurs Network hold meetings twice a month in the Bournemouth/Poole area, alternating between morning and evening events. The meetings feature a specific topic, a guest speaker, and the chance to build relationships with other local business owners. There are no limitations per trade or profession, all are welcome. Find out more on their Meetup Page, or their Facebook Group.

Dorset Professionals Group. An informal group set up in 2011 with a focus on social activities in the Weymouth, Dorchester and Bridport area. Contact: matt.haines@oldmillgroup.co.uk 01305 755640. I’m not sure whether it’s still operating in 2016.

English breakfast

Dorset Women in Business. The name says it all, really, and I can’t go because I’m a bloke. Meets severl times a year in Boscombe, Wimborne and Christchurch.This is not the same organisation as WIBN (Women in Business Network).

Early Bird Business Exchange. Founded in early 2013, this independent, Sherborne-based group meets every other week. Find out more from their website.

East Dorset Business Network (EDBN). Meets once a month for a breakfast. There’s a bit more information on their website.

Federation of Small Businesses. The FSB has two groups covering the county: Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, and Rural Dorset. Both groups have access to meetings under the wider Wessex events calendar.

Granby Business Breakfast. Organised by Battens Solicitors in Weymouth, these breakfasts began in early 2016 and are open to any local organisations. Click here for more details.

Lemur Link Up. This business networking group was set up by busy mums and it’s open to all. Meetings are held at Lemur Landings soft play in Poole. Find out more here. 

Meetdraw. Informal networking group for Dorset-based creative types involved in digital publishing. According to their website that includes developers, designers, marketeers, SEO writers, journalists, entreprenaurs, students, PR experts and copywriters.

4Networking. This national networking organisation has groups in Bournmouth, Poole and Ferndown. For more information visit their website.

Network Dorset. This is an independent referral networking group that meets weekly in Dorchester. As with other referral groups, it’s limited to one person per business category. Click here for more information.

Practical Innovative Networking Group (PING). This is a practical support group that helps business owners with specific issues and meets in Bournemouth. Managed by Jo Huey, it doesn’t have a website. You can contact Jo via her Facebook Page.

Purbeck Network. Focused on the Swanage and Wareham area, this network only accepts one business per business category. Click here to find out more from their website.

Pure Networking. Formerly Bournemouth Networking, this group holds one morning and one evening event each month. The format includes speed networking elements. There don’t appear to be any membership requirements for this group – just book your ticket and go along! Click here for the website.

Rural-Net. The successor to Rural Dorset Business Club, this networking group now seems to operate as a series of ad hoc workshops, provided by WSX Enterprise. For more information visit the website.

The Boardroom Network. Runs monthly breakfast clubs focused on bringing together business owners, directors, decision makers and managers.  They operate an agenda with table plans to ensure they provide a friendly and engaging format, encouraging good conversations, connections and potential collaborations. Only open to organisations that can both buy and sell. Click to find out more from their website.

The Breakfast Board (pictured below). Meets every 2nd Friday of the month at Urban Reef on the Boscombe prom. Each meeting tackles a different focus topic, with the discussion led by an expert guest-chair. Organised by The Boardroom Advisory – see the website for more information.

 

breakfast board meeting

Trade 2 Business Forum Blandford. Meeting every Friday for breakfast, this group’s website says it offers friendly, informal networking with minimal rules. However, it does limit membership to one person per trade or profession. Click here to visit the group’s website.

Well & Connected. Visited and reviewed June 2016. Launched September 2015, this Bournemouth-based networking group runs both a monthly breakfast (without a fry-up) and ‘inspiring mystery events’. It’s aiming to freshen up networking, so if you’re tired with the traditional formats, you may want to give it a go. Click here for their bright new website.

Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce. Networking breakfast review June 2016. WPCC organises a monthly networking breakfast, along with other events for organisations in the area. Website here.

Weymouth Business Exchange (WEBX). This is a referral-based networking group meeting three times a month for breakfast in Weymouth Pavilion Theatre, and it follows a format similar to a BNI meeting. Visit their website for more information.

Women in Business Network – South and South West. Part of the national WIBN organisation, the network has Dorset groups in Bournemouth, Christchurch, Dorchester and Poole. This is not to be confused with Dorset Women in Business (although that would be an easy mistake to make).

Young Executive Club. Since 2009 this group has been providing networking opportunities for up and coming professionals. It’s not clear from the website how often it meets or what membership criteria might be.

Zing networking and support group. Visited and reviewed June 2016. This new group (set up 2015) is aimed at new businesses in the Weymouth and Portland area. It meets on the third Thursday of the month. Click here to see the Facebook Page.

For more information about business networking events in Dorset being run by WSX, visit www.businesseventsindorset.co.uk/

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About Jim

Retired scientist and engineer - HSEQ, Defence