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Networking key to business success

04 July 2013


A leading entrepreneur has spoken on the importance of attending networking events for business leaders.

Speaking at the inaugural Business Exchange event at Teesside University’s Darlington campus Jo Fairley, founder of Green & Black’s chocolate, added that business leaders need to make time for networking events to add value to their business.

She said: 'Businesses must fight the urge not to attend networking events because they are too busy.

'You never know if the person sitting next to you could be the one person who can really help your business.'

The Business Exchange programme run by Teesside University has been designed by industry experts to offer short, high-profile networking events for business leaders.

A former journalist, Jo started pioneering organic chocolate company Green & Black’s together with husband Craig Sams, with just £20,000 of their own savings.

Since 1991 she has built it up into a £100m business that outsells Marmite.

The company has earned the accolade ‘cooler than Prada’ according to Cool Brands 2007 and won numerous awards.

Mrs Fairley was inundated with questions from the audience of managing directors, CEOs and business leaders.

She spoke glowingly of the work Teesside University does with businesses across the region and added, 'businesses should empower people to think like entrepreneurs'.

Launching the event was Dr Sue Smith, Assistant Dean at Teesside University Business School.

She said: 'It is hugely important to create an environment where business leaders can get together and share knowledge.

'It is well known those in the management positions benefit from networking together with like-minded individuals and talking to those that attended today that benefit was felt from SME managing directors through to those at the helm of the larger organisations.'

The Business Exchange is a network of senior leaders from businesses and organisations in the North East and North Yorkshire, meeting every month at Teesside University Darlington.

Each event features a high-profile national or regional business speaker sharing their business knowledge, followed by a question and answer session, and networking time.

Attending the event was Managing Director of Exwold Technology Kevin Martin.

He said: 'I thoroughly enjoyed today. It is really useful to get businesses together with a good speaker to provide a great networking experience.

'I found it very useful. The opportunity for local businesses to share their knowledge and experiences is very valuable.'

Speakers at the Business Exchange touch on practical issues that resonate with business leaders such as branding, managing through a recession, developing a business, who to employ and how to grow.

Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: 'We’re delighted that our first Business Exchange event has been such a success. The feedback has proved very positive.

'The programme has been designed to inspire, connect and add value for senior leaders in the region, whether a managing director of an engineering company or the financial director of a packaging firm.

'The Business Exchange is supported by expert research on what drives the people who are at the helm of successful enterprises.

'The synergies created by like-minded business people coming together offer tremendous value, not only for those attending, but for the businesses and organisations they represent, helping us collectively to achieve our aim of inspiring and growing the economy in the North East.'

The Business Exchange with Peter Barron, Editor of The Northern Echo on ‘The changing face of the media’ takes place from 5pm to 6.30pm on August 21.

The Business Exchange with Don Randall MBE, Head of Security at the Bank of England takes place on September 24 from 5pm to 6.30pm

Business Exchange is at Teesside University Darlington, Vicarage Road, Darlington, DL1 1JW.

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