Five people your business needs to look after - and guess what? They aren't your customers…

When it comes to networking and building relationships, most companies tend to focus on their clients or prospective clients. To achieve more powerful short term and long term results, it is enormously helpful to add in these groups of people to your communications planning.


Every company stands and falls by its employees. Ensuring regular communications with employees both as a team and as individuals will reap rewards in staff loyalty, productivity and ensure you recruit and keep the best talent.  Good ways to communicate include newsletters, noticeboards and suggestion boxes as well as social media groups or online forums or chat groups where staff are encourage to engage in open conversations and contribute ideas.

Suppliers & business partners

It’s easy to forget commercial relationships are also personal.  Having the right supplier can make or break your business, particularly in times of crisis. These are the people who can hel you deal with unexpected big orders, which although welcome could potentially break your company if you can’t produce the goods in time. These are the people who can help you to negotiate and find helpful ways to cut costs and improve efficiency in your business. They have their own expertise and can become valuable consultants. Treat your suppliers as important stakeholders & they can be very important in helping you to achieve success.

Implementing regular catch up contact via the method which works best for them (phone, email, face-to-face) and ensuring that your team gets to know key supplier contacts on a personal level will reap rewards.

Local community representatives

You might well consider putting this task to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list, but it can be very beneficial in terms of PR and brand awareness to allocate quarterly time to building good links in your community with MPs and councillors. Consider how you might operate as a ‘good corporate citizen’ in your local area, whether this is through supporting important local community campaigns, organising litter picks among employees or arranging fundraising events to support local causes. Then ensure you get in touch with your local councillors, MPs and community group leaders to consult with them about these initiatives. It doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time and it will create advocates who talk about your business in a positive way.

National Government and regulatory authorities

These institutions shape the environment your business operates in. Whether you are engaging directly on a regulatory or policy issue – or simply monitoring what is happening – these are important stakeholders to consider in networking & planning activities.   Take time to research which government departments and regulatory authorities affect your business and follow them on social media and set up news alerts if you are monitoring. If a new project or your main source of income could be influenced by policy, you should consider investing in stakeholder analysis and management to ensure that your company’s voice is heard and that you are aware of key changes and the timings of these.


As motivational speaker Simon Sinek suggests viewing competitors as ‘worthy rivals’ will help you keep your business relevant and moving with the times.  Plus, often rivals can become collaborators.  Identify four or five main competitors as a starting point. Look at how they communicate their messages. What are they doing well and what are they not doing well. How do you compare? Follow them on social media and sign up for newsletters. Seek them out at online and face to face networking events. You can learn a great deal and also potentially form productive relationships for the future.