Business networks to lean on during these uncertain times

Updated / Thursday, 4 Feb 2021 11:27

Sometimes the current situation can be overwhelming

By Fiona Alston

The rollercoaster of the last few months of living with Covid has been tough on many businesses around the country. 2020 was a turbulent year and with Brexit in the mix sometimes it felt like a very overwhelming place to be.

Earlier this year Boost My Business published a feature on networking with some useful advice on leaning into your network which you can read here. We have now updated the list of networks below.

Business networks are invaluable during times like these. Leaning into your network and sharing your hopes and fears with people in the same position as you, or perhaps people who have faced adversity before, can give you a different perspective.

Family and friends can be very supportive during these times, but you might find you are shielding them from the reality of the situation – talk to someone who is not invested in you or your company personally to get some great impartial advice.

Your nearest competitors can be your greatest allies, something the beauty salons of Greystones proved in with the local network they developed. You can read about their story here.

Mentorship is also another great way to keep your business on track, you may already know someone you would like to ask to be your mentor, for most, this is quite the honour and it can’t do any harm to ask. Alternatively there are plenty of free mentorship programmes out there like Mentors At Work or through your Local Enterprise Office 

Business Networks

The Industry Research & Development Group (IRDG) represents over 300 innovation-driven firms across all sectors in Ireland. The group also counts higher education institutions among its members. It supports its members through online events, one-to-one support and connecting people across the network. As a not-for-profit group, it said it prides itself as being the voice of innovation-led companies in Ireland. 

Chambers Ireland are part of a global Chamber of Commerce whose mission it is to create the right environment for businesses to reach their potential. They are one of the largest business networks in Ireland who host regular webinars on all areas of business. Chambers is a great way to meet your fellow local businesses.

IBEC is the business network which goes to bat for you. Ibec has trade associations/networks in many sectors which includes IBEC’s Travel Leisure and Hospitality Network ,  Retail Ireland is another of IBEC’s networks and the Small Firms Association another great resource for small businesses in Ireland. The Small Firms Association links its members with webinars and online networking opportunities.

Ireland’s largest business network for women Network Ireland has a network in every county.

Women In Enterprise is a women’s business Network across Northern Ireland.

Borradh features business networking through the Irish language

Ireland Together is a network of entrepreneurs. Founded by Joanne Griffin, Colin Harris, Louise O'Conor and Mindi Caselden, it was set up at the beginning of April to help companies get through the current crisis.

ISME is the home of SMEs in Ireland. There are plenty of networking opportunities at their many events and training courses. 

Retailers can also join a large community in Retail Excellence

Going For Growth is an excellent programme for women in business and they are open for applications for their next round here. Paula Fitzsimons has created one of the most supportive business networks through this project.

Women's Inspire Network is a network of female entrepreneurs created by Samantha Kelly. The network was created from a twitter hashtag.

Kelly (@tweetinggoddess) also gave Boost My Business some great Twitter tips here – a great tool if you want to use Twitter for networking. - if you are looking for networking opportunities in the West this is an excellent place to start.

Digital hubs and co-working spaces are a great place to develop a network and even though many of us are working from home they have still managed to keep their communities together. To find co-working spaces close to you click here

Atlantic Economic Corridor – connecting the digital hubs in the West of Ireland.

The Local Enterprise Office is the first port of call for all small businesses. They have access to all the advice you need and through the many awards, events and courses they run there is ample opportunity for you to network with those in your area and business field.

The Government Business Support Call Centre can be reached on Tel: 01 631 2002 or Email:

This is a very tough time for businesses and to some at times the challenges ahead may feel insurmountable. If you are not feeling uplifted by your networks and require a safe space to talk about your feelings please click here or here. Remember it’s ok not to feel ok.