Directory of Dorset business networking groups [Updated 2020]
Dorset enjoys a thriving business networking scene - both online and in person. Networking can be an incredibly powerful way to grow your business. I update this list every few months. If your group should be on it, get in touch and let me know.
A list of business networking groups in Dorset
#Dorsethour, every Monday, 7:30-8:30pm, online
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.
AFC Bournemouth Business Club, various
AFC Business, AFC Bournemouth's free to join business club, offers opportunities to attend networking events and functions throughout the season.
Learn more about AFC Bournemouth business
Athena Dorset, various
Structured networking for women in business, part of the Athena Network. There are three groups in Dorset, meeting in and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Ferndown.
Basepoint Networking Hub, various
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, various
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.
Beach Walk Talk, every fortnight, 9:30am, Bournemouth
One of the few networking groups that encourages children and dogs! In small groups those attending walk along the prom in small groups, discussing business challenges, successes and journeys in the fresh air and sea breeze before swapping groups and heading back.
Bizzy Networking, monthly, 9:30am-11:00am, Weymouth
Networking and support group for smaller business - particularly sole traders and those working from home. Very informal, making it ideal for people not familiar with networking. The group is run by us at Sprida!
Blandford Business Club, every other Wednesday, 7:15am-9:00am, Blandford
The main aim of this group is to build contacts and to refer business among themselves. Keen to attract new members.
This is a referral marketing organisation, with only one person per trade or profession per group. There are a number of BNI groups across Dorset.
Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce, various
Breakfast meetings, training events and more from this large and very reasonably priced networking group.
Bournemouth Property Association, various, Bournemouth
Property professionals operating in Dorset may find this group useful for staying informed and for networking. They run a variety of breakfast, lunchtime and evening events.
Bridport Business, 2nd Tuesday, 6pm, Bridport
According to its website, the Bridport Chamber of Trade & Commerce has around 60 members.
Business Breakfast Club Bournemouth, various, Bournemouth
One of the longer established networking groups, running since 1993. Despite its name, it also runs events that are not breakfasts!
Business Hive, every Friday, 7:00am-9:00am, Portland
This weekly networking group meets on the Isle of Portland. Membership is restricted to one of any type of business.
Cornerstone Networking, every 3rd Thursday, 9:00am-11:00am, Ringwood
This friendly, informal group meets on the far east of the county, at Ringwood. It gathers for a late breakfast at the Spinnaker Sailing Club.
Creative Women in Business, once a month, Bournemouth & Poole
With monthly meetings in the Bournemouth and Poole area, this describes itself as 'a supportive space for creative women to meet, share, get support and inspire each other in developing and building our businesses'.
Dorchester Chamber for Business, various, Dorchester
The Chamber for the county town has group has around 100 members and holds a monthly networking breakfast, along with other events in the area. From time to time in holds joint events with other local Chambers.
Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, various
The county Chamber has over 700 members. It runs a busy programme of events, including free 'Meet the Chamber' activities which showcase what's available to members.
Dorset Entrepreneurs Network
A support and networking group run by local business owners to help entrepreneurs develop themselves and their businesses through collaboration and partnerships.
Dorset Food & Drink, occasional
A not-for-profit membership organisation open to any Dorset business which produces, serves and sell local products, along with others which celebrate their connection to the county and its producers. Occasionally runs events.
Dorset Food Network
This is an online hub for Dorset businesses in the food industry - producers, services and venues.
Dorset Growth Hub
Government-funded business support organisation that runs seminars, workshops and other events across the county, all of which present useful networking opportunities.
Dorvil, 1st Friday, 7.15am-8.30am, Evershot nr Dorchester
This business networking group meets high on the hills between Dorset and Somerset. The name reflects that the venue is midway between Dorchester and Yeovil.
Dynamic Women in Business, various, Bournemouth and Christchurch
Holds two or three meetings each month. Has no membership fee as it operates on a pay as you go basis.
Early Bird Business Exchange
An independent, Sherborne-based group of business owners.
East Dorset Business Network, monthly, Ferndown
Informal, pay as you go breakfast event open to anyone involved in business.
Elite Business Women Clubs, various, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
These clubs set themselves apart from other networking events by limiting membership to professionals, and holding meetings that are timed, structured and strictly commercial. There are two groups in Dorset, one in Bournemouth and Christchurch, the other in Poole.
Federation of Small Businesses, various
The FSB represents small businesses across the UK, and holds a number of meetings across Dorset.
Ferndown Business Network, every Friday, 7am, Ferndown
A weekly networking group based in the Peartree Business Centre. Highly focused on referrals, with only representative from each trade or profession.
"Fore" Business Bournemouth, monthly, 7.45am, Bournemouth
Based around golf, "Fore" Business has groups across the UK. The Bournemouth branch, based at the Knighton Heath Golf Club, has been running since early 2015.
An informal co-working event for freelancers, home workers and small/micro business. A chance to work, chat and collaborate with other small business owners. Free except for refreshment charges. Described as co-working rather than networking, it seems a like a great opportunity to meet others.
Leading Edge, monthly, Poole
This Poole-based group, founded in 2010, meets monthly. It prides itself on high integrity and trust, and membership is restricted.
Lemur Link Up, Poole
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.
LinkedIn Local, various
Face-to-face networking opportunities based around the popular business social network, LinkedIn. A number of these events have been run in the Bournemouth area. Unfortunately, there's no central point online for keeping up with them.
Lyme Bay Ladies
Offline and online networking for women based on or near the West Dorset coast. This group offers various levels of membership.
Lyme Business Network, twice a month, Lyme Regis
This is a referral-based group, which means it's only open to one member per category of business. Meets for a breakfast twice a month.
This national networking organisation seems to only have one group in Dorset at the moment.
Network Dorset, every Thursday, Dorchester
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.
New2Business Networking, monthly, Bournemouth
There's a clue in the name - this group is for people with little or no networking experience. It's run in East Dorset (Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch) by Outset.
North Dorset Business Group, monthly, Gillingham
Networking for businesses in the north of the county.
ONLE Networking, Bournemouth and Poole
ONLE networking claims to have eliminated the less valuable elements of networking to create a method that delivers results. Operates across Dorset and Hampshire.
PHP Dorset, monthly 6.30pm, Lansdowne
A community for those interested in the PHP programming language, or web development in general.
Poole Business Owners Community
This is a free Facebook based group for business owners in the Poole area.
Purbeck Network, fortnightly, Purbecks
Focused on the Swanage and Wareham area, this referral network only accepts one business per business category.
Pure Networking, occasional, Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole
This group holds a small number of events each year. There's no membership, just pay as you go.
Shaftesbury & District Chamber of Commerce
This north Dorset Chamber of Commerce runs networking events from time to time.
Startup Grind Bournemouth, occasional
The Start Up Grind network inspires entrepreneurs across the world. Its meetings are based around an in-depth interview with a successful entrepreneur.
Successful Women in Business, various, Bournemouth & Poole, Dorchester, Weymouth
Growing and active series of groups across the local area, which also runs a conference, hosts awards and produces a magazine.
The Boardroom Network, monthly, Bournemouth
Membership of this group is limited to the professional sectors and meetings are precision-timed. At the same time, it offers a friendly, flexible way to meeting like-minded contact.
The Breakfast Board, monthly, Bournemouth
Easy-going and inclusive gathering of like-minded owners and leaders of businesses of all types and sizes, to network and share ideas and experiences around a different key topic each month, all led by an expert guest chair.
Verwood Business Chamber of Trade
The Verwood Chamber of Commerce is inactive, although someone will respond to messages sent to their Facebook page.
Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, 1st Tuesday, 7.30am-9am, Weymouth
WPCC organises a monthly networking breakfast at various local venues, along with running other events for organisations in the Weymouth and Portland area.
Weymouth Business Exchange (WEBX), most Tuesdays, 7am-9am, Weymouth
This is a referral-based networking group that has one member per trade or profession. Meets three times a month for breakfast in Weymouth Pavilion Theatre, and it follows a format similar to a BNI meeting.
Wimborne Minster Chamber of Trade & Commerce
The Wimborne Chamber offers occasional networking opportunities.
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