?> 67pc of HK businesses see face-to-face networking as the best way to generate new business - Retail in Asia

Retail in Asia

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67pc of HK businesses see face-to-face networking as the best way to generate new business

A majority of Hong Kong companies (67 percent) believe face-to-face networking will remain the best way to find new customers over the next two to three years. But whereas mainland Chinese companies recognise the growing importance of business social media in the new business mix (59 percent, up from 36 percent in the previous three years), more than half (54 percent) of Hong Kong businesses see online advertising as a better way to expand their market reach. This multichannel approach to new business generation was revealed by research carried out for global workspace provider Regus in which over 16,000 senior business managers were surveyed around the world.

In Hong Kong, businesspeople believe that face-to-face networking will remain the most effective way to generate new business. However, six percent fewer respondents think this will be true over the next two to three years compared to the last two to three years. This perhaps reflects a recognition by businesspeople that methods of generating business are evolving. Professional social networking is one alternative method that is steadily growing in popularity – ever-increasing user numbers underline its perceived usefulness. An example of this is the popular professional networking portal LinkedIn, which now has more than 135 million members worldwide.

The research also found 51 percent of global respondents saw online advertising as one of the top ways to find new customers in the next three years, up from 42 percent in the previous three.

In Hong Kong, hiring well-connected sales people (36 perceent), participating in trade exhibitions (38 percent) and public speaking at key events (32 percent) are also regarded as significant tools for future customer recruitment.

Globally, 71 percent of small businesses believe that face-to-face networking will be key to recruiting customers over the next three years, compared to only 61 percent of large businesses.

According to the findings of the research, traditional advertising, direct marketing and telemarketing only gain a minority vote, and all are in decline.

The research was unveiled as Regus announced the launch of BusinessLink, a bespoke online trading platform that allows hundreds of thousands of its customers worldwide to buy and sell products and services, and connect with other businesses using the Regus network. BusinessLink comprises a website accessible via Regus global customer portal myregus.com, as well as informal networking events held around the world. The BusinessLink website allows users to browse through online offers posted by hundreds of thousands of businesses using Regus workspaces across 95 countries worldwide, or to order specific products and services.

"The rise and rise of business social media networks mean that today they are as essential for finding new customers as face-to-face interaction," said Andre Sharpe, Global Director of Product and Business Development at Regus. "For many years, our customers have told us of the added value of being able to connect and do business with other Regus customers. We are excited to be responding to that need by launching BusinessLink, which will instantly become one of the world’s largest invite-only trading portals. Solely accessible by Regus office and virtual office customers, BusinessLink brings a global market within the reach of any of our clients, no matter how large or small."

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