Dorset Chamber opens Peer Network Programme to boost business

An acclaimed business support scheme delivered by Dorset Chamber has opened for ambitious bosses countywide.

Ian Girling – Dorset Chamber chief executive.

The Chamber has 100 places in its Peer Network Programme for owners, directors and senior managers – with the scheme free of charge to all businesses with staffing levels of between five and 250 and a minimum turnover of £100,000.

Participants will meet in nine small groups for a series of sessions over the next six months to build long-lasting bonds and find ways to boost business performance.

The county’s leading business support organisation, Dorset Chamber won a competitive tender to deliver the initiative for the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Its first Peer Network Programme, which ended earlier this year, received ratings showing that 91% of participants were ‘very satisfied’ and 8% were ‘satisfied’ with the course.

The Chamber is expecting strong demand for places with the programme’s virtual delivery via Zoom making it easy and accessible in all four corners of the county. Sessions will be for three hours, once a month.

Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “The Peer Network Programme has been transformational for some business leaders. These types of programmes build incredibly strong bonds, friendships and trusted support networks which last long after the course has officially finished. The groups are confidential and there are no sales pitches. Facilitators run each group and expert speakers from the chamber network give high-quality presentations on a range of subjects vital for businesses today. The new programme couldn’t have come at a more important time as businesses look beyond the pandemic and to the future.”

Sessions will cover such topics as growth, leadership, happy and healthy staff and engagement, human resources, marketing and new technology. Dorset Chamber – a trusted partner of the LEP and BCP and Dorset councils – is working with a range of partner and businesses and the programme also includes one-to-one coaching and wrap-around events.

Lesley Keets is chief operating officer at Poole-based Actisense and was among the participants on the last programme. She said: “Peer Networks enable the power of collective thinking. It is something you wouldn’t always get in day-to-day work life, lots of great minds in a single space can be extremely productive.”

Dorset LEP director Lorna Carver added: “Feedback from last year’s participants on the value and benefit of Peer Networks to their businesses has been outstanding. It’s a testament to our delivery partners for running such effective programmes. Eligible businesses can register their interest in this programme now and we look forward to helping more of Dorset’s fantastic SME business leaders and decision-makers benefit from this support over the coming months.”