It often feels like the word "networking" is either misused, much maligned or misunderstood. However, it is vital in helping thriving businesses, communities and economies in so many ways and can actually contribute to important discussions and ultimately to changes in key policy decisions.

When asked in our last member survey the words networking, generating new business, collaboration and partnerships were some of the most important words associated with Chamber benefits with 88% raising networking highly as one of the key benefits of membership.

It’s often said that networking events provide an opportunity for business owners to build and develop relationships with people of similar interests in ways that can benefit all parties involved. According to research, professionals who spent more than six hours a week networking agreed that it played a crucial role in their success while one in four professionals don’t network at all.

For many, the main purpose of networking is to generate new business but if you’re an entrepreneur, networking is critical. In fact, one study states that networking is vital to the success of 78% of startups. It gives you a chance to refine your message, make first-hand connections and it forces people to get back out there and meet in person and make more meaningful relationships. It’s good that business is back in the groove of face-to-face events now and we’re seeing more of the spark that these interactions can create.

Read more: How Scotland can build international trade links

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a Creative Economy session with Jeff Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Professor Penny Macbeth, CEO of The Glasgow School of Art. We had a really insightful conversation about the importance of the creative sector and some of the aspects that make Glasgow and Scotland unique and special. Not only do they create valuable careers in centres of excellence but both curate programmes of entertaining and informative performing and visual arts across music, drama, dance, film and production and so much more. Both make a massive contribution to Glasgow’s outstanding global reputation. The School of Art is collaborating in pioneering projects in digital medicine and the automotive sectors. The Conservatoire is one of Europe’s most multi-disciplinary performing arts higher education centres and also provides valuable skills and careers in trades like set and costume design and production. Both speakers agreed that while we have world-class creative entrepreneurs in Glasgow there needs to be more joined-up thinking and action reinforcing the city as the artistic capital of Scotland.

Networking then can provide access and isn’t just about business development but higher-profile, more strategic connection-making and partner members of the Chamber have access to a series of exclusive events with influential speakers which aim to provide a regular platform to facilitate collaborative thinking and growing relationships amongst our partners. One such opportunity for significant peer-to-peer learning takes place in Glasgow next week in the shape of our new Congress of Business (COB) event. Building on the work done during COP26 here in Glasgow, where there was the greatest level of business representation to date, we are now aiming to work across these networks locally and globally to inspire more businesses to take action building on the commitments of the various Glasgow-named climate pacts.

With speakers like Baroness Martha Lane Fox, President of British Chambers of Commerce, as well as Chair of @Wetransfer and a NED of Chanel plus Thomasina Miers, cook, food writer and entrepreneur and Keith Anderson,Chief Executive of ScottishPower, we are certainly in for a momentous event and the start of a movement to hear from and exchange with genuine thought leaders.

Taking part, engaging and networking in sessions like the Creative Economy last week or COB next week will certainly inspire business but also surely lead to major policy changes in our city and even affect changes on a world stage.

Richard Muir is Deputy Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce