MUCH has been made of the joined-up way in which businesses across the North-East engage in various ways of collaborating to improve their own prospects, and to work toward securing the region’s overall resilience.

Businesses networking and forming relationships to learn from - and benefit from - each other is by no means anything new.

We can trace the origins back to the medieval guilds, or look at our own Chamber of Commerce’s 200-year history.

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Nearly 20 years ago, when working for the Northern Development Company, it was a major selling point of the region (to potential foreign direct investment) that there was such a will to work together, and a great variety of business networks and clusters.

More recently however, there seems to have been even greater need for joined-up approaches to economic regeneration, social inclusion and growth-inducing business practices.

When businesses of all types consider the challenges and opportunities they face, finding someone to work closely with is a common method to add value, and in the North-East, management teams do seem more open than elsewhere to the idea of helping each other.

Company representatives often come together, either on an ad-hoc basis or through a membership organisation, to share their experiences and just to have a chat.

Often it can be based on potential sales, referrals, problem-solving, or simply to provide an altruistic opportunity for someone else to succeed.

This spirit of co-operation underpins much of Brewin Dolphin’s activity within the business community.

The firm has a longstanding relationship with the North East England Chamber of Commerce as sponsor of the President’s Club, and is a corporate member of the Entrepreneurs Forum, the CBI, and others.

Although still pursuing what would be considered natural relationships (with accountants and lawyers), Brewin Dolphin is also reaching out to the digital and creative sector, and other industries where growth potential is high, and there is the feeling that financial planning and wealth management services can genuinely make a real difference to the owners and directors of these companies.

When it comes down to it, everyone has a different skill set and if there are ways in which all of these can be pulled together to allow people to better concentrate on their business priorities, or work toward some strategic objective, it really makes sense to do it.

Regional businesses are more demanding now than ever in terms of getting value from business networking activity and collaboration.

That's in part because of the amount of time spent in the marketplace delivering a 'region open for business' message and because of the need to remain competitive in a world rapidly changing through technological advancement and external factors such as Brexit and global uncertainty. When the correct road to take isn’t clear, it’s good to at least have friends around for support.

A cursory look at the Top 200 companies in the North-East will reveal companies that excel in understanding other sectors, technical knowledge, people and relationship skills, and, reinforcing it all, a mindset for partnership.

Competition is important of course.

It is what stimulates innovation in products, services and business models.

However, for the region to thrive and have its voice heard nationally, we must remain together as a strong voice for the North-East and continue our excellent record of joint working with others.

Neil McLoram works in business development at wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin, based in Newcastle.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin. No director, representative or employee of Brewin Dolphin accepts liability for any direct or consequential loss arising from the use of this document or its contents. Any tax allowances or thresholds mentioned are based on personal circumstances and current legislation which is subject to change. The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested. The information is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice.