When I hear the words ‘business networking’ it can cause me to break out it a cold sweat. For quite a while I had a negative view of networking events and wasn’t entirely sure they had any tangible benefits. Turning up to a venue and facing a room full of complete strangers and making small talk wasn’t something I relished….
So when I was recently challenged by Kev, the Founder of Digital Technology Labs to attend 3 networking events in a month in Essex and London, it wasn’t something I was overjoyed at. I mustered up all the positive energy I could and finally decided to go with an open mind and see what came out of it…
After an initial search on the internet to see what it threw up and from there I picked some networking events. Not being a morning person, I ruled out those early morning starts and opted for events over lunch time.
The other thing I looked for were events where there was no commitment to paying an ongoing monthly or annual fee, instead you just turn up on the day and pay on the door. Also, for me, I prefer a more informal, relaxed format – rather than a sit-down event.
I was able to smugly report back to Kev that I had indeed met my challenge of attending 3 events in a month and what’s more, I have actually surprised myself by looking at networking in a new light and dare I say… I have actually enjoyed myself along the way.
Below I’ve highlighted some of the networking events which I went to and would recommend to other businesses in Essex and London.
Business Buzz – London
Business Buzz run a number of informal networking events located across various areas of the UK and are typically held once a month. I attended an event located near Tower Bridge in London, this was held at Vapiano Restaurant. It was £10 on the door and there was no need to book in advance.
When I got there a little after 11am, the event was already in full swing and there were approx. 50-60 people in there. There was a good mix of men and women and a range of industries represented. I met people from a legal firm, accountancy and branding and marketing agencies. I had a positive experience and had some great chats with the people I met. I will definitely be heading back to another event run by Business Buzz.
Professionals Lunch – Essex
This networking event is run by the real estate company Elwell Taylor called Professionals Lunch. I think this networking group has been running for some time and I’ve since been again to this event, which is held once a month at The Bootmaker in Chelmsford. You can usually check out the next date on Elwell Taylor’s Linked In profile.
Again, no need to book with this one and the added bonus is that it’s free to attend and the sponsoring company for that months’ event lays on loads of food. Both times I went, there were in excess of 60 people and it was an informal and lively event.
Being someone who practices what he preaches… Kev also went along to some networking events recently – below are some of his highlights.
Enterprise Nation – London
Small Business Meet-up run by Enterprise London in Aldgate, London at the London Growth Hub. This event ran from 6-8pm and was £5 with booking in advance. As part of the £5 you got a few drinks thrown in. There were approx. 20-30 people from a mix of industries, but all people who had recently started their own business. The event started with informal networking then the group each introduced themselves and the networking continued.
Kev’s tip: never be scared of doing these introductions, they are an important learning experience and give you a chance to practice your business pitch. Kev met a number of interesting people including someone who ran a corporate responsibility consultancy who had just won an award for her work, a fashion designer putting together her first collection.
An added bonus was that Kev was also approached by an Enterprise Nation representative to be a speaker at Start-Up 2020 in January, an event IN London aimed at anyone wanting to be their own boss and start their own business.
Brentwood Chamber of Commerce – Essex
The Business Breakfast event run by Brentwood Chamber of Commerce ran from 7.15am-9am, held at Marygreen Manor Hotel in Brentwood. It was £12 for early-bird members, £14 for standard members and £15 for non-members. Kev has been to quite a few networking events and thought it was one of the highest quality events he’d been to, both in terms of the types of businesses, number of people and there was also a real sense of people sharing ideas and looking to progress their businesses in a meaningful way.
Digital Technology Labs had just become a member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce (BCC) the day before. Neil the organiser and Sally the BCC Events Co-ordinator gave Kev a very warm welcome. Everyone was talkative and Kev came away with two great foll
ow-up meetings out of this event and a number of new Linked In connections.
We’re a friendly bunch at Digital Technology Labs, so if you wanted to pick our brains about anything to do with networking, get in touch and say hi. You can reach Hollie at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kev at email@example.com.
If you have any experiences of networking positive or otherwise, feel free to leave a comment on this blog post.