As I said in my previous post, Making Networking Work, I am a keen networker and get an awful lot from attending the meetings. I am quite choosy about where I go, though, as I could have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at a networking meeting if I didn’t actually need to do some normal work too!
The previous post focused on networking in Northampton, but I also attend a few meetings in Milton Keynes …
WIBN Milton Keynes – Women only – Meet at Abbet Hill Hotel, Two Mile Ash on the first Tuesday of the month from 12-2pm.
This meeting has the same format as the WIBN Northampton meeting I mentioned in my previous post. Also members at both meetings get to take it in turns to make a longer 10 minute presentation to the group, and one of the members also runs a ‘training’ slot which usually covers some aspect of business development or ways of making the most of your networking. The Milton Keynes group has recently moved from Stony Stratford and been re-launched, and as such is growing fast. The meetings are informative and fun and also include a buffet lunch in the hotel. I find WIBN a great mix between being more formal and business like compared to the groups which do not demand a membership fee, but also relaxing enough that you feel you can be yourself. You need to commit to come every month to get the most out of these meetings, and bringing guests is encouraged as long as their sector is not already covered. See a list of members and contact details at the WIBN website.
Business Biscotti – Meet at The Living Room, The Hub Milton Keynes, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 9.30 – 1130am.
I have only managed to go to this meeting once, but it is another good meeting for dipping your toe into networking for the first time, as the cost is low but the meeting I went to was fairly busy. You can just turn up, and tea and coffee is included – but it is up to you to choose who to chat to and if you want to swap cards, as there is no formal part to the meeting. You can find contact details of the Ambassadors who normally attend the meetings on the website.
Coffee and Cake – Meet at Dobbies Garden Centre, Fenny Stratford, every other Thursday from 9.30 to 11.30am.
Run by local IFA Jennifer Nicholls, who is also a Business Biscotti ambassador, this is a great meeting with a mix of the formal and the relaxed. We gather in the conservatory of the garden centre and when everyone has had a chance to enjoy a drink (the cake is optional!) then Jennifer calls us to order and we all give our 1 minute pitch about our business – you will see from my posts that quite a few groups have a 1 minute slot so it is best to have one prepared if you don’t like talking off the cuff. Once we have handed round cards, people break into smaller groups to chat, which is made easier by the fact that you will have had the chance to decide who you want to connect with during the 1 minute talks. Coffee and Cake has a Linked In group page, or you can email Jennifer for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nova Networking – Meet at Odell House, Newport Pagnell, on the 2nd Monday of the month from 12 – 2pm.
Chaired by Jules White of The Last Hurdle, this is probably one of the most relaxed networking meetings I have been to, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t professional. This is another group which when you join your sector is ‘locked out’ so you need to book in to check if you are able to attend. You need your ‘1 minute’ prepared and we also have a testimonials slot which always shows how much business is being done in the room. It’s a great group to join, as the members are incredibly supportive and there is a vibrant Twitter community which stems from the meetings – look for @NovaNetworkOrg on twitter and check out the website.
I hope that these two posts about local meetings prove useful, and I would love to hear about the networking groups you would recommend, too.