In my earlier post I was talking about how networking can be a very cost effective way to get more business. There are hundreds of networking events in Norwichbut here are some of my favourites (blog updated October 2010):
Coffee@Caistor[http://www.thebestof.co.uk/local/norwich/business-guide/feature/coffee-at-caistor-ladies-networking-in-norwich/81845] - This is a monthly informal networking morning for business women. The best bit is at the end where there is a very clever way for people to say what they are looking for and puts people in touch with each other. The meetings take place at Caistor Hall on the third Wednesday of every month from10am till 12 noon. There is a very supportive atmosphere and these are great for new businesses or those who are a bit worried about more formal networking events.
Norfolk Netwalking- I met Stephen Ferrey, a life and business coach, when I went to my first networking event in Norwich - a brilliant series of free seminars run by Banham Graham. Stephen was telling me about an idea he had for netwalking - I thought it was such a good idea, we got together and set up Norfolk Netwalking. These events are so informal that people often bring their dogs and children. The idea is that we meet at a pub or restaurant, go for a walk and then have a meal. It is easy to talk to people when you are walking and is ideal for those who might be a bit worried about walking into a more formal event. You don't actually realise you are networking and, because you are not worrying about how to network or what you should do at a networking event, the networking actually comes naturally.
thebestofNorwich – how could I miss out our own events? We have been running “lunch with thebestof” and “an evening with thebestof” for 2 years now and, even though I say so myself, they are very popular. In the early days we tried to do formal speeches and run it to a tight timescale, now we realise that people just like to chat, so we keep our events informal and fun. There is usually something optional for people to get involved with at each event, which makes it easier for those who are new to networking in Norwich. For example, we’ve had “fingerprint networking” – dust for fingerprints to find out who stole the hotel towel, graphologists, food demonstrations and our famous “Lunch on the Green” with Lotus cars, massage, scalextric racing, wine and chocolate – you can see why we get between 50 and 150 people at our events.
The Business Club– meeting every other Tuesday at the Holiday Inn Norwich-North, with a chance to introduce yourself to the group and a great speaker, you are welcome to come along as our guest.
Antidote- I love the Antidote events. They are held once a month at the Holiday Inn Norwich North, with a different speaker each month. Every time I go to an Antidote event I feel as if I've achieved loads in one evening. I always meet new people and there is always a good mix of businesses, as well as learning new things from the speakers.
BNI- we were members of two BNI chapters in Norwich for 4 years, until we gave it up to have a break from the intensity of it. When we came to Norfolk and knew no one, we joined the BNI and between the two groups immediately gained 80 contacts - all looking out for business for us. It really kick-started our business. It is also a great social network and very supportive.
It all seems a bit formal when you first go, but there is a lot of humour and I usually come out of meetings feeling really positive. The best bit, though, is staying for coffee afterwards or meeting up with people on an individual basis - that's when you really get to know people.
Norwich Businesswomen's Group- a group of very high powered ladies meet for lunch or evening events and in the past have raised money for charity with a fashion show.
WiRE– there are WiRE groups around the county but the Norwich one is run by Sophie Garrett and is excellent.
Once you get to know a few people, you find that you can walk into any networking event in Norwich - and you will know someone. I've tested this theory loads of times and I've never yet been to an event where I don't know someone - except the very first one, when I'd only been in Norwich a few weeks.
There are a number of other breakfast networking groups, ladies lunch time networking events and directors events - so well worth asking around.