Business Networking in Rochdale
When I think about ‘networking’ I think of the exchange of business cards, the intention to gain contacts and do business. Networking feels a cold word and certainly didn’t conjure up the generous company I have been welcomed to.
As Community Circles Connector in Rochdale I want to share information about developing circles of support with a wide audience. My post as Community Circles Connector is funded by Alternative Futures Group and my role is to develop circles with the people we support, who have a learning disability, and also as part of our contribution to the community, supporting people who are living with dementia.
A Community Circle is a way to support someone through bringing together family, friends and neighbours with a facilitator. Each circle has a clear purpose and usually meets once a month for an hour or two to talk together, then agree what the circle can do that will make a difference.
So in order to share information, I’ve taken to the world of networking, with some trepidation I have to admit!
A fairly comfortable start with social media led me to #Rochdalehour. I’ve been contributing to #Rochdalehour on Twitter for several months; Wednesday evenings 8-9pm, a great arena in which to promote your service or business. It’s great to get favourites and retweets and widen your reach on social media.
According to Jimi Hodgkiss, owner of Capture Design “What makes #RochdaleHour work on the Twitter platform is that the posts are limited to 160 characters. This makes it easy to quickly skim through everyone's posts and get a really good insight as to what's happening around Rochdale”
Elizabeth Munday, Marketing Executive at Rochdale Online, agrees with the benefits “I have found #Rochdalehour to be a great way of meeting new businesses, it has given me new connections and I have also generated additional business through it.”
As well as being a place to share information about your business or service I’m also learning lots about the other businesses in Rochdale; where to go for a locksmith, where to buy my birthday cakes, get a family photo done and ideas for entertaining the kids. Within a Community Circle, we may not know the answers to a particular issue and then we reach out to our own networks to gather information. Through #Rochdalehour I have been offered support about a variety of matters and would know who to contact for expert advice when the need arises.
What I hadn’t expected through posting a few tweets is the sense of belonging to a supportive online community, keeping in touch with regular #Rochdalehour contributors, finding more out about their businesses and sharing updates. It feels much more social than cold calling and more generous than just self promotion, through the reciprocity of retweets and building connections. It’s certainly an hour I look forward to each week.
The next step was exploring local groups and connections on Linked in, where I came across Rochdale Business Curry Club. The club has been going for six years, people coming together, to chat, make connections and do business over curry. I thought it sounded a great idea, so booked a place for the next event at The Asia restaurant.
On the day I received and email with the list of other attendees and had to admit feeling slightly anxious going into a restaurant alone to introduce myself to 36 other folk. After buying an emergency lipstick to ease any nerves off I went. When I arrived I was warmly welcomed and any feelings of anxiety soon dissipated. It was a really relaxed evening in a supportive environment, where as a newbie, I was introduced to others and welcomed into conversations. The curry at The Asia was great too.
From connections made there I’ve been invited to Business for Breakfast to talk about Community Circles, again an opportunity to share information and develop contacts. I’ve received ideas about contributing to circles and useful information for training venues. I’ve also been able to share information about businesses and services that I’ve learned about with my colleagues, so developing the ever growing network.
I’ve also had great support from the Best of Rochdale, from finding out what’s going on locally to being invited to events and support to share information about Community Circles.
So my learning about networking in Rochdale is that people are really supportive, generous with their ideas and offers of support and I look forward to developing my new relationships.
Thanks to all who have supported my networking online and face to face.
Cath Barton, Community Circles Connector, Rochdale
For further details or if you have any questions please contact Cath on 07824096056 or email@example.com
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Member since: 29th May 2014
Community Circles Coordinator for Rochdale, supporting people living with dementia to develop a circle of support.
A Community Circle is a way to support someone through bringing together friends, family...