I’ve been promoted!! I can now proudly say that I am the Area Leader for 4Networking Oxfordshire!
I first joined 4Networking in the autumn of 2007. At the time I was publishing a local magazine and after making contact with a neighbouring magazine editor, Stefan Thomas, he pointed me in the direction of 4N. It was my first experience of business networking and I was a little wary about going along, but took myself out of my comfort zone, made the effort and loved it. Since then I’ve continued to visit groups regularly as a member but also became Marketing Assistant (spreading the 4N word to get new members along), then Operations Assistant (confirming bookings and ensuring the meeting runs smoothly), then Group Leader (running the Faringdon meeting every fortnight) and finally Area Leader for two of the Oxon groups.
However, following a bit of a reorganisation I am now Area Leader for all four Oxfordshire groups – Abingdon, Faringdon, Oxford and Witney. That means I’m responsible for organising four meetings a fortnight, training and supporting four teams and making sure that my members, passporters (members from other parts of the country) and visitors have a great breakfast networking experience.
What I like about 4Networking is the format, the people, the atmosphere … in fact, everything! All the groups are friendly and welcoming – visitors are always greeted warmly, have the meeting format explained to them and are introduced to other people, rather than being left to fend for themselves. Every breakfast meeting includes open networking, an introduction round and three ten-minute appointments, meaning that once you know who everyone is, you can actually sit down and talk to those people you want to get to know better. In fact, 4Networking’s ethos is “Meet, Like, Know, Trust” – on the grounds that when you meet someone you are unlikely to do business with them till you like, know and trust them – so meetings are focussed on developing existing relationships as well as forging new ones. There’s also a 4sight slot – which is an insight, not a sales pitch, into an interesting area of someone’s work or life. Recent 4sights have included inspiring stories of courage, thought-provoking business tips, martial arts demonstrations and even a Xmas panto!
The local breakfast meetings are complemented by a very active website and forum, where members from all over the UK (there are over 20,000!) get together to exchange business ideas, advice and support, as well as have a laugh along the way. For anyone who runs their own business and feels isolated or lonely at times, it’s the perfect alternative to the water cooler culture found in many workplaces!
The best part of 4Networking, though, is that it is unfussy, has few rules and is FUN. Meetings are not staid and dull but lively and enjoyable.
It’s now up to me to make sure that the 4Networking groups in Oxfordshire continue to grow and develop and bring business and social benefits to the members. It’s a challenge, for sure, but one I relish. I’m proud to be part of 4Networking.