Why it’s on the list: I’m a member of 4Networking – in fact, I’m area leader for Oxfordshire, which means I have to go to the 4 Oxfordshire groups every fortnight. I’d like to travel further afield and go to some of the other groups, and also try out some more networking organisations.
How/when I’ll judge this task to be completed: When I have visited 5 groups (either 4N or otherwise) for the first time.
1. 4N Swindon: Amazingly, despite only living 15 miles from Swindon I’ve never managed to get to the Swindon 4Networking group – so I thought it was definitely about time I went to this one! I’ve actually been twice now. The group leader is a 4Networking member I think a lot of, but the first time I went I felt it was all a bit flat – mind you, the GL was on his own with no other team there so that probably had something to do with it. Second time he had help and it was a really enjoyable meeting and I made some really good contacts. I’ve now booked to go for a third time! Think it may actually become one of my regular haunts.
2. Witney Networking Women: This is a new group that only recently started up, and this was their second meeting. I actually have a bit of a problem with women-only networking – being a bit of a tomboy I’m very comfortable in male company; actually, I find women a bit intimidating!! So this really took me out of my comfort zone. It was okay – I’ve booked to go to the next one because I made some good contacts – and hopefully in time I’ll find it less of a strain! Nowt wrong with the group, it’s well run and friendly, just my own weird inferiority complex making this one tough!
3. 4N Milton Keynes: I probably picked the wrong day to go to this group – or the right day, depending on how you look on it. There was a big crowd of the 4N Brizzle posse there – all lovely chaps, but it did mean that there was a lot of heckling and in-jokes going on. It was a big meeting – over 40 people there, including 7 visitors – and to be honest I just found it too big, I didn’t get a chance to say hello to everyone, in fact I felt a little overawed by the number of people, went a bit shy and only talked really to people I knew! I would like to go back another day though, when hopefully it will be a little less noisy!
4. Business Biscotti Wantage: Business Biscotti is a relatively new networking organisation that seems to be growing quickly. It has groups all over the home counties who meet once a month, and it’s different in that there are no membership fees or meeting fees, you just buy your own coffee. I went along to the Wantage one, at Costa Coffee, and to be honest didn’t expect lot from it, but really enjoyed it. There were, on and off, about 15-20 people there, including quite a few I’ve met before either at 4N or Wantage Chamber of Commerce. There were “new” people there too and I had very interesting conversations with a web designer who has literally just started his freelance business, and a PR woman who might be interested in proofreading. At times I struggled – the meeting was held in a small room and was quite noisy, which is awkward what with me only having one working ear – but I think this is one that will become a regular fixture on the calendar.
5. 4N Newbury: Despite being a member of 4N for over three years, I’d never made it to the Newbury group, mainly ebcause it clashed with one of the days I had to be area leading one of “my” groups. Once I gave up the AL job Newbury was top of the list for a visit, and I wasn’t disappointed. The regular group leader Julie was on holiday but her standin did a fabulous job and I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting – lovely venue, great atmosphere and a really nice bunch of people. Reckon this will become a regular!