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  • Writer's pictureChris Gibbs

To invest or not to invest? In networking, that is the question

So if, like me, you are skeptical about attending similar events and are weighing up the practical cost – just think of what you could be missing! Can you really afford to say no?

Chris at BWi Wilthsire, Swindon Meet-up
Chris at Business Women In Wiltshire Swindon Meet up

I tentatively hovered the mouse arrow over the ‘book’ button for a Business Women In… ‘Meet Up’.

It wasn’t that I was nervous about attending the Swindon event but I was skeptical about the value of such a meeting.

There is no subscription fee to join Business Women In…, and the two-hour function costs only £10 to attend, but it would still take time out of my day – with travel time, preparation and follow-up, I would be spending a good three to four hours on the event.

I had so many tasks on my to-do list, was this really the best way to invest my time?

My trusted (and usually right!) gut instinct took over and within seconds I hit the ‘book’ button. It was 2nd January and I felt that, as we entered a new year, I should try something different. If I made a loss I would know soon enough and, in the broad scheme of things, it was a small risk to take.

Business Women In… founder Michelle Eddahar met me on arrival with the greeting, “Coffee?” and I was immediately optimistic the event would go well!

The other ladies arrived and we chatted informally in little groups. Some of the women had met before while others, like me, were meeting for the first time. Business objectives were thrust aside as I spoke with Rebecca Mace, a woman I was in awe of within minutes. She shared her adventure of selling up and sailing off into the sunset – only to find a gap in the market for a luxury, planet-friendly, eco, cosmetic product. After years of scientific research, testing and challenges, she brought a product to market with The Solid Bar Company.

Her gorgeous wares are now on my shopping list so, before the meeting had even started, Rebecca’s investment in attending had already paid off!

We then took our seats and learned about each other’s business, offering support and advice on any items put to the group. When Lara Barnes spoke about Digital Trading, a website and software developer, I made a note to approach her at the end of the session to pursue opportunities to work together.

But my note was unnecessary, since as soon as I introduced myself and Pincus Solutions, and talked about my skills and experience, Lara interjected with a friendly smile and said “We need to talk!”

More tips, stories and advice were shared as the meeting continued. When we wrapped up and prepared to leave, Lara and I chatted for a few more minutes, and agreed that we needed to meet again to talk further.

I said goodbye to the other ladies – all talented, experienced and skilled in their areas – and made my way back to my office. When I checked my emails, I was delighted to see a message from Lara suggesting a date to meet her and Digital Trading Operations Director Bart Janaszek.

Fast forward just a few days, and Lara and I met again at the Digital Trading offices to talk through an idea with Bart. Learning more about their business was very exciting. They showed me their asset management system POTS, which provides companies with a complete servicing solution for scheduling, tracking products, job allocation and so much more.

I left with ideas flying around my mind about how we can bring our skills and experience together and, needless to say, we have scheduled time to meet again, to learn more and begin planning a strategy to move forward.

So, was my £10 and three to four hours’ investment in the event a good spend? Absolutely! So much so that I booked straight onto the Business Women In Devizes meet-up, which I attended yesterday and where I met another amazingly talented lady, offering even more opportunity for collaboration!

So if, like me, you are sceptical about attending similar events and are weighing up the practical cost – just think of what you could be missing! Can you really afford to say no?

Oh, and as a side note – I discovered yesterday that Nicola Hitt of TrayCake tests new recipes at Business Women In… meetings. I can highly recommend the Toffee Apple Cake…

Chris with founder of BWi Michelle Eddahar


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