Since 2016 I have attended networking sessions within the Midlands. These started with Socially Shared but over time as that network expanded and I made connections I have also networked as a part of CovHour, the online Twitter networking hour, CovHour Live, CovHour’s in person meetings, as well as at business expositions such as the Kenilworth Expo and, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Expo.
More recently I have connected with other women across the Midlands through Socially Shared’s Zoom Online Meetings which take place online once a month. This not only allows me to gain networking skills and build upon existing relationships but also opens up the opportunity to make new connections which aren’t location specific.
I have been fortunate enough to receive opportunities as a result of my previous networking the biggest so far being the participation in a group exhibition with Warwickshire Open Studios. Through a connection I made through Socially Shared I was able to exhibit at Cleves Garden Studios as a part of the larger Warwickshire Open Studios event for two consecutive years. I have developed a great ongoing relationship with the group and provided support for last summer's event in the form of graphics to be used across their social media platforms even though I wasn’t able to participate in the event itself. The benefit of this is it has given me the chance to work with an external group of creatives, across the spectrum of design but it also allowed for the improvement of more general communication and team working skills.
Moving forward I would like to continue to network but with an emphasis on the Derbyshire area so that I can build up strong local connections. I began doing this last summer when I took up the role of Design Intern at Dandelion Stationery (https://dandelionstationery.co.uk/) but further connections I think would add value include a general local networking group where I can exchange my knowledge and keep up to date with local industry news and, a photographer who I could work with on future branding based projects.
Having researched local events online I feel there could be benefit in attending Derby Hub (https://derbyhub.co.uk/) as this networking community seems to be made up of an array of businesses including printers, designers and IT companies, all of whom I could make valuable connections with. It also has a strong emphasis on sharing knowledge learning from other members which at this stage of my career would be very valuable. A key member who I would value as connection is the founding member of Derby Hub Craig Barker, Managing Director of local design agency Koobr (https://koobr.com/).
After being introduced to the Women Rocking Business Network through conversation back in December, I have read about this group online and believe this would also be an event suitable for me to attend (https://www.womenrockingbusiness.co.uk/). This is because the recommendation emphasised the groups soft approach networking and friendly atmosphere which suits my personality type by creating strong connections over time by building up trust and showing my reliability.
My next steps include looking at the up and coming events for both networking groups and choosing one of each to attend so that I can begin networking in the West Midlands.
I would like to continue to maintain the relationship I have with my existing connections by continuing to take part in the monthly online Zoom sessions with Socially Shared. But to take a step forward I will set up a LinkedIn account so that I make the most out of the connections I already have and also raise my online visibility ready for when make new connections at networking events.
Please see the following links for more information about the groups I currently network with:
Socially Shared https://www.sociallyshared.co.uk/