South Oxfordshire based networking group – chosen to support the fight against the spread of Covid.
The online business networking group, Networking in… has been chosen by the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils to host a new online business networking event for the region.
With ongoing concern over the potential for covid to be spread through face-to-face business events over winter, the South and Vale Business Support (SVBS) team is looking to increase virtual networking capacity for businesses in the region.
Now 3 years old, Networkingin… started life as a physical event in Theale, Reading before expanding into Newbury. “Our face-to-face events we’re always hugely popular and tickets would typically sell out on the day of release – a full month before the event!” said the group’s founder Peter Mols. “We opted to jump online early in the covid crisis with our first event being held online in February 2020”.
Whilst initially this move was met with resistance and a drop in attendee numbers. Networking in… quickly found their feet again. “Numbers dropped by two thirds for those early meetings. It was tough, ” said Peter. “we knew that if we stuck to our values of being warm, welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and fun, we’d find a new audience – and we did! We played around with the format a lot in the early days and over time we’ve created a concept which is unique in the online space. The underlying rule is that it must be fast flowing and it has to be fun. There’s always a lot of laughter, which is unusual for an early start – but people always say how much energy there is in the room!”
Here’s what some of the regulars have to say about Networking in…
Didcot resident Darren Elsley of Bollox Boxershorts said There’s always such a fun and friendly vibe that you get at Networking in… it’s really high paced, with great energy in the room. I’d highly recommend it”
Wantage resident Jon Walter said “Networking in… has been an incredible experience in getting to know a really great group of people and on top of that it’s been a great source of leads and business as well. I highly recommend Networking in…”
Eva Rickett of South Oxfordshire based Henley Scan said “Networkingin… is fabulous fun, together with other businesses who are happy to share their knowledge and entrepreneurial journeys. I wouldn’t be without it!”
The concept has proved very popular, and despite the tricky start, with geographical restrictions no longer a barrier, people started coming from further afield and we found a new wider audience who were attracted by the group’s values.
As the world started to open again, the group was faced with a dilemma. Go back to face to face or stay online? It was an easy decision for Peter. “We’ve found a loyal tribe who have become friends that we wouldn’t get to see if we went back to the old days”. Peter also highlighted that remaining online has other benefits. “It’s easier, more convenient, more environmentally friendly and saves a huge amount of travel time. It’s hard for a hugger like me” Pete admits, “but I genuinely believe it’s the future”.
So what’s the new format?
Currently Networking in… meets twice a month on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, from 07:30 till 09:00. The new partnership, which sees SVBS subsidise attendee fees for the first 40 South and Vale based businesses people to register, will take place on the second Wednesday of the month at 10:30 till 12:00. It will follow the same format as other Ni… events with the addition of a brief update on local business support from SVBS.
Nick King, Principal Economic Development Lead for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils said. “We are looking to increase the capacity for covid-safe networking opportunities across South and Vale. Networking in… has got a genuinely unique feel to it and we love the energy in the rooms.”
He went on to say that “SVBS want to increase engagement opportunities for businesses during the winter. Our partnership with Ni will provide increased access to local information for businesses, including covid related financial support and advice. As well as helping us to increase local business resilience through greater access to expert advice”.
Nick concluded that he’s confident that business owners in the South and Vale will enjoy the format and looks forward to meeting business residents on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.
To join us at Networking in South Oxfordshire & Vale of the White Horse book your place visit www.outside-ideas.com/networking-in and use the code SVBS to redeem 50% off the cost of your ticket!