As you may already from previous blog posts, I have been attending a lot of free networking events in order to build up my professional network and market myself for business opportunities. So far it has been going fairly well and I’ve managed to get a good few clients and referrals out of such events. However, I recently decided to take things up a notch and join not one, but two paid membership networking groups in the past month. One is the mainly-Scottish based Club Five55, and the other is the UK-wide 4Networking. I will tell you a bit of information about them and what I think.
I had been invited to come along to a Club Five55 meeting for a while, and finally decided to visit last month. The meeting I went to was an evening event called Edinburgh 1 at the Maybury Casino, held every last Thursday of the month. There is also a second group in Edinburgh, as well as ones in other places such as Glasgow, Dundee and Dunfermline. Each group holds one monthly meeting each, and you would join one group but may be free to visit others. Normally each group only allows one person of each profession to attend, locking out their competition. However, some groups open up to all professions during the summer due to low turnouts otherwise.
I enjoyed the meeting as it was fairly informal but still with some business focus to it. At the beginning people are standing up networking, then we all sit down in a horseshoe table layout. We all take it in turns to do our elevator pitches, which is fairly common at many networking events. However, all the members also get their businesses displayed on a slideshow, which is great for extra exposure. After this formality, there is a buffet that only costs £5, with a good range of tasty food to fill up your plate.
Another thing that stood out for me is that Club Five55 has its very own directory booklet that you can pay to place an ad of your business in. It’s also good for looking up businesses of other people who are in Club Five55. Plus, membership is rather low cost at only £55 a year. However, they had a special offer on the day I visited of only £25, which I thought was too good to turn down so of course I went for it.
I’m still quite new to this group having only visited it once, but I’m planning on going again next week and will happily give my thoughts on how it works later on.
4Networking has several groups up and down Britain, each holding their own meetings with sit-down meals once a fortnight. Some are at breakfast, some are at lunch and some are at dinner. I have visited the Edinburgh Leith group and also the Edinburgh Park group, which I am now signed up through. Being a passport member means that you are allowed not only unlimited visits to your initial group, but also unlimited visits to any other group meeting across the country!
There are no profession lockouts, which is not necessarily a bad thing as sometimes meeting people doing the same thing as you can be helpful for collaboration and advice. In any case, I don’t know any VAs who network as regularly as me at the moment anyway so competition is not a massive worry for me. And as a consumer, it’s always good to have some options when you are looking to buy goods or services from someone.
I like the structured format of the meal, then each person’s 40-second pitch, a speaker presentation (called a 4Sight) and three 1-2-1 meetings during the event. It’s fairly formal without being too stuffy and corporate like some other networking events can be. You get quite a lot out of it as well as have a bit of a laugh.
There are a few different pricing options, as detailed on their website, but I went for the manageable £100 for 100 days, which was a limited offer. There is also the option to gain extra free days by inviting a friend, or taking up a team role. On my joining Edinburgh Park I’ve also been appointed group co-ordinator. This includes duties such as confirming attendance numbers before meetings and collecting group members’ cash as they arrive. A great opportunity for raising my profile and showcasing my VA and admin skills!
I hope I gave you a good insight into these two networking groups that I’ve just joined. Of course, it’s only early days so I shall see how things go as time goes on.
Have you ever been a member of either of these groups? Or have you ever thought about joining? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. And if you are local, maybe I will see you at one of these events?
Thanks for reading!