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then read their websites and see if you can talk


to someone who


attends. The dynamics of each group can be very different, so don’t be put off if the first group you attend doesn’t seem right for you.


What happens at a networking meeting? Each meeting is different but there is a basic structure of introductions, time to chat to the people you would like to get to know better and then a presentation by one of the businesses. So, you can meet other business owners and possibly


learn something new


during the presentation. Each group approaches networking in different ways. For example, Networking Women has Netwalking meetings – a hearty breakfast followed by a lovely walk and a chance to chat to other business owners.


The presentations organised by the network reflect the interests of the group and can be varied. Some meetings you will be inspired by


81 | ukhandmade | Summer 2011


a fellow business owner who has shared their journey, at others you will learn new skills. One example of this are the presentations organised by the North Cotswolds WIRE Network. In the coming months they have presentations about ‘Style Secrets’ and ‘The Power of Silence’. These presentations are similar to mini-workshops where you will have the opportunity to learn something


“also meet other people who can help you”


new and unexpected. At first, some of presentations may not seem relevant to you, but don’t be put off they will help you to look at your business and yourself in a new light.


What should you take with you? Take along some of your fabulous


creations and some business cards. All of the businesses present bring along samples and business


will


cards that are displayed on a table. This table gives you the opportunity to see who is there and who you might be interested in ‘networking’ with but remember it also allows other people to see your work.


How can networking support your business? At the very least, you will realise that you are not alone and that your small creative business is taken seriously by other business owners which can be an incredible confidence boost. Indeed, Sophie discovered that the biggest benefit of networking has been ‘increased self-confidence and realising I am not alone’.


The best outcome is forming links with local businesses that work


for you. Hilary Chilton of


Realise Innovation Consultancy, has attended numerous network meetings as a professional woman and more recently as a small business owner. She believes that designer-makers can benefit greatly from networking because attending


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