I was motivated by the fact that I have recently joined a local business networking group to write this post. The group is a ladies only group although this is not the reason why I joined it in the first place. I have no problem networking with men at all, they can talk about business and so can I! Since this is why I was looking for a group, I figured it didn’t matter if it was mixed or not.
However, most groups in my area of North London have a policy of only taking one profession in each group which is perfectly understandable, I think. The men in my geographical area and field of work had taken all the spaces in the mixed-gender groups so I decided to try the ladies’ one… What I found out totally surprised me.
Let me walk you through my journey:
I have first joined the group as a visitor. I arrived a little early but was straight away greeted by a couple of members who were super nice and made me feel very welcome. We then went into a private restaurant area where we chatted with each other for a while and then sat down to start. A lovely lady started it all off by introducing the brand and what it was about as well as explaining what usually happens. Then we all had a 1-minute turn to present our businesses which took a while as there were near 30 businesses there. We had time to have lunch whilst this was taking place. There was a solicitor, a makeup artist, a florist, a doula, a dentist, a photographer, and so many others… We then had a short educational session by one of the members on Financial Freedom which was great, followed by another chance for each member to shortly speak about their 1-to-1 experiences. I was told that outside these meetings, members meet casually for a chat to get to know each other better as well as more about what they do. I was in a hurry to get home that day because not only had I been feeling unwell, I was also grieving the death of a friend which I had only learned about the night before so I left without scheduling any 1-to-1s.
Even though I felt I wasn’t fully present at this meeting because of my personal circumstances, I left with the feeling I should join and I have to say that it totally made sense in terms of business but it was something else that was drawing me in (not sure what at this point) so I made a decision and became a member.
I had my first 1-to-1 with the lady photographer from Samantha Black Photography and it was very enjoyable. We spoke about our businesses but also shared experiences as mothers and the challenges we face as such. It was a very positive meeting and I’m very excited that we scheduled not only a photo session but also a social media coaching session that enlightened us with all the different social media practices in which you promote your account, buy likes, and increase your interaction to get better results with your business. Watch this space as it will be revamped.
The group also meets more casually for coffee once a month and this week I got to go for the first time. I have to say I am hooked! I do enjoy the structured networking meetings but the coffee meetings are right up my street. The energy was amazing and this is when I realized what was drawing me in to join: women! Simple as that… I realized that if there were men in there the energy would have been totally different and I bet that men will say the same thing about ‘men only’ groups but I had never thought of it or gone through it. I don’t want to be perceived as sexist or a feminist because I’m not, I don’t even agree with International Women’s Day (I would if there was an International Men’s Day) but I did feel a very positive, relaxed, warm aura or vibe if you wish, all around us. I left very happy and excited just because I got to talk with so many ladies just like me. We’re all in the same boat, running a business we love whilst being mothers, wives, daughters, friends, cousins, etc….
I left with great business prospects too and a load of 1-to-1s scheduled and I’m going to run a Q&A session for the Pilates Instructor Network on Friday the 20th of March from 3-4 pm. To find out more please visit the event page on Facebook. This all happened at the coffee meeting which was buzzing with positive energy.
I am so looking forward to the next meeting but I would say that what makes me want to come back is the professionalism mixed with the welcoming and the warmth that I get from my Athena group, business I think will just be a bonus.
I would love to hear about similar stories. Please feel free to share them with me below, in the comments section.