As a woman in business, getting your name out there to potential customers is fundamental to your success. It’s the only way to grow. One of the best ways to increase your visibility locally, and of course secure some of those all-important leads, is to attend networking events in nearby towns and cities.
Networking is a real Marmite means of promoting yourself. To work a room to your advantage, you need to be confident in yourself and the products or services you offer. Some people thrive on the opportunity to present themselves and their business model to complete strangers, while the mere thought of delivering a short elevator pitch to a crowd full of other company owners will strike fear into the hearts of others, especially if they don’t have much experience in public speaking.
If you’re dipping your toe into the networking scene for the first time, or have been doing the rounds for a while and are just looking to try something different, the New Year is the perfect time to explore everything the county has to offer our female entrepreneurs. Essex-based content development agency Indy Consultancy has put together a list of four of the best networking events for women in Essex below.
Women in Business (WIBN)
The WIBN receives great feedback from women in Essex, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an established network that currently runs regular meet-ups in 15 locations throughout the region, which means that wherever you live, you’ll be able to find a group that’s just a short drive away. The members of each group are listed clearly on the WIBN website, which makes it easy to find contact details for different professionals. Plus, like many networking initiatives, only one profession per group is allowed to make sure women aren’t directly competing with each other.
Federation of Small Business (FSB)
The FSB runs a huge range of networking events throughout Essex, but what’s of most interest to us ladies is its monthly Female Entrepreneurs’ Meetup. This is a relatively new group that has been set up to provide businesswomen with the opportunity to network in an informal environment whilst also listening to great talks from local industry influencers. These meetups offer the perfect blend of connectivity and content, and because they’re currently limited to around 20 attendees per session, they’re the ideal option for those who are quite new to networking.
You can follow updates on this group, and find more information on meetup dates, by following #FSBFem on Twitter.
This is perhaps one of the lesser-known networking opportunities in Essex at the moment. Hosted as a monthly transformational coaching workshop by founder and experienced business owner Tabitha Pascoe, Elevated Women is billed as a game changing group that focuses just as much on personal development and training as it does on networking.
As well as attending a monthly session packed full of interesting and insightful content, members of Elevated Women can also access the group’s exclusive online forum, which connects women entrepreneurs from all kinds of industries and professions and allows all members to establish more meaningful relationships (which leads to guaranteed referrals). If you’re looking for a nurturing, supportive environment that will teach you how to focus on achieving your goals whilst making the most of your feminine flow, Elevated Women is for you. At the moment, non-members can attend a trial workshop for a nominal fee, so it’s worth making the most of this offer while it lasts.
The BNI network extends throughout the whole of the UK, which means that this group has nationwide reach – but groups are run at a local level to ensure people from all trades and professions have the opportunity to drum up local business. It’s a highly structured networking scheme that requires a certain level of commitment, but as a reward for all your efforts, you are almost guaranteed to generate new business thanks to its professionally-managed referrals system. The BNI also offers lots of training opportunities for inexperienced networkers, making it a great port of call if you’ve just branched out on your own and want to learn how to make a great impact on your prospects in a networking setting. It’s not the cheapest networking scheme, but it’s certainly one of the most tried and tested.
As you would expect, most networking events incur a small fee. Networking memberships can require you to pay a set amount per month or per year, depending on the package you choose. Many, like Elevated Women, will give the chance to try out a session for a fee of around £20 – £30, but you can often only turn up under this arrangement once. Always be sure to check the cost of any networking opportunity before you sign up to attend!
Have you attended another networking event that you feel is worth a mention here? We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on some of the fantastic initiatives that are currently running all over Essex.