I was spent time yesterday looking for local business networking groups to reconnect with. Like many consultants I work alone so connection to others is not only important socially but creatively, too; meeting potential clients is also a possibility, of course.
I belong to a wonderful local group, the NDBA, that over the years has been the bedrock of my business social life here in rural England. To enhance this network I looked at the local Chamber of Commerce. Checking their website does not show any upcoming events, regular or special, so I was naturally left wondering what I would receive for my annual membership apart from a list of other members. I wondered through the websites of a couple more nearby Chambers and also through that of the Federation of Small Businesses. Again, I struggled to find information of local events.
Sitting at my desk somewhat frustrated I decided to see what I could find on Facebook. Aha! There we are! A very local women's networking group that I belonged to several years ago before my departure back to the Far East. Excellent, I thought. On the doorstep, well managed, regular gatherings and special training events, too. My delight did not last long. After several years they are winding down due to a difficulty getting funding for training events. A couple of minutes later I received an email from a national women's business group saying that they, too, were shutting down. No reason, just closing their doors, as it were.
So what of this? Two groups for business women closing at the same time. Other business networking organisations not listing any events nor even updating their websites. Is this because it is too much work for the organisers for little gain? Or is it because we 'socialise' more in the digital realm that face-to-face gatherings are becoming less relevant?
'Be the change you want to see in the world,' said Gandhi. So, taking that advice I have reached out to the ladies in the local women's group that has closed to see if anyone would like to meet for a coffee or lunch on a monthly basis. No huge planning required and I'm happy to facilitate. SImply to meet at a local cafe or pub for a natter and to share the joys and challenges of being a business person in an ever more competitive world.
Watch this space! Will I be drinking my coffee with others ... or alone? Perhaps the time really is upon us where people believe that digital connection is enough, and easier. Less of a strain on the time they perceive they haven't got. Ah ... now ... that there's another topic altogether!