It is just four years ago since husband and wife duo Simon and Win Edmondson bought The Business Network South Manchester – part of a national chain of networking groups stretching from Exeter to Humberside. Despite a global pandemic and a rising cost of living crisis they have seen their membership grow on a month by month basis. Starting with 32 members, they have grown to over 90 members in the South Manchester group. The couple have recently purchased the Chester group, and now look after over 160 member businesses between the two groups.
We asked Simon and Win to tell us how they have done so well…
What makes a great networking group?
Win “A sense of community. Our members feel part of a community, whether it is referring business to each other or seeking advice from another member regarding issues or suppliers.”
Simon “I am always pleased how all our members support one another, whether it’s a simple comment on a LinkedIn post to recommending each other to their connections.”
How did you become the dynamic duo of the networking scene in Manchester and Chester?
Simon “I had been a member of The Business Network South Manchester for around four years when Simon Coy who operates the Birmingham and Peterborough groups decided to sell the group in South Manchester. After a short meeting it made sense, with my connections and with the benefit of having ran events for The Federation of Small Businesses, it seemed like a logical step.”
Win “I had decided to take a sabbatical from a very stressful corporate job when Simon rang me to say he had just bought a networking business and we could run it together. He is the sales person and I cover the admin side of the business, and during the meetings it is very much a 50/50 split of responsibilities.”
What is so special about The Business Network compared to other networking groups?
Win “For me it is the opportunity for attendees to have a structured conversation over lunch as well as the informal nature of our pre-lunch drinks reception. Furthermore, we now work with companies such as Bruntwood, Altspace and Moneypenny to bring members and visitors extra events each month.”
Simon “I have attended virtually all the groups across the country and the format is basically the same, great pre-lunch seminars, the open networking before sitting down at your table with six or seven key decision makers which have been carefully selected by the group’s host to ensure you get maximum benefit from the meeting.
“However, each group is different due to the host’s personality, we certainly have some fun along the way, the meeting has some interesting twists during the day and the range of speakers we attract are top calibre. This year we will see the Chair of Marketing Manchester, The CEO of Manchester Central and the Chair of The Federation of Small Businesses (the largest business organisation in the UK) speak to us.”
What is the key to successful networking, and why should businesses join The Business Network South Manchester and Chester?
Win “Blowing our own trumpet, Simon and I are out promoting our member’s businesses all the time. But by doing that the members realise that we value them and their businesses.”
Simon “Top tip, well I can’t keep to one! Don’t spread yourself too thin as it is essential to make time to have those vital 1-2-1’s. There are numerous networking groups out there and you have to find your tribe, plus always see yourself as the giver, and then the referrals will come back to you in abundance.”
Why The Business Network South Manchester and Chester?
Simon “The shear breadth of membership is a great reason. A director of a small company can sit next to the managing director of one of the largest digital agencies in Manchester, and with the number of members in the group now we know we can service everyone’s requirements within the two groups.
“We appreciate that there are other networking groups, and the competition is very good, but as long as we continue to give our members and guests quality events, a sense of community and the opportunity to communicate easily with each other our groups will grow even further.”
“The Business Network South Manchester group is different because the hosts – Win and Simon – create an environment in which genuine business connections can flourish. As such, real referral opportunities and partnerships can come about between members in a stress free way. I don’t hesitate to recommend the group and value my membership greatly.”
Ben Schmidt, Managing Director, Pixel Assist
To find out more, call Simon Edmondson on 0161 503 5000
or email: email@example.com