4Networking: A Different Style of Business Networking for Cumbria
I recently joined in with a networking group that has been around for ages but is new to this region. 4 Networking was started up by a character by the name of Brad Burton, who seems to be out of the renegade entrepreneur mould. Over the past few years, Brad has built up a networking business for business owners that has grown rapidly and spread from its South West roots, to the North East and beyond, seemingly bypassing Cumbria along the way. We aim to put that right.
What’s special about 4 Networking, when we already have such great groups operating in and around Carlisle and the rest of Cumbria already? What more could a business owner need when the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is operating such a range of different networking formats. There are successful BNI chapters in town, here in Carlisle and other parts of Cumbria. Jenny Banks also has a brilliantly successful group – May Fifteen, that is connecting Cumbrian businesses every week. KNY – Know Your Neighbours; the Kingstown based group is also active and seemingly generating new business connections and new business via its monthly meetings. What could “yet another networking group” (I quote) possibly have to offer that ADDS value to the networking scene in Cumbria?
4 Networking operates on a Passport membership basis. What this means is that if you join; here, there or anywhere, you can book into a meeting wherever you happen to be in the country (and abroad) and be welcomed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got competition, you will still be welcomed.
When NABO / Network Cumbria ceased its activity, there was a real gap in the style of networking that was available to Cumbrian businesses. The structured meeting with some kind of business insight – without the hard sell; targeted 1 to 1 sessions (and bacon butties !) appealed to me. 4 Networking filled that gap.
We’ve found a venue that looks after us well and who are adapting to our style of meeting. As the first group established in Cumbria; 4 Networking Cumbria is looking to build a strong base of business owners and entrepreneurs who are keen to do business locally with people they Know, Like and Trust; but aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone and spread their wings further afield. I know one of the arguments that’s been put to me against 4N is that we’re bringing outsiders in who might steal business from the local business community. Well – that is a risk. But what is a hell of a bigger risk to your business; is not widening the net of contacts you could possibly win business from.
That’s what I like about 4N – it gives the opportunity to go out and meet other businesses outside of your normal pool of contacts. More importantly – you begin to gain access to their networks. That has got to be a winning combination.
Today at the Carlisle meeting there were a couple of new faces: a lawyer specialising in legal protection for inventors and a tax consultant from a local accountancy firm. Not spectacular, but, every week there have been at least 2 new faces from outside the area or within Carlisle – Cumbria. It is a different pool of people to the faces that we see at all of the regular local events already mentioned. That has got to be good for any business who isn’t just look for passing trade.
Just to finish off, here are a few shots of today’s breakfast meeting at the Cumbria Park Hotel. Kath Benson of KB1 Media delivered the 4Sight presentation which focussed on one of her enterprises, the GE Club which is a lifestyle equity group with some significant tax benefits.