Inspired by four friends, Now That's What I Call Networking (NTWICN) is a series of events which aims to showcase and celebrate the best of Glasgow's hospitality, whilst enabling attendees to make new connections, collaborations, and partnerships and, in doing so, to raise money for Beatson Cancer Charity.
We caught up with Charlene Low, Regional Fundraising Manager for Beatson Cancer Charity, and Hannah Cochrane, Business Development Manager of the Dakota Group, to discuss NTWIC and how it is creating a vibrant networking community in Glasgow.
What I Call Networking (NTWICN) founders. © NTWICN
What inspired you to start the networking events
CL: Initially, our events began with four friends from different industries who were simply looking for an excuse to collaborate and work together.
It started with Hannah hosting occasional meetings where our friendship group discussed networking, events and new sales leads that could help our businesses rebuild following the pandemic. After bonding it quickly became apparent that as individuals, we could each bring something special but together we shared a common goal; to create new relationships and to have a platform for brand awareness. From this 'Now That's What I Call Networking' was born.
We have all networked throughout our careers but when we were discussing our format, we agreed that we all made the best and most fruitful long-term partnerships when we felt relaxed and the events were fun, so we ensured our events did just that. Each of our events with a fun 'ice breaker' element as many of the people who attend are first time networkers.
Our concept is to offer a 'takeover' option to local hospitality businesses, allowing us to offer brand awareness to those involved and to create a different type of experience for our guests during every event, which helps take the formality out of networking. So far, we have helped plan options such as drag bingo, shot limbo, mojito competitions and Christmas markets for local crafters.
HC: The events with a difference aspect came very naturally as we all have such an affinity with Charlene and Beatson Cancer Charity, with charitable giving at the forefront of our minds in all aspects of our work. We started by asking for £5 per ticket to attend our events which was donated to charity. This has now developed, with several local businesses donating raffle prizes and fantastic opportunities that we can auction off to raise money. We are so proud, and frankly surprised, by the amazing response to our events, given that it all started with a simple idea to work together. To date, we have raised £5,000 for Beatson Cancer Charity and have loved seeing so many business collaborations and partnerships being formed.
What benefits have you noticed from holding these events?
CL: There have been many benefits but first and foremost, we are providing Beatson Cancer Charity with a platform to raise awareness of its work to a pool of new people.
From a business point of view, we have had the opportunity to forge relationships with the General Managers and Sales Managers from some of our favourite local hospitality businesses and get them involved with our events to showcase what they do best. On event days, we get to meet everyone and to encourage those involved to make lasting relationships.
Naturally as 'sales people' we have asked attendees for feedback from each event so we can continue to expand and improve our events. After each event, we ensure we tag everyone involved on our social media pages, allowing everyone an easy route to follow up and create connections. Collaboratively, we do feel that we are providing a platform for networking in the city that is fresh and new.
Have you found the 'event format' has helped you to achieve your ambitions? If so, how?
HC: Now That's What I Call Networking has provided me with a platform to discuss Dakota Hotels and the activities we are running across our Scottish properties.
Since starting the events, I have had the opportunity to build on a relationship with Whyte and Mackay whose products I stock on our bar and who kindly offered to sponsor our last event. I have also met entertainers who have now performed at events that we have hosted in Dakota Eurocentral and I have taken some fantastic enquiries to host for guests in our bedrooms or grill throughout the year. My personal ambition was to meet new people and to build our 'presence' and I do believe we have achieved this.
CL: Networking has always been a part of my career but, as a charity it can be difficult at times as you feel like you are always asking for something. Whether that be for event sponsorship, donations for raffle and auction prizes or to fundraise through their business. These networking events have opened so many opportunities for the charity and have highlighted the work that we do. So many people have shared their personal stories with me on how cancer has affected them, or immediate friends or family and I have had the opportunity to discuss the support services that Beatson Cancer Charity offers and how I can support them in their career through my existing network and the wonderful network we have built through these events.
As well as the financial side of things, how else do you think the events have benefited both the charity and the clients?
HC: We have provided a platform for varying businesses from across a variety of industries to showcase their offering to a group of new connections. With many people still working from home we have also found that people look forward to this event as they can get out of the house and meet new people and network in a relaxed and fun environment.
Although we encourage people to have fun at our events, we want them to establish and build new relationships which inspire collaboration, and this has certainly been the case with the events we have already hosted. The day after our events all our individual LinkedIn pages explode as we are tagged in people's posts about the event and it's so great to see the feedback and the interest from others who didn't attend ask how they can get involved. Many people have also asked Charlene how they can volunteer for Beatson Cancer Charity which is amazing as the charity are always looking for more support.
What are your future plans?
HC: We have so many exciting plans lined up for 2023 with some new concepts in the pipeline for the four of us to roll out in continued support for Beatson Cancer Charity. We also have four more networking events scheduled throughout the year, which I am really looking forward to.
CL: Collectively, we are always looking at ways to improve and enhance each event. Tickets for our upcoming events will be going on sale via Eventbrite and on our LinkedIn channels so we would encourage anyone interested to try and attend.
We are also hoping to announce a larger scale event, which will be a wholehearted celebration of the charity and all that we do and we hope to have some fantastic names in place to support the event. We are also hoping to achieve £10,000 for Beatson Cancer Charity through Now That's What I Call Networking events.
To find out more and to sign up for future events visit - www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/now-thats-what-i-call-networking-2023-tickets-461097724707