The network that just couldn’t wait

For some, those first few days of the new year are a chance to ease back in to professional life after the festive break, ready to start with renewed gusto on the first Monday in January. One networking group, however, didn’t waste any time and met last Friday at The Fountain Inn on Regent Street for their first event of 2014.

The Cambridge Professional Network is a free, bi-monthly event organised by business rescue and insolvency company McTear Williams & Wood and is primarily focused on attracting individuals in the professional services sector such as accounting, law, banking and property. One of the partners for McTear Williams and Wood, Chris McKay, explained why they set up the event almost two years ago: “Cambridge seems at times flooded with networking opportunities yet we did not see that there was a networking group aimed specially at professionals.”

Chris goes on to explain why he feels that his company was in the best place to set up and run the event: “Any other professional firm would not want their competitors attending eg an accountancy firm organising would not want other accounting firms. As we don’t compete with the other professionals it means that we are happy to have all professionals from whatever firm attend.”

This is a well-targeted and easy event to attend with no formal structure, sales pitches (apart from one very brief one) or presentations. What it does have is a free lunch with a bar and room full of both new and familiar faces and it regularly attracts about 40-50 attendees.

Although McTear Williams & Wood facilitate the event by organising the invitations, venue and advertising each Cambridge Professional Network does have a different sponsor. In return for a payment of about £300 for the food the sponsor is able to address the attendees for a very brief elevator pitch as well as have their name and brand circulated to a mailing list of about 750 possible attendees. The only thing that I would add is to have an attendee list sent out before the event. An hour and a half is usually only enough time to have a good conversation with about four or five people, and a list of who will be going would help to remove some of the barriers of meeting someone new by allowing me to connect with some of them before the event.

For me the Cambridge Professional Network is simplicity personified with its facilitation model and the structure of the event. All of which just goes to show just how easy a networking event can be to organise and host and why I think more companies should set one up as part of their marketing strategy.

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