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Coffee, croissants ... and connections

Business | Published:

Startup Guernsey is looking forward to the Global Entrepreneurship Week events next week and asked Rachael Cumberland-Dodd from Feed Marketing to talk about how networking helped her grow her business ahead of Startup’s next Entrepreneurs Breakfast Club

Rachael Cumberland-Dodd from Feed Marketing. (26301903)

For those people cheesed off with the 9 to 5 and the carousel of work for work’s sake, there is an alternative. It’s certainly not an easy alternative, it doesn’t always pay well, the hours can be long, and the boss can be a real tyrant. But, the rewards. Oh, the rewards can be huge.

That alternative is, of course, becoming your own boss; AKA taking the plunge, going it alone and owning a business. It’s not a path for all, of course, but for those entrepreneurial islanders with a bright idea and a big dream there is a whole ecosystem dedicated to nurturing and guiding them to success.

When I emerged from the corporate bubble, basking in the glow of my new-found status of ‘entrepreneur’, I needed somewhere to go. My first stop was the networking breakfasts hosted by Startup Guernsey. These are informal gatherings with free coffee, bacon rolls and often an experienced business owner sharing their own adventures in entrepreneurial-land.

These gatherings may be informal but that didn’t stop me from feeling incredibly nervous about being in a room full of strangers and talking about something I wasn’t very sure about – at this stage I didn’t have any clients, any offers, any business cards or any confidence.

I remember googling ‘what to do at a networking event?’ and frankly the tips I read did nothing to calm my nerves. ‘Dress to impress. Take notes. Have a goal’. What? These all sounded incredibly po-faced and rather too much like the conservative world I’d just exited. In the corporate world I hated networking, I felt like I had to put on a show and gen up on Premier League results just so I could ‘connect’ with the bald-headed ‘suits’ in the room. So, suffice to say, networking wasn’t my thing.

At my first Startup breakfast I circled the room, clutching a coffee cup and feeling very much like the new kid at school until the manager of Startup approached me and introduced me to a group of women.

A few months later one of those women became my first client. I met my second client at the same networking event and my third client was introduced to me by the first.

The guy that designed my website, the chap that helped me with SEO, I met them both at a networking event. My accountant, my business coach – we met over croissants and coffee.

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So, my view of networking has changed somewhat. I know networking has a bad rap, forged from the type of events that attract people who thrust business cards in your hands before even saying hello. But good networking – in my definition, when you connect with people in your community and find ways to help them succeed – has been the primary activity I attribute to my business growth.

Via Startup networking events I’ve made money, made friends, my business has gained momentum and my confidence has grown. Most of all, I’m now plugged into a community who are open to sharing their knowledge and helping others to entrepreneurial success.

And all it took was a coffee, a croissant and a little bit of courage.

. The next Entrepreneurs Breakfast Club takes place at Muse Cafe at 8am on Wednesday 20 November, when Ross Gledhill of Belgrave and White Rock Brewery will be speaking about his entrepreneur journey. Free tickets for this and all of the Global Entrepreneurship Week events can be booked at www.startup.gg/events.

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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