Positive network for business

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When he started Network On The Marsh in 2017, business consultant Terry Botfield was told by almost everyone he spoke to: “It won’t work. Never does.”

Well, two years later the Marsh Network enjoys a healthy membership, hosts monthly coffee and breakfast meetings, business forums and regular low-cost workshops on business topics. It’s proved such a success for local businesses that Terry has recently launched a new group, Rye Networking Over Coffee, meeting once a month at The King’s Head Inn. The first of these coffee meetings was held in September and 28 people turned up. A lot of those returned for the second meeting last Tuesday morning, mingling with numerous debutants keen to see what it was all about.

Business consultant Terry Botfield

“Three years ago there were no networking groups on the Marsh” says Terry. “Just Folkestone or Ashford. We’ve changed that with a new approach. Our approach is all about ‘you’, not the networking organisation. It’s about connecting people with people in an informal, relaxed and professional manner with the emphasis on building relationships and collaborations in such a way that we become a support group for each other, as much as a network.”

A specialist in business engagement, Terry has twice retired during a long career where he admits he fully enjoyed the fruits of his labours as a large corporation business strategist. “I took a lot from the corporate world and now I’m enjoying putting something back. I’m investing in time to help small-business owners build relationships with others so that everyone has a chance to grow.”

This somewhat philanthropic approach to nurturing business growth becomes even clearer when examining the finances of each meeting. Unlike many networking groups, there is no joining fee. There is no membership fee. One-third of the entry fee for meetings goes to the venue. One third goes to running costs of the group (printing, publicity and promotional material) and one third to a designated charity. The Peasmarsh based Oliver Curd Trust, who provide holiday accommodation for children with life-threatening illnesses, is the nominated charity for the Rye Networking group.

“Our ethos is about the creation of a relaxed professional environment where people can connect with each other without the pressure of any hard sell” says Terry. “The connection of people with other people is the fundamental point and supporting each other is the key to growth.”

With such a cross-section of businesses represented on Tuesday, from digital marketing to opticians, and computer repairs to hospitality and entertainment, it was interesting to hear their thoughts on this new networking venture.

“It provides new business opportunities,” said Steve Hamilton, a director of Media In A Box, “and provides a great support mechanism.” Another member commented upon the social aspect of the meetings “It’s a social event. It’s about listening to people. Learning what they do and how we collaborate together.” And another local businessman opined: “It’s great to see a new Rye networking group. It’s refreshing and can only help our businesses to grow.”

Image Credits: Jas Ossil .

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