Cambridge’s Favourite Networking Event – The Results

 

Networking is a veritable sport in Cambridge. It appears at first glance that there’s an event on every night, each appealing to its own niche. There are formal events, informal, breakfast, evening, events for creatives and events for programmers. What is for sure is that there is a networking event for every employed and self-employed professional in the city.

Recently, we started a search to find the city’s favourite networking event (if you want to see them all, then click here) and here are the results from over 300 votes with a selection of the comments attributed to them…

  1. Connected Cambridge

“Less than 50 attendees, good speakers, well organised.”

“Well curated, accessible small scale events with good networking potential”

“Variety of people & interests”

 

  1. Drive the Network

“No pressure (everyone is of the same mind when it comes to not selling at you), fantastic speakers, great mix of attendees”

“Well organised yet informal; great support network that goes beyond the regular meetings; sharing of information and experiences; building trust through relationships, resulting in business and recommendations. Great speakers at monthly events.”

“I love the fact no one thrusts a business card. One is always greeted with a smile. Everyone is engaging and wants you and your business to succeed. It’s collaborative and has an amazing online community too.”

 

  1. Cambridge WordPress Meetup

“Stimulating range of topics, people, skill-levels, experiences.”

“Very relevant to my needs; good attendance; good mix of different skill levels”

“Got me out from behind the computer and out of my shell.”

 

  1. Cambridge 100 Club

“Because the attendees are very well connected and are not usually found on the usual Cambridge network circuit.”

“Convivial, educational & always enjoyable”

“Perfect mix of speakers, location and great food.”

 

  1. Numitas Cambridge CFO Club

“Informal style, first class speakers and only for CFOs!”

“Entrepreneurial Guest Speakers, convenient time of events, calibrate of other attendees and close match of skills, informative, informal and fun”

“Informative and relevant speakers, convenient time event held, good locations”

 

  1. Cambridge Network

“Best range of networking”

“They offer a relaxed professional environment with relevant topics”

“Speakers, range of topics, numbers who attend, timings”

 

  1. Pitch & Mix

“Intimate peer-to-peer group which gives valuable contacts and/or ideas each meeting”

“I thought the debates were more thought provoking and you were not just sitting through various sales pitches”

“It’s a useful forum for sharing and discussing relevant issues – excellent format – short and to the point and excellent networking opportunities. Benefits without a price tag – just valuable connections and advice.”

 

  1. CamCreatives

“Unique speakers each month, really supportive and friendly group, great organisation and amazing coffee from Hot Numbers!”

“A wide-ranging event which attracts a broad mix of people; always a good mix of new and familiar faces”

“The talks are always interesting, the people are supportive and welcoming – the group feels ‘real’.”

 

  1. JCI Cambridge

“Friendly networking group for young professionals. Run by member for it members and offer awesome local, national and international events.”

“Unlike other networking groups, JCI members seem genuinely interested in meeting new people and learning new things, rather than simply assessing what value you could have to them. Basically, being valued as a person rather than as a step on the ladder. I’ve met some fascinating people and had some brilliant discussions at their events, without ever questioning my right to be there because (with my very niche job) I bring very little to the table in terms of traditional networking “benefits”

“It has a great bunch of friendly and welcoming members. There’s also a huge diversity of regular social and personal development events to get involved in!”

and the winner is…

 

  1. Cambridge Marketing Meetup

“Joe is an amazing host, the talks are always interesting and the people aren’t there just to pitch to you.”

“Joe has created a fantastic event, full of insightful speakers and kind chatty people. The marketing meetup should be the one all marketers in Cambridgeshire go to.”

“Informative, entertaining, inclusive, friendly, great networking opportunities and great social media interaction for ongoing business opportunities.”


Okay, so our Cambridge Business Owners’ Mastermind Group didn’t make the top ten, but with this feedback, we’re still happy:

“I love it, I love the support you get and I love supporting others. How to build relationships that are powerful and showcase your knowledge and experience indirectly and without sales links.”

“Great community of small business owners truly supporting each other! This is the best support group you as a freelancer/business owner will ever need!”

Thank you to everyone who voted. It’s not the most scientific of studies, but we hope this has given you a greater insight into some of the more populart events in the city. 

You can also access the latest version of the Definitive List of Networking Events in Cambridge here


 

 

 

Cambridge’s Favourite Networking Event

In Cambridge, there are well in excess of 50 regular networking events, each with their own niche, target audience, time of day and formality, all aimed at a small number of the 9,000+ self-employed workers in the city. Many of these are so popular, they also attract many from neighbouring towns and villages.

Networking is frequently seen as a valuable tool to increase brand awareness, reach out to new audiences, as well as to share ideas with their peers. But which is the city’s favourite?

Here at Cambridge Business Lounge – where we host our own Mastermind Group and CBL Women’s Network events – we are looking to find the city’s favourite networking event/group, as well as the reasons why.

To cast your vote ==> CLICK HERE

Everyone who votes can also enter a draw to win a 4 Day Coworking Pass, worth £70.

You can also access a list of all the networking group and events that take place in Cambridge by clicking here.

The survey closes on Thursday 31st August and results will be announced soon after.

The winner will be featured – with the results – in the business section of the Cambridge Independent in September.

What Do Coworkers Do at CBL?

Every day we welcome coworkers who choose to work from Cambridge Business Lounge for the day, rather than from home or elsewhere. On the surface, I know what they’re doing. For example, today working from here is an Architect, Design Agency, Events Management, Accountant, Web Developer, and Town Planner, amongst others. However, I’m always curious to know what it is they’re actually working on.

Therefore, today, I decided to go round and ask some of them “what are you working on right now?” and these are their answers…

“An analytics tool which reduces millions of lines of cloud billing data to useful charts for businesses and academia to work out how their money is being spent” – Dan Frost, http://www.3ev.com/


“Assessing the environmental impact of various worksites required for construction work to implement a major rail infrastructure scheme” – Sheena McCallum, http://cam-planning.co.uk/


“Right now I’m working on eating a pastrami and Gouda cheese sandwich I made using two Tesco bread rolls, leftover from a barbeque I held on Saturday afternoon, and other ingredients purchased from Waitrose.”

He added “I’m then working on designing integration workflows between our in house investor services and wire processing systems and our new Hedge Fund research and portfolio construction platform.”


“A large-scale support ticket session to help customers who we’ve migrated to our new platform.”


“Writing a job spec for a junior developer” – Kelly Molson, http://www.rubbercheese.com/


“I’m currently working on a company away day to Lisbon. The logistics of getting 75 staff plus their partners to Lisbon from a variety of airports is interesting!  We have a wonderful hotel booked, I’ve found a stunning water front restaurant for dinner and we have some fun activities planned.  I just need to get everyone there now!” – Sabine Edwards, http://pendletonevents.co.uk/


“Architecture design; I’ve just finished sketching an alternative floor plan option for a new medical practice in London.” – Jon Clayton, http://complete.archi/


So, there you have it. Each person is heavily focused on completing their to-do-list and has chosen Cambridge Business Lounge as their place to do it. Somewhere where they feel productive, with the benefit of other professional minds too.

Try it for yourself, for free, and see how coworking can benefit your productivity. Get in touch here for more details.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Remote working has the made the decision of where to work or run a business very easy (or not, if you don’t like making decisions). Which is why, I’m sure, the number of employed and self-employed, who work from home, has increased so dramatically in recent years.

In March 2016, I took to social media to get a greater understanding of where my connections (across the UK) run their business from. The results were:

laptop-943558_960_720Home: 81%

Serviced Office: 10%

Coworking Space: 6%

Other (coffee shop, library, etc.): 3%

Not too much of a surprise there, as working from home is certainly the most flexible of all options. It’s also free and commuting is a dream. I know, as I’ve worked from home for years, and completely agree that it’s great for convenience. However, it takes discipline to work from home day in, day out, and can extremely isolating. Also, if you have a bad day at work, how does that impact on your home environment? Especially if you work from a room that you socially spend a lot of time in.

Whereas, working in an office or shared space is great for inspiration, bouncing ideas off everyone and breaking away from at the end of the day.

A Freelancer’s Route To Home-Working Discipline 

CaptureI remember a freelancer telling me how they used to leave the house at 8:30 every morning, dressed for work, and would walk round the block (via a coffee shop) back to their home. Now there were at work and all home comforts and chores were out of bound.

At the end of the day, he would leave ‘work’ and walk the reverse route, so when they entered the door, they were now at home. It sounds like a lot of effort, but that was their way of mentally getting in the right frame of mind.

The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Given that most of those who responded (majority of which are freelancers) worked from home, here are how they described their Pro’s and Con’s:

Advantage: No longer have to get up at 6.30 for the hour long journey into work on the A14.

Disadvantage, no longer get up from desk to go see colleagues, so spend far too much time sitting at the computer, getting fatter. – Susan Fleming, Not Just Travel Anglia


 

Advantage: Incredibly short commute

Disadvantage: No banter with colleagues – Andy Boothman, Creative Graphic Designer Director


 

Advantage: I can work in my pj’s.

Disadvantage: The washing is here… (and the rest of the chores) – Nicky Shephard, Director of The Marketing Boutique.


 

Advantages: Cost and flexibility.

Disadvantages include being treated as the neighbourhood parcel drop. – Karen Packham, Editorial and Website Consultant.


I am not a freelancer but I can work from home as part of my job:

Advantages: Fewer distractions, no commute.

Disadvantages: Not seen as part of the team, lack of interaction with colleagues. – Emma Saldanha, Marketing Executive at Cogent Accountants Ltd


Main advantage is the convenience & flexibility to work the hours I choose. But for a procrastinator like me that’s also a disadvantage as I can always find other things that need doing around the house instead of working. – Geraldine Jones


Advantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants.

Disadvantage: my cats keep me company and act as my office assistants – Stewart Harris, Bassist, Singer, Graphic Designer


Big advantage is the journey to work and back. No traffic or public transport hassles. – Graham Harris


Advantage: Convenient but miss the camaraderie. – Karen Cann, Freelance Video Editor & Producer


Advantages: I can use travel time to work, I can take breaks and get stuff done at home, I can stop and go and pick my little boy up from school. It’s my space and I feel comfortable in it, no interruptions.

Disadvantages: I miss working with other people sometimes; it upsets my little boy that I am home but not playing with him. – Rachel Willer, Founder and MD at The Work Bees


 

In Summary

There clearly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it also doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be more than one option. You prefer to work from home? Great. But what happens on the days (however infrequent) that you need a change of scenery?

Test the other options, even for just one day, and see how that impacts your productivity as well as the size of your network.

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Working From a Coworking Space

cambridge-business-lounge-co-workingFlexible workspace, coworking, or hot-desking. Call it what you like, the concept of working in a shared office with other business owners and professionals is a fast growing one. Which means that the more you know about it, the more informed you’ll be to know whether it could actually be of benefit to you and your business. 

In April 2014, the Coworking Handbook was published to help those who are wanting to create a space for local businesses and freelancers to use. However, in the book are some benefits and disadvantages that almost every business owner would benefit from knowing. Here is a selection:

The Advantages of Coworking:

  • Expand your personal and professional networks
  • Find new clients and grow your income
  • Be more productive
  • No distractions from family members, or temptations from the fridge or TV
  • Share with soundboards that will improve your projects
  • Be more motivated to work by surrounding yourself of hardworking professionals like you
  • Be more creative
  • Get a professional working routine with your own schedule
  • Work by yourself, not alone

For the purpose of balance, here are some disadvantages:

  • I work better from home – Maybe coworking isn’t for you, but have you tried it (we have a free day on offer if you haven’t. Also, could coworking even one a week be of benefit? e.g. How many contacts do you make at home?
  • I don’t want to share my projectYou don’t have to share anything. Just being around others can provide the benefits listed above. 
  • You have to pay You get a lot of value for little money. Plus, as listed above, there are a lot of benefits.
  • You have to commute There are more and more coworking spaces opening every year. So, find a space that is near to you and that you like.

book-image

Really, there’s only one way to find out how beneficial coworking could be for you, and that is to try it for yourself.

Book for your free taster day by emailing info[at]cambridgebusinesslounge.com, calling 01223 324040, or tweeting @CamBizLounge

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – The Ultimate Business Book?

Bearhhunt

I look forward to going home and reading to one of my kids of an evening. Well, most of the time. Not because I don’t enjoy reading to them, but because not all books are that enjoyable to read after 50 or so occasions.

Most children’s books contain some kind of feel good story and one that stands out is “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.

The premise of the book (no spoilers here) is about a family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. What a surprise awaits them in the cave on the other side of the dark forest! It wasn’t until I realised that there’s a lesson on each page that is pertinent to all business owners.

The book starts with the narrator (a child) saying “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared”

Business translation: “I’ve got an idea, I’m going for it and it’s going to be great”.

Then the family take on a series of challenges. For example, “Uh-uh! Grass! Long wavy grass. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!”

Business translation “You’ve got a challenge in front of you and you can’t avoid it. You’ve got to use the tools you have and face it, head on”

And that’s the difference between this children’s book and my business translation: The “tools”. The family only have to wade through some grass, or negotiate some mud. They can support each other through that. Who supports you through the challenges you face? Where you do acquire the knowledge and skills to ensure you’re able to go through the problems your facing?

For the narrator of the book, it’s the family; for you, it’s all the other business owners in your area. You just need to get out there and meet them.

Once you build a strong network, you won’t need to go over your challenges, or under them…you’ll be able to go right through them.

Action Point

Try coworking, visit a networking group or get in touch with a business mentor.

Ed’s Top Tips: Tip 2 – Backing Up Your Business Files

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

In tip 2, Ed focuses on the importance of backing up your business files.

What’s the most effective way you use to backup your files? Do you use an external hard drive or cloud based storage like Google Drive or Onedrive?

Let us know your experiences with backing up your data in the comments below, or tweet us including the hashtag #EdsTopTips

CBL Network- A Business Network in That Works With You

CBL Network is a series of informative talks, surrounded by engaging conversations and informal networking, usually hosted at Cambridge Business Lounge. They are inspiring, engaging and an enjoyable way to meet new and familiar faces, as well as to get to know the people behind the businesses they represent.

The speakers who come to talk at CBL Network are there to share the stories of their professional journey, or they are experts in a field that challenges the status quo of traditional business and who’s knowledge can be applied to a wide range of businesses.

This video highlights two of our CBL Network events, from 2015, – hosted by Jeremy Waite and another by Cameron Webb – and captures the nature of our very informal and informative events.

To find out more details of our events, visit our Meetup Group, follow us on twitter or track the hashtag #CBLNetwork.

Ed’s Top Tips: Tip 1 – The Sweet Spot of a Successful Business

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

In this first video, Ed gives you an understanding of the sweet spot to running a business and why it’s so important.

How did you find the sweet spot for your business? Are you still struggling to find yours – if so why not leave us a comment below or Tweet us using the hashtag #EdsTopTips

A Day in the Life of a Co-worker

Gavin Rankine, Accounts Tax Plus, works for himself. Every day, he cycles to Cambridge Business Lounge, whatever the weather, despite having a purpose built office at home.

So why does he go to all this trouble? Why bother commuting at all? What does coworking really offer Gavin that working from home doesn’t?

Watch “A day in the life of a coworker” to hear Gavin answer these questions as well as explain the benefits of working for yourself but not by yourself.

Follow Gavin on Twitter at @accountstaxplus.