networking group

Networking Group of the Year finalists

We are delighted to announce that the Trainers Network Northamptonshire has been shortlisted for the ‘Networking Group of the Year’ Award in the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards for 2017.

Kay Buckby, who started the network in June 2010, said “This is the first award I have ever applied for, and the experience of applying was a huge learning experience for me. I loved reliving the 7 years since I started the group. I am totally thrilled that we met the criteria for ‘Networking Group of the Year’ and to hear that we passed the judging stage with merit.”

Kay started the Trainers Network Northamptonshire in June 2010, and the original 16 members decided upon the Vision, the Mission, and the strapline for the group, in the first session. At the time of writing (July 2017), there are 900 members on the database.

“It is clear that the network has met a gap for a support network for local learning and development professionals. We have Trainers, Coaches, Consultants, Mentors and Speakers who attend, as well as PA’s, Marketing people and Virtual Assistants – anyone with a passion for learning and development is welcome.”, says Kay. “We have members from all around the world – we have one member who lives in Japan, and who made the time to attend one of our events whilst they were in the UK!”.

The group holds quarterly every March, June, September and December. Each event is ‘Pay as You Go’, which is what the inaugural members said they preferred rather than being locked into a paid membership. Kay continues “The life of trainers is unpredictable, and the group decided that Friday mornings are best, because Mondays and Fridays are often seen as a trainer’s office day, for administration work. The largest event had 50 attendees, although the average is 20 attendees.

The sessions work to a timetable – we meet for breakfast and networking at 8.30am, we have the first session at 9am, another half an hour networking tea break, second session, then lunch and networking at 12.30pm. The networking philosophy is built around relationship building, and it is wonderful just how many connections have been made, how many new products and services have been developed, and work won. One of our members won over 50 days of paid work via an opportunity posted on the network Facebook group.

Our network is unusual because it is split with 60% being incompany employed learning and development members, and 40% self employed members.  Our incompany people make it clear to me that they don’t want a formal elevator pitch introduction, or to be sold to. That matches my philosophy that networking is relationship building, and actually, much wealth has been created due to this approach. We buy from people we like, so if you are yourself, you will gain business.”

Kay’s company The Development Company runs the network, which is a not for profit network. “Whatever we pay venues, is what we charge our members. The network is pure joy to run. I love meeting for coffee with new members, and finding what they do. Connecting people is wonderful, and hearing what magic is created through those connections is fantastic.

We might be based in Northamptonshire, however we caught the eye of the UK Advocate for the Association of Talent Development this year, the worlds’ largest institute for learning and development professionals! He facilitated a conference café with our members on what L&D professionals need from peer networking groups.  This will enable him to shape the ATD UK – so our members fed into the UK vision of the ATD!”

There is a lively Facebook group you can join to post queries, opportunities and knowledge share. The monthly website blog is informative, reflective and a great chance to show what you know. The group is also on Twitter and Linkedin.

Members of the TNN learn from peers, get the chance to pose dilemmas, and showcase what they can do. “At least one event every year is member hosted – is so useful to see what Learning & Developent dilemmas other people have. We’ve been to Greencore, Scott Bader, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Novacroft, and VW Learning & Development Centre amongst others. Sorry to any I haven’t mentioned.”

The network donates to charities too – any extra money paid by a member cancelling their place, or member events where we charge a fee and pass this to our hosts. We’ve raised nearly £1,000 for local charities.

The TNN is proud to be listed with three other fine Northamptonshire groups – The Business Club Northants, Lunch and Learn, and Kettering Business Network. “All of the networks have their own USP are very different to each other, and, most importantly, we are great representatives of our fine county. Getting to the Awards night will be a real experience for us, all part of the learning process.”

The winner will be announced at the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards Finals on Wednesday 25th October at the Mercure Daventry Hotel.

Wish us all luck!

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