SME Northants Business Award 2018_Winner

We Are Network Group of The Year 2018

Well, we did it! We achieved our dream. We won the Network Group of the Year Award in the recent SME Northants awards.

I have shared what I have learned.

Answer the questions

We’ve all done exams. Yes, we’ve all been told this before – answer the question. However, we’ve all spent hours answering what we want to answer, and not answering the question!

I did a quick mind map of ideas for each of the questions – it’s amazing how easy it is to list stuff that doesn’t answer the question at all. I then reviewed my ideas. Then I wrote my answer.

KISS – Keep it short and simple

3,000 characters was all I had to answer questions such as ‘Retaining members is an important part of running a networking group. How do you retain members?’. So you have to be concise! I used bullet points, and lots of white space. I figured that making my document easy to read will make the judges life easier.

Use the additional information facility

You are allowed to send additional information as an attachment. I used this to send a document that was page numbered, with an index for easy referencing.

Think about the additional information you can send to back up, and to tell your story. I used:

  • Google Analytics from our website
  • Twitter Analytics, and screen shots
  • Facebook Group screen shots
  • Photos from events
  • Charity donation information – pictures of cheques, thank you letters
  • Words of members telling their stories, in their own words
  • Where our members are in the world, as a pie chart
  • Mailchimp screen shots
  • Variety of venues we have attended
  • Variety of sessions trainers have delivered at our events
  • Numbers of attendees

This is your story, so you need to make it easy for someone else to understand why you are the best.

Use your stories, reviews, and testimonials

When we attended the launch event for this years’ awards, we were told to have those reviews and testimonials ready, which is what I had. I didn’t amend anyone’s words, and made their contact details available so it was easy for the testimonial to be verified.

As in the reflections blog I wrote last year, I have gathered in stories more proactively. It has amazed me the benefits of the network, some being:

  • “The best event for CPD that I attend. It’s my event for me. ” Ann Phillips, Morson & Co
  • “Being able to reach out if I need a peer to help me.” Caroline Lewis, Scott Bader
  • “Making valuable and lasting friendships” Jennifer Fitzgerald, Mind for Business

Show your USP’s – what makes you the best

Our USPs are that we have no elevator pitch, which our members love. We enjoy relaxed networking events, where you can be yourself.

Reflect your values

Our network is for anyone passionate about learning. It was lovely to see the judges’ comments were “A lot of thought and passion with examples has gone into this application.”

I would like to thank our members for making our network the best network in Northamptonshire, a county I am an Ambassador of.

Congratulations to Simon Cox and the team at the Kettering Business Network, who won the Runner-Up award. Together we can make Northamptonshire stronger.

Kay Buckby is a facilitator for The Development Company. She facilitates management, leadership and communication skills – including networking skills. Contact Kay to discuss training, coaching, consulting and facilitation.


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