Build a network you can be proud of
The story of the Trainers Network Northamptonshire
How did the network start? By Kay Buckby
In 2009 I facilitated a session at a conference for trainers in London. I passed on the details to a Northamptonshire based client, Opus Energy, and I was thrilled when four of their team attended the conference.
I often think that companies waste money by booking teams on the same conference session, and because we all split up and went to a variety of sessions, I suggested getting together afterwards with the Opus Energy team, so we could share the learning.
I enjoyed these review events so much, I decided to see if there was interest in a network for trainers. I came up with the name Trainers Network Northamptonshire, or TNN for short, and booked a room at the Park Inn in Northampton for a ‘launch’ event. I wrote and and paid for an article in Business Times for the launch event and got 4 responses from companies across the County.
I’m often amazed at how non creative people who describe themselves as a ‘creative type’ can be. I employed a marketing and design consultant to come up with a logo and they came up with the weirdest bunch of logos. One was a logo of hands across the world. It looked like a dodgy ad for rubber gloves and I wondered what the world had to do with our network. I laughed so much and my only sadness is that we don’t have the artwork anymore to show you.
The County logo was my idea. I just drew out the outline of Northamptonshire, wrote Trainers Network Northamptonshire over it, used the County colour of claret and there it was!
The launch event:
The Vision and Mission were drawn up by the members of our first event in June 2010. I asked the questions. The strapline ‘Passionate about learning’ was suggested and it’s perfect.
How did we grow the membership?
I used our existing local client database (By ‘our’ Kay means The Development Company Limited www.thedevco.com who own and administer the network) and we did searches for self employed trainers, coaches and providers to invite. Some people were extremely rude, saying we should never contact them!
Now I grow via Twitter and our Facebook group. I’ve ‘met’ more trainers via Twitter than any other social media.
The high points:
Meeting and get to know such a variety of people who are passionate about learning. People attend events because they are interested in a subject or want to become a coach, facilitator or trainer. I have met truly inspirational people and it’s great to be able to share ideas and help each other out in between networking events.
It’s great to know people have been connected as a result of our network – Julie Cooper at Spring Development and Alan Berck-May of ABM HR have designed a new session and product as a result of meeting at one of our events.
We were let down by a speaker! I had spoken to him a week before and yet on the day when I called he said ‘Have we spoken before?’, ‘Have we agreed this?’ and projected his anger onto me. We’ve had some people who book and then don’t pay. It’s disappointing because I put a huge amount of hours into the network and so it is a cost to us.
Over 800 on the database.
Over 600 attendees over the 6 years on events.
The TNN inspired other networks for trainers, including the Yorkshire Trainers Association, set up by Shirley Gaston.
We used the Disney creative technique to dream the future at a network event once. Members came up with (just a few listed):
Collaborative projects for research
Writing a book
Attendance at events and exhibitions.
Having an association with an Institute for trainers
Plans for 2016:
Get to know more members who attend the network, and find out what gives them a buzz.
Use video snippets of members saying how they’ve benefited to create a “showreel” for the website.
Have regular bloggers on the TNN website, as blogging is a great way of sharing.
Please contact us if you’d like to be added to our database, run a session at an event or get to know people who are passionate about learning.