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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Like Minded People V Event 17th April 2009

In May 2008 I took a couple of people to lunch with a view of networking them with each other.  They were (and indeed still are) entrepreneurs, they all worked in or near Exeter and none of them knew each other before the lunch.  I thought it would be beneficial to each of them that they met.  It was a bit of an inspiration to bring them together, but it seemed like the right thing to do and so I gave it a shot.

The session went well.  The 6 of us had lunch together, and then after a couple of hours I left them to it.  Several stayed on for another couple of hours and some new contacts and even friendships were formed.  I named the event 'Like Minded People' and we agreed to meet up again in a few months and where possible to bring a buddy, with a similarly entrepreneurial mind, along.

Our 6 became 14, and the lunch went on for quite some time.  I left them to it again after a couple of hours, and I think several people stayed for another 3+ hours.  The dialogue was quite far reaching, as you might expect from such a diverse and interesting bunch of people.

So, feeling that something was really starting to develop, we agreed to give it another try and this time we used the Bristol Golf club, and invited some people from different walks of life, and different markets, all with that entrepreneurial spirit.  The original 6 became 25 and when Simon Fox did his (shortish) presentation on TBI Connect we found that the group openly had ideas and inspiration for him, along with contacts and help.  Not only did this help TBI but it gave Simon some personal inspiration and it gave me a big lift that these people, these entrepreneurs, were in it to help each other too.  Rare in such a 'dog eat dog' world and rare amongst people who had all achieved so much.

Like Minded People IV was different again, with a much large contingent wanting to get involved, a donation of venue from the Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter and some sponsorship and contributions from members of the network to help pay for everything.  Our 'show and tell' session had someone looking for funding, an announcement of a joint venture from two of the members and a very interesting 'apprentice' idea from Henry at Circle Recruitment.  Some 35 people came along, and it all seemed very different to the 6 people out for a quiet lunch that happened at LMP I.  We pulled in some group activities at the end of the lunch for those that wanted to stay, and had some external hosting for some Action Learning Sets.  Many people got a great deal from the adventure, and indeed it is now something that I have incorporated into the Management Development of our Senior Team at TCL.

And now to 17 April 2009, when we will be holding our fifth event, in Exeter at the Innovation Centre.  Robin Jackson has kindly provided the venue for us in his sponsorship of entrepreneurs in the south west.  The event is being organised by Vicky Sheppard, out of our Exeter office, and so if you are interested in coming along please book your place with her on +44 (0) 845 869 6070.  Numbers are limited this time, so its first come first served.  Ideally all attendees will have come through by referral, and the key prerequisite is that each person is entrepreneurial by nature e.g. started a company or running a division or venture in a way that requires entrepreneurialism.

The agenda for the session will be simpler this time.  Networking, Lunch, 'Show and Tell' and exit.  Starting around 11:30am and going on formally until about 2.30, informally for as long as people want.

So far the event has proven to be fun, useful, stimulating and a learning experience.  I had never expected it to take on such a life of its own, but it is great to see how it has.  The network will continue as long as people get so much from it, and it supports itself as it has been doing.  So, if you want to be part of it in April, please give Vicky a call ASAP.  I look forward to seeing you there. 

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