Networking in the South West – How long will we have to use Zoom?

Thinking back to networking in the South West before Covid-19, this was pretty much an in-person activity. You could attend a business breakfast or a networking seminiar or conference. Of course, the pandemic has changed the way everything operates. Networking in the Southwest is now pretty much all or partly on Zoom.

There are signs things will change soon with new business networks like Entrepreneurs Circle Exeter offering opportunities to meet in person though space will be limited. Some of us may be desperate to meet again in person, however there are those who love the freedom video conferencing offers.

It would seem that for the foreseeable future anyway, there will be a mix of both. Zoom of course offers wider opportunities for networking in the South West. As travelling is not an issue, people from Plymouth, Barnstaple, Exeter etc can all attend with nobody having to get in their car.

The convenience of Zoom is not to be underestimated. We all now how great it is to stumble out of bed and attend an 8 am Zoom call while still in your pajamas! Depending on whether you use the video option. Or maybe you are only dressed properly from the waist up!

However, Zoom doesn’t allow for much spontaneity. Everything is planned and intentional and you don’t have those informal chats around cups of coffee where so much business can take place. At the end of the day it will depend on your personal preference on whether you want to use Zoom or not.

Networking in the South West

Zoom networking in the South West

Most networks will continue to offer Zoom networking opportunities in the Devon and Cornwall region. This is good news especially for some. There are those who find In-person meetings a challenge. It can be awkward not knowing anybody, even in a place you are supposed to meet people. The last thing you want is to be left standing around like a spare part. However, most network hosts are sensitive to see everyone gets to connect with someone.

I find Zoom a bit like a chess game…. You click on the Zoom link or enter the meeting details and you are faced with a checked block of people. Ok it’s not black and white like a chessboard or crossword puzzle but it has a similar feel and there is definitely a strategy involved.

You get your two minutes to tell everyone where you’re from and hopefully get to connect with some new contacts, especially in a break-out room. It’s not long before you realise that the pattern of small squares of people resembles a chessboard and discover that many pieces on the board have the same function. Some networks avoid this from happening by allowing only one person into their group from a particular business sector. However such exclusivity does come with a cost.

Networking is much more than a game of chess although it does require a strategy. It’s not about winning a game but about rubbing shoulders with like-minded people, fellow entrepreneurs who want to make things happen. That could be virtual but for most it’s so much better in person. Whatever your preference, we hope you will find this sample of business networks in Devon helpful.

Al Gibson

The founder of Countdown Creative, Alistair Gibson is an expert communicator who has learned how to harness principles of traditional journalism with the power of today’s digital media platforms. He has lived in Devon for 15 years and worked in Plymouth and Exeter.

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