The Brighton Summit Blog

Brighton Summit is a business conference with great food

Networking but not as you know it

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Amy Lishman, Brighton Chamber membership manager, paints a scene ahead of her second Summit.

Picture this.

It’s 8.30 on Friday 12 October. You arrive at the Clarendon Centre, welcomed by smiling and friendly Chamber volunteers at the sign in desk. They hand you your lanyard and programme and helpfully point you in the direction of coffee and breakfast. You’ve got your coffee and now you’re debating what delicious pastry you’ll go for when someone starts up conversation. Before you know it, it’s now 9.15 and you’re whisked into the auditorium to be wowed by the first keynote speaker of the day, Claire Mason from award winning agency Man Bites Dog. You meet the other 8 or so people on your round table in the main hall. It’s not even 9.30 and you’re hitting the double digits of connections.

Next up is the workshops – you selected your workshop choice when you arrived this morning.  Is it data and storytelling, or leadership for the 21st century or something else? These workshops are designed to help you think practically about your business and think about how you can Look Up and out of your business. They’re interactive, so you speak to a few more people about your opportunities and challenges. You hit it off with one or two and you agree to meet up again soon.

Now it’s time for a break – all this learning and talking is tiring work! In the foyer you take your pick of healthy and energising snacks while mingling and chatting with other attendees. There’s plenty to look at too, with interesting sponsors exhibiting their products and services.

Onwards to the Event Horizon hour – an hour of the day to help you get fresh perspective and new ideas. You picked the escape room – you and 10 others have just solved your way out of the room. Team work, with complete strangers!

Lunchtime –  you grab one of the nourishing lunch boxes to keep you going for the rest of the afternoon and sit at one of the long communal tables in the foyer. You’re soon joined by some new people you haven’t spoken to yet – they’re eager to find out what sessions you’ve been to, and what they’ve learnt this morning.

After lunch Misha Glenny, renowned British journalist and author of McMafia, gives his keynote address on ‘How the hell did we get here? And how do we get out!?’ You and the others on your table have plenty to talk about.

Now you’re off to one of the speaker sessions. You’ve been interested to find out more about the circular economy, so Stephen Boobyer’s story of World of Books has piqued your interest. You meet with other business leaders in the session who are equally as curious about how they can contribute to the sustainability agenda. You chat about your products and about where you fit into reuse, recycle and grow – you get some new ideas from your new contacts.

We know by 3pm you’ll need another break. You grab yourself a cuppa and a moreish cake and go to the quiet room to check your e-mails. The business doesn’t stop just because you’re out of the office!

You listen with interest to the final keynote speaker of the day, Katherine Kourtney, former head of the UK Space Agency who will talk about being bitten by the space bug. You leave feeling ready to drive your business forward, armed with ideas and inspiration. The room is buzzy with the close of the event and you are still meeting new people as you leave the auditorium.

Finally, the day draws to a close but not before some entertainment and locally sourced beer and wine to carry you through to the weekend. You catch up with some people you hit it off with earlier in the day. You think there could be a potential collaboration in the pipeline. You’ll follow up on Monday.

You’ve spent the entire day learning and developing your business whilst making valuable connections with business leaders in the city.  Not all the people you meet will be meaningful connections, but you’ve probably left with more than your fair share of business cards, some promising conversations and follow up meetings already lined up. That’s the beauty of networking at Brighton Summit – it’s networking, but not as you know it.

Is it you in the picture? Book your ticket to Brighton Summit on 12 October.


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