Socially Shared Business Support Network launched
in March 2015 by Karen Heap and Rebecca Jones.
Karen had the idea a couple of years earlier having struggled to find a networking group that had everything she needed. As a self employed business advisor coming from a corporate background as part of a team, Karen felt a little isolated and was looking for support. In addition, knowledge and learning were also very important and she had not been able to find a network that offered this consistently. After trying many different networking meetings and groups there seemed to be only one solution, to create a network with all of the things she was looking for, after all if Karen had struggled to find the right solution then maybe others had too?
This new network was to be welcoming and friendly, relaxed but professional, structured but not regimented. It was to be a place to connect and meet others but have a focussed learning opportunity too. The learning opportunities were to be decided by the people attending, as they were the ones that knew best what knowledge and skills they needed.
The network was to be inclusive to all women, affordable and have an open seat policy where there were opportunities from people running the same or similar businesses to others. The network would also be affordable and accessible to people whether they were thinking of starting a business, just starting out or established. In addition people who were in education or employment would also be welcome to attend, as Karen felt strongly that there was much to learn from one another. There would be a membership club that was optional rather than compulsory and people would be able to come along as life and business allowed and not be under pressure to attend religiously.
Having created a framework of how the network was going to be run it was also very important to Karen that the core values at the heart of the network were reflective of her own. Everything about the network would be done with honesty and integrity. People would be treated equally and with respect, just as she would want to be treated herself.
With the planning and outline decided, the next step was to create an identity for this new network, the network that Karen had named Socially Shared Business Support Network. The name reflects that it was to be a sociable place for sharing knowledge, finding support and companionship. Rebecca Jones was introduced to Karen’s concept and a new partnership began.
Through conversations and working together, Rebecca could clearly see that there was a gap in the market and this type of network would be one that she herself would want to attend. From here onwards a formal working partnership was formed and Socially Shared was launched in March 2015.
In 2018, after three fabulous years working in partnership Karen and Rebecca decided to part company. Rebecca had been a victim of the success she had had from networking and was busier than ever with her graphic design work, which was always her prime focus and true passion. Karen had plans for expanding the network so that more people could benefit from the successful business community that had been established. There was a natural difference in ambition and outlook for the future focus of their work and so Karen became sole owner of the network. There was too much work for one person though, so Karen created an associate team – people around her she trusted and with the experience, skills and knowledge to continue to ensure the success of the network. Rebecca was and would always be an important part of Socially Shared and is still part of the associate team.
Today the Socially Shared Business Support Network is seen as a leading player in the business network arena in Warwickshire and the West Midlands and has ambitions to grow further. The headline event of the year, the ‘Women in Business Conference’ is recognised and respected as a key event in the region and attracts women from across the Midlands.
The future for Socially Shared is bright and there are many events and ventures planned in the upcoming months and years ahead, with collaboration at the heart of those plans. The story of this successful women in business network continues and who knows what the next chapter will hold?
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