We can’t quite believe we’ve just hit the 100 day mark, can you? It only feels like yesterday that we were all gathering together in Gusto Italian on Newcastle’s Quayside for a late afternoon full of networking and amazing food. We decided to close the physical doors of Mussel Club back on the 13th March, just before lockdown started to keep our members safe. However, that didn’t mean that we completely disappeared…
We gave ourselves and our members a couple of weeks to settle into the ‘new normal’ and then we kick started our physical events. We started with a webinar on furlough, because let’s be honest, no one had ever heard of that word until Covid-19 came knocking, and were joined by the lovely Jayne Hart, HR specialist, and 70 Mussel Club members all figuring out what furlough could mean for their business.
Following on from our first webinar, we started weekly networking sessions. We launched a Monday afternoon session, in association with Gillian Fortune, that left business at the door and its sole purpose was all about supporting each other through adjusting to the situation. It became a highlight to ours and many other people’s weeks and motivated them for the week ahead. Shortly followed was a Friday morning session that took the focus back to business and was all about keeping the business conversations going. Fast forward from March to July and we have a mixture of networking events to ‘Meet the Expert’ sessions and delivered 24 events. Not only that but it has allowed us to connect with businesses in the wider North East region, we’ve even had someone join us all way from Cambodia!
There’s no denying that zoom networking hasn’t offered up its entertaining challenges along the way. We’ve been hacked by some rude Americans (totally our fault for not password protecting the event), had the fog horn and ships beeping their horns in the background, faced internet connection issues, been joined by family members and plenty of pets and been interrupted by many delivery men to drop off the latest online treats… and that’s just to name a few.
But you know what, we wouldn’t change it! We’ve loved zoom networking so far. Who would’ve thought that online networking could make so many new relationships and strengthen existing ones? We’re pretty positive if we’d suggested online networking before Covid-19 we’d have been laughed out of the room.
The 6 months prior to lockdown had been extremely busy, full of wonderful events and re-engaging with many of our members, so lockdown has given us time to take a little back seat and get organising for the future. We’ve been exploring the different online features we’re going to slowly introduce to enhance your networking experience with us and looking at new formats we can introduce to events in addition to what we’re already doing – it’s going to be an exciting future for us.
While we’re patiently awaiting the nod to be able to get going with physical events again, (because everyone is missing The Mussel Club buffets) we’re carrying on with our online sessions and have a lot more planned for you get involved with to keep your diaries full!
We made a promise when we shut our physical doors to bring you the best month of events you’ve seen in the networking world when we’re allowed and it’s a promise we’re going to keep. We have a plan that we’re working on in the background with our venue partners and let us be the first to tell you… IT’S AMAZING!! But until then, we hope to see you at one of our online events soon.
Team Mussel Club.