Graham Miller of Media-Vu chats to Tim Lee, founder of Milton Keynes’ fastest growing networking group, Collaborate MK about Tim’s innovative approach – a business networking option to fit any schedule – offering a veritable pick ‘n’ mix of networking options.
GM: Tim – you’re the founder and driving force behind Collaborate MK, a networking group that has witnessed astonishing success over the past couple of years. Tell us about the new networking options you’ve introduced to the group. It seems that food and exercise play quite a role.
TL: Thank you Graham. Well – you could say that! What we’ve done is to arrange our networking events around the times that suit businesses best. Now, of course, every business is different… as is every business person. We all have different daily schedules. So we’ve addressed this by arranging networking sessions that accommodate three parts of the working day.
GM: So how exactly does this work, Tim?
TL: First of all, there’s breakfast and brunch – centred around the wonderful Caldecotte Pub and Grill, where we kick off the day with a networking breakfast. Once that’s over, some members head off to start their working day, while others gather in the car park and are joined by newcomers – the brunch brigade. And here’s where the unusual part happens… we head off for a walk – an activity we have named ‘netwalking’. We do a circuit round the lake – it takes an hour or so, about three and a half miles, which is just perfect.
GM: Now that sounds genuinely innovative.
TL: It’s a great way to combine business and social chat with some fresh air and exercise – a chance to get to know each other from a different perspective. Then, once we’re back from the walk, all the brunchers gather together, and we start our brunchtime networking meeting. If it rains? Well, no one minds a few drops, but in the event of a real downpour, we simply gather together indoors.
GM: So we’ve covered breakfast and brunch. Tell me about lunch. How do you cater for business people who like to break up their day with a spot of lunchtime networking?
TL: That’s easy – we meet up on the second Wednesday of each month at a great Milton Keynes location – The Brewhouse & Kitchen, who put on a fabulous buffet lunch. The format is the same as for the breakfasts. After the networking meeting, those who wish to set off on a post-lunch stroll. We’re so lucky to have Campbell Park close at hand.
GM: Are these breakfast, brunch and lunch meetings an ‘add-on’ to the standard membership offering?
TL: That’s right – although you never know. In time, they might become part of the standard membership packages.
GM: Thank you, Tim – it sounds like you’ve hit upon a terrific set of networking options for your members.
TL: Well, if the early results are anything to go by, I think you’re right. Business people now have the flexibility to enjoy all the benefits of networking – lovely food, great connections with some optional exercise throw in and at a time that suits them!