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Coworking and networking – how luau can you go?

Coworking and networking go hand-in-hand. In a sociable, shared office, going to the kitchen for a cup of tea can result in a new business opportunity. So it’s little wonder members were quick to sign up for a night of formal speed networking – with a Hawaiian twist, naturally.

Hosted by graphic designers Michelle and Aaron of Studio Noel, and freelance writer Rosy, Le Bureau’s inaugural Speed Networking Luau took place on Thursday 20th October. The members’ lounge was transformed into a tropical paradise, complete with sea views, Hawaiian garlands and a suitably sunny playlist.

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Members were instantly drawn to the tiki bar to sample one of three different cocktails: Professional Punch, Networking Nectar and non-alcoholic Pink Fizz. With hints of rum, ginger, lime and, well, more rum, the Professional Punch proved popular even amongst the most cocktail-averse of drinkers.

Michelle and Rosy welcomed members before kicking off the formal part of the evening: a half hour of speed networking. Members had two minutes to chat to their neighbour before the buzzer sounded and it was time to move on.

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“We wanted to have a structure to the evening, or at least part of it,” explains co-host Rosy. “It can be daunting walking up to people and saying ‘hello’. Speed networking gives you a reason to do that, and everyone is in the same boat.”

The room buzzed as members chatted and swapped details about their companies. By the end of the first few rounds, many had honed their patter into a sleek, one-minute pitch!

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With approximately 200 members, Le Bureau is an intimate coworking space and it was instantly gratifying to finally meet the people you see around on a day-to-day basis. It was also the first chance for many of our new members to socialise outside of their teams.

The speed networking format is especially beneficial for members who are in and out of the office. Flexibility is one of the most highly rated aspects of coworking, especially with the 24/7 access that Le Bureau offers. Yet for anyone who hot desks, freelances or uses the office as a base, networking opportunities are limited. The Luau was a chance for members to promote their businesses and discover how they might be able to work together.

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With the speed networking over, it was time to choose a winner for the ‘mystery prize’. Members had been invited to  drop off their business cards over the preceding week for a chance to win a highly coveted £75 Costa gift card. Plucked at random, Gary Loftus from Better Than Paper was announced the winner, with a bottle of Prosecco going to runner up Nathaniel McCullagh, founder of Simply Learning Tuition.

The music was turned up, the cocktails flowed and members continued to chat amongst themselves.

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For Michelle, Aaron and Rosy, the event was a real success. “So many people got to know each other who you don’t usually see chatting,” said Aaron. “The alcohol helped!” For Michelle, it was the enthusiasm from members that made it particularly worthwhile. “Everyone turned up right at the start and really got into it. They were really interested in what other people did and it was great to get feedback that a lot of members had been wanting a networking event.”

Michelle, Aaron and Rosy would like to thank everyone who came for making it a fun and fruitful night. And if you didn’t make it this time, there’s the Christmas party to come…

 

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