It all started when we first met ScreenPop member, Nikki Bowdidge. Nikki runs teenage cancer charity, the Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation, in memory of her son Tom. Tom died of a Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumour and extensive peritoneal disease in October 2013, at the age of 19. After his death, Nikki and her husband, Richard, founded the charity to help support teenage cancer patients and their families financially, practically and emotionally. The charity also funds research into the rare cancers that disproportionately affect teenagers, in the hope that one day scientists will find a cure for the disease. The charity’s hope is that, in the future, no one else will have to suffer as Tom did.

We were deeply moved and inspired by Nikki’s story, and we wanted to do something to help fundraise for the Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation. Around the same time, we were also in search of an online alternative to our very popular in-person Expo, which we hosted in Stanstead in 2022. We came up with the Popnetworkathon: a ten-hour networking event, taking place over Zoom on 24th April 2023.

The day will consist of several shorter sessions, from tasters of different forms of online networking to talks from some incredible business speakers. Ticketholders will be able to pop in and out as they please, attending as much or as little as they like. But, most importantly, 10% of sales will go towards Nikki’s wonderful charity.

The networking sessions will offer a variety of approaches, including:

  • Speed networking – A way to quickly get to know a variety of businesses and geet your name out there. These sessions involve introducing yourself and your business in just 30 seconds, so if you’re into fast-paced socialising, this could be the one for you! So far, it’s been extremely popular in our open meetings at ScreenPop.
  • Breakout rooms – Foster close connections and get to know new people in breakout rooms with pairs or smaller groups. This is an invaluable way to meet potential clients and collaborators.
  • Brainstorming session – Stuck for ideas about how to grow your business’s offering? Looking for a way to get the creative juices flowing? Harness the power of multiple brains to expand your business’s horizons and your personal skillset.

The workshops and talks at the Popnetworkathon will cover a variety of topics and areas, in sessions such as:

  • Business clinic – Speak to a business expert to diagnose the cause of any underlying problems affecting your business, and work together to find a viable course of action to combat them.
  • Mini networking workshop – Are you a good networker? Is networking helping you achieve your business goals? If not, why not? Learn techniques to improve your networking approach and achieve the outcomes you need.
  • Expert speakers – We’ll be hearing from business experts including business strategist, Emma Hine; Holly Matthews (who you may recognise from Waterloo Road, Casualty or Byker Grove); and Jo Middleton, a franchising expert.

The Popnetworkathon offers something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned networker, or a networking virgin. We specialise in creating an informal, welcoming environment, where businesses of all sizes can flourish. There are already over fifty businesses attending, with space for plenty more.

The Popnetworkathon runs from 9am-7pm on Monday 24th April 2023. Tickets are currently £30 each, with 10% going to the Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation.

Click here to buy your ticket now!

ScreenPop operates a bit differently to your average networking group, for various reasons. We like to think our meetings are more friendly and informal than other networking options and, of course, we innovated in taking networking online across the UK. But, to me, the most unique aspect of our model is our ‘lockout’ system.

When we first started networking at other groups, we saw that a lot of businesses find it hard to convert connections to sales. If you’re one of many utility warehouse partners in a meeting, it’s difficult to regularly meet new potential customers. While networking isn’t all about sales, we thought there was space for a new model that worked better for all business types.

In each ScreenPop group, we have a lockout based on business category, so you’ll always be the only business offering what you do in your group. In a regular meeting, there will only be one web designer, one copywriter, one UW partner, one mortgage advisor… The list goes on!

Here are 5 of the biggest benefits to ScreenPop’s lockout model of networking:

  • Educate people about your business type.

One of the most exciting features of our lockout model for many of our members has been the opportunity to introduce a whole new group of people to your service or products. This is especially clear when our members present to their groups about what they offer. I’ve seen presentations on all sorts of subjects, from retirement planning to tips on using Canva, to the benefits of using environmentally friendly skincare!

Because you’re the only person in your group that does what you do, you won’t be preaching to the converted. If you love what you do, your enthusiasm tends to be infectious, and many of our members get a kick out of teaching other people how they can help them!

  • Make deeper connections.

In ScreenPop, you’re not just one of a carousel of people who do what you do. Instead, you can get to know other members over time, without pressure to compete with other people. You’ll build trust with the other people in your networking group, becoming their go-to person in your area. Ultimately, these long-term connections are vital for any business to flourish, and you’ll feel more supported too.

  • Meetings are more interesting!

Have you ever been to a networking meeting where you’ve heard from three bookkeepers in a row? By the time you hear about the third one, you’ll probably have switched off. In ScreenPop, we don’t have the same problem!

  • MLM partners and franchise owners don’t have direct competition for sales.

If you’re a member of an MLM team, you might have experienced problems with oversaturation. In ScreenPop, you can introduce your group to your products without competing directly with other people within the same business.

  • Double memberships mean that people with portfolio careers don’t miss out!

If your business or businesses span multiple categories, you don’t need to worry! We offer double memberships because we know that in today’s world, many of us have multiple income streams. In fact, we both run more than one business ourselves!

If you’re looking to connect with other people in your category, have no fear. We also offer multiple ‘no lockout’ meetings each month, where everyone is welcome. We’ve found that these meetings are a great opportunity to collaborate with other people in your industry.

Whatever your business type, our lockout model offers something unique. If you’re interested in joining one of our groups, get in touch!

Public speaking is my worst nightmare, despite (or, perhaps, because of) years of childhood elocution lessons. So, when I started running my own business almost twenty years ago, in-person networking – the only kind of networking, at the time – was my worst nightmare. I had no desire to stand up and sell myself in front of a roomful of strangers!

Cut to the summer of 2020. We were a couple of months into lockdown and many of the small businesses that made up my customer base were pivoting to make sales online. The local shops, many of which had never previously had websites, were now building e-commerce businesses, and many professionals offering services like coaching, counselling, and consulting were taking their businesses to Zoom. With the prospect of a new online market opening up, many of us were asking ourselves how best to connect with people in different parts of the country.

My twin sister had been running successful in-person networking groups across Essex, London and Herts, and she was facing a different dilemma. How could she continue to network and help businesses expand their reach when it was illegal to meet up in-person? We put our heads together and decided to launch a new business, ScreenPop, with online networking groups across the UK.

Our groups were still divided by area, so people could meet people close to them, but we offered monthly visits to other groups, so people could connect with businesses around the country. We quickly found that the businesses in our groups were gaining clients across the UK, finding ways to offer their products or services in new areas. We now offer three open meetings each month, where members based all over the place can make connections in breakout rooms and find out more about each other. Depending on your business category, you could attend 7 or 8 meetings a month.

Beyond offering the chance to expand your business’s reach, online networking is a totally different experience to in-person networking. While many people have had negative experiences with in-person networking groups, or are just too nervous to try them, networking online is low-pressure and easy. Our groups are friendly and informal and, for the public speaking-averse (me!), they’re far less nerve-wracking. There’s also a time benefit to networking online – no need to get in the car or walk across town: you can just open your laptop and hop on Zoom!

Although the pandemic is now a distant memory, online networking is here to stay. Businesses that expanded online during lockdowns are still benefitting from diversifying their income streams, and this stress-free way to network from your own home is a no-brainer.

If you’d like to explore what ScreenPop can do for you, contact us now to arrange your free visit!