A networking sessions blog by Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO, Michael Golding.
I recently attended one of Visit Inverness Loch Ness’s quarterly networking sessions, held in the historic surroundings of Culloden Battlefield. Businesses from around the Inverness and Loch Ness area joined us to chat about what we were doing, and how we can continue to drive growth for them. It was a fantastic day, and I left with a head full of ideas and a wallet full of business cards.
It got me thinking about what people’s expectations of such a networking session are. They are more than just stuffy meetings of people in suits. They can really invigorate and inspire us all to take on new tasks and aim for greatness. I’d like to share 5 reasons why these networking sessions can go beyond expectations, and at the bottom of this blog you can watch the highlights of the day.
1. Effective networking can grow your business
We have a thriving community of strong leaders, in a diverse range of businesses, across the thirty three-sector strong membership of Visit Inverness Loch Ness. Our networking events aim to provide a platform for you to grow your business by sharing best practice, working together to produce new products and recommendations to all of our visitors both tourist and local. Following your feedback, the new format provides double the networking time. One such example was demonstrated as two local businesses came together –
“New business was gained as a result of the event from a tour operator.”
–Iris Thompson – Burton, The Highlanders’ Museum
High Life Highland – Spirit of the Highlands – presented by Alison Bell, Marketing Officer, High Life Highland
Culloden Battlefield Presentation – presented by Raoul Curtis-Machin, Operations Manager, Culloden Battlefield
2. Your voice is important and people want to listen
You told us that you wanted more opportunity to tell our members about what you do. We created the new “Five for Five” section at our networking events to give you a voice; five businesses have the opportunity to give a five slide presentation. Five for Five can be used most effectively by giving a short elevator pitch on what you do, why you love it and how members in the room can work with you for mutual benefit.
The Highlanders’ Museum – More than Just a Museum – presented by Iris Thompson–Burton, Business Manager, The Highlanders’ Museum
WOW – 5 for 5 – presented by Gordon Pearson, Owner, WOW Scotland
Visit Scotland – presented by Anne Roels, VisitScotland Regional Manager North | Marketing, Cassie McEwan, Industry Relationship Manager and Caroline Robertson, Industry Relationship Manager
Ticket To Ride – presented by Lindsay MacKinnon, Owner, Ticket To Ride
3. The opportunities are waiting…
While it is important to make sure you are aware what we do, more importantly, we aim to be clear why we are doing it, what the opportunity is and how you can maximise the benefit to your business. One such example is the Loch Ness 360ﹾ Challenge:
a) What we are doing – The Loch Ness 360ﹾ Challenge is an 80-mile fitness event taking place on the 29th to the 31st of May 2020. The event includes:
- Three marathons which participants can choose to event one, two or all three – Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- Mountain bike challenge – Sunday morning
- Ultra Marathon – starts Saturday night
b) Why – we aim to deliver a commercially viable event that delivers economic impact throughout the area
c) What – participants will be coming to the area from across the UK and internationally, the expectation is they will bring friends and families who you can market to.
d) How – We suggest creating blogs, guides and creating community events for participants, their friends & families and locals alike. There is also an event village in Dores to present your business to the public.
4. New ideas by us, for you
A new event was announced: the Visit Inverness Loch Ness Photomarathon! The 21st century one day event, a first for the Highlands, takes part on the 29th of February and will be hosted at the Archive Centre in Inverness.
Five themes are provided to entrants who then set out to take one image per theme, then returning to the Archive Centre to submit images. The hope is to provide a family friendly inclusive activity that will be both enjoyable to take part in and provide content for you to use to market your business.
Best of all…our aim is for you to choose the winning images at our next networking event! Please get in touch if you are interested in supporting or sponsoring this event.
5. Your chance to influence the steering wheel
Visit Inverness Loch Ness is created by you, for you. Networking events are a great opportunity to tell us what you think. We have already listened and evolved our networking events as a result. Safe to say… you were right!
The Culloden Battlefield networking session was a great success thanks to your feedback. Your input, experience and enthusiasm is key for us to work together in achieving all that is possible for your business and our destination. We are listening – what would you like to tell us?