One of the many reasons that women in business like WiRE as a network group is that it is such great value. For only £50 per year subscription you get an online profile that will probably rank higher than even your own website or LinkedIn page. This is because the main focus of the WiRE head office team is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and, as a national network that is often asked to contribute to government debates on issues affecting women in rural enterprise, the WiRE website ranks very highly. You can also connect from the website with WiRE ambassadors and business leaders who provide mentoring and specialist training.
Did you know that you can network anywhere in the UK with WiRE? No geographical boundaries, no "locking out" of competitors (which has to be one of the things I dislike most about a lot of networking groups - sorry, personal rant). This means that you can join in with any group in any region and be assured of a warm welcome. Most regions have their own Facebook or other groups that you can join in the conversation with and share ideas. Being a member of WiRE is a great door-opener too and gives you the opportunity to connect with a national network using the WiRE newsletter, online noticeboard or looking someone up via their marketplace profile.
In 2018 WiRE have been asked to speak at The Farm Business Innovation Show at the NEC in November. They can also help with information about funding, tax issues and regularly feature in national press. Each year, at the HQ based at Harper Adams University in beautiful Shropshire, the WiRE team present a full day conference. As usual members receive a discounted rate and you do need to book early to make sure you get to join the other 300 or so women who will come along to make contacts, exhibit or speak - it is a very inspiring day. This year we are taking a party to the event - register your interest now.
On the main WiRE website you might also want to know how to share pictures and stories - a member asked the question and the amazing Fiona Davies came up with the answer so here it is:
Members can upload photos in three places when they login to http://www.wireuk.org/account
1) On their profile page – this is the page that appears on the rural marketplace, that everybody can see. You can add 2 photos (most people usually use a logo and profile pic)
2) On submitted news – this gets posted on the news page, in our newsletter and on social media (this is probably the best place for Charron to post stuff from the last meeting)
3) On knowledgebase articles (these are sort of informative blogs rather than “I have a new book published”)
On all the places to upload a picture there is a browse box which gives access to their local computer (so the image will have to be previously saved) and they just click the one that they want. Max size for all images is less than 1 meg (999kb)
Monthly newsWiRE and meetings
Apart from the monthly meetings that take place in our own region of Leicestershire and Rutland, we also produce our own newsletter and invite members to take a FREE advert in our Classified section. This can be up to 20 words plus your contact details. No pictures please but you can send links to your website or specific pages online. Whether you have something for sale, want to advertise for staff or look for a particular supplier locally, this is a great place to do it as the newsletter goes out every month to over 400 women in our region. It is also another place to advertise any events you might be taking part in.
We also have 2 Facebook groups for Leicestershire and Rutland area, one is closed and contains information exclusively for members. In 2018 our own press officer Megan Allen from Rural Roots PR & Journalism is going to share a list of local editors and other members regularly contribute information by sharing blogs and invites to events. We really encourage you to do this too. There is also a community group that is open to all. WiRE has a regular twitter hour (check @wireuk for details) and also have a strong presence on Facebook. Remember to connect on LinkedIn or get in touch after meetings to arrange one-to-one meetings with other members. The time we get to chat at a meeting is never enough to really find out all about someone and what they do.
Making friends you can do business with
Once you start to get to know other ladies in the group, you will find we are very good at collaborating. Joining forces with other women in business who operate in the same field as you or have compatible products or services is a great way to share the cost of an event or pool resources in a joint enterprise. Successful examples of this in our area are a group that was created in Rutland for businesses in the wedding industry, a pop up shopping event featuring 4 WiRE members who are in the fashion business and a photo shoot for home interiors that brought together a photographer, 2 designers, a printer (yours truly) and a home stylist. One of our members who is an artist is going to create an installation at a national conference next year being hosted by another member that she met at our group. We have also got a member who is looking to start a new group in North Leicestershire, inspired by our own meetings and as she is a boutique caterer, she is also going to collaborate with the vineyard where we have our May meeting planned.
Monthly meetings are a mixture of education and entertainment in our area and, in 2018, we have even more of our own members contributing to the content including personal branding, internet selling, marketing to grow your business and local PR to name just a few. We include a leisurely net-walking event for our August meeting and look forward to some creative workshops later in the year. We have an ambitious plan for the end of the year to hold our very own craft/shopping fair - there are only so many hours in the day of a volunteer group so please don't hold us to that one!!
For any information about becoming a member of WiRE, contributing to a news feature or meeting please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Merry Christmas 2017