Dorset business networking: Dorvil

Dorvil describes itself as a business club that aims to bring businesses in the Dorchester, Yeovil, Bridport and Sherborne areas together.

I first heard about it a couple of years ago and as an advocate of business networking, I put it on my go-to list. I finally made it at the beginning of October 2016.

Dorvil is, I think, unique among Dorset networking events in that it’s the only meeting where you can book by fax! I didn’t know anyone still had fax machines.

The Dorvil group is also a  little tricky to find online, having no website or social media presence. However, I’m told that it will be launching a website before the end of 2016.

The Dorvil business breakfast

I prefer to get my networking done around breakfast, which in the autumn and winter usually means an early start in the dark. It felt very early on this occasion – Dorvil gets underway from about 7.15am at the George Albert Hotel, which is high in the Dorset hills, just off the A37.

Refreshingly, Dorvil makes no claims to be different from other networking groups. It offers straightforward informal networking over coffee and tea, and then a full English cooked breakfast. After an hour or so of chat, there’s a short presentation and it’s all over. Simple, practical and, in my opinion, effective.

This is not a membership-based group. Anyone can book and turn up, with payment not required until the day (and at only £5, it’s great value for money). I didn’t count, but there were at least 30 people at the meeting I attended, from a diverse mix of businesses.

It seems to be a popular event. Most of those I spoke to had been several times before.

Professional and inspirational networking breakfast

On the morning I attended, the Dorvil speaker was Barbara Cox, founder of Nutrichef. A successful entrepreneur, and now an angel investor, she gave some really useful insights into how to set up and run a business. She told the Nutrichef story, from original idea to selling it a couple of years ago, interspersed with lots of inspiring tips and messages.

The only other speakers were the organiser, Miranda Woodgate, and a couple of us who were invited to give one-minute introductions. Miranda advised me that these introduction opportunities aren’t usually available on a first visit. She’s keen to get first-timers committed to coming back.

I left Dorvil as the Radio 4 pips marked 9am, meaning I was back at my desk within 40 minutes, having already completed a busy morning of networking. My head was buzzing with thoughts and ideas, sparked both by Barbara’s talk and the people I’d met. For me, that buzz is an important measure of the success of a networking event.

The Dorvil meeting takes place on the first Friday of every month, at the George Albert Hotel, DT2 9PW. There’s no membership fee and as far as I’m aware, no restrictions on who can attend. The cost of my visit was just £5. For more information, contact Miranda Woodgate at

View my list of Dorset business networking groups and events.