Business networking Dorset: Zing Networking & Support
My understanding is that the Zing Networking & Support group sprang out of a series of workshops aimed at owners of new micro-businesses. Funded by the Government or the EU (possibly both), the workshops targeted people keen to start working for themselves in the Weymouth and Portland areas of Dorset.
When the programme ceased, some of this new community of business owners decided to carry on meeting and supporting one another. The Zing group has been operating this way since late 2015.
Business networking for the smallest businesses
The Zing group meets once a month at the St Aldhelm’s Centre, a smart, modern facility in Weymouth. The meetings are open to all. There’s a £5 entry fee, payable in advance or on the door. There is no membership charge to be a part of the group.
I’ve been to at least four Zing meetings and each time I’ve encountered both familiar and new faces. The group has a core of loyal members and a growing fringe of people who drop in when their diary permits and the subject is relevant.
What almost everyone has in common is that they work for very small businesses. Most are sole traders, some perhaps running multiple businesses or blending self-employment with a part-time job. Staying true to its roots, the group also encourages people to come along if they’re thinking of setting up a business.
Succeeding in being friendly and informative
Business networking can be intimidating to newcomers. Zing describes itself as ‘relaxed and friendly’, and in my opinion, it does a better job of this than some other groups aspiring to a similar tone.
The monthly meeting runs from 9.30am to 11am and starts with coffee, biscuits and informal chat, followed by the opportunity for everyone to briefly introduce themselves. After this, there is a short, themed presentation before returning to more coffee and conversation. Around 20 people turn up to each meeting, with a good mix of regular and occasional attenders.
Subjects that have been covered in Zing meetings include demystifying social media, insurance, HR for small businesses, productivity and blogging for business.
Businesses represented include those offering business services, such as bookkeeping, HR, and website design, along with several people working in the hospitality sector.
The meetings are hosted, with plenty of relaxed banter, by Zing organisers Kevin Swindell, Donna Emery and Cara Frances.
The Zing group doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Facebook Page and members can also join a private Facebook Group.
A particular strength of Zing is its focus on very new and pre-startup businesses. If you’re thinking of going into business for yourself, it can be hard to know where to get advice and support. This is where Zing could be a real asset to people in Weymouth and Portland.