Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities
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Importance of Online Networking during Covid-19 Crisis

Causeway was delighted to have recently held our first successful online networking event Connecting with Causeway Virtually on Wednesday 6 May, which provided an opportunity for both members and non-members to connect virtually, catch up, and chat about the implications and challenges of the covid-19 crisis has brought to their personal and professional lives. In particular, this event found that most people were finding their working lives are busier than ever, with the majority having to revise business strategies and think more creatively in their engagement approaches. 

Having only joined Causeway in February as Events and Membership Engagement Manager, shifting events from the offline to online was a new challenge for me, but – despite my initial anxiety about relying on new technology for a professional event - the networking went smoothly, was quite relaxed, and actually a rather enjoyable affair, and I was left quite impressed by the level of engagement that can be achieved with a high number of people through online networking. 

Hosted by Causeway Director Brigid Whoriskey, who is a consultant and coach with Envision Business Solutions, our first networking event attracted delegates from across Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as attendees from our corporate partners, the British & Irish Trading Alliance. There was active participation by attendees on a range of topics and some also shared their stories of why they joined Causeway and the value the network brings to them in their professional lives.  It was an energetic session which included, chat box and polls and ended with a drink and a toast!

Does the world of online make it more inclusive or exclusive?


With over 60% of our delegates agreeing that working from home has made their work significantly busier, an interesting debate arose in our networking discussion about the challenges some find from having to rely so heavily on technology, and also for some the added task of working around childcare responsibilities. 

There was also some discussion on equality, with delegates recognising the growing dependency on technology and  raising the issues of those from disadvantaged backgrounds having less access to online learning and events, which can be problematic amongst the young and the elderly. Helpfully, at our networking session we had a delegate from the Scottish Government who informed us of the Scottish Government’s new £5 million Connecting Scotland programme, just launched the same week, which aims to offer internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to vulnerable people who are not already online during the response to coronavirus.

Exploring the positives brought by our new ‘online world’, for some attending online meetings opens more doors and is more inclusive – i.e. no matter where you are regionally, you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time to travel to a meeting anymore, nor are there limits of the number of people who can be facilitated around a table or in room. Certainly for Causeway, we hope this new world of online will bring more opportunities for networking with our members from across Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland – either from cities, remote islands, towns or villages – to join, meet like-minded people, and ultimately make new connections that foster into new business relationships and potential opportunities. 

From last night’s event, we also heard feedback from a first-time Causeway networker, that they found joining an online networking event less intimidating than walking into a room full of strange faces trying to ‘make an in’ and network. As long as the host makes the effort to offer open questions and the opportunity for people to speak and contribute, it creates a welcoming, equal environment where everyone has the opportunity to contribute, feel valued and engaged.  

The Distinctive Causeway Factor  


What struck me most though about this Causeway online networking session, was hearing old and new Causeway members, from across the three nations, share what being part of Causeway means to them – it’s the celebration of the shared culture between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the common understanding  and appreciation of the network’s friendly manner and approach for interacting and building business relationships – it’s all about the people. The Causeway tribe are people who are enthusiastic and willing to help their fellow members – either by taking part and meeting each other at a networking event; chatting about a business issue over a coffee; or simply gathering together over a glass of wine or pint for a blether (nowadays safely via Zoom, I must add)!

One thing is for sure, Causeway remains dedicated to ensuring these opportunities remain open and inclusive for our members, and even when the lockdown is lifted, and we enter the ‘new normal’, we will continue to facilitate online engagement opportunities to offer more for networking opportunities for our members, and potentially reach new members in more remote locations. 

If you would like to know more about joining our network and connecting your business to grow opportunities Join us today.







 

Author: Aoife O'Sullivan

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About The Author

Aoife O'Sullivan

Aoife O'Sullivan is Causeway's Events and Membership Engagement Manager. She is responsible for managing and nurturing the membership engagement activity for Causeway, primarily through hosting events in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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