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Business Network SW re-branding, re-modelling? What do you think?

May 24, 2013

At May’s Exeter Business Network event which celebrated 20 years of lunchtime networking in Exeter Mark Leveridge who has been a member for nearly 20 years did the introduction to the event.

Normally I have researched some interesting (OK – it’s a matter of opinion!) facts about the day, maybe a quote (Well – always a quote!) to help set the scene!

At this event Mark had worked on a piece that was not only funny, entertaining but thought provoking.  If you were going to go through a re-brand, a re-model, a restructure and a review of what your business does what would go through your mind…

Mark Leveridge's take on Business Network SW!

Mark Leveridge’s take on Business Network SW!

Mark’s words……..

1. Re-brand – The Westcountry Institute of Traders and Shopkeepers – TWITS

Discarded titles – The Westcountry Association of Traders and Shopkeepers

Association of Regional Shopkeepers and Entrepreneurs – does get to the bottom of it

2. Why are you here? Yes, why ARE you all here? Shouldn’t you be at work earning a living or something? Well, of course, we all know why we are here – it’s the only way to get a half decent meal on a workday lunchtime and drink a glass of alcohol during business hours without being frowned on.

3. The real reason is that we all understand the importance of networking, but please do remember that networking is a two way process. Yes, you all want to sell to other members, but don’t forget that you also want them to buy from you.

4. So, does it work? Well, I would say of course it does, because quite frankly I have a living to make, but it’s always nice to also get success stories, and I’d like to tell you now about one that happened in the Bristol network. At a recent luncheon John Grunge of the Money Laundering Co was sat on the same table as Albert Grimethorpe from the Federation of Small Policemen, and as a result of their conversation, John will be behind bars for the next 20 years, so quite an outcome there, I’m sure you will agree.

5. Now in order to boost the numbers in TWITS I would like to suggest that everyone participates in an active a membership drive to encourage new members from businesses not yet represented in TWITS and which would be of particular interest and use to current members. So, if anyone knows of any businesses involved in candlestick making, axle grease lubricant manufacturing or cheque book stub recycling, please let me know and I will be happy to contact them and invite them along.

6. Talking of new members, as you know we like to reward  anyone who introduces new blood to the membership list by presenting them with a bottle of bubbly for each new sign up. Now as Sean steps down it seems only appropriate that as someone who has introduced over 650 new members to the network over the last few years, that he should be rewarded in line with this stated policy. Now, I did try to get hold of 650 bottles of champagne, but my local Spa corner shop was right out of supplies. So then in desperation I took a look through my own drinks cabinet at home to see if there were any spirits there – but unfortunately Dudley had got rid of them all, so that was no good. So, instead, I would like to suggest that we award Sean 650 points towards his competition total so that he gets a chance to win the current prize on offer of a 2 week holiday in North Korea. So good luck with that Sean, you’re only a few points behind Glen King, so don’t give up.

7. I’d like now to take this opportunity to talk to you about luncheon venues. It is customary for the network to use a number of different venues. Sean in the past has done much research to unearth venues that are comfortable, serve quality food, great wines, and which come in at a resonable cost. Failing that we go to Sandy Park, The Lord Haldon and the Exeter Golf and Country Club.

8. However, for the new TWITS organisation I would like to up the ante a little and I can announce that I am already in discussion with two new venues for next year. The first is Greasy Joe’s Dirty Cutlery Shack, where salmonella is always on the menu, and which has the distinct advantage of having a hugely convenient location, sited as it is on the A30 in a layby just outside Exeter. And the other venue I’m hoping to get is the Bridge Cafe, which is where the losing team from the TV show The Apprentice goes each week, as that establishment never seems to have anyone else in it and there would therefore be plenty of room for us all.

9. Right, on to today’s lunch. For those who are new to the TWITS networking luncheon format, let me explain how it all works. Each person on your table has 3 minutes to tell everyone else what he or she does in their business. We limit it to just 3 minutes in the fond hope that someone might actually do it in under 20. Try to be enthusiastic and animated in your talk, although dancing on the table because you drank too much wine earlier in the drinks reception might not be the way to go. When not speaking, your task is to feign interest in what the current speaker is rambling on about while at the same time attempt to eat a 2 course meal. However, I would also like to add one extra little task for everyone to do after all the 3 minute speeches are over. I would like each of you to sum up in one sentence the main points of the business sitting on the table directly behind your table. So that should ensure that everyone does as much eavesdropping as possible during the meal.


A captivated audience!!

A captivated audience!!

10. Each table has a table host all of whom have gone through a rigorous training process – well, I say ALL tables have a table host, but this may not actually be entirely true as a couple of people who attended the TWITS table host training boot camp failed to complete the 35 mile early morning run in the requisite time – and so we had them shot. But for those tables which do have a table host – you’ll be able to spot who it is, because it says ‘table host’ on their badge, which could be a bit of a clue. But also, you just need to look for the person who looks sweaty, nervous and haggard and who is shuffling several sheets of paper – the people on table 10 however shouldn’t confuse the table host with member Roger Moore.


Hands up who agreed with Mark!??

Hands up who agreed with Mark!??

What was very interesting was that a number of people spoke to me after the event and asked if I was retiring, moving on, selling the business – that just shows the power of words!


Anyway – you’ll be pleased to know (possibly a matter of opinion!) that I plan to continue to make the Business Network SW events work for the members and visitors and to spread the word that “networking works”!


If you want to come and experience an event then please get in contact – if only for a  chat!

Dates for 2013 are here


Where do you get your invitation?

call 01981 540708

email – with “yes book me in” or “yes send me invite” or

complete enquiry form here

Why should you attend?

At each event you will have the opportunity to meet numerous other senior decision makers from locally based businesses in a relaxed and focused environment. It is a proven way and sustainable way of continuing to develop opportunities.

  • You will generate opportunities that will enhance your business
  • You will build mutually beneficial relationships with other decision makers
  • The networking is relaxed and comfortable
  • You will the opportunity to promote your business and expertise
  • You will build a team of advocates and ambassadors for your business
  • You will generate an ROI on your networking
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