How to make the most of our meetings:

  1. Give a presentation about your business
  2. Learn from our main speakers
  3. Network and relax for a couple of hours

It was a good turnout last Wednesday with over 25 in the audience. These were mostly existing members but there were some new faces too.

We had six speakers in all.

Three members gave a short presentation about their businesses – Julia Forrester of Taxassist; Helen Rhodes of Poppy Red and Ian White of Bluehoop. This month these were deliberately all committee members – we are re-booting this part of the meeting, encouraging members to make a presentation. I knew them all and have done for years but I learnt something new about each of them from what they said.

It is open to any member to make this sort of brief “elevator pitch” about their firm. Any member who wants to do this should contact me or Rachel Hatfield, our Communications Officer.

The next speaker was Louise Hale, a new member giving a pitch about Outside the Box Works. You all know that Outside the Box is a café (opposite the Box Tree) where many of the “members” who work there are adults with learning difficulties. The aim is to give the members the employment skills they will need to enable them to go out into the wider workplace. Louise, one of the trustees, told us that many of the staff are now ready for paid work and their disabilities hide their true potential to make a valid contribution in the real world. It was an interesting, factual and objective presentation which avoided any suggestion that employers should do this out of sympathy. Outside the Box has prepared these mostly young adults well and they are ready to do a good job for fair pay.

I am sure you will agree that it is useful for us to allow any community group the chance to tell us what they are doing.

The main speakers were a pair – Stu Hyde and Chris Morris – “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” They shared the stage to tell us about how to make good use of social media platforms (Chris of Shoo Social Media) and the dangers of being hacked and how to avoid them (Stu of Stuart Hyde Associates). Absolutely terrifying to me, both of them. I don’t like social media and I worry constantly about being hacked. Chris terrified me by making me realise that, despite my dislike of it, my business would probably be helped by joining the social media herd. Stu showed me that my blasted smart phone is much smarter than it pretends to be and twice as vulnerable.

Before the speakers started The Wheatley Arms provided cakes, tea and coffee and, of course, the bar was open too. Members and visitors mingled, networked, chatted and wound down after their day at work. This opportunity for small firms to get out of the workplace and meet with different people facing the same risks and opportunities each day is invaluable.
So there are many ways to get things out of our meetings. It is not just about selling yourself but really about seeing what you can learn from others.

Steve Butler
Chairman, Ilkley Business Forum
13 June 2016