2020 sees the return of the online Virtual Networking events. They were such a success last year that it makes perfect sense to bring them back and connect our brilliant community.

But if you’ve not joined in on one of the events before, or you would like to know how it started, then this post is just for you.

Monthly Virtual Networking events have been trialled since May 2019. If you aren’t aware, Virtual Networking is an original idea that connects military business owners, online, for free, in structured and focused networking events. Basically, you get to meet a load of people just like you, without leaving the house – because quite frankly, for most of us, where we live isn’t really our choice, so why limit ourselves to those close by? We shouldn’t have to limit our network by location – so let’s break down those barriers.

The idea of Virtual Networking popped into my head on the M4. My lovely business bestie is constantly telling me that her best ideas come to her when she’s away from her computer, and she’s not wrong. Mine came to me in two parts, the first when changing lanes on the M4… I have moved house 4 times in 5 years, and on this occasion, I started to drive on autopilot to the last house that I lived in. It’s not the first time I have done this, and it won’t be the last, but this time it upset me.

I had a great networking group in my last posting, but as I was only there for a year I had to leave them when we moved. I missed them. Why couldn’t we just meet online, like a meeting, but to talk about business, just like we used to? The second ‘Eureka!’ moment came a few weeks later, also in the car, but while paying for The InDependent Spouse podcasting software.

All podcast episodes are recorded remotely through Zoom, and as I was paying for it I was trying to work out how I could use it for other things. Maybe an online meeting with my old networking group, or even better, with all my military spouse business owning pals?

After a quick google I found nothing similar in the UK, which sort of makes sense when you think about it. If you want to do business networking, you would go to a group, because that’s just how it’s done with your local community. It would be weird to do it online, unless, of course your community is posted all over the place and only really accessible online, and it would be silly to recreate something already there for military spouses, the community is just too small.

So, in May 2019, surrounded by moving boxes, and with my poor husband on admin support, we tested the concept with 12 business owners all over the UK (and one in Germany.) It was a massive success! Connections were made, online business ideas were brought to life and most importantly, business owners were no longer isolated in networking by location. These members were inspired, happy, and building connections, even mentioning how it was the first adult conversation they’d had all day. One attendee’s husband had recently received an admin order for Germany, and not knowing anyone there now had a new connection who she could get information from. It worked!

The proper launch of Virtual Networking happened in September 2019 after I moved, also surrounded by (slightly fewer) moving boxes, in my new office. Yet again another success with over 90 signing up to join in.

There are now Virtual Networking events scheduled for the whole of 2020, along with potential funding to support it for three more years.

This unique idea, dreamt up because I didn’t focus properly on the M4, is now helping military spouse business owners, all over the UK (and the world) connect and talk about business properly. I love these events. They are safe, encouraging meeting spaces, where connections are built and friends are made.

We are spouses and partners, building businesses that we deserve – businesses that are flexible around deployments and tours, are transient, and are professional. So I would love you to join us at the next Virtual Networking event in January.

The next meeting is on Wednesday the 8th of January, and every second Wednesday of the month after that, and I promise if you take part, you will find a safe, encouraging space, that is free to access and will help you build a business in 2020 that you can be proud of.