Winchester Bloggers Networking Social - report and highlights
The first ever Networking Social took place on the 25th October at The Westgate. Who attended and what was the outcome? James West reports.
As we sat in The Westgate waiting for guests to arrive for the inaugural Winchester Bloggers Networking Social, myself and Kelly looked at each other and at the same time spoke: "How did this happen?" Winchester Bloggers was 'born' on 27th July 2017 as nothing more than an Instagram account and an idea to build an online community based around blogging.
Three months later and here we are. Because of the phenomenal response of the community to Winchester Bloggers and the support we've received, the Instagram account quickly became a website. The online conversations quickly became fast-to-face meetings. And the relationships we have built quickly paid dividends, building business and forging friendships.
Our plan to use social media as it was intended - to be SOCIAL and bring people with similar interests together - had worked much faster than we could have imagined. At 7:00, we'd find out exactly how successful - or perhaps learn we'd been seriously deluded!
Thankfully, bloggers, businesses and friends (many of whom we had never met before starting this project) began to arrive, and at 7:10, we were already pretty crowded. We'd made the conscious decision to avoid the usual networking formalities in favour of handwritten name badges and trusting that those attending would talk to each other. Thankfully our faith was rewarded and as the numbers of people swelled (we don't have an exact head count, but we do know that more than 60 people were in attendance) the friendly, vibrant atmosphere was exactly what we'd hoped for. Suddenly the terms "Winchester Bloggers family" didn't feel like hyperbole, it felt tangible and exciting.
The only pause in the proceedings was the prize draw. This was an unplanned and incredible addition to the evening. Several businesses had offered a prize for us to give away on the night and as word got out that the draw was happening, the number of prizes grew, reaching an incredible number of 15. The fact that these prizes were offered without any money changing hands or overt commercialism on display was another validation that our decision to make Winchester Bloggers free had resonated and that others were happy to follow this example.
Thank you to everyone who donated prizes and well done to all the winners.
In summary, the Networking Social was a resounding success. Feedback was excellent and everyone we spoke to said it was an enjoyable and valuable night. The numbers surpassed our expectation and with a number of people unable to attend because of holidays and other commitments, we're confident the next event will be just as vibrant, if not more so. It takes place on Wednesday 22nd November from 7pm at The Westgate. All are welcome, please confirm your attendance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.