Some of you are aware by now that I have become a bit of
a fan of an Afternoon in the Pub
(AitP). According to the website:

“an
Afternoon in the Pub was conceived as a ‘business social’ event to bring
together local businesses to chat and have a drink in an informal, friendly
setting with no rules … it is most
certainly NOT a business meeting, nor is it a networking group. It’s a place
where you can feel relaxed in the company of like-minded local businesspeople
in an informal environment with no pressures at all. You won’t see a name badge
or hear an ‘elevator pitch’, nor will anyone thrust their business card into
your face for no apparent reason whatsoever”.

Thanks to Si, Matt, Tom and Chrissie for coming up with a simple but great idea. I have become so much a fan of
AitP that I have offered to help organise their first Berkhamsted event. So what drew me to AitP?

After being made redundant and spending
six months getting fitter, and enjoying time out of the corporate grind, I
realised it was time to get back to work. I decided to set up my own business
and I began exploring the marketing opportunities of twitter and that is where,
by accident, I first discovered the AitP group. At the time I was either working
from home (well my shed) or out pitching my services. This way of working can
feel quite isolated for some people, including myself. As a psychologist I do
believe we are social animals and the extroverts amongst us particularly seek
out and thrive on social interaction, see one of my old papers for evidence. Anyhow, I had tried other networking and
social events but always found them either a bit contrived, too formal, at
unsociable hours, plus mostly based in London. The idea of an informal and
local group therefore appealed, not to mention the opportunity to take a break
from “work” (whatever work is) in a pub on weekday afternoon.

I was a little apprehensive of the first meeting but
those attending all seemed quite approachable and willing to either chat about their
work, my work or life in general. At the first few meetings the most useful
element for me was talking to other start-up businesses about how they were managing
their own marketing, technology and finances. It was also good to share and test
new ideas with people outside of my usual work community. It is not only beneficial
to get an outside view and to practice explaining succinctly what you do in a friendly
arena, but it is more likely to lead to new ideas (as you are not thinking within
the confines of your own expertise). The informal atmosphere, as well as the
alcohol, certainly seems conducive to the generation of creative and
alternative ideas.

As I got to know the AitP regulars, I also found new
contacts in related areas of work and this has now started to generate leads. I
am convinced that getting to know potential associates through an informal
event is far more useful than sounding them out in a formal business environment.
Once the level of experience and skills are established, it is the
personalities and trust that make for a good solid team. Using local associates
also has the advantage of easier logistics for face to face meetings. I also
have the AitP to thank for helping me find a friendly and willing accountant. Whereas
others could not be bothered to answer my queries, this guy gave me free advice
and followed up when he got back to the office. I also like the fact that he
has also just started up his own business so is keen for work and able to offer
me the fresh advice.

I don’t want to underplay the local aspect of an
Afternoon in the Pub. I have spent the last 20 years living in Berkhamsted but
have spent most of that time working away from it, in London or overseas. As a consequence
I feel slightly detached from the community in my adopted hometown. AitP provides
an opportunity to build a more sustainable local network by understanding more
about what services are on offer within the community.

So come and join us at the Rising Sun on the 8 June 2012.
The worst that can happen is that you spend an afternoon having a cheeky drink
on a school/work day. But it is more likely that you will meet like-minded
people willing to share ideas and help solve work-related problems.