Revised and updated 10 May 2017.
I’ve tried out a number of different business networking groups in Edinburgh. Each has its own character, mix of people and format. Some are more formal than others.
In no particular order, here’s my current top five:
When: Weekly, Every Tuesday, 8.30-10am
Where: Monboddo Bar, Hilton Doubletree, 34 Bread Street, Edinburgh
Suitable for: everyone
ConnectED is a relaxed, informal networking event. The format is networking from 8.30 to about 9am, then everyone stands in a circle and has 30 seconds to 1 minute (depending on numbers) to introduce themselves and their business. Then everyone is free to network.
Water and pastries are provided free of charge at ConnectED; teas and coffees can be purchased from the bar. There are quite a few regulars at ConnectED, so it must be doing something right – and always some new faces as well.
Attendance is on a drop-in basis – you can just show up as and when it suits. A list of all attendees is emailed out after the event.
ConnectED are also doing monthly talks now. Check their Eventbrite page for details.
2. No Ties Networking
When: Monthly. Lunches usually last Thursday of the month, noon-2pm.
Where: Bread Street Brasserie, Doubletree by Hilton, 34 Bread Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AF
Suitable for: businesswomen
Cost: you pay for lunch (usually £12)
More info: No Ties LinkedIn Group
I first attended this group in October 2013 and quickly found it to be a very close-knit and supportive group of ladies. Numbers vary; I’d say between 6-20 ladies go to the lunch each month. A two course meal (starter and main) is served, followed by tea or coffee.
The lunch meeting is more formalised than other events, with a chairperson. The meeting starts with a business card shuffle. Then each attendee introduces herself and has the chance to speak about her business and mention anything she might be currently seeking. Following lunch, there is a ten minute talk by one of the attendees, followed by questions. The meeting is rounded off by giving each participant the chance to say who they would like to talk further with, and say thanks to anyone in the group who has recently helped them. This fosters the development of good business relationships – I’ve done business with four people I’ve met through No Ties.
Incidentally, there is no embargo on men attending – we had a male speaker at one meeting – but there is a strong feeling of female solidarity here.
Usually people confirm attendance for lunch by booking on the No Ties Eventbrite page for the next event. Note that the number of attendees for each lunch is capped at 25.
3. BIMA #ThirstdayEdin
When: Monthly, first Thursday of every month, normally 6-9pm
Where: different venue every month
Suitable for: anyone working in digital
More info: BIMA Scotland LinkedIn Group
The Thirstdays are my favourite industry-specific event. I’ve met other web designers, graphic designers, SEO specialists, social media experts, app developers, copywriters, account managers, animators… the list goes on. The events are organised by BIMA, and Nadine does a great job of organising them. Each month’s event is sponsored by a different firm, and is usually held in an an office or a bar – sometimes there is even a bar in the office! My favourite venues have been Whitespace, Yard Digital and Skyscanner. The events are just pure networking, which I enjoy the most.
For the first year, drinks were provided free by sponsors until the bar ran dry. The format has now changed; BIMA members get drinks on the house while everyone else gets one free drink. Registration through Eventbrite is mandatory as each venue has a different capacity, some bigger than others. Since January 2014, BIMA members also now get priority booking for Thirstdays, which means I haven’t been to so many of them lately as they normally book out fast. It’s best to keep tabs on the LinkedIn Group and BIMA Scotland Twitter to find out when registration opens.
The Thirstdays have recently branched out into offering breakfast briefings, free to members, else chargeable.
When: Fortnightly in Edinburgh. 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month.
Where: Events throughout Scotland; the Edinburgh event is at the Grosvenor Maybury Casino, 1-5 Maybury Road, Edinburgh EH12 8NE. You need to join the casino to visit, which is free, but you must be over 18.
Suitable for: everyone
Cost: First event free, then membership fees apply
More info: ClubFive55 Eventbrite
I joined ClubFive55 as I got a really good deal on membership, plus the Edinburgh location is really convenient for me.
It’s run by Graham Wyllie, who used to run a similar event, Uneed1, at Fountain Park.
ClubFive55 events run throughout Scotland with events also in Glasgow, Paisley, Stirling and Dundee. Some of the venues, including the Edinburgh one, offer a hot buffet for £5. Free tea and coffee are also provided.
The format of the Edinburgh event is currently:
- Informal networking
- Welcome and 2 minute elevator pitches
It’s a category-based membership event, which means that only one of each type of business is allowed at each event. Members are free to attend any of the events, provided no-one else from their category is going.
Bringing guests is actively encouraged, and if a member invites 3 guests within a year who then join, he or she becomes a Gold lifetime member.
5. Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club
The Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club runs one free regular monthly event open to all. Though aimed at businesswomen, businessmen are welcome too.
First Friday coffee morning
When: First Friday of the month
Where: Eteaket, 41 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 1EP, 10am to noon
Suitable for: businesswomen
Cost: free (you pay for drinks/food)
This event is great opportunities to network with other women in business.
There are also occasional lunches.
See the EBC Events Calendar for upcoming events and to book.
If you do decide to join, EBC members also get the bonus of free special monthly training events for members only. Workshops have covered topics such as marketing and pricing.
So that’s my revised top five Edinburgh business networking groups at this moment.
Did you find this post helpful? Have you got another Edinburgh networking event to recommend? Why not share this post or leave me a comment.