NETWORKING can mean many things to many people - for Robyn Allen it's not only an opportunity to make contact with potential clients and build business relationships, but it's also a chance to pass on valuable experience to others.
Robyn has been a member of The Business Club Northants for the past three years, finding the evening meetings an excellent opportunity to promote her company, Robyn Allen Solutions, which she set up four years ago to provide personal protection insurance designed to cover businesspeople against illness, accident or death.
The personal nature of her core business meant Robyn found the relationships built up through networking were of real benefit.
"I made a decision when I joined The Business Club that I was going to attend every meeting I possibly could," said Robyn. "The kind of insurance I specialise in demands a level of trust that you can build up through being seen regularly at meetings, where people see you, get to know you a little, gain confidence in you and what you do, and where you can start the ball rolling with an informal chat.
"The Business Club benefits from being in the evening, when people are more relaxed and less likely to be rushing off to a meeting. I find that often clients come to me weeks or months later having listened to what I do and gone away and looked into it and realised they have a need for my service."
Robyn Allen Solutions provides a wide range of insurance products but focuses mainly on those that protect businesspeople and their families, as well as the business itself, should the unexpected happen.
Building that business up over four years, during which time she won Young Businessperson of the Year at the SME Northamptonshire Business Awards, has given Robyn an insight into what it takes to get a venture off the ground. To help others benefit from her experience, she has become an Executive Member of The Business Club.
"It means that I often take a more active role in meetings, and I can act as an advisor or mentor to other members. My aim was always to get the work-life balance right and to spend whatever time I could paying things forward and giving something back.
"Everyone who is in business has benefited in some way from the knowledge and experience of others - Mike Willis, the CEO of The Business Club is very good at doing that, passing on what he has learnt over the years, and I wanted to do the same.
"Sometimes it's some practical advice or a service, but often it's just meeting up for a coffee and a chat with someone who needs to talk through things and get their thoughts together by chatting to someone who's been in a similar position."