In 1999 I decided to radically change my career. I had been self-employed since 1993 as a freelance IT trainer, but after 15 years I was looking for something a bit different. Throwing caution to the wind I decided to re-train as an image consultant and start a new business that frankly… was a lot more “me!” After my image training I had a bit of a shock though! Where was I going to get all my clients? How would I generate a steady flow of leads and interest? My IT training business had thrived on a few loyal clients, now I would need at least 4 new image clients EVERY week! Aghhh! How was I going to achieve that? And then I met Mary Flavelle and discovered networking.
Within a few months, not only had I grown my business but I also had a fantastic new circle of friends who completely understood what it was like to try to grow a business from scratch. 15 years on many of these women are still my best friends and motivate and support me every day.
I loved networking and attended everything I could; Thames Valley chamber events, NRG, Refer-on, Athena, She Plc, Institute of directors, The Women's Networking Company. I took every opportunity I could to make more connections.
However, as your diary fills up there is less time for networking. No networking eventually means no more business. I knew I needed to keep networking but I just needed something that didn't take such a chunk out of my day, and didn't need to be booked months in advance. I also found networking could be expensive too and I just couldn't afford to pay all the membership fees when I couldn't find the time to attend the meetings. I was sure I couldn’t be the only one who felt like this.
I drafted an email to about 30 women I’d previously met at networking events to see if they just wanted to have an informal coffee without the cost, agenda or speaker. I also organised it at a “mum” friendly time that didn’t take a huge chunk out of your working day. Without giving it any thought I titled the email "Lets be Ladies Who Latte" and with that simple email I had the accidental conception of Berkshires biggest networking success in 2007. Like most successful ideas a very simple one. Ladies loved the concept and one by one new groups were formed. After one year there were over 700 ladies on the mailing list who meet on a regular basis. LWL has never been advertised; our business had grown by word of mouth and is stretching far and wide. At present we operate in 30 areas along the M4 corridor and it expanding all the time - even internationally.
No one competes with what we have to offer - we are child friendly - during the school holidays Latte groups still run and the children are welcome - we are local - we meet at a mum friendly hour, usually 10am in the morning and above all else - the meetings are FREE.
Their business is supporting women who would like to start their own business or grow an existing one. They offer friendship, advice, contacts and business leads. People do business with people they know and women are such great communicators. Group dynamics vary – some have 'round the table' chats where you introduce yourself to everyone, some are less formal. Venues range from coffee bars to hotels and restaurants
One year after its conception I asked "Networking Queen" Mary Flavelle to hop on board and assist with the running and promoting of the organization which continues to thrive, and grow. I then relocated to Singapore and have introduced LWL to Singapore too. We have amazing success stories of women making connections and being given opportunities that they never could have dreamed of finding on their own. We are women with imagination, drive, enthusiasm and hope and we are enjoying sharing out success because
It's no good being fabulous on your own.