We are delighted to feature our Woman Who…Business Network Finalists today. Karen Heap is the founder of Socially Shared.
“Socially Shared is a business support network for women, created after networking for a number of years and identifying a gap where I believe the offer could be improved. I had also attended a wide variety of workshops and training courses but identified a need for regular continuous development for small business owners.
Socially Shared is not a networking group by definition, but a business support network where the main focus is learning and enhancing people’s business knowledge. Networking of course plays a part, but is secondary to the primary focus of learning. The network offers small business owners an affordable way to keep their knowledge up to date and meet other like minded women, in a sociable but professional environment. I take the lead at meetings, using the handout as a guide, but I encourage sharing information with each others too and so people are encouraged to share their own knowledge and experience. This is invaluable to the sessions, as it can help people to develop their confidence too.
The handout topics are chosen by the women who attend the network, to ensure that we are covering the subjects and answering the questions that matter to them and that are going to make a real difference to their businesses. I say we, as during the time I was exploring launching Socially Shared I met with a talented graphic designer to see if I could employ her skills to turn my notes into a comprehensive handout that could also act as a guide to leading the discussions. After several meetings it became obvious that Rebecca felt as passionate as I did about the plans for Socially Shared and so it seemed only natural to operate the network together in partnership.
Having started the first network in Kenilworth in March 2015, we now have four networks across the region: Kenilworth, Rugby, Leamington Spa and Meriden. All networks are hosted at independent business locations, so that they too can benefit from the additional advertising and monies generated from the refreshments purchased by those attending. We are an inclusive group, where all are welcome and with having over 180 small businesses attend our network in our first year, we are thrilled.
The end of January this year saw the launch of our member’s club, a voluntary membership option for those wanting to take their learning to the next level and also who want to further raise the profile of their business online. We have an informative website where people can visit to find out about local events, a private member’s lounge area, which has a library of additional resources.
The future of course is very hard to predict, but we are aiming to host a Women in Business Conference at some point in our second year, a local event to showcase the skills and talents of local women and add a forum to our website for the Socially Shared community to exchange knowledge and information outside of network meetings.
Personally I feel that I am personable and considerate to the needs of others, also instrumental in creating a comfortable and supportive environment for Socially Shared and in addition to helping others to keep enhancing their knowledge by sharing my own, my personal aim is to motivate and inspire them to be the best that they believe they can be too!“
Congratulations Karen on being a Woman Who…Business Network Finalist.
You can come along and support Karen and Socially Shared at our Awards Lunch on Friday 15th April at Coombe Abbey Hotel.