Karen Tems is the founder and director of The Business Network Central & East Lancashire, a membership organisation.
Operating on a monthly basis, the network brings business leaders and decisionmakers together in a structured, lunch-based format, in high-quality venues, to enable connections and mutual support, including new business referrals.
Having developed the networking group over the last 12 years, Karen is extremely proud of what the group has achieved. Here she shares her own inspirational Lancashire woman in business story.
What does your business do?
We help businesses to connect and provide each other with support and new business introductions. Our monthly lunchtime meetings are always hosted in high-quality venues with great food to encourage a convivial atmosphere.
Open networking is followed by the lunch itself, with structured networking delivered in a relaxed manner by individual table hosts.
Why did you start your own business?
Having experienced the power of high quality networking in my previous roles, I wanted to bring that experience to my home county of Lancashire. It’s really important to me that networking should not be stuffy – it should be a pleasure. By enjoying time together, the strongest connections are formed, which provides the best business results.
What has been your biggest business breakthrough?
I think the realisation that senior businesspeople appreciate a light-touch approach to networking. The path of least resistance to making it work for members is to create events people actually enjoy, while still remaining professional and being driven by a business purpose.
What has been your proudest achievement in your business?
Probably surviving Covid-19 and then coming out stronger. We had just celebrated our record event with over 120 people in March 2020 when Covid hit. But after pivoting online during the pandemic, our members were even more keen to get back face-to-face, and we have since exceeded that record after returning fully to live events.
What is the most effective support or guidance you have received?
We have seen a big surge in interest in our live events since we followed advice to take a more proactive and structured approach to social media, which has helped extend interaction between our members and raised awareness about what we do in the wider business community, which in turn has helped increase our membership.
What keeps you going when things are tough?
Some days red. Sometimes white, (only joking). Having a great team around me is absolutely essential to ensuring a smooth experience for members, even when sudden challenges may arise in the background, as can be the case for all types of live event management.
What are your best three tips for maintaining your wellbeing?
See the above and add rose. No really, I am joking! I would again say taking a team approach, but also being open and honest at all times, and to be aware that others may be going through difficult times, so always taking that into account.
What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur starting a business?
Just go for it. Nothing in this world can hold you back as long as you believe in yourself. And join The Business Network Central & East Lancashire!
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