I regularly recommend networking as a great marketing tool to my business advice clients – it can be amazingly effective if you go about it in the right way
These are some of the business networking groups in Brighton, Hove and Sussex, with some thoughts and advice about each to help you decide which is the right group for you.
As well as checking out this list, do keep in touch for regular updates on the best upcoming events, business issues and all sorts of juicy Brighton business gossip. And you get some business tips and advice thrown in as well. And of course, if you’re thinking about moving your business up a gear, you probably want some business advice, support and mentoring, which is what I do.
If you find this list of Brighton business networking events useful, could you do me a favour? If you could tell other people about it, by tweeting about it, putting a link on your website, or just telling your new networking friends about it, that would be great.
Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce
Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce offers great networking opportunities. You’ll meet people from a wide range of companies across Brighton, and the Chamber has more members than any other business organisation in the city.
I’ve got a vested interest here because I’m the President of the Chamber, but I’m President simply because I think this is one of the most lively and interesting networking organisations in the city, despite sounding as if it’s full of dull old codgers (it’s not.) Quite simply, it’s the one to be at. There’s a membership fee, but don’t let that put you off, as you only need to get a couple of new clients, or some good advice in order to make it worth your while.
Check out one of our meetings (you can come along as a non-member to try it out) and see what you think. There’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, supper, and after work learning…so there’s something for everyone. Keep up to date with Brighton Chamber events and gossip with twitter
Friends of the Albion
As you might guess, this is for people who like football. Alas, not me then. But if you’re into football, you can join this Brighton and Hove Albion networking group for business. I understand you don’t have to be a football diehard, or even support the Seagulls (see I know what they’re called) to join, just be up in time for a monthly networking breakfast.
As you might expect, there are more male than female members, but if you’re a woman who likes football, then that’s a good way to stand out.
Open Coffee Sussex
For people growing technology businesses in Sussex, an informal meet up at 8am over coffee in Brighton’s Redwood coffee shop in Trafalgar Street. That’s why it’s called Open Coffee. Every 2nd Thursday of the month. Run by the lovely Simon Kimber from Create and Jon Markwell , who’s lovely too. Free to attend, except that you need to buy a cup of coffee. Open Coffee on twitter.
City College Business Club
Monthly business breakfast club with quite a lot of attendees. Each month has a different speaker, with some good topics. The business club is well organised and Brighton’s City College does a great job of supporting it and welcoming people along. Follow the City College Business Club on Twitter.
Boundary Club – Sussex Cricket
Another business networking club organised around sport, this time, Sussex County Cricket Club brings together fans of cricket for some business networking. This one is more pricey, but your £995 + VAT membership does get you a couple of season tickets.
I’m told that you pretty much have to be into cricket to get the most out of this one, but for many people this is a great excuse to do some business while enjoying the games.
Brighton Business Club
This used to be called the Deans Business Club, but has recently changed its name and its format. More details as I get them, but check out their website to see for yourself.
Hove Business Association
HBA is run by some lovely people, and concentrates on what matters for businesses in Hove. They run breakfast meetings and social events, and the informal 6 o’clock drinks sessions are particularly popular. You can go along to two meetings before becoming a member, so you can check it out before committing, although the membership fee is very reasonable at £40 per year. One to support if you’re in Hove.
Monthly meetings for people in mid Sussex around Crawley who want to get out and network over breakfast. Get along and check it out. £50 annual fee to join if you’re going to a regular, or if you only want to dip in and out, you can just book in advance and pay a little extra for your breakfast.
Business Curry Club
Hundreds of people, buckets of curry and lots of full on networking. A good price at £15 to include your meal. Opinions are divided in the city about the Brighton Business Curry Club, so me people absolutely love it because you get to meet over a hundred people, and there’s a very sociable atmosphere (with curry and beer.) Other people really don’t like it because they find it a little full on and frenetic. So my advice is to go along and check it out, to see if it’s for you. You might hate it, or you might never want to miss a meeting.
WorthingDigital has a monthly talk on a digital related subject followed by an informal chat, with some good speakers in the digital arena. They have just opened a co-working space in Worthing, and seem to be going from strength to strength.
First Friday Lewes
First Friday networking in Lewes is an open group that meets on the first Friday of the month (funny coincidence there) at the Con Club in Lewes at 12.30pm. It’s free to come along, and there’s getting to be a good crowd of people. You don’t need to book in advance, just turn up on the day. First Friday Lewes is more geared towards smaller and single person businesses, so if you’re looking to network with slightly bigger businesses, you’d be better off with the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce. Or do both!
Third Friday – Brighton
Just to be different, and so that you don’t have to run around Sussex to go to all the First Friday events, this one is every third Friday of the month. Third Friday Brighton is run by Ashley Price of Banana Office Networking, who also runs First Friday Lewes (see above)
Sussex Speed Networking
Run by the folk at Sussex Business Bureau in Peacehaven (nice offices) who also do the Brighton Business Club. Part of the event is given over to facilitated speed networking, so you get to meet lots of people, but there’s also time to talk to people in a more regular fashion.
There’s a rolling lock out at this event, which means that you have to be the first accountant to book your place for any particular event, and then you know that there won’t be any other accountants there. If you’re an astrophysicist, you’ll probably be able to go to all of them.
Full details of Sussex Speed Networking
Women’s Business Clubs
The Womens Business Clubs, run by my lovely friend Kelly Stevens (the busiest, brightest woman in Sussex) run two types of networking. They do an online version where you can hook up with all sorts of women from across the UK, and they do local events. They have a Brighton lunch club for face to face networking over lunch.
Glug is described as notworking rather than networking, so it’s really popular. Glug is aimed at creatives, but you don’t have to be good at drawing and colouring in to go along. The events seem to be every few months, so it’s one to add to your usual list and go along to, especially if you’re a creative business.
A breakfast meeting on the third Friday of every month. There’s quite an overlap between the people you meet here and the Brighton and Hove Chamber folk, but that’s fine as they’re all lovely. There’s no membership fee, so you can just come and go as you please. Juice Breakfast
BNI works really well for some people and not so well for others. If you can easily describe the nature of your business to others, are happy to generate lots of referrals for other people in the group, and like getting up early, the BNI could be for you. If you want to sell to consumers, or to other small businesses, then BNI is a good bet.
However, if you need to network with larger companies, or sell something a little bit strange or technical, then BNI may not be such a good investment.
I’d advise going along to a meeting – BNI is a bit of a Marmite organisation, you either love it or you hate it!
Many people in Brighton have recommended the Pavilion BNI chapter as being particularly welcoming and and dynamic.
Brighton Breakfast Club
The Brighton Breakfast Club is similar to BNI. It’s a closed group (ie, they only allow one member per type of business) and the group is very focussed on generating referrals for each other.
As with BNI, check it out, and see what you think…
CADIA/Gatwick Diamond Business
CADIA has changed its name to Gatwick Diamond Business – maybe they got fed up with explaining whatever it was that CADIA stood for. It is for businesses based in the Gatwick Diamond and has a good mixture of businesses, including some bigger and more established businesses. It’s a little more pricey, with an annual fee of upwards of £280, but if it’s the right place for you, this is money well spent. Some people think that it’s a bit more serious than some of the other groups and want to network across Sussex, other people report that it’s full of consultants trying (and failing) to sell stuff to bigger businesses. Again, go along and see if it suits you.
Federation of Small Businesss
FSB has a lot of members and offers some good benefits when you join, including some money saving offers on banking and insurance.
They don’ t have a lot of actual networking events in Brighton and Hove, as they’re more focussed on lobbying on behalf of businesses nationally. Do check them out for the money they could save you though…
For freelancers, an informal meet up in a pub. Good reports of this weekly event, which has a very helpful and friendly vibe.
Institute of Directors
The IoD have networking events all over Sussex, although not so many in Brighton. It’s not for everyone, as some people find it a bit too male dominated and (possibly) right wing. Some people have said that they expected the IoD to have a lot more bigger businesses, and were therefore disappointed when they found that most people who go are from small and medium sized businesses. As with all these networking groups, what’s important is that you find an arena where you feel comfortable and that you can forge good relationships with people that you respect.
Wired Sussex has a calendar of events in Brighton and Hove, mostly of events for digital businesses, plus they have some meet up events for Wired Sussex members, and some interesting one off events. Wired Sussex are very active in all areas of the digital business sector, running some very interesting events, and lobbying for their members.
I could give you lots of arguments about the name of this group (why can’t women just be entrepreneurs, are you defined by being a mother) but I won’t. I’ll just tell you about Mumpreneurs, which is a friendly, informal group, meeting in cafes in different locations in Sussex. Peer support at its best.
Write-Club is networking for writers of all kinds – hosted by Leif Kendall and Ellen de Vries I like that they have a morning session at 8.30 and an evening session, seems to fit well with different types of writers.
Early meeting at RedRoaster, so you get some good coffee, usually with a particular topic for discussion. Interesting stuff…
Open Data Brighton and Hove
A specialist group for people who are interested in using data to make the world a better place, Open Data is led by the incredibly dynamic Greg Hadfield Do go if you’re excited by the potential of open data, you’ll love it, don’t go if you just want to meet other business people and find customers – you’ll hate it.
Copyright of this list
Some naughty people have been taking this list, which I’ve lovingly put together, and passing it off as their own, in order to promote their own networking groups. You know who you are.
Please note that this list of networking groups, like everything else on the Joy of Business website, is copyright to Julia Chanteray and the Joy of Business, so please don’t lift my content.
If you would like to link to this list, or any of the other content here, I’d love you to. Just make sure that you put a link to the page, and credit me. Then we’re all happy.
Defunct groups you may have heard of
South Coast Design Forum doesn’t seem to be holding any meetings at the moment, but in Brighton and Hove has been replaced by Design Brighton
BrightFace networking appears to be no more
BeScene is gone, despite the rather good pun in the name
Geek Wine thing is not happening any more
Despite a brief renaissance earlier this year, Women in Media seems to have died away, which is sad.
Damsels in Success, despite such a great name, seems to be not operating in Brighton any more.
Note that the Brighton and Hove Enterprise Agency has now merged with the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, who are continuing their series of networking events for small businesses.
I used to run Bagel Networking, and I know that some people still look for this. It was fun while it lasted, but is no more.
Vine Brighton has withered away
Sussex Hub at Tradewaves is no more, which is a shame
Our Ethical Network is now just a LinkedIn group