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Co-Women – more than a networking event in Sussex

This summer at Co-Women, we wanted to get all up in our feels and remind you that joining us isn’t just about showing up at events, listening to 60-second pitches, and throwing business cards in the bin afterwards (in fact, it’s not about that at all). Our members are more than just numbers to us. Let me explain…

Welcome to the Co-Women fold! I’m always honest about my main reason for joining Co-Women. I’d flirted with a few networking groups, and I was still in my very first year of business, so I didn’t have much cash to splash and had to be choosy. I was also well aware that I was often coming away from networking sessions feeling like a failure because I wasn’t being true to myself about my intentions – I was following the traditional line of thinking that networking = winning business, and that wasn’t happening for me.

So I thought about things a little differently, checked in with what my heart really and truly desired (not just what my business needs were)… and the answer was friends. I had embarked upon my journey of self-employment, leaving the safe harbour of employed life, and I had barely got a few paddles in before quickly discovering that I was totally lost at sea.

I was looking for community. Wise people who had been there and done it, didn’t care about what I thought were stupid questions, and were ready with either tissues or sparkling wine (or both!) depending on what kind of day I’d had. I didn’t even know whether this magical group existed, so I shopped around.

I found what I was looking for After a few false starts, I took a deep breath, walked into Chai & Chatter – which wasn’t my first Co-Women event, because I’d already got a feeling at a previous one – and knew I was home. I felt that I could truly be myself. I knew that I could show up with my honest business personality. And I recognised that the expertise and friendliness I wanted existed in this group.

What’s great about the Co-Women space is the understanding that we’re all people. We have businesses, but we also have lives, hobbies, friends, families and much more. We have human wants and needs and the group supports each other in following those as much as answering questions about tax and where to get flyers printed.

There’s a sense that members are available for whatever your need. Nobody is shy about requesting business or referrals, but they also aren’t afraid to ask for mentorship, accountability, or a walk and a chat with no other expectations.

Together in strength and struggle There’s no denying that the world has had a tough few years. The meaning of community has shifted and changed a lot during that time, and holding each other in that way is something more important than ever. To know that there’s at least one other person who’s there for you when the chips are down. To have faith in being able to ask for guidance. And to know that people will just get it. That’s a good chunk of the meaning of Co-Women. Then, on the other side of the coin…

We’ll always have joy Founder, Jo, unashamedly prioritises joy. It’s who she is and what she does, and rather than it being a living for the weekend type thing, it’s among her daily practice. She’s always thinking of new things for us to try – joining Co-Women is what gave me the chance to sit at a pottery wheel, learn to read tarot, AND throw an axe at a log, all in the space of a year – and is at events with a welcoming, open energy.

It's the reminder I need to regularly fit this shit in, rather than wait for it to show up. Joy can be intentional, as well as spontaneous, and Co-Women is a powerful source of that.

Now that you know how it feels, are you ready to come and get some for yourself? I dare you to join us.

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