Sussex’s women-only independent networking group, Co-Women, was founded in 2020 with the idea of prioritising joyful and meaningful business connections for local self-employed women. But what’s it really like to be part of the group?
Expanding your network I was worried about feeling isolated as a self-employed person, and also knew that those who’ve gone before me would have the expertise to help me should I have questions or anxieties. In many ways, you can never be fully prepared for self-employed life: there are admin tasks and setup essentials that you might not have thought of, and all sorts of situations you find yourself in where either some practical advice or a friendly face are appreciated.
If you’re actively seeking a specific supplier, canvassing the Co-Women membership is a great place to start: it’s likely that either there’s what you want among the group, or that someone will recommend a supplier they’ve used in the past. And it doesn’t even have to be strictly business! Requests for everything from a handyperson to a removal company, and styling services to niche food items have gone through our group chat, and all of them have been enthusiastically answered.
A place to play There’s a huge variety of events available to attend as part of Co-Women. During 2022 alone, we’ve had pottery making, alpaca walking, and the infamous shibari workshop, plus fitness classes, mindset sessions, classic mixer events, and a Galentine’s night out.
What do all of these have in common? Joy. It’s the theme which underpins everything: the understanding that we are all human beings, and that our wellbeing is important to the success of our business is something that Jo, who founded Co-Women, fully believes in and supports. Her philosophy is that fun is a critical part of the human experience, and that it’s important to ensure that you take time for yourself and a variety of activities, as well as being a businesswoman, friend, sibling, parent, carer… or whatever else it is that you embody.
Plus, what better way to win friends and influence people than to learn how to tie them up?! Or sing loudly with them in a karaoke booth?
How do we network? We offer a variety of face to face and digital connections as part of the Co-Women membership. There are weekly co-working sessions in Hassocks and Brighton, plus a private Facebook group and a WhatsApp chat for the benefit of immediate questions and answers.
Most of our events are run on Thursday evenings, though we do offer some weekend options too. Events are carefully structured to maximise connection and value for money – we aim to cover a range of price points. Each month, we also have our free Chai and Chatter events in Brighton, Hove, Hassocks and Horsham, which are a great opportunity for casual connections.
Whilst we encourage high attendance at Chai and Chatter, there’s no “death by one minute pitch” – the idea is that we all sit together and chat, just as friends meeting up for coffee do. You can ask questions about business, or pleasure, whatever you’re in the mood to talk about!
Most of our events are open for non-members – we invite you to join us at one event to check out what we’re truly about before you sign up for membership – but we do keep some events as member exclusives.
The future of Co-Women As the world continues to progress beyond COVID and the impacts of it, we’re excited to continue producing fabulous face to face events. This year’s member-only Christmas party is set to be special, and in early 2023 we’re going all out with the very first Co-Women holiday! Want to know more? It might be time to join us…