The power of meetings

By: William Buist on : 5th December 2015: Business articles: 9 Comments

Every month, on the First Friday of the month I run a networking meeting at Vapiano in London, near Oxford Circus. Yesterday was our Christmas event and we were supported by Vapiano with some lovely nibbles.

One thing I have learned over the years is the importance of bringing people together, without an agenda, to let them eat, drink and network in a relaxed way. So what do people talk about? Here’s what one attendee said ”

Great event, learned loads. Chatted about photographing food, ‘why do people still undervalue marketing!?’, customer centricity, Nigerian law, the UN’s programmes in Chad, and COBOL! Not bad for a lunch! See you next time!
Dominic Mason, Digital strategy expert

I believe the key is that there is no pressure to present, or even to mention your business. As a result, selling doesn’t happen, but meaningful, valuable, and as Dominic has highlighted, varied conversations do.  Good food, (Italian, pizza, pasta, risotto, salads) good beer and wine and between 30 and 50 people for a few hours between noon and late afternoon. Vapiano helps here because they use a system that records personal spending so that you can come and go as you choose, settling your bill as you leave. First Friday attendees are drawn from a wide range of professions and affiliations, some are xTEN Club members, our clients, my personal network. Others come one of our sponsors, Business Scene, and from membership of our First Friday Meetup group.

I’m proud of the great people who come to this event, they know that by meeting others and sharing knowledge, skill and experience freely everybody wins. Do come and join us at First Friday (or any of our other events). You’ll find links to all our events here

9 thoughts on The power of meetings

  • Greetings from Norway!

    I have to say that I really enjoyed the event. I dashed across London to arrive at 3pm (so apologies) I spent the next two hours meeting a range of people I had never met/spoken to or known of before. Serendipity was the name of the game – barristers, SEO, Health and Safety, Clarkson, prostitutes, training, property matters, wigs and cycling were just some of the conversations I ended in!!

    It was one of the best afternoon’s of a good year and well worth my diversion from Spain to Norway. Excuse the salesman’s license but if I were ever to be in London I would most definitely make a point to make myself available. Sorry that I did not get to meet more of you – here’s to 2016.

    Overall thoughts: random is good, positive people get positive results, employment must suck but, most especially, BIG thanks to William for going through the hard yards to arrange this event every month! Successful events do not just happen

    If he ever wants to set them up in Spain, I will find him a venue!

    Seasons Greetings to all – Feliz Navidad a todos.

  • Once again, thank you William for organising the meet up and inviting me.
    Is always great to be with like minded people and in such a relaxed atmosphere. I had several ingesting conversations which I found very useful.
    I hope I am able to make the next one.
    Sorry I couldn’t stay longer.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

  • What makes an effective networking event? I’m not sure there’s a pat answer to that question, but one thing I AM sure about is that William has, to a very considerable extent, “cracked the code”. Whenever I’ve been able to attend the First Friday Working Lunch, it’s been an excellent use of my time. Here are a few of my thoughts on why that’s always been the case:

    1. The People – the attendees, particularly the regular ones, view networking in the right way: as an opportunity to meet like-minded people, and to develop long-term relationships with those who share your outlook and values.

    2. The Venue – Vapiano is very conducive to meeting one-to-one or in groups of 3-5. It’s really not conducive to anything much bigger than that, as it’s too noisy and chaotic. Also, the food and drink is excellent, without being prohibitively expensive.

    3. The Regularity – knowing that it’s always the first Friday of the month makes it easy to plan ahead, increasing the likelihood of getting plenty of people there.

    4. The Leader – William is proactive about introducing participants to one another, and making sure that new attendees find their way to the right conversations. He’s also proactive about inviting new people who are likely to add value to the group (and get value from it).

    In short, it’s an excellent event, and one that I’ll always attend if I can!

    Thanks, William!!! 😀

    • Thanks Patrick, your kind words are much appreciated.

      I agree with your point about the venue being conducive to small groups within the big one. It’s a reality that presentations and speeches just don’t really work but we don’t do that anyway!

  • First Friday is a catalyst.

    It enables people to explore, learn and grow. It less a “business-card-in-your-face” networking model and more “Hmm… That’s interesting.”

    I’ve had more than a fair share of few honest conversations along the way. I’ve engaged with many insightful individuals who have prepared to share. Over time trust has been built.

    As a result personal chemistry has developed over the day – and following months.

    Needless to say First Friday is my favorite networking event.

    Thanks William.


  • I have been attending the First Friday events for about 6 – 9 months or so now. There is no pressure to attend every month; I just drop in whenever it is convenient for me to do so. It is always welcoming. There are always new people to get to know as well as those with whom it is pleasant to catch up. Without a doubt most attendees are only too willing to try to help or offer the benefit of their experience with any business problems one might have. I find that good company provides a stimulating environment – a great way to finish off the working week.

  • Thanks William for your commitment to regularly organising these monthly events. It is a pleasure to make the journey from Eastbourne to London to network with existing networking contacts and make new ones.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    See you in 2016


  • A great, no pressure event. To reiterate, thanks to William for setting this up.

    Seasons Greetings to everyone and look forward to meeting everyone again in 2016

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