Ice the Cake members create the Perfect Recipe

Ice the Cake has evolved rapidly since it’s launch in April 2011 and I have been very focused on bringing dedicated Wedding industry professionals together.  Obviously first and foremost to ensure that those planning their wedding have a choice of great suppliers to assist them with their perfect day.  But also behind the scenes for suppliers to be able to network, support each other in business and even start working together.
Over the past year I have tried to organise an event a month across the country for network members to meet up with each other. The majority have been closer to home whilst I have been finding my feet, however, I had a wonderful time last Summer up in Scotland and more recently traveling up to Durham.  At the end of June I am visiting Manchester and I am very excited about meeting up with everyone!  
The format so far has been everyone generally chatting and getting to know each other which has been wonderful, but as the network is growing, I am very focused on members developing their working relationships to enable them to confidently recommend each other, and work together.  I feel the best way to do this is to have focused one-to-one meetings but these can take time to arrange.
In May this year I organised a massive photo shoot at Worton Park in Oxfordshire which involved just under 40 wedding suppliers and I am delighted that the first of the themed shoots was blogged yesterday on Under the Vintage Veil (Thank You Sara!).  During a ‘rest’ period, a group of us were sitting by the lovely outdoor swimming pool and we were chatting about our networking evenings and one of the members suggested ‘Speed Networking’.  I am always looking for new ideas and after some careful consideration I decided to trial it at the next networking night, which happened to be at The Three Locks Golf Club, in Milton Keynes.
Photography Credit:  Jay Mountford Photography
Prior to everyone arriving I had advised that I had a surprise in store for them, but that was as much as anyone really knew, so when they arrived and they saw the pens and paper laid out on the tables there were lots of jokes about there being a test or quiz.  

I think when I first told everyone were going to be ‘Speed Networking’ there was a mixture of excitement and apprehension but I am so pleased we gave it a go because it has turned out to be brilliant.  It was inspiring to see people who have been chatting for ages finding out even more new things about each other and their businesses and I feel it really is a great concept that we will now be running at future networking nights so thank you Kathryn for the idea!  
Unfortunately in amongst all the planning I forgot to take my camera but luckily Zoe from Jazzle Designs was on hand with her’s and kindly took some ‘action’ shots for me…

Sweetness & Delight Celebration Cakes & Seber Weddings & Events
Sheena & Paula Shepherd – Artist & Kathryn Deeley Wedding Stationer
Cakes by Shelly & Hanamai
Charms by Joanna & Imitation Band
Bluemark Entertainment & Frank Millar Photography
The Three Locks Golf Club (you may spot me in the corner with my stop watch!)

Please find some feedback from those who attended below:

“I thought the speed networking was a great idea as well as a lot of fun! Believe it or not, I am actually quite shy and I am inclined to stay with people I know when in this kind of situation. This gave us all the opportunity to chat with other suppliers that perhaps we didn’t know quite so well! I learnt quite a lot about other businesses and how they are run. I also was able to get some good ideas from the other suppliers about PR and marketing! As a musician, I am a complete novice when it comes to the world of business – we were never taught any of this in music college! All our studies were focused on our instruments!  Networking with other suppliers is just what I need so I can learn the skills to enable me to run Ariella Strings successfully!  Thanks Sue!” – Ariella Strings
“The networking night was masses of fun, I learnt more about my fellow suppliers in a few minutes than I did from just chatting before, I highly recommend it as a great format for more evenings.” – Charms by Joanna

“Tuesday nights speed networking was really fun, I enjoyed talking to suppliers I knew and ones that I hadn’t met before.  It was really interesting to find out what everyone was doing in their business, and any ideas they had that you could be involved with or help them with suppliers they were trying to find.  The main thing I gained from Tuesday was talking to everyone and getting to know them, I am a little shy when I don’t know people and wouldn’t necessarily have spoken to everyone there that evening.. Im really happy that I could speak to everyone so when the next networking comes along I would pop over to everyone and see how there ideas are coming along and build on supplier relationships with them.” – Kathryn Deeley Wedding Stationery

“What a fabulous idea! Each 5 minute chat gave me a snapshot of what my fellow members do and showed just how much we all love the wedding industry. It also enabled me to share my business visions and learn to communicate these in a very effective way. I’ve come away with more industry friends as a result!” – Seber Weddings & Events

“I really enjoyed the speed networking night, at first when I arrived and saw pens and paper I thought oh no, I don’t do writing or spelling, but it all turned out OK in the end. I got to meet other suppliers that I know I would not have talked to. I would have just mixed with the group I know, you know stay in your comfort zone, so well done Sue (well Kathryn really) for taking me out of that and can’t wait for the next one.” – Frank Millar Photography

The next event will be on the 28th June in Manchester.  If you would like to join us or for more information about membership please visit our website.
Have a great weekend xx
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