On 17 October 2014 I was proud to be one of a large group of people that broke The Guinness Book of World Records for The Most Number of People Attending A Business Speed Networking Event At A Single Venue.
Prior to this day the record was held by Australia and stood at 475 participants where each participant networked with 21 people.
How Did It Work?
The event was hosted by Entrevo. They sold tickets to over 600 people for Their Brand Accelerator Day at The Mermaid in Puddle Dock (Blackfriars, London) to take part in the event. They needed at least 500 people to show up to ensure that we had a chance of breaking the world record.
10 minutes prior to the event we were still 20 people short. The CEO of Entrevo, Darshana Ubl, and her team had been going crazy calling no-shows for the last hour trying to get to 500+.
Anyhow, long story short, the Entrevo team managed to get 510 people into the room prior to the start; Darshana went through how the rows would network with each other and speed networking began.
I totally underestimated what hard work this would be. Because I was speaking to people in a lower row in a VERY loud room I a) had to speak loudly to be heard and b) sometimes had to bend for effective communication. The strain on my pregnant back was massive. On top of it all I needed to use the ladies almost from the start but the rules meant anyone that left the room was automatically disqualified. I’ve pretty much mastered holding my need for the loo for 2 to 3 hours so I was fine.
The whole process took about 1.5 hours. Of the 22 people I spoke to only one was completely boring - everyone else was rather interesting; a few people I could possibly work with in the long run.
The Guinness Book Officials needed a few hours to count the papers.
When the announcement was made the GB Official looked sombre. I was pretty sure he was going to say it had gone wrong. He started off with all the bad news: It transpired that in the midst of the speed networking drive some losers had left the room for “urgent” meetings and mundane reasons such as “I can’t do this”.
He concluded with (and I paraphrase), “Australia holds the record with 475 attendees. Because although we started with 510 people many had to be disqualified, I’m here to tell you that…” he not only paused for effect but pursed his lips like he was reading a eulogy (and quite frankly Darshana looked like she might cry), “with 487 networkers you’ve beat the record.”
Cheers all round. I even jumped out of my chair and did a happy dance. My only hope is currently that I wasn’t caught on camera because for a moment there, I completely lost my marbles.
It's 10.30 p.m. and given the day I have tomorrow I really should be in bed but I just felt I had to write a testimonial for Weebly, AGAIN!
Here is my first review, written in early 2012 - two years ago.
The web-building service that Weebly provides has developed enormously in the last couple of years. These are my favorite things about weebly:
1. Easy To Use
There is ease of use and then there is weebly. Whoever came up with the user interface has a mind like Steve Jobs. Weebly is super intuitive and you can figure out how to use it without using their FAQ pages and without any coding skills whatsoever. When I started using Weebly in 2010 I figured out what to do immediately.
2. Fair Pricing
Their pricing is ultra fair. I have been subscribed to Entrepreneur magazine for a few years now and every now and again there's an advert for a new drag and drop web builder. I usually go to the website to see how they compare to Weebly and EVERY SINGLE TIME they are charging more than Weebly but offering less.
I get so incensed by it! This brings me to my next favorite feature...
3. Great Variety of features
You can do whatever you want to do with Weebly without having to write any code. Changing fonts, colors, headers, the features of the blog side bar is ultra easy. You can change the entire look and theme of your website at the click of a few buttons and I have done that several times myself without any stress.
4. Fast Rate of Development
Weebly are developing new features all the time and my business has been growing with them. Importantly, weebly allow customers to suggest new features and they take suggestions seriously.
A lot of people ask why I prefer weebly to WordPress. This is the biggest reason: when I visit a WordPress site I usually know it is WordPress. Many of their themes have a similar feel. I have tried to use WordPress in the past and I don't think they are nearly as easy to use as Weebly.
Conversely, Weebly is so customizable you can make your site look very different to any other site out there. I run over 10 websites with Weebly and they all look very different.
6. Mobile friendly
The mobile version of a Weebly-based site which comes as standard is second-to-none! This applies to both the general webpages, blogs and eCommerce. I think them coming into eCommerce later paid off rather than backfired because they appear to have learnt from the mistakes of all the eCommerce platforms that came before them. That brings me to my next point...
I have been struggling to decide whether or not to use the recently launched eCommerce feature on Weebly. I have been using sellfy.com for digital goods for over a year now and they are quite good. I also tried DPD and they were quite good too.
A friend recommended 3dcart very strongly but I thought they were awful. Even with a First Class degree in Economics from Cambridge I was struggling to use 3dcart. It was not easy.
I thought that being so new Weebly’s eCommerce facilities would be far too basic for my needs. I deliberated over it for a couple of weeks and ultimately thought to myself:
The answer was yes to all three questions so I bit the bullet and paid the $469 fee to use the platform for two years. The amount sounds high but if I consider the fact that I am paying $135 to MailChimp monthly, it's not much at all - it's $19.94 a month. When Weebly create an email management system they have a good chance of getting that business too because I don't feel MailChimp's pricing makes sense at all...but that's another story!
After two days going through Weebly's eCommerce thoroughly, I don’t regret it. In fact, for suggesting a feature improvement Weebly gave me a couple of extra months for free! That brings me to my final point:
8. Awesome customer service
From the start, Weebly have responded to emails in 24 to 48 hours. Although they have grown massively, they still respond promptly. As someone with a small business growing faster than I can believe I know how tough it is to maintain that kind of responsiveness so I really appreciate it.
...If Weebly was a man, I would say we were engaged before and with me buying into the eCommerce platform – we just got married! This is a tool I believe I will be using for life.
Weebly makes my life easy. It has simplified my life for coming up to four years now and the day I discovered Weebly is one of the best days of my life – and trust me, I have had a very good life! lol
Let me just say I felt a mixture of inspiration and shame!
Shame that I have friends who say "I'm not good with technology" and inspiration to work hard on learning how to build apps (I signed up to a course two weeks ago).
How did this transpire?
I was at the library.
The old lady called up the Librarian to ask how she could do something. The Librarian failed then called another Librarian who in turn failed. The old lady insisted that she had done the very thing she was asking for help with on that very computer earlier that afternoon.
After 15 minutes, I couldn't stand it anymore and being the nosey busy-body that I am, I asked if I could help.
It turned out she wanted to print a panel of pictures and she wanted to bring up the "print Wizard" that she had seen before. I tried a few things and within seconds I thought I might not be able to help her but I'm nothing if I'm not persistent. In about three minutes I solved her problems.
I had observed that the old lady was rather confident in her use of computers and I told her so. She said, in a slightly posh voice, "I have one at home you see, I'm rather daring."
I asked her where she'd learnt and she said she took a course in 1997 and also took a course on Photoshop at which point she produced a picture of her with Stalin. It still hadn't clicked that it was photoshoped.
"When was this?" I asked.
"Well for him, it's 1951 and for me it's 1968".
Guys and dolls, if you ever utter the words, "I'm not good with technology", Triple shame on you!
We all have to grow old but we never have to stop learning!
Who called his son Kunta Kinte Ali (all first names). He's a Southern European married to a West African.
Any thoughts on the name choice?
p.s. I am yet to watch Roots, all I know is that when the barber in Coming to America referred to Eddie Murphy as Kunta, it was derogatory.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.