Jun 15 2017 will forever be etched in my memory as the day we brought a vision to form a network for Black professional and/or entrepreneurial women materialised. I vividly remember being both excited and nervous on the day of our first networking event. I guess I was so nervous I rushed out of the house with 2 different legs of my black heels. Talk about nervousness! As a Black professional woman in the UK, I had always struggled with attending networking events. Meeting new people and having to have random conversations with them was at best daunting to me. What topic(s) could I confidently converse on? I always felt I was out of my depth. So, when Jo came up with the vision to start a network for other Black women, I jumped at it. A Network that could provide a safe environment where we could mingle, exchange ideas, grow confident in our networking skills and be with other women who felt exactly as I did.
After months of planning towards the event, the sleepless nights and the panic, the countless Skype calls, the countless meetings asking ourselves if people would understand our vision and connect with it? The day finally came. Walking into the room and watching it gradually fill up with amazing women from different occupational backgrounds and business backgrounds was a sight to behold. We had 120 ladies who registered to attend. This surpassed our expectations of a 1st event. You could feel the excitement in the air. It was literally buzzing! Our anchor for the day Funmi Osilaja was totally on point introducing the PEP Network to the attendees whilst Jo Maxwell shared the Vision and introduced the PEP Executives.
As can be expected for a 1st event, there were loads of questions from the ladies and some apprehension as several people had never been to a networking event. People wanted to know what the essence of the platform was as not many black women were used to networking. Some people turned up to see what it was about. Some women who hadn’t seen each other in decades had the opportunity to reconnect again over food and drinks provided. Funmi our anchor for the day did a brilliant job at engaging the attendees, everyone was networking and enjoying themselves. The evening started at 6pm and we officially ended at 8pm, however, we stayed at the venue until 9pm when the last guest left. One of our ethos was ensuring our events run to the advertised times as we believe time should be respected.
Our 1st Event was strictly designed to introduce PEP Network and hone in on the power of Networking. The feedback we received from the various guests were encouraging and positive. I remember one in particular “It was commendable of you ladies and will surely come for future invites, for the first-time l think you did well, the objectives were clear, and the speakers relayed the vision. Well done, hope it evolves into something great”.
Sitting on the train home later that evening both happy and exhausted, I felt relieved and thankful that an idea which had only been birthed less than 3 months to our first event date had been a huge success. I pondered on what our future events would be like and how each lady would hopefully become better versions of themselves through networking up, down and sideways. It is true that when ‘Women support each other, incredible things happen. Together, we are stronger!
Article written by
Folake Abiola-James – PEP Network Executive