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Midwest Mentoring – A Network Overview is the network I am focussing on today to give you that practical overview and insight into this network.
I had the pleasure of chatting and getting to know John Loftus, the ‘mighty’ founder of Midwest Mentoring. I use the word mightly, as anyone who knows John will know that this is his favourite word!
The man abounds with energy, enthusiasm and a genuine desire to bring quality businesses and business owners together for their success.
Well as with many of us, John’s journey to where he is at now, is full of twists and turns.
He worked with Aer Lingus for many years, then moving on to fundraising, the entertainment industry and then on to managing the fundraising for the Limerick GAA.
In all of his roles, networking was pivotal.
In 1992 John had a near death experience, where he got an auto-immune disease that tried to get the better of him. Thankfully it didn’t succeed, however the road was fraught with obstacles including going on to dialysis and then having a kidney transplant.
Now, if you see John today, he is fighting fit. As he said himself, his motto is ‘keep moving forward’ and that’s just what he did.
Given his previous roles, he had developed deep and meaningful connections and networked with other networks such as BNI, the local Chambers and other groups. But by 2016 he decided to go out on his own and start up Midwest Mentoring, with a clear focus to create a top class network.
Midwest Mentoring is a referral network.
It welcomes business to business and business to consumer companies, solopreneurs, SMEs, i.e. it attracts members within the B2B and B2C communities.
There is a one seat per profession policy, in so far as is possible. With so many businesses extending services and pivoting their businesses, there can be an element of overlap, but the essence of membership, is one business per category.
John’s View on Life
How he relayed it to me – imagine a dressing room. The spirit, the mood and the organisation has to be just right for the team to win. If there is any dissention, then you are on the back foot.
John is quick to point out that he has turned down many more applications than he has accepted. To get the network started, John hand-picked his 17 apostles, as he called them.
Life experience always helps us make decisions quickly and he says that he always knows within 30/40 seconds if the person is going to be the right fit.
The core ethos of his group is about positivity, openness, giving and the members really having a clear perspective on their involvement. The focus is on
- What can I do to help you?
- What can I do for you?
Typically members are from Clare, Limerick City & County, North Cork, Mid & North Tipperary with a very diverse range of companies and businesses.
The virtual and online meetings have meant that other businesses from Dublin, Northern Ireland and from all around the country are getting involved, which is fantastic to see.
John is an absolute believer in mentoring his members through taking calls to support them, doing 1-2-1s to learn more about them and how he can actively support them.
John is unbelieveably diligent in his application process. There is no form to fill out, no committee for the form to go to – it’s all about whether John feels that you & your business are a fit for the group.
To further support his members, John engages the support of one of his tribe so that two Linkedin posts are scheduled each day to profile two member businesses.
As they say, all publicity is good publicity.
Every Wednesday, John meets online with his Midwest Mentees for 1 1/2 hours. There tend to be anywhere from 15-25 people on each call. There are three options for people to join in on.
Prior to #Covid19, the meetings were held on Tuesdays. The type of meeting changed each week.
Every second Tuesday, there would be a ‘full meeting’ from 9am – 10.30am. And then on each alternate Tuesday, there would be four mini meetings at 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am and 2pm.
John always encouraged people to come 30 minutes before hand to do some informal networking and to try to stay on 15 minutes afterwards to get the connections flowing.
As is pretty standard with all referral networking groups, each participant has 60 seconds to talk about his or her business. Then 20 minutes are assigned to one business to do a deep dive into their company to help the group get to know them in more detail.
In a typical year, the cost of involvement is €1000 per year, however John made an immediate decision to pause all payments for the first two months of #Covid19 to help businesses in their time of extreme uncertainty.
And as we continue is tumultuous times, John now offers a quarterly solution to members and prospective members. They can pay €250 per quarter and take it one step at a time, rather than investing for a 12 month period straight off the bat.
Corporate Social Responsibility
This is a key focus of Midwest Mentoring and their charity of choice is Cliona’s Foundation which is also Limerick based.
Brendan and Terry Ring tragically lost their daughter Cliona to a brain tumour. This was diagnosed when Cliona was 8 years of age and she battled with her illness for 7 years.
Out of Brendan and Terry’s grief and their personal tragedy came a will to help other parents of children with life limiting illnesses. Their foundation supports fundraising activities to help families deal with the financial implications and costs associated with managing a sick child, e.g. travel costs from the country to Dublin, accommodation and so much more.
Members of MidWest Mentoring have really got behind the charity, both to support John’s fundraising efforts, but also to run their own individual fundraising efforts, including one member who is writing a book and all proceeds will go to the charity. Awesome stuff and such a selfless act.
Visitors are always welcome and you can email John at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll send you on the Zoom details to connect in. People are encouraged to come a couple of times to get a feel for the groups.
What to Expect
A hugely warm welcome is to be expected, both from John and all his members. There is a true cameraderie between them with all members being avid supporters for each other. There is no hierarchy and as John says, everyone is equal.
Getting In Contact with Midwest Mentoring
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at email@example.com.
You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
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