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Network Ireland – A Network Overview
I’m still buzzing and in recovery mode after a super successful Network Ireland conference, so I thought it opportune to shine a light on this fantastic community for this week’s network overview. The national conference was held in the Theatre Royal on 8th October (2021) and was hosted by the wonderful Aisling O’Neill, the 2021 national President.
I’ve written about a lot of networks in recent months and will continue to showcase more networks each month to widen people’s awareness of what’s available ‘out there’. For my part, I am proud to be the 2021 President of Network Ireland Wicklow.
I’ve been a member of many, many different networks over the years and I’ll be a member of others in years to come, but one that stays as a constant for me, is my membership of Network Ireland. And it’s hard to articulate why. So let me give you my thoughts.
When I first stepped out of my corporate world and entered the SME world in Ireland, I began networking. I was intrigued by the idea of female only networks. I genuinely didn’t get it nor understand why anyone would want to be a part of a female only network. Sure business is gender neutral isn’t it? But not one to be told what to do or what to think, I decided to try it out and find out for myself. And so I became a member of Network Ireland.
My first encounter was meeting the lovely Louisa Meehan. We met in the Ferns cafe, in Avoca in Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow. She had hot chocolate and I had mandatory coffee. To this day, I still don’t know how it happened, but before I had even finished the meeting with Louisa, I became the Secretary of the Wicklow branch. And I wasn’t even a member yet! I was only there to see what Network Ireland was all about.
The Wicklow branch was relatively new and Louisa was the President in 2017 (year of inception) and 2018. Setting up a Wicklow branch was the brainchild of local business woman, Becci Harrison as part of her 2017 National Presidency.
The group was small, but mighty. Presidency passed to Nicola Donegan in 2019, Dawn Leane in 2020, moi for 2021 and I get to pass the baton to my wonderful Vice President, Christina Clarkin. At a national level, 2020 saw Louisa Meehan take the mantle. She ably took over from the equally fantastic Helen Wycherley.
About Network Ireland
So let me give you a little bit of background and context on the network.
There are 14 branches currently. They are in (alphabetical order):
- West Cork
The Aims and Objectives of Network Ireland Are
- Providing a forum where professional women can exchange ideas and increase business contacts
- Encouraging women to achieve more satisfying careers
- Marketing the skills and expertise of Network members
- Promoting women as worthy contributors to the Irish economy and decision-making bodies
- Liaising with National and International Organisations
- Creating Links into Government and State Bodies
- Promoting a high standard of ethics in business
- Promoting the welfare of the community through the joint effort of members.
The list above is what I nabbed from the Network Ireland website – it’s the promotional blurb and list of benefits.
But what I want to really convey here is that Network Ireland is an amalgam of amazing, talented, courageous, supportive and wonderful women. I am forever grateful to be a part of this wonderful network.
The Wicklow branch is building and going strong. As of September 2021 we have expanded to 84 members and the numbers continue to rise. Across all chapters, there are circa 1400 members.
Once you are a member of any branch, you are a member of the whole network, so you have access to an abundance of talent, connections, contacts and friends.
Members span different areas:
- Corporate Members
There is an open seat policy for this network, so any female business owner or female employee can become a member.
Each year, each branch develops its awards at county level. I have written blogs on tips for entering awards and an outline of what past categories and years entailed, which you can read here. We don’t know yet what 2022 has in store, but what I can say is that entering the awards is one of the best things you can do for your career or your business.
You can read my blog on the Benefits of Entering the Network Ireland Awards here.
Each branch runs its own events each month. For example in Wicklow, for 2021, I set a schedule as follows:
- Monthly coffee morning – morning 9am-10am
- Lunch and Learn – afternoon 1pm – 2pm
- Speaker event – evening – 8pm – 9.30pm
The staggering of times ensures that all members get the opportunity to connect with other members at some stage during the month as suits their own schedule.
Covid meant, as with all networking events, that everything moved online. What it has meant for the 1400 strong Network Ireland community across the 14 branches is that members have had easy access to all branch events.
Members were always able to go to other branch events, but Covid has meant a huge increase in attendance across county borders. You might find me in Cork one month or in Roscommon, as well as doing my own Wicklow events. It’s epic. Access to amazing speakers, knowledge and an opportunity to be welcomed to network with fellow Network Ireland members.
Mentoring For Success Panel
This alone is worth the investment of being a member of Network Ireland. There is a full mentoring panel of women who are there to support each other. In the last intake (2 intakes per year in March and September), we are now up to 48 leaders who offer their guidance, advice and support to other Network Ireland members.
To join Network Ireland or to renew your membership, click here. The annual cost is a whoppingly amazingly value ticket price of €195 per year. Membership is 12 months and starts from the day you pay.
Connecting & Getting Social
And of course, they are all over social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin. These are the national accounts. Each branch has its own social media profiles, so look up the branch profiles and follow them to keep abreast of their events and updates!
NetworkMe Podcast Interview with Aisling O’Neill
You can listen to my interview with the 2021 National President, Aisling O’Neill here or find it on Apple, Spotify or where you get your podcasts!
Connecting With NetworkingJean
You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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