Set up as an alternative to traditional networking, Toast offers structured networking without the “stuffiness” and “cliqueness” of established groups.

Founded by power trio: Licia Graves, Angela Parker and Su Gregory who run Datacomunique, Hired Assistant and Designers-I respectively. They wanted to create a networking group with a collegiate atmosphere that allowed self-employed people to feel part of a team. Speaking to Angela I was impressed with her genuine commitment to the group, claiming she wasn’t doing it for profit or to raise brand awareness, but rather to give back to a community and help professionals network more effectively. To help ensure this mission is translated in every meeting, the three founders always make sure to attend each meeting and act as a positive and friendly face who not only encourages members, but welcomes guests and introduces them to the group.

And with some powerful marketing that has seen them on the first page of Google as well as some renowned speakers, they seem to be well on their way to achieving their mission.

Structured in a similar way to a number of other networking groups, each group begins with informal networking followed by a 60 second round table before a 10 minute speaker slot often given by external speakers who are specially brought in for their insight and expertise. This has included a psychologist, a published author on body language, as well as most recently, a videographer offer up his time to film each of the members’ 60 seconds for conversion into a promotional video – completely free of charge. A fantastic example of some of the out-of-the box benefits of joining this group.

With two groups currently in Brighton (opposite the impressive i360) as well as their meeting in Hove which is right on the beach, it is no surprise they already have plans to open in London, once they have reached 10 more members. In fact, Angela herself commented that in recent months the group has really taken off with this week alone 6 new sign ups. And with membership costing only £100 for the year and some truly fantastic benefits including: a place on their online directory, the opportunity to write a blog on their “elevensies” page as well as the opportunity to be promoted on social media, as well as a nifty little handbook that sets out expectations and some rather lovely breakfasts becoming a Toastie offers invaluable opportunities to network both off and online.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Toastie then why not check out their website www.toastnetwork.co.uk or give them an email on toastnetworking@gmail.com. They will also be hosting a first Birthday Bash on Thursday 15th March – so why not head down and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

And, of course, if you would like to learn more about networking events please feel free to check out our website iwant2network.com or drop us an email on networking@iwant2network.com