After 10 years marketing experience in a range of businesses, Mike set up his own consultancy in January 2016. The business focusses on delivering creative content and strategic marketing support with a transparent, no-nonsense and no jargon approach. Mike has been a regular face on Freshwalks over the past year and has kindly shared below how we’ve helped the development of his fledgling business. You can find out more about Mike on his Linked In profile.
Tell us about your first Freshwalks?
I was first introduced to Freshwalks by Katya Willems back in Feb 2015. I met Katya at a networking event and she was such a Freshwalks evangelist, I had to give it a go. I had just set up my Marketing Consultancy business and was attending a lot of networking events and really not enjoying them to be completely honest. The traditional networking events just were not my cup of tea and I found them so false. So when Katya told me about an event that combined a day out in the peaks, culminating in a drink in the pub with lots of interesting and energetic business people I thought it sounded right up my street.
How many have you now attended?
I think I’ve attended about 7 including some of the shorter walks and also the Freshwalks City. I would love to have attended more but works seems to get in the way!
Why do you come back?
It has had a monumental impact on me professionally and personally. That sounds a bit over the top but it’s completely true. The advice and support I have had from the people I have met at Freshwalks has been invaluable. So many people, it’s difficult to count them all, spared their time and advice, not just on a walk but also giving me their own time to help. Yourself, Andy Ramwell, John Shinnick, Andy Fleet, Richard Gahagan, Anita Brooks, Neil Chandler, Debbie Martin, the list is endless. It has made such a difference in my business and I think put me way ahead now than where I would have been without that network.
It is such a great group of energetic and inspiring people that really makes it addictive. I have always attended with the intention to just enjoy my day and meet interesting people. I have however, inadvertently been incredibly lucky to have done business with quite a people I have met from the event. It has been a very effective channel for me in growing my business in terms of direct and a couple of referrals too. But just as important is the advice and support I have received and generally being part of what really feels like a community.
What’s your favourite route?
The 30km route from Edale to Kinder was fantastic. The route was challenging and brought out fantastic camaraderie amongst the group. It was also stunningly beautiful, taking in the circumference of the Kinder Edges. The welcoming pint at the end in Edale was probably one of the most satisfying I’ve ever tasted too!
The one thing (food or equipment) you always bring?
Copious amounts of chocolate. Any excuse. The one thing I am nervous of bringing again is my professional walking sticks. Still getting stick about that 3 months later! (MDP’s note: Freshwalks recommends walking sticks for health and safety reasons – don’t succumb to the bully boys, Mike)
Favourite Freshwalks memory?
There have been quite a few. Andy Fleet’s detailed discussion of John Terry’s mum takes some beating but you might want to leave that out.
Has Freshwalks created a business success story or opportunity for you or a colleague?
I think this is covered in my waffle from question 3.
Recommend three great people you have met on Freshwalks?
Andy Ramwell. Heather Grey. Andy Fleet.
How does Freshwalks challenge typical networking formats?
It’s the polar opposite of traditional networking. To put that into context, last year I went to a speed networking event that was probably the worst thing I have ever done. There you had 30 seconds to pitch your business before you were FORCED to move on to the next person (and there were 60 people to get through). How can you possibly get to know anyone or make a relationship in that time?
Freshwalks gives you the time and environment to really make relationships and friends. Salesy it is not. In fact it seems there is an unwritten rule that selling to each other is not allowed. Getting out into an environment where everyone has space from the office, no phone signal and a shared enthusiasm for walking is the perfect recipe for making connections. It makes for a real community spirit where people are genuinely willing to help each other.
Freshwalks is a combination of exercise, networking, sharing knowledge and thinking time. How do you balance those components?
I love Freshwalks as it gives me the opportunity to get out of the office and get some exercise. For me it is more of a combination of exercise and sharing knowledge. If business comes from it then great but that is not the sole reason I go. Getting out of the city is fantastic for getting the time to think and run ideas past other business people.
Suggest one new place for us to go.
A trip up to the Lake District would be awesome, some beautiful walks up there and would be fun to tie it in with an overnight stay somewhere.
Sum up Freshwalks in 3 words.
Community. Refreshing. Unique.