Over the past month I have had lots of enquires from people wanting to come along to Coffee and Connect for the first time. Many of their questions related to the practical aspects of attending so I thought it might be helpful to cover some of the practicalities of attending a Coffee and Connect meeting:

Arriving at The Elvetham Hotel
The gates open automatically – just drive up close and wait a moment. If for any reason they don’t open there is an intercom – just press the buzzer and Reception will let you in.

There is usually plenty of parking in the main car park. Very occasionally, if there is a large conference, this may be full in which case you can park in the road in front of the car park wall and really anywhere sensible. Never worry about being clamped or told off – this will not happen. In this situation the hotel usually sends someone out to help direct the parking.

Meeting Room
The Elvetham Hotel very kindly give me the room for Coffee and Connect free of charge – which is very much appreciated. This means that we will usually be in a different room each month. If you ask at Reception they will direct you (and just to say if you haven’t been there before; all the staff are lovely so never worry about asking anyone for help if you get lost!

For your info The Oak Room, The Library and The Morning Room are in the main house; other rooms are in the Court Building opposite the main house but don’t worry you don’t need to remember this – just ask.

I will let you know via Twitter which room we will be in so follow me @MelWardle

Coffee and Connect Banner
Look out for my Coffee and Connect banner – this will be outside the room where we are meeting.

On arrival at the meeting room
When you arrive at Coffee and Connect I will be standing by the door looking out for new people. I will explain where everything is and go through the meeting format with you. I will then pass you onto Pippa who will book you in.

Booking In
To book in you simply need to sign your name on a list and pay £5 in cash. This is simply to cover the cost of your refreshments and gets passed directly to the hotel. If you can bring exact money you will make Pippa very happy!

Leaflets/Brochures/Business Cards
There will be tables in the meeting room for you to put your leaflets and business cards out.

The one minute introduction
In fact these introductions are more like 30 seconds for the morning meeting so just say your name, your business name and a few sentences about what you do.

Do not worry about sitting next to me if you are new – I will never start with a new visitor and I always tell the people next to me which direction I will be going round the room – so no nasty surprises!

Remembering people
Bring a notebook and pen with you and jot down everyone’s name as they speak. If you want to speak to them afterwards also note down what they do and perhaps a tip to remember who they are e.g. lady with red jumper.

Open networking
After we have finished our one introductions we stay and chat. Don’t worry about trying to get round lots of people – it is better to have a few good conversations and come back next month to talk to other people.

Don’t forget
To take away your business cards/leaflets when you leave.

If you have enjoyed Coffee and Connect make sure you put next month’s meeting date in your diary straight away as networking works best when you attend regularly and people get to know you and remember what you do.

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