“People do business with people” is at the heart of the two-day business networking event MeetWest, which hopes to bring together a broad mix of businesses from the West of Ireland and further afield to network and do business together.
Organised and part funded by the local authorities, local enterprise offices and state development agencies in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, the event runs in the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, tomorrow, Thursday 24 November, and Friday 25 November.
MeetWest is focused on business people interacting with other like-minded individuals, explains John Magee, Head of Enterprise in Mayo County Council, adding the power of networking shouldn’t be underestimated.
“It’s that old cliché of people do business with people,” he says.
Now in its sixth year, Mr Magee says the secret to MeetWest’s success is sticking with the same “tried and tested formula”. There two key elements to the event; a conference on Thursday entitled ‘Finding Opportunities to Grow’, and one-to-one meetings on Friday.
Conference topics will include ‘Knowing Your Customer to Take Your Business to the Next Level’ presented by Jo Collins, Managing Director of SalePerformance.ie and ‘Making Sense of the Digital Maze – Practical Paths for your Business’, delivered by Fergal O’Connor, CEO and Founder of Happy Marketing and Media.
This year’s conference will also focus on the issue of Brexit and the challenges and opportunities which it presents to businesses in the West of Ireland. Niall O’Donnellan, divisional manager with Enterprise Ireland, will speak on the topic.
Mr Magee says there are uncertainties associated with doing business in the UK as a result of Brexit, but he stressed that Irish businesses should use this as an opportunity to explore other international markets.
“We’re saying OK, let’s skip over the UK and let’s look to continental Europe and to the EU itself and see what are the opportunities that we can actually explore in a broader European Union of which there are many for businesses in every sector.”
He adds that, “English is the language of business throughout Europe” and there are huge opportunities associated with “looking beyond British shores”.
Day One at MeetWest will conclude with a networking reception and dinner followed by an address from one of Ireland’s leading economic commentators, David McWilliams.
“He’ll be interesting and provocative and challenging and that’s what we like. We want him to give us something to think about so we’re really looking forward to having him there,” says Mr Magee.
He adds that Day Two of the event is “the heart of MeetWest”.
This year organisers have tailored the programme to maximise new and innovative networking opportunities for attendees in a variety of formats.
“We’re giving the participants the opportunity to meet as many people as they possibly can, and trying to give them the opportunity to have a meaningful meeting rather than just random meetings, we’re actually putting them in contact with the people they need to talk to,” he says.
The day will kick off with prearranged one-to-one meetings. The format is similar to speed dating in that each delegate receives a predetermined meeting schedule with 20 minutes allocated for each meeting. Once the 20 minutes is up, a bell will ring and one of the delegates moves to a different table to start the meeting process again.
In addition to the one-to-one meetings there will also be a number of 10-to-1 meetings where delegates can meet selected larger businesses in a group format.
It is anticipated that up to 400 delegates will participate during this year’s event, with companies from all sectors expected to attend.
MeetWest 2016 commences with registration at 3.30pm tomorrow, Thursday 24 November, and continues from 8am on Friday 25 November.
For a full schedule of events at MeetWest