Ann Hawkins Founder and MD Drive the Network

The internet has changed the way people buy

The internet, search engines and social networking have irrevocably changed the way people buy, and yet most networking groups encourage small businesses to sell to each other in a way that ignores their existence.

I started Drive the Network as a radically different type of networking group. One where there is no need for pitches, lockouts, forced referrals or any of the old fashioned practices that have become redundant.

We’ve replaced those with powerful on-line networks that provide the social proof that everyone needs to get found.

Businesses are no longer in control of how they are discovered, perceived or evaluated.

A small handfull of local networkers is no longer enough for most businesses to be discovered by their potential customers.  Drive members network on line and off line and come together based on interests, not to sell to each other. We get to know, like and trust people based on their expertise, recommend them to our wider networks, and create a highly visible on-line presence for our members.

Everything we do is shared with everybody so it doesn’t matter where you live or how much time you’ve got, there is always something you can join in with and you never miss a thing.

Do you run an independent networking group?

We’re not here to compete with existing groups but to offer support and an extra service that many independent groups can’t afford or manage.

If you partner with Drive we’ll add your events to our list and market them for you. You can use our ticketing system and active attendance lists if you choose. Your members can join Drive for free and enjoy all the on-line activities, meeting lots more people with no restriction on geography and enjoying business support if they want it. If you’d like to know more about this, get in touch and lets talk.

How it all started

I used to hate networking.
I wanted to meet people, not businesses.
I wanted to know who was interesting, funny, quirky, talented, smart, shy or brash.

Mostly, I wanted to know who would be there before I walked through the door.

I didn’t want to hear 60 second pitches that people had recited a hundred times before.

I wanted to find people I could connect with, people I liked and admired enough to recommend to my friends.

I also wanted to learn about how to build a great business from people who were actually doing it.

Back in 2005 I started The Inspired Group, and ran it until 2015.

I started blogging in 2008 and joined LinkedIn and Twitter in 2009. This transformed the way I networked and the way I helped other people to network without ramming sales pitches down each others throats.

I introduced active attendance lists so that people could see who was going to be at a meeting before they turned up. They could click through to attendees websites, connect on Twitter and break the ice before they met face to face. It made the cheesy follow up email redundant and made it easy to continue to network in between meetings.

I built a great network both on-line and off-line and connected the dots so it all became seamless.

We’ve developed this system for Drive Members so that they can build a powerful network that is not restricted by time or distance.

Because 90% of small businesses fail before they get to five years old, we’ve also developed a powerful support and mentoring system that helps people to learn how to create successful business.

You can join as a free member to see what its all about and if you want some of the other benefits you can upgrade to become a Pro or Premium Member.

Would you like this for your networking group?

If you run a local face to face networking group (or would like to start one) and you’d like to give your members a higher profile and a chance to network without barriers, let me know and lets talk about collaboration!

Check out the Drive Manifesto