We are a people business and we love sharing your experiences. The following is a selection from Sterling Network Group members proving how benefiial taking part in Sterling really is.
Neil and Tracey Davis
Neil and Tracey Davis ran a number of businesses before setting up their own business shows company - Sterling. The network groups followed on naturally from this, and in autumn 2015 the Growth Hub brand was launched, along with their new branding.
Sterling is built on their joint belief that people - their personalities and their skillsets - are "massively important". Their intention was to recreate the easy connection of people in the kitchen at parties, to encourage business.
Across Sterling, the values are those of Neil and Tracey themselves - integrity, honesty, reliability, responsibility. They work with and support "forward-thinking" businesses that want to grow and develop.
And it's two-way traffi c. Chris Wickens of Pure Protection was a delegate at Sterling's fi rst business show in 2011, and Neil and Tracey approached him for personal cover. He now also runs the company health service, adding value to working with Sterling. Chris has given them the reassurance that they're protected wherever possible, and Tracey "can recommend Chris so easily. He is a brilliant member."
Around 30 members, including Chris, plus exhibitors, now supply the Sterling business, and Neil and Tracey wouldn't have it any other way.
What do they get out of it? Tracey loves it when "people work together after I introduce them on a business show day". Neil enjoys getting to know people and their businesses, "finding solutions" to enable business growth, and building a business community.
It has been an "amazing journey" so far for the couple. Tracey is excited that the Sterling "brand is bigger than we are now", and Neil adds, "members and potential members are now driving Sterling.
Chris Wickens of Pure Protection became interested in insurance when he was running his own restaurant. Now an independent insurance broker, he loves great food and great insurance! Chris takes the personal approach to insurance.
After a free review, with no set course, he listens to your situation, building up a menu of recommended policies.
His ideal client is a small business perhaps 3 or 4 years old with around five employees, whose owners are open to new ideas. Sterling is a perfect example; now a member of the Cheltenham Central and Evesham groups, in 2011 when he was a delegate at one of the shows, Neil and Tracey, Neil and Tracey Davis approached Chris to extend their cover, taking out a number of personal and company policies.
Many Sterling members are now better insured, thanks to Chris. He's still serving people, just in a different way.
Chris thoroughly recommends Sterling - "the only networking organisation I am a member of - make your own assumptions".
Christopher Wickens Pure Protection Health and Life Insurance Tel: 01242 504640
Graham Dawson finds his job exceptionally rewarding. He is a coach for HorseHeard, a social enterprise arm of LeadChange, which helps young people develop emotional resilience through working with horses. He used to be a conventional coach, but now the horses do most of the coaching! In a behavioural change programme called "Being Friends", young people can "blossom" in a "safe way", with the horses helping them "rehearse for the outside world".
After coming across Sterling at their Gloucester business show, Graham found the team "welcoming, supportive and inclusive", with a "genuine interest in helping grow your business". He has now joined Sterling Cirencester and visited other groups. He has been asked to speak to Sterling members, and is also considering exhibiting.
When he met Carole Love, a kinesiologist who also works using horses, they talked nonstop, so much so that Graham apologised to the person on his other side! Since joining the HorseHeard team Carole is now helping Graham deliver free taster sessions.
Like Carole, Graham has been pleasantly surprised at the ready acceptance of his philosophy by other members, and their willingness to listen to different approaches. As Graham puts it, "I couldn't not recommend Sterling" - it is professionally run, and run for the benefit of members, readily offering opportunities to promote your business that you'd have to ask for in other organisations."
Carole Love is incredibly excited about the future. As a kinaesiologist, she deals with the energy blocks that stop us from moving forwards with our lives or businesses. Her Freedom To Live Therapies business is certainly moving in the right direction, with a new therapy room in Bourton on the Water. She finds it rewarding watching people's transformation as they get unstuck.
When Carole was invited along to Sterling Cheltenham she was hoping simply to educate people about energy work, and definitely wasn't expecting to want to join! She has since had a number of 1 to 1s with members and is impressed by their genuine interest.
On a visit to Sterling Cirencester she sat next to Graham Dawson of HorseHeard and they couldn't stop talking - about horses and energy and social enterprise. Now they are collaborating closely, having already exhibited together at a business event, and developing a joint workshop.
Carole used to compete in equestrian events and feels she has come full circle, with HorseHeard "completing my jigsaw puzzle". In fact, Carole is now combining horse work with her therapies, and has "moved away from just the couch". Far faster results are achieved this way, she says, because people have "a better understanding of energy when working with horses".
Carole says "Sterling has helped me move my business forward and increased my connections". She's "thrilled to bits" about the collaboration with Graham as she has since completed her equine facilitation course and is now working as part of the HorseHeard Team.
Guy Bassett harnesses his engineering, surveying, construction and design experience in Over-See Project Management, looking after private clients' building projects from start to finish. Typical clients have a vision and want to do something a bit different.
Invited to visit Sterling, Guy soon joined Cheltenham Central. An experienced networker, he was "in it for the long game", but as it happened, he got three jobs within the first eight weeks!
The referrals kept coming, and Guy has also benefited from meeting people with different businesses, sharing and solving problems. This "grown-up" approach to networking now accounts for more than 30% of his work.
When old friends Barbara and Kevin Steele moved to the area, Guy suggested they join Sterling to help establish their business - Agile Design - in the region. The business relationship strengthened, with Guy advising his friends on their listed barn conversion, and Agile Design creating Over-See's branding.
I was impressed by the number of professional people in the room. The energy of the group took me by surprise!
Sterling and its members appreciate good design and realise that effective marketing materials give credibility and improve engagement.
Married team Kevin and Barbara Steele of Agile Design have over 25 years' design experience working with big names such as Manchester Business School and The University of Liverpool, as well as a host of business start-ups.
In 2013 they moved from Cheshire to the edge of the Cotswolds. As their old friend Guy Bassett of Over-See Project Management (a Sterling Cheltenham Central member) knows the area thoroughly, he was able to advise Kevin and Barbara on where to set up home. And to help Agile Design become established in the area, Guy also introduced them to Sterling.
Sterling soon became a great platform for Agile Design; Kevin and Barbara are now members of Sterling's Cheltenham Regency and Evesham networking groups.
Agile Design offers a full branding and design service for ambitious start-ups and growing businesses, so smaller businesses can benefi t from Barbara and Kevin's high calibre design services.
Over the summer of 2015 Agile Design created the dramatic new Sterling branding, redesigning its website and other marketing materials. They worked closely with Neil and Tracey Davis of Sterling as well as collaborating with other Sterling Network Group members including Andy Hockridge of Imagemaker, Dan Kershaw of DevelopMy and copywriter Lizzie Quarterman