Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dorset business networking group offers practical support

The 'wicked issue' discussion
Business networking isn’t all about growing your list of potential customers. While some groups, like the recently profiled BNI, focus on referrals, others approach networking from a different perspective.

KM4B, meeting once a month at Kingston Maurward college near Dorchester, is one of these. At its heart is the ‘wicked issue’ discussion, an opportunity to source valuable advice from others, in a round table discussion.

KM4B is a new networking meeting, picking up from where BusinessXchange left off, after the withdrawal of Business Link funding. It’s run jointly by Kingston Maurward and Laura McHarrie of The Hidden Edge.

The power of the ‘wicked issue’

Feedback from participants in wicked issue discussions suggests that the advice they receive can be worth literally thousands of pounds in time saved and opportunities discovered. The price is a modest charge to attend the breakfast and a willingness to be open.

Laura describes a wicked issue as “something that keeps you awake at night, either because you’re so excited, or because it’s something you’re really worried about”. Examples include the obvious: “How do I get more sales?”, the technical: “What’s the best free cloud-based CRM system?” and the human: “What do I do with my overly-demanding customer?”

The issues are discussed in small groups of about five or six people, with everyone being given the opportunity to offer a point of view based on their experience. The benefits of pooling knowledge in this way can be enormous, particularly for very small firms where time is a precious resource.

Don’t forget the famous Kingston Maurward sausages

The ‘wicked issues’ discussions aren’t the only highlight of KM4B meetings. They start with an excellent Kingston Maurward breakfast, one of the best on the Dorset networking circuit and complete with sausages made from the college’s very own porkers.

Meetings also include a short, topical presentation on a subject that’s highly relevant to local businesses. Everyone attending is encouraged to consider how to apply what they’ve learned by participating in a facilitated discussion of the issues raised.

Regular attenders at KM4B will tell you they love the creative buzz generated during the meeting, and the wealth of new ideas they take away with them each month.

Whether you’re a sole trader or part of a larger business operating in Dorset, KM4B could offer tangible benefits and allow you to widen your contact base without any pressure to sell, or be sold to. That said, regular attenders develop a trust which often leads to referrals, or to them doing business together.

For more information contact Laura McHarrie of The Hidden Edge.

If you've experienced KM4B and the 'wicked issue' discussions, please share your opinion by leaving a comment. Thank you! 

Visit our list of Dorset business networking groups.


  1. I totally agree with what you've said here. I think one of the most important aspects for business owners is that the people who attend KM4B regularly are a friendly and supportive bunch.

    Any new guest I've spoken to has always commented on how welcome they have been made to feel and how impressed they are that other business owners are so willing to share their experiences and give advice.

    And, because Laura sends out such a great follow-up email (which I've not seen from any other business networking group) summarising the presentation and the wicked issues, the members who could not attend read about what happened and are given the opportunity to offer insights to resolving any of the wicked issues that people have raised.

    I'd definitely recommend that business owners come along to see for themselves how valuable this networking group is.

  2. Sausages to one side - which no one does on the day. . . . The KM4B is without doubt one of the most informative breakfast club in the area.

    As a business you are treated as an individual and not a ' member ', the small discussion groups are not just random sit down people they are pre allocated which amazingly lets you gain advice from a large cross platform of experience.

    I attended as a one off to get an idea of the group and came away with more than a one idea . . . .

    This one works