Host your own Co‑op Connections Event

This page explains how to to organise your own local networking events, and what support is available from Co-operatives UK

Email [email protected] for advice and support organising and promoting your event.

Why host a co-op networking event?

It’s a fantastic opportunity to get together with other co-ops in your area, share ideas, grow your business, and your network. It’s also a great way to practice Co-op Principle 6 – co-operation amongst co-operatives.

Why make it a Co-op Connections event?

  • We’ll publicise your event on our website and social media.
  • We’re also at the other end of the phone with ideas and advice should you need them!
  • COMING SOON!  Resources you can use to publicise and run your event  (template social media posts, badges, stickers and forms, etc)

What kind of event should I run?

Informal yet structured networking events work well, with inspiring speakers and workshops that make it a valuable, thought provoking experience. And occasionally, just drinks and conversation works too. 

When should I put it on?

Tuesday to Thursday evenings between 5.30pm and 8pm works well. But test the water, ask the people you’ll be inviting, find out what times and days suit them.

How much notice should I give people?

At least two months’ lead time is good for a structured event, and three to four weeks for informal drinks. And remember to factor in holidays, bank holidays, sporting events, etc.

Who do I invite?

The co-ops and societies in your area – see our co-op directory. Or we can send you a list of your local co‑ops. Contact a few of them to find out what they want from a networking event.

What content should my events cover?

They should cover topics that are of value to you and your attendees. So do some research and ask the people you’ll be inviting, find out what they want to hear – and plan your content around that.  

How do I structure the events?

There are a number of different formats you can use at networking events:

  • Peer-to-peer coaching works well, especially with lower numbers. Ask us about how to run Action Learning Sets.
  • Guest speaker(s): the more speakers you have, the more audience you’ll need – so plan with this mind.
  • A simple ‘show and tell’ can work well for your first event – where each person talks about who they are and what their co‑op does.
  • If your attendees have met before, consider a round robin discussion conducted by a facilitator.
  • Seasoned co-operators can use Principle 6 Networking. The format works well for 20+ people. Our useful slides and guide will help you run your own.

Do I need a facilitator?

Having a facilitator isn’t necessary, but it helps keep the event on track. For tips on facilitation, look up our members Rhizome Co‑op.

Where should I hold the event?

You can host it at your co-op, other local co-ops or community spaces. Things to consider:

  • Making your event low budget, low carbon, no-catering (water, tea and coffee are good).
  • Room size and sound – you may need a PA.
  • Make sure the room suits the format of the event – e.g. larger rooms for speaker panels, etc.
  • Use accessible venues that have lifts and ramp access.
  • Transport – consider parking and public transport near your venue.  

How do I promote my event?

  • Use Eventbrite to set up your free event and keep a tally on attendees.
  • Provide us with the details so we can add it our national event listings, which receive thousands of views every month.
  • We’ll also email out invites and reminders to those in your area and promote it on social media.
  • Post your event online, send your links to us – and we’ll share them.   

What other support can I get for my events?

  • If you have a speaker and attendees booked, we’d be happy to conduct a collaborative coaching session for you, if we can.
  • Email us and we'll let you know if we can facilitate peer-to-peer Action Learning Sets.
  • If it’s a large event, we can monitor numbers, send out reminders and administer your bookings through the Co-operatives UK’s events system.

See the list of Co-op Connections events happening around the country.