Bridging Communities: Reflections on How Networking Can Help Us Unlock Opportunity, Embrace Diversity and Foster an Innovative Mindset

Posted in: Blog, News.

A decorative image with the title "bridging communities glasgow" with some text describing the event

Recently I was asked to speak at the first ever Glasgow Bridging Communities events, which took place in Eagle Labs on the Barclays campus situated in the heart of Glasgow. Hosted by The Melting Pot and Startup Grind, in association with Code Base, it was the first such event in the city after three sold out events in Edinburgh over the last year.

It was a privilege to be asked to speak at this event, which brought together like-minded professionals who understand the power of networking, diverse perspectives, and nurturing relationships. Here are some of my reflections on the event.

Unlocking Opportunities through Purposeful Networking

When it comes to networking events I am often asked, “Why should I attend networking events?” I empathise with the concerns surrounding time management and the uncertain benefits of these events. However, the Bridging Communities event challenged these perceptions and showcased the tangible value of purposeful networking.

Many see networking as a dirty word these days, but networking events offer more than merely an opportunity for self-promotion or personal gain. They serve as invaluable platforms for understanding industry trends, learning from peers and discovering innovative solutions to shared challenges. Engaging with professionals from diverse backgrounds broadens our horizons, expands our knowledge, and encourages a deeper understanding of the wider Third Sector. Effective networking enables us to build meaningful relationships, forge collaborations and create a more connected and vibrant business ecosystem.

Ultimately, for me it’s about expanding your community, and learning from members of other communities. At the Bridging Communities event, the focus was very much on pushing people out of their comfort zones to interact with members of other communities that they may not regularly encounter. The event created a space for purposeful networking. And these kinds of events are vital for helping us to break out of familiar patterns.

Embracing Diversity to Ignite Innovation

The Bridging Communities event also celebrated the power of diverse perspectives. There is immense value to be found by embracing diversity within teams and communities. During the event, we discussed how varied experiences and backgrounds offer fresh insights and drive innovation. Diversity can help individuals and organisations see things from a different perspective. I liken this to the number of different vantage points football fans have when watching in a stadium. Just as the view changes depending on where one stands, embracing diverse perspectives allows us to uncover unique tools, tactics, and strategies.

For social enterprises breaking drawing inspiration from diverse sources is crucial. By engaging with professionals from various sectors, such as purpose-driven businesses, public sector organisations, and even larger corporations, social enterprises gain exposure to new tools, infrastructure, and approaches. Embracing diversity empowers us to think outside the box, identify innovative solutions, and create a lasting impact in our communities.

The Growth Mindset: Stepping Outside Comfort Zones

As someone involved in entrepreneurship, I understand the importance of personal and professional growth. This event emphasised the need to step beyond comfort zones, as growth often resides outside familiar territories. By challenging ourselves and embracing discomfort, we unlock new opportunities for development. This is why I find great significance in attending networking events and community-building gatherings, even if they initially seem intimidating.

The event offered a safe and supportive environment, encouraging participants to push their boundaries and interact with individuals possessing different skill sets, backgrounds, and expertise. By reframing discomfort as an opportunity for growth, we can empower ourselves to analyse our fears, identify areas for improvement, and foster personal and professional development. This growth mindset nurtures a community of individuals eager to learn, share knowledge, and collaborate, creating an environment that drives organisational growth and impact.

Further Reflections from Other CEIS Staff Members

Whilst I may have been speaking at the event, I was also joined by Hannah Roussel, Nina Graham and Clare McIntyre at the event. Here’s what they had to say about it:

“It was a friendly and relaxed event that brought together a diverse group of like-minded people to learn from each other and make interesting connections. The organisers created a safe and welcoming atmosphere and the semi-structured format worked well. Eagle Labs was also an excellent venue that really lent itself to this kind of informal networking event.” – Hannah Roussel, Marketing Officer

“It felt like a friend had invited you to a social gathering at their home where you didn’t know anyone and left at the end of the evening having met a few people you now had plans to continue a conversation with again soon.

Each speaker offered a different perspective on the question “What does community mean to you?” and, rather than a conventional Q&A, attendees were encouraged to move around the room to discuss the topic, where the conversation naturally evolved into learning about each other.” – Clare McIntyre

Empowering Connections, Igniting Potential

Reflecting on the Bridging Communities event, I am inspired by the growing movement of purpose-driven enterprises in Scotland. We have a unique opportunity to champion the values and mission of our organisations while recognising that businesses of various legal structures can contribute to building a better world. The event exemplified effective community-building practices, prioritising relationships over transactions and creating a psychologically safe space for attendees to connect, learn, and collaborate.

As individuals and organisations we must recognise the transformative power of networking and community engagement. By embracing diversity, challenging our comfort zones, and fostering meaningful relationships, we amplify our collective impact and drive organisational growth. Let us harness the lessons from Bridging Communities and carry them forward, creating a future where vibrant communities, collaboration, and purpose-driven endeavours thrive.

Together, let’s continue bridging communities, empowering connections, and shaping a brighter tomorrow for all.



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