Established business network- RSViP have been working hard to keep businesses connected during the last six months since lockdown began in March. By acting quickly and taking their in-person ‘Network Social’ events online, business was able to continue as (un!)usual. Aptly named ‘Keep calm and carry on digitally’, the events have been running for 6 months now, and show no signs of stopping.
Founder of RSViP, Fiona Duncan-Steer reflects on the past seven months;
“It’s been a very challenging time for many businesses, in particular the events and hospitality industry. We have been hit extremely hard and it has been difficult seeing many of our clients anxious and struggling. As such many of us have had to switch into survival mode and do whatever it takes to keep going, stay visible and above all, support one another, which is exactly what I decided to do.
After a forty eight hour panic following the first Government announcement, I pulled my socks up and hosted my first ever online event in March, to a positive and grateful response from both business professionals and University students and we are now preparing to host our eighth online event on 29th October and will continue for as long as we need to. I have very quickly had to adapt a business I’ve been running in much of the same way for the past 12 years in a matter of weeks and I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a challenge at times. Knowing I have such a powerful and extensive network and reach, there was no option but to go digital! I’ve learnt so much during this process and just feel happy I’ve been able to keep going and help so many others along the way”.
Fiona has collaborated with brand strategist Matt Davies, Brand Strategist & Co-host www.mrmattdavies.me to host the online events and together they both offer their expertise from a business and marketing perspective, inviting guest speakers to share their stories and valuable insights on topics such as ‘how to stay connected in the digital space’, ‘maintaining valuable relationships at a distance’ and such-like, experimenting with various formats and timings to co-inside with the changing times along the way. They even celebrated RSViP’s 12th Anniversary online back in April by changing participants backgrounds to balloons, incorporating fun games and ‘bring your own’ beverages!
Derbyshire based Marketer Tim Elliot speaks highly of the events:
“I recently had the opportunity to speak for RSViP as part of the ‘Conversations and bounce back strategies’ series and have been aware and a fan of RSViP for many years. Despite the difficulties facing communities over most of 2020 Fiona has bought together the community and a new wider group of people under a united need of connection. Generation and reinforcement of business relationships is more important than ever & Fiona & RSViP are the top of that tree.”
Tim Elliott www.timelliott.me
Over the years Fiona’s networks have facilitated hundreds of thousands of connections, which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of generated revenue for businesses, new partnerships being formed, friendships made and even an RSViP wedding! In 2020 to date Fiona has interviewed over thirty business owners and industry experts online, including award winning business coach and entrepreneur Claire Brumby who appeared on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Claire shared her inspirational story of business challenges and success, as have many other business owners since then, with the focus being ‘real and raw’ storytelling to inspire and support.
The online events don’t just stop with RSViP, Fiona’s property network WREN have also taken their events online, seeing Fiona interviewing professionals in the property industry in much the same way, to provide valuable support and inspiration in this much affected area of business.
Over 300 East Midlands professionals have also joined the new LinkedIn group- RSViP- Business & The City during lockdown with the groups intention to bring businesses together to share useful resources and information, on top of their existing members Facebook group.
In addition to the free online events, Fiona has spent her time developing her training business, building and launching her brand new website www.fionaduncan-steer.com and virtual training hub www.rsvip.membervault.com offering businesses free resources, launched a new members area of her website www.rsvipnetwork.co.uk has written five e-books, as well as delivering free webinars to universities and business communities across the country.
“Fiona’s online seminars and one-to-one coaching has been a lifeline for our entrepreneurs who were struggling to maintain connections during the crisis. As an entrepreneur herself, Fiona’s approach was relatable and effective. At a time like this, we were looking for an adviser that we could trust, and Fiona surpassed our expectations.”
Dr Terri Holloway, University of Nottingham