The Icehouse puts immense value on its network. Through programmes, partnerships, content production and events, all sorts of incredible new alumni stories are created.
From Owner Manager Programme (OMP) cohorts getting together to start investment funds to introductions to key professional services like accounting firms to help them grow faster and better, OMP alumni often reference ‘The Icehouse magic’, and how that shared on-programme experience provides a ready-made professional network that can last decades.
“You have that community, where you can share where things are going. You can be honest, you can have fun, and you can ask each other questions on things that you're working on, that you're not entirely sure about,” says Trina Jones, Co-founder at Cultivate and an OMP alumni. “It’s their specialty, or it's their line of business. It's hugely helpful and wonderful to be part of.”
There are many reasons why businesspeople network but one universal truth exists – “better” networking works best ‘when the network itself consists of high-quality, highly-influential and supportive components pulling for your success.
“[The Icehouse community has had way more impact than I thought it would… OMP was awesome… I’m also so grateful to call [my cohort] friends now. We go to a cafe or bar and there’s no one else in the world that's ever been able to say, ‘Katrina, you said you were going to do something? Is it done?’” says Katrina Jenner, CEO of Jenners Worldwide Freight and an OMP alumni.
“You're just straight there and into that business talk. Someone will go, ‘I'm having a tough time with x’ and, between us [we can help] – we've all been through something and have got experience to share. You just can't put a value on that network.”
Contributing to 2023’s greater Icehouse commitment to high-quality networking opportunities for New Zealand’s businesses are the alumni ‘plus one’ events.
Held in regions nationwide, alumni and a guest join other business owners and leaders at an on-site alumni business location to ‘peak behind the curtain’, ask questions and hear the history, the challenges and wins of another real business. The event includes a site tour, Q&A sessions and speaker slots.
“It’s been incredibly successful. From the start of the event you can see the beginnings of collaboration,” says Bryar Stewart, Community Manager (Growth) at The Icehouse.
“The Q&A sessions also reflect that as a closeness develops. Owners and leaders get to ask really deep questions around the things that they're struggling with and what develops is a valuable communal conversation, where everyone unpacks, shares experiences and bounces ideas around whatever that business owner or leader is going through at the time.”
Bryar explains that as The Icehouse alumni is the common factor, there’s a real sense of trust from the second you walk in the door. It's another step further on The Icehouse journey – where alumni get the opportunity to connect with new people and expand their wider network.
“You see people in a room chatting together, already doing business together, which is so satisfying. The ‘plus one’ might meet a whole group, but really click with one or two others, and of course it’s up to them how they want to connect beyond that.
“For The Icehouse, it keeps the network flourishing beyond the initial network, beyond that initial cohort. It’s also an opportunity for existing cohorts to extend their yearly catch-ups.”
With such a high-value network available, that next governance role, major supplier, best-buying customer, lawyer or exit planning advisor could be much closer than you think.
The ‘plus one’ element is key – ‘quality people and quality business owners’ – because OMP has always been about successful businesses becoming more successful. According to Bryar, the alumni never forget and appreciate the value they got from OMP, and while they’re selective in their plus one, are proud of what they’ve achieved, and keen to introduce a peer to something that has given them so much value.
Networking events are an effective way to meet that one person or group of people who can change your business for ever and while 99% of professionals agree that face-to-face communication is vital for their business, 28% find it hard to stay in touch with a network (Zippia).
‘It’s time away from the desk, I’ll have to travel, the people won’t be relatable, and I won’t get any value from it.’
However, if it’s all packaged up for you, with like-minded and interesting guests and just down the road, then it’s networking made easy.
And the effect is contagious. Like many OMP alumni, Bruce McEwen, Founder and Managing Director of Zend finds it easy to stay connected with The Icehouse community. “When you own a business, and you're driving it every single day… a lot of that is about networking and actually getting out of the office and meeting people – that's how you earn your money. There's an old saying, ‘your network is your net worth!’”
For the next Icehouse Alumni ‘plus one’ events, check out the calendar page on The Icehouse or contact Bryar Stewart, Community Manager (Growth) at The Icehouse: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.
For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our resources.
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