Marcus Gee, Mentis Consulting Informal networks between individuals and teams have for too long been ignored by organisations, managers, consultants and psychologists, argued Marcus Gee of Mentis Consulting at the inaugural meeting of the ABP Midlands group held at Coventry University on November 5th. Over-emphasis…
The ABP local networks are a great place to meet and interact with others in your profession who live locally.
You can exchange ideas, offer or gain support, collaborate, develop new relationships, learn new skills, continue your professional development – there are many possibilities. See below for first hand information from two members who have already started a local network. And if you would like to start a local network, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. The ABP office will email on your behalf, blind copied, to other members in your area – see Caroline’s example below for more detail.
Caroline Gourlay, South West, meetings in Bristol
“We had our third meeting last week and I’m enjoying them. The first one was a set up meeting, how we will work etc. We decided on having a conversation topic agreed in advance and ‘introduced’ by someone; for our second meeting we discussed differences in public and private sector cultures and for our third the development of cognitive skills in adults.
There are nominally 36 people in the group and I’m quite pleased with the turnout so far (between seven and nine), considering we always meet during the day and paid work takes precedence. The point of them is to meet other psychologists locally and to stretch your mind a bit. If you’re there, you take part, if not, there are no notes or anything, so it’s just a conversation you weren’t part of. It makes it very easy to run.
It’s very much an evolving entity and there’ll be quite a lot of trying it and seeing what works. We see the group as being a place where people can discuss the practical application of psychology to help organisations and the people who work in them, with the emphasis being on the ‘practical application’ bit. Or to put it in the words of one member: “it’s a group where we talk about the stuff we do”. It’s a discussion forum where people share their experience and knowledge, rather than a group where we learn about something from an expert in a presentation/Q&A format.
Many of the group members are independent psychologists and people saw a possible spin-off benefit in meeting other independents to work on projects together or to bid jointly for the kind of contracts that sole operators wouldn’t be able to go for.
Each session lasts about two hours, with two types of discussion that people were interested in: focussed discussion on a specific topic or general discussion along the lines of “I’ve got this business problem, any ideas?” or “Have you heard about this exciting new thing?”.
We use Doodle to fix future dates and we’re aiming to get together every couple of months, with the south-west regional events happening in between. So far we’ve met during the day, in a local hotel where they reserved tables for us in a quiet area.
In terms of setting up the group and data protection (and just general netiquette), this is what I did. Richard sent an email on my behalf bcc’d to all the ABP members in the South West, which had a short questionnaire asking where people might like to meet, what time of day, what topics they were interested in, etc. Richard collated all the responses. I then sent an email to all the interested members and set up the first meeting. All those emails were BCC. Once I was clear about who was in the group, I sent an email saying that I would share everyone’s email addresses, so that people could contact each other in the group, unless someone asked me not to share theirs. No one objected.”
Please contact Caroline directly if you would like to be a part of this network: email@example.com.
Pauline Grant: South Bucks/Berkshire, meetings in/near Beaconsfield
“It started with a couple of us who lived near each other (but seldom met outside ABP conferences) deciding to get together. We sounded out a couple more who lived in the area, and then Richard Taylor let us have contact details of others who were in our patch so we had some more people to invite.
The first couple of meetings were just social, then we decided to have a topic, and so far we’ve always managed to find a volunteer (occasionally an external speaker) to either present or facilitate a discussion on something of interest. As time went on, people met others and asked them if they’d like to join.
There are now 29 people on the circulation list, and we generally get six to 10 at meetings – we peaked at 15 when we did a pre-Christmas gathering with food and drink at my house. We had a dozen attend a one-off business development day we organised where we actually booked a proper meeting venue; the usual location is a pub where we can reserve a table.
So, it’s a pretty low key network which provides a bit of CPD and a forum within which people can get advice, support, test ideas and disseminate information about other things we’ve heard of. Some members work together from time to time, but most are independents that don’t overlap. In my case, having left an organisation where I had professional colleagues, it fills a gap.
As for advice to others – I’d say starting socially is a good idea, and then depending on who turns up allow it to evolve in the way the group wants.
Also, use Doodle (or something similar) to arrange meetings – I was ready to hand over that side of it, as it really is the only arduous element, but Doodle is so easy I continue to be the group’s administrator.
We generally meet in the Beaconsfield area, and people travel from High Wycombe, Maidenhead area, Reading – so South Bucks & Berks mainly.”
Please contact Pauline directly if you would like to join this network: firstname.lastname@example.org.