Sussex Clubs & Business Hubs in the County

With lots of business networking hubs and business clubs across Sussex, we’ve discovered some fantastic groups.

We believe business networking should be about sharing; knowledge, contacts, or even a trade swap. We encourage our networkers to be open and honest about their businesses as you only get what you put into your networking; meaning if you are willing to help others, they’ll likely want to help you with your company too.

Business networking for B2B services can be diverse and at times daunting, but we are here to help you to increase your own network and make new contacts which can be of mutual benefit and be very rewarding to your business.

With this said, the key to successful business marketing is in the invaluable relationships that you are personally able to forge face-to-face with potential clients, to guarantee a strong understanding of the other, and as such, this is the focus of our business networking relationships with companies in East & West Sussex.

1. Platinum Business Club - By Invitation
2. Basepoint Business Centres - Free to Attend
3. First Friday Networking - Free to Attend
4. Network My Club - Membership Tiers
5. County Business Clubs - Membership tiers
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A. Platinum Business Club

Platinum Business Club is an exclusive business networking group comprising of business leaders from some of the country’s largest companies. It offers a refreshing networking scene in the luxurious surroundings of the Grand Hotel, Brighton and the Hilton Hotel, Gatwick. Co-founder Maarten answers some questions about the networking group that offers exceptional opportunities to connect.

Maarten Hoffman Interview
Martyn Hoffman

1. Why did you set up the Platinum Business Club?
I was tired of the standard networking format that was tired, lazy and unprofitable for attendees. I wanted a more targeted, elegant grown-up event and the Platinum Club was born. We are very time poor these days therefore if you are going to devote time to networking, make sure it is right for your company; efficient, worthwhile and most importantly, enjoyable. The Platinum Club is the most successful peer to peer networking group in the South East and is open by application to Directors, MD’s, CEO’s and Entrepreneurs who would like to meet and do business with an eclectic group of influential business leaders.

2. What gives you the most satisfaction as part of your job?
Changing the way we network and ensuring it is an event to look forward to in the monthly calendar and not a chore.

3. What has been your proudest moment since beginning Platinum Business Club?
Two members getting married funnily enough. Dan Montagnani of Groundsure and Natalie Page of Page Marketing.

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would be a woman so that l can finally understand how they work!

5. What would you say is the trickiest aspect of being such a large part of Platinum Business Magazine?
Nothing tricky just hard work. We are now the largest circulation regional business publication in the UK, we have published 4 titles, have 2 new ones launching and reach 92% of the SE business population. Actually, looking back that it does seem quite tricky.

6. What have you learned throughout your time with Platinum Business Club?
Networking, done well, is the most important aspect of any marketing or PR budget. How can you see eye to eye if you never meet face to face?

7. Favourite ice cream flavour?
I don’t like ice cream.

8. What is the greatest piece of advice you can give businesses either starting up or successful already?
Choose very carefully who you listen to when asking for advice. Networking is a great way to canvas varied sector advice from a great range of unbiased professionals just for the cost of turning up and drinking fine Champagne.

9. If you could own any supercar, what would it be and why?
I do - an R8 V10 plus Spyder

10. Biggest weakness?
My R8 V10 plus Spyder

11. Best strength?
Balls and passion. Feeling really passionate about something, working out how to do it and then having the courage to do it. If you fall over, get up, dust yourself off and get on with it. You simply cannot have success without some failure along the way as you don’t learn from success, you learn from failure.

12. Sum up Platinum Business Club in just a tweet?
Platinum Business Club is an exclusive business networking group comprising of business leaders from some of the country’s largest companies.

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B. Basepoint Business Centres

Amber Douglas Interview
Amber Douglas (Left)

1. Why did you join Basepoint?
When looking for a new career path the role at Basepoint really appealed to me.  In my mind I envisioned myself swanning around a building looking after a multitude of businesses and selling space.  It seemed like my ideal role, consultative selling with hands on aftercare and account management.  I can certainly say that my vision was pretty accurate, I hadn't quite accounted for the sensible shoes and waving around screwdrivers, but the variety certainly keeps me on my toes!

2. What is your favourite type of music?
I'm a bit of an all-rounder as long as I can sing along at the top of my lungs with music! Best gigs I have been to where Paramore, Linken Park and Slipknot.

3. What has been your proudest moment since beginning at Basepoint?
Surviving a pandemic whilst supporting my team and clients and completing a leadership and management course.  Myself and my team have really excelled themselves, we definitely feel like no challenge is too big now.

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Teleportation! I am certainly a people person and cannot wait for coffees and glasses of wine in the real world, too many people to see though, being able to pop up here there and everywhere would be amazing. 

5. What’s your favourite city in the world?
Favourite City would be Rhodes, but favourite place is a wonderful little village in Spain called Competa, sipping cocktails on the roof terrace at Oscar's.

6. What have you learned throughout your time with Basepoint?
The power of being a friend, saying a kind word and offering support.  Everything we do has an impact if I can turn a rubbish day into a great one for my clients, staff, colleagues, suppliers or visitors I am a happy person.

7. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Got to be proper Rum and raisin (think there is a theme with alcohol in these answers)

8. What is the greatest piece of advice you can give businesses either starting up or successful already?
Be open and honest and know your product, and when meeting other businesses or business professionals show as much interest in their offering as you want them to show in yours.

9. If you could own any supercar, what would it be and why?
Aldi R8 Spyder, V10 engine, beautiful... need I say any more?

10. Biggest weakness?
I am terrible at being bored, luckily for me that doesn't happen very often, anyone who knows me is familiar with me running around at lightning speed talking to as many people as possible.

11. Best strength?
Supporting and developing people.  I love to see people grow develop and succeed so put everything into making that happen, if they succeed then so do I.

12. Sum up Basepoint in just a tweet?
When all else fails always have a dog in the office #dogfriendly #welovepuppies

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C. First Friday Networking

Steve Wilson Interview
Steve Wilson

What is First Friday Network?
The First Friday Network is a monthly free business networking event held on various Fridays with meetings across the country, including East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, and Lancashire. To find out when a meeting is happening in your area click the links (below). All the networks are linked but are run by local business people. Serving the business community by way of offering a venue to network, promote and exchange ideas.

1. Why did you start FFN?
After moving my business from London I was doing the rounds of network meetings and decided there was a gap in the market for those people who didn’t want an early morning breakfast meeting or a weekly commitment, or indeed to pay a subscription to a large organisation.

2. What gave you the idea?
I knew networking was a great way to get new business so wanted to meet as many businesses as possible without restrictions.

3. What has been your proudest moment since beginning FFN?
Being recognised for my contribution to the local business scene at the Chichester Observer Business Awards for three years running, winning Business Personality of the Year in 2009 and runner up in 2008 and 2010. Fred Dinenage described me as: “a real ideas man who is out and about everywhere, involved in Young Enterprise as a judge and mentor, a board member for the Education Business Partnership, Chairman of the Chichester branch of the South Coast Design Forum and much, much more. He is also well known for his networking activities; running the popular First Friday Network which is growing nationwide and attracting new members every month.”

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I’d love to fly! The sense of freedom that must give would be fabulous!

5. Why Sussex to begin FFN?
It was where my business was! An easy decision.

6. What have you learned throughout your time with FFN?
I like people! May sound odd but I love the buzz when entrepreneurs get together and ideas start to flow.

7. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Salted caramel

8. What is the greatest piece of advice you can give businesses either starting up or successful already?
I have been running my own company since the 1980s and always considered myself a designer running a business, I only recently changed my mindset to be an entrepreneur running a design business - a slight change in words but a huge leap in the way I approach things. I would advise all small business owners to work ‘on’ the business not just ‘in’ it! If you have not read The ‘E’ Myth by Michael Gerber then I encourage you to do so, it will explain everything very clearly.

9. If you could own any supercar, what would it be and why?
Classic Porsche - the design is timeless.

10. Biggest weakness?
Not being able to say no! I am always up for getting involved in things, even if it spreads my time a little to thin.

11. Best strength?
This quote by a client sums up my strengths I think creativity and just getting things done!

“I recommend Steve Wilson of WDA as a creative graphic designer producing high-quality work that continues to delight customers and exceeds expectations. But that’s not all you get with Steve. He has built a successful business on a strong ethical basis working within the local community investing in the future by supporting the Young Enterprise programme, strengthening the business community serving the Chamber of Commerce and developing and expanding his own First Friday Network Group which is built on zero cost to participants, a welcoming format and inclusivity. And that’s not all, he found time to be in at the birth of South Coast Design Forum and has given his time and talent to get this fledgeling flying. If you like the look of the SCDF website and eNewsletter they are very much Steve’s creation.”

12. Sum up FFN in just a tweet?
Fun, FREE networking; the easiest way to make contacts and get more clients in just 90 minutes month!

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D. Network My Club

Bradley Hatchet Interview
Bradley Hatchett - Network My Club

1. Why did you start NMC?
Initially, it was to do networking at cool venues like sporting stadiums. But, after doing it a short while, I realise there was a stigma attached to networking that it was old fashioned and cliquey.
We are on a mission to make networking something businesses want to do, rather than feel like they have to. Doing it at iconic sporting venues, with great food, good content from speakers and like-minded attendees.

2. What gave you the idea?
It came from my time working at the Amex Stadium for Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.

3. What has been your proudest moment since beginning NMC?
Navigating the business through the pandemic. On paper, our business shouldn’t have survived.
From a face-to-face networking events and membership business to operating solely online, through huge levels of innovation and resilience, we emerged from the pandemic with a more robust business and greater portfolio of services.

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Fly or teleportation - as I love to travel and explore the world!

5. Why Sussex as a county to begin NMC?
Interestingly, we actually started Network My Club in Portsmouth (Hampshire) initially before coming to Sussex soon after. Although from Sussex myself, Portsmouth Football Club was the first place NMC set up.

6. What have you learned throughout your time with NMC?
I could write a huge list of things I’ve learned from running a business. But probably the value of integrity and being a good person. It gets you much further than having little integrity and not being a good person!  

7. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Chocolate hazelnut.

8. What is the greatest piece of advice you can give businesses either starting up or successful already?
Understand that your employees will never have the same level of passion for your business as you. Understanding that puts perspective on your demands and how you interact and treat them.

9. If you could own any supercar, what would it be and why?
I’m not a huge petrol head. Whenever I see a McClaren on the roads it always turns my head so I’ll say that!

10. Biggest weakness?
Not delegating enough to focus on the bigger and more important tasks.

11. Best strength?
Hosting networking events!

12. Sum up NMC in just a tweet?
NMC is a business network connecting and supporting businesses of all sizes across the South East and London, bringing them together through regular live and online networking events to network, connect and grow.

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C. County Business Clubs

Sam Thomas Interview
Sam Thomas, County Business Clubs
1. Why did you start County Business Clubs?

The initial concept was the brainchild of my business partner Lee Mansfield, we wanted create a collaborative membership organisation that could help support local businesses. By bringing 4 different platforms together, we wanted to create a single business ecosystem that can support all businesses  with different needs at different times in their commercial journey.
 
2. What gave you the idea?
My initial involvement with Sussex Business Times helped to mould, develop and evolve Lee’s initial concept to expand the offering and create County Business Clubs, and to offer the business community an all encompassing membership organisation.
 
3. What has been your proudest moment since beginning County Business Clubs?
Bringing the business community together for the inaugural County Business Clubs Awards. We proved our ethos and values that Collaboration over competition is the key to our success and our collaborative event with Network My Club was not only a great success but helped to raise nearly £2000 for two charities, especially Rockinghorse that is very close to my heart.
 
4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Would have to be time travel. Mainly so I could go back and see England win the World Cup.. (and maybe place a bet or two)

5. Why Sussex as a county to begin County Business Clubs?
I have been running businesses in Sussex for over a decade and been fortunate enough to build a strong network of amazing business people. I love the Sussex business community and my supportive network has given us a strong foot hold to launch CBC.
 
6. What have you learned throughout your time with County Business Clubs?
That collaboration and a strong community ethos is what will help businesses survive and thrive as we come out of the pandemic.
 
7. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Pralines and Cream
 
8. What is the greatest piece of advice you can give businesses either starting up or successful already?
To take action and take that first step. Change or progression only happens when you take action.
 
9. If you could own any supercar, what would it be and why?
Ferrari.. The dream is to collect one from the Ferrari factory in Maranello and drive around Italy (and maybe pick up a Ducati Superbike while I am there)
 
10. Biggest weakness?
Thinking that I can do everything myself.. The art of delegation can be tricky.
 
11. Best strength?
Self belief and an ability to build relationships with the majority of people I meet.
 
12. Sum up County Business Clubs in just a tweet?
COUNTY BUSINESS CLUBS is a community based membership organisation  to support Sussex business. By bringing 4 different platforms together, we have created a single business ecosystem that can support all businesses  with different needs at different times in their commercial journey.