Connecting at the charity meetup – Guest Blog by Ruby Kvalheim

26th May 2016

Charity Meetup seemed to me a gathering of a warm and supportive bunch of people, who want to help each other succeed. The evening was centred around actionable change, offering techniques, support and encouragement. Great inspiration after a long Tuesday at work!

Around 50 people came to the event, yet the atmosphere was one of a cosy group chat, with plenty of interaction during talks, as well as time for one to one discussions. I arrived assuming I wouldn’t know anybody, but was pleased to bump into an old work colleague – I guess it’s a small world afterall. I wasn’t expecting to stay until the end either, since I have a long journey home from central London, but really glad I did. I left feeling energised and a bit more connected to others working in the charity sector.

Photos by Matt Kepple
Photos by Matt Kepple

Coaching Activity

We started the evening with a little bit of peer-coaching, investigating in pairs how we reach our ‘flow’ state at work (that sense of something becoming effortless and unconscious, where you lose yourself in the task and don’t realise if an hour has flown by). Then we heard from a panel who explained how they got to be working their dream job, with a chance to probe for their advice on particular issues. Finally there was a presentation on how habits are formed and how to create lasting positive changes. All interlaced with chances to nibble, grab a drink and network with others.

I surprised myself by filling in the activity sheet – you know, those ones that never actually get completed at a networking event – with scribbled ideas of an action I was going to follow up on, a clear timeframe of exactly when to do so, plus a note of who I’d be accountable to and what my reward would be.

I also had an unexpected conversation with the director of an organisation who I may end up volunteering for to research for their local community.

Changing your habits to understand your brain – Gabija Toleikyte

Photos by Matt Kepple
Photos by Matt Kepple

From the final presentation I learnt that suffering from anxiety and stress can be serious inhibitors for decision-making and problem-solving in the sense that you use a more primal part of your brain, the ‘lizard brain’ syndrome. In response, we worked through tools to regain a sense of calm and pleasure during the work day and how to set small and achievable goals.

There was a suggestion of focusing a future networking Meetup specifically on collaboration within charities, how to encourage charities to work together more, and resist the competitive tendency that so many of us in the audience were familiar with, holding back your cards rather than sharing what you’ve got for wider benefit. So I hope we can make that an ongoing conversation.

We all took away a little info pack with attendees’ names and organisations to follow up with, and a prompt sheet for third sector marketing tips. And as a bonus, some of us came away with a free consultancy session with the neuroscientist coach who led a session on ‘Changing your habits to understand your brain’. This was a well-planned and valuable event with plenty of opportunities for connecting people and I’ll be going along to the next one!

RubyGuest Post by Ruby Kvalheim

Ruby can be found on twitter @sustafest