Creating a networking group

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A case study-based guide

Networking groups are a great way to share ideas, learn from experience and celebrate success. They’re easy to start – Mission Zero can help you – and simple to run, and the results can be rewarding and inspirational.

Rachael Williams-Gaul has some great tips on how to create and run a networking group from her time leading Mission Zero’s Fleet Management Group. Over the course of three years the Group expanded from a small contingent of five to over 20 members from both local and national organisations, including Department of Conservation (DoC) and New Zealand Police.

Our mission to zero carbon is a global effort – none of us can do it alone. So it makes sense to work with others. Taking the lead in a networking group is a powerful way you can contribute to this effort.

Key takeouts:

  • Contact Mission Zero for help to identify a contact base
  • Arrange a keynote speaker for each meeting
  • Meet when relevant themes or speakers emerge
  • Diarise meetings, send reminders
  • Hold meetings online
  • Allow for 60 minutes per meeting
  • Include time for Q&As and a general chat
  • Keep it simple – no minutes

Don’t hold back. Get going, do it!

What is the Fleet Management Group?

The Group is a network of just over 20 people, some based locally and some from outside of our region, who meet on a regular basis to share ideas on how to reduce the emissions in our businesses through a more sustainable approach to fleet management. It consists of (but is not exclusive to) Fleet Managers, Sustainability Managers and Industry Experts. We’ve been going for around three years.

How does the Group work?

The Group meets online as relevant themes and/or speakers emerge (rather than meeting at regular intervals).

Each meeting I arrange for a keynote speaker to present on a really interesting and important topic for around 10-15 minutes. Some of the topics we’ve covered have included hydrogen technology, heavy electric vehicle options, electric charging infrastructure and car sharing opportunities. 

I usually catch up with the speaker over the phone prior to the session to give them an understanding of how it all works and clarify the topic. Sometimes they create a PowerPoint presentation to speak to. Usually the day and time of the meeting is dictated by the keynote speaker’s availability. I send a meeting invite around a few weeks ahead and a reminder a few days out. 

After the presentation we have an opportunity to ask the speaker questions. We then lead into a general chat amongst the group. This is when we get to share ideas, pick each others’ brains and put some collective thinking into the challenges we’re all facing.

I used to write minutes after each session but it was a bit of work so I stopped! No-one seems to mind, and the whole process is now a lot simpler.

“We meet online as relevant themes and/or speakers emerge. Sessions are around an hour long and include a keynote speaker. We allow time for a Q&A and then lead into a general discussion.”

How did you get involved?

I was working for Nelmac Kūmānu at the time, who wanted to show leadership around sustainability. I heard that Mission Zero was looking to initiate networking groups and put my hand up to be involved and establish the group.

“I put my hand up.”

What steps did you take to get it started?

I worked together with Mission Zero to identify and contact a base of people who we knew were interested in business sustainability. I then set up our first meeting and it all went from there.

“I worked with Mission Zero to identify a contact base, set up our first meeting and we went from there.”

How did the group evolve?

The group evolved organically, starting with a small contingent of around five people from within the local region. It built up mostly through word of mouth via group members and now includes people from outside of our region. I think that shows the value of the exercise and how important it is to be able to connect with others working in the same space.

“The group evolved organically.”

What tips would you give to some who wants to set up a group?

Keep it simple. Keep it relevant. Online meetings work really well – they save time and anyone can join. If you’re interested and enthusiastic in something like this don’t hold back. Get going, do it.

Thank you to Rachael Williams-Gaul for her contribution to this article and her work as Mission Zero’s Fleet Management Leader and to Nelmac Kūmānu for supporting her in this.


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