Tech City: Network naturally at socially hosted dinners

Kate Jackson of TableCrowd

Kate Jackson of TableCrowd - Credit: Archant

A website which connects like minded professionals through hosting dinners in the capital is making waves in Tech City.

TableCrowd, which is based in Old Street, allows users to browse through a range of social networking dinners to find an industry, theme or speaker that interests them.

Attendees create partnerships with guests or even just share professional ideas.

Co-founder Kate Jackson, of Southgate Road in De Beauvoir, launched the project with her brother to harness the online to offline trend.

She said: “We wanted to capitalise on building an online community and making that real, taking it offline and making the most of the full circle from offline to online and back.”

The site started as a place for professionals to build friendships but Kate said they quickly learned the value people got from networking dinners with business themes.

She said: “Everyone there is a decision maker in your sector so it is really relevant networking that you can enjoy.

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“A good percentage of people at every dinner are not at their first - we have a really good repeat rate and people have met new clients, gotten introductions or made an introduction themselves.

“I had this great quote from someone who said he sat next to someone who gave him an idea for his business, and this month the idea accounted for 30 per cent of their revenues, so we can see real value and real results.”

TableCrowd is a natural way of networking which appeals to those uncomfortable with the traditional method of going to an event armed with business cards and ice-breaking conversation.

Kate said that dinner in a restaurant was automatically a talking point for people.

The site started through Kate and her brother’s personal networks and grew organically through social media and recommendations.

The company maintains its members through an intimate knowledge of its network, regular newsletters and supporting users with their projects.

Kate said: “We really champion our community online, we know what they are doing and run spotlight blogs where we talk about people who have come to the dinners.

“My personal view is networks are vital for success and there is actually no better way to build them than over food.”

She also championed working and living in Hackney, saying: “It is great, my whole world centres on Hackney. I am in a shared workspace where you get to be part of a bigger community in a smaller team and I am very happy to be part of the area.”

It is free to register on TableCrowd where people can list their own events or attend events run by the site’s own hosts.

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