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After discovering MATCH our GM Business Growth Hub’s free networking event on Eventbrite, Sadie Dales attended the Emirates Event and then the 2023 Social Value event that focused on Value in Volunteering. As someone who had just relocated to Manchester, Sadie was keen to expand her business network and build connections.

Arriving at the Match networking event at Emirates Old Trafford, Sadie was greeted by the Match events team and Business Development Manager Nick Shepherd, who Sadie recognised as being relaxed, approachable and warmly welcomed her to the event.

With Nick’s experience from developing his own Manchester network, he took the time to give her some networking tips to find common ground and mutual interests. By attending the event, Sadie was pushed out of her comfort zone and enjoyed the fruitful event as it opened doors and allowed her to pass on knowledge.

Walking into a room full of business people chattering away like they have known each other for years made me want to run for the hills, but no, I stayed and took action; I saw a young guy with a lanyard by the name of Nick Shepherd and quickly grabbed his attention.  Having confessed I had never networked on this scale before, Nick was kind enough to give me some ‘Networking Tips’. He introduced me to some people at the BGH Match day event at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and was sure to check in with me throughout the morning.  I haven’t looked back as my network of connections has increased immensely and so too has my confidence.

Sadie Dales, Three UK

The Route to Making a Social Impact 

Following a positive experience at her first event, Sadie registered for the Value in Volunteering event held at Virgin Money. The purpose of this event was to bring third sector and private businesses together to work together to achieve change.

Whilst at this event, Sadie was introduced to Jenni Willows from the Booth Centre, Manchester.  Jenni invited Sadie to visit the Booth Centre, a community centre run with people affected by homelessness, to see all the work that goes on there. Working with people experiencing differing circumstances, Sadie was able to see the positive impact that the centre is having, and the level of time and resources being dedicated to its running. Having been inspired by this, Sadie registered for their upcoming Sleep Out event. The purpose of this event was for people to brave the cold and wet weather and sleep out in Manchester, this was to highlight the conditions which homeless people are exposed to.

Raising awareness of the Booths Centre and increasing sponsorship towards her participation in the event, Sadie also inspired her colleagues at Three UK to contribute towards her final fundraising total of £600.

By participating in this sleepout, Sadie was able to experience some of the situational circumstances of sleeping outdoors, for instance, how there’s unfamiliar external sounds, the feeling of not knowing the people sleeping around you and how ultimately you don’t get a proper night’s sleep as you’re constantly alert to the surroundings, and this was an experience was in a controlled environment.

This sleepout event achieved over £21,000 in donations for the Booths Centre and raised awareness of the Booths Centre to a much wider audience.

 “Getting an invite for a networking Matchday volunteering event has by far been one of the best events I have attended, being introduced to Jenni Willows from the Booth Centre  truly opened my eyes up to how networking should be.  I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Booth Centre for a guided tour and then participated in their annual ‘sleepout’.  It was a great opportunity to see how businesses in Manchester really pull together to give back to their city and raised over £21,000 in the process.  It might have started off as ‘Networking’ but to meet meaningful people that I now consider to be friends is really the icing on the cake!”

How Match is a catalyst for change and impact

Our free Match networking event was the catalyst for this amazing outcome and proves the power of the close-knit Manchester community and its ability to make differences far beyond the connecting with local professionals at a local event.

Covering all areas of Greater Manchester, our Match dates for 2024 are now online. The first event of 2024 will be from our new Match ‘Changemaker’ series where we will focus on topics that are applicable to all, the event on Thursday 25th January will be ‘Social Value and Volunteering’.

Register now to see where our Match networking events can lead you BGH Match | Free Business Networking Event | Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Tameside, Trafford, Salford, Rochdale, Stockport, Wigan | GM Business Growth Hub

You can find more information about the Booth Centre here and visit Three’s site here.


The photos were taken by Harley Bainbridge. You can find out more here.

BGH Match is GM Business Growth Hub’s free business network for all businesses based across Greater Manchester.

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