This is the story of building the Tea and Toast community. A few years ago, we were having a conversation with Hannah, a marketing manager for a local organisation, and thought it would be nice to start the day off well by having a cuppa and meeting other interesting creatives in the local area.
The idea for Tea&Toast was planted. We were bored of business networking, referral groups and pressure to demonstrate how successful and accomplished you were. There was an appetite to meet, have a cuppa, an interesting and stimulating chat and leave saying, “Hope you have a great day!”, feeling positive for the day ahead.
We approached a local creative agency, Studio Republic, who had a lovely event space and invited everyone we knew working in creative and digital industries in Winchester and the surrounding area. We brought in a toaster, a range of bread and spreads, cheekily borrowed a kettle and brought a variety of tea bags and coffees. People could just help themselves to what they wanted. It was a great success. Tea&Toast was born.
To keep the venue fresh and interesting, whilst we were building the Tea and Toast community, we rotated venues every couple of months. Workshop on Southgate Street was our second venue. We’ve met at the Theatre Royal Café Bar, Coffee Lab Academy, South Downs Social, Winchester Bakery, Honey & Harvey, Inn the Park, Open House Deli, The Pumphouse outside and, during covid, online.
Each time different people join us. There’s no pressure to stay for the whole time or come every time. Sometimes we’ve helped solve each other’s business issues. Other times we’ve heard from a local business. Every time we share a hot drink and good conversation.
From the beginning, we were inspired by this quote from Erik Hersman:
“If you put enough smart people together in one space, good things happen.”Erik Hersman
This is a community of people
Some have been referred for work through people they’ve met. We’ve kept each other up to speed with local projects, events, festivals and connected digitally too, with a private LinkedIn group. This community is low entry on time and cost, high reward on relationship building and introductions. We generously exclude anyone not from the creative, digital or tech industries – this is not a networking group for professional services. It is all about relationship and meaningful connection.
How to build a community like Tea&Toast
- Define what it is
- Define what it isn’t (just as important!)
- Work out who it is for
- Decide why your community gathers
- Communicate with your community
- Connect your community online
- Connect your community in person
- Offer opportunities to continue to connect (even if you’re not meeting online or inperson events)
- Widen the circle of invites
- Bring delight and surprise to your community!
In 2024 Tea&Toast turns 5. I think we might just have to celebrate!