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What makes a good network?

Networking and Networks (groups)

What makes a Free, Effective or Enjoyable network? Are these three elements mutually compatible or maybe only one of these is necessary to attendees?

A recent article I read about networks by Caelan Huntress a digital producer in San Francisco looked at those who attend business focused networks as three general types of people.

Go getters – People who have become accomplished at networking.  They show up with lots of leads, and a bright attitude.  They also tend to receive most of the referrals.

Slow getters – People show up regularly, but their businesses are not doing well.  They do not give, or receive, many referrals.

No getters – People who show up to a networking group for the first time, delivers their pitch, and are affronted that nobody at the table wants to buy from them.  They don’t come back.

He continues that you should ‘Sell the network, not the networker’ because people don’t go to networking groups to sell each other their services, although many long-term group members do end up doing business together but only because a long-term relationship is developed, including familiarity and trust.

Local creative networks

Always looking for the network to reflect the most benefit to the attendees, we have regularly asked what makes a good network?

Fashion trends come and go and many creative sector networks have historically either; Formed because there was funding to do so, formed by funders to validate funding investment /spend or formed due to the desire to find funding- but is this the whole picture? Nearly all of these networks cease when the funding runs out.

The relatively new ‘craze’ for un-conference’ networking is hailed as a new concept. Birmingham Music Network by any measure of an ‘un-conference’ style is also then an ‘un-conference’ , the agenda has always been led by the attendees, it is a mutually beneficial and supportive network of individuals where they are given a platform to engage (Without been led), sme’s and larger companies as well as some public sector attendees (Though these tend to appear only to validate a position rather than offer tangible meaningful contribution to the network) . The network is an intentional community – it is there because people value it. Unfunded it has now been running 13 years – so not such a new idea then?

Similarly I set up Birmingham Screen Image Network off the back of the Screen WM supported RedRex network which was dropped when the regional screen agencies were axed. At the time I thought it was such as shame to let the momentum and platform that those members had given to the network go to waste, and so set up BSIN. Again there is no funding directive or policy agenda driving it, it uses the same model as BMN. Numbers fluctuate and it is hard to organise these events with all other more than full time commitments. But I see these platforms as essential to the creative sector. We are very grateful of the support that we receive since moving them to Birmingham City University at Millennium Point TEE department where they are hosted and teas, coffee and biscuits provided, and the networks in turn act as a great support to the excellent wider remit of the Creative Networks held each month.

What is interesting is the shift from those attending these networks over the last few years – from those seeking to find opportunities for cross sector collaboration or new markets, those who look to the networks to broker these relationships to develop their business into new areas and the attendees more recently who are asking a more fundamental question ‘Where exactly is my sector in the region’?  In many ways the severe cut or total wipe out of any meaningful investment into the regions creative sectors can be felt in this basic assumption that we still have one – to many of the attendees of these networks the sector is either invisible (Worrying) or we don’t actually have one in any meaningful tangible way anymore (Even more worrying). But given the desire to attend these networks (BMN 13 years active, regularly 20 – 30 businesses each month round a table and thousands of online subscribers) the networks play a vital part in holding them together in some tangible way.

The question:

As I am always trying to ensure the network is useful, relevant and free to access I am asking the questions for the development of BSIN

What makes a good network?

Why do you go?

And what do you want from a network?


Any comments welcome…


Creative Networks – March 2013

Next BSIN & Creative Networks Thursday 30th May






Theme this month;
Future Media Experiences in the Internet of Things.

Speaker: Jason DaPonte
Media experiences from weather reports, to cooking shows to documentaries, are set for a seismic shift as they become part of the Internet of Things – the network of connected objects and data that are communicating online.

As TVs, games consoles and other similar devices become connected, they will be able to provide us with more
engaging and personal experiences. Media and technology producer Jason DaPonte makes predictions about how this world will unfold.

THE SWARM produces and designs digital content and services for the television, arts and culture sectors. The
company has worked with broadcasters and producers from over 20 countries on transmedia strategies and
productions. Before starting THE SWARM, Jason spent three years working in the midst of the mobile content explosion overseeing the content across the BBC’s mobile web, apps and messaging properties. Before that, he was an Executive Producer for BBC Online and a mentor/facilitator for the BBC Creative Network.

He has also worked in digital roles for: FOX, The Economist, Flavorpill, CitySearch, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and Jason was the Hearst Visiting Fellow at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Journalism.

Creative Networks brings together all parties involved in screen and sound media in the West Midlands, promoting
both successful business development and collaboration.

To join us for this FREE event, please email
or call 0121 331 5400.

Alternatively, register online at our website


Bsin 28th February 2013

The next BSIN is 28th February 2013

Birmingham City University, Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham

Check the FaceBook group, Eventbrite and Twitter for details. Find all details for event in this website.

Also check for the latest details of Creative Networks at BCU

BSIN 29th November 2012

50 Kisses Film Script Competition

50 Kisses Film Script Competition

Write a two page script, win an iPad, get seen by top filmmakers and get a cinema release… are you up for the 50 Kisses Challenge?

Our friends at the London Screenwriters Festival are delighted to announce their new initiative for screenwriters and filmmakers. 50 Kisses is an ambitious, crowdsourced narrative feature film project set to hit cinema screens on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Screenwriters Challenge

As with all great film projects, it starts with the script. And that’s where you come in.

The London Screenwriters Festival is looking for two page scripts that are set on Valentine’s Day or Night and feature at least one kiss. Despite the date, and the kiss, it doesn’t need to be a romantic comedy. Diverse perspectives and interesting creative choices are welcomed.

If you can write, and want to be part of this exciting project (and we think you should!), then submit your script to 50 Kisses via before 29th June 2012. Entry is free and the top 50 scripts are guaranteed to be made AND released in cinemas. For full information, go to

The top 50 scripts will be announced on 30th July 2012.

Full terms and conditions are available on the website

Keep up with the news about the 50 Kisses project by joining the Facebook page

Post from The Talent Circle

Creative Networks 31st May

Creative Networks 31 May – Radio in the 21st Century & Student Showcase of short films, plus Music Network and Screen Image Network



Creative England – launch new call for applications for Film Culture Fund

Friday 11th May

Creative England – launch new call for applications for Film Culture Fund

The aims and objectives of the Film Culture Lottery Fund are to ensure audiences throughout the English regions have access to a wide and diverse range of film content, to deepen and enrich audiences’ experience and to integrate the unique resources of regional screen heritage into wider film provision. The Film Culture Lottery Fund will support and extend the provision and interpretation of specialised and mainstream film in England by investing in:

  • audience development within the film exhibition sector – covering all aspects of film culture: cinemas, festivals and non-theatrical exhibition,  and film education where this is linked to venues or festivals
  • access to regional screen heritage – audience focused projects using film archive in innovative and dynamic ways.

Awards range from £2,000 – £40,000.

How to apply

Please read the guidelines below carefully before submitting your application form.  These guidelines apply only to the Film Culture Lottery Fund which supports activity taking place in the English regions outside London.

For the purposes of this Fund, Film Culture is understood to include film exhibition (cinemas, festivals or non-theatrical exhibition), regional screen heritage (film archive) and film education (where this is linked to a cinema or archive).

Outlined in the guidelines are:

  • a summary of the Film Culture Lottery Fund aims and objectives
  • what we are looking for, who can apply, how much you can apply for
  • project duration and application timelines
  • the application process
  • the assessment processes
  • partnership funding requirements
  • appeals and complaints procedure
  • monitoring and evaluation requirements 

Film Culture Fund Guidelines March 2012

How much can I apply for?

  • The amount available for Film Culture in this round is £490,000
  • The maximum award will be £40,000
  • The minimum level of application is £2,000
  • It is anticipated that the majority of awards will be in the region of between £6,000 and £10,000
  • In exceptional circumstances Creative England may make awards over the £40,000 ceiling, subject to BFI approval.


Projects must be completed by the end of July 2013.

The application deadline for this round is noon on 01 June 2012.

Apply for the Creative England Film Culture Fund