A NETWORKING organisation whose £2million turnover was set to drop to zero thanks to Covid has won a national award for its response to the pandemic.

4Networking, which has eight regular events on the south coast, won the National Champions in Crisis Award at the Business Champion Awards. 

The title, awarded during a ceremony at the Easter Wintergardens in London’s Canary Wharf, recognised its resilience when face-to-face networking was made impossible by the first Covid-19 lockdown.

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4Networking became the first networking organisation to move its meetings online when the first Covid lockdown threatened to scupper its business model. A new platform, Network Central, was created for business appointments and community support.

Network Central was nominated for the award against brands such as Insignia, Mercedes-AMG and DPD UK. It was presented with the award by BBC News at Ten presenter Huw Edwards.

Diane Moore, Network Central South Coast leader, said: “Network Central was more crucial than ever for businesses, as the pandemic struck. Being able to network online and receive business and moral support was the only way to survive for many.

“We’re so pleased that it has come out of the other side and now we’re able to meet face to face in venues again. Well done to all involved for winning this award.”

Founder Brad Burton said: “Everything happens for a reason and it doesn’t always make sense, until it’s in your rear-view mirror.

“We’ve had to start from scratch in a way, but with the previous experience of building a business against the odds – people said 4Networking would never work when I started the organisation in 2006 whilst delivering pizzas at the weekend to keep it afloat.

“We were almost driven out of business by Covid and winning this award is testament to everyone who stuck with us and supported us to get through this most difficult period. It’s indicative of a new dawn for UK SMEs in general.

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“Ironically, two years to the day that Boris Johnson first told us to stay home, we won this award.”

Mr Burton founded 4Networking in 2006 to provide friendly, informal networking around the country. It grew to become the biggest business networking organisation in the UK, with more than 5,000 weekly meetings.

It holds fortnightly 4N South Coast meetings online on Fridays at 10am; a Fareham Face 2 Face meeting at the Solent Hotel, Whiteley, on Tuesday, May 3, at 10am; and will have a stand at the Southampton Business Expo at St Mary’s Stadium on Thursday, May 12, as well as running the speed networking.

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