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For a healthy mind, body and business

How to succeed with virtual networking: Interview with Meeow co-founders

Chris Rabbitt and Simon Glenn, co-founders, Meeow, the virtual networking platform.
Chris Rabbitt and Simon Glenn, co-founders, Meeow

Why Four is the Magic Number

If Eventbrite, LinkedIn and Zoom were to have a baby, it might look like Meeow.

This is on-demand virtual networking. A platform that, according to founders, Simon Glenn and Chris Rabbitt, is the real conversation platform.

Advertorial

Meeow, a portmanteau of meet and now, offers exactly that, an opportunity to meet people from anywhere in the world at a time that suits you. Its primary aim is to help people grow their business through genuine conversations and connections.

There are opportunities to network on the hour every hour. For those who find breakfast meetings or evening meet-ups challenging, this flexibility is a big draw. 

It solves the problem of needing to commute to in-person events, and the limitations of only meeting people within a few miles radius, and the large virtual networking groups that give you sixty-seconds to pitch to a sea of faces, only a few of whom you will ever speak to.

With Meeow, four is the magic number and any meeting you have on the platform will have a maximum of four people.

“We’ve tried different variations; we’ve tried five, we’ve tried six, and as soon as you get more than four, natural conversation becomes impossible,” explains Chris. 

“One to one is hard… it can be a bit intense. With four, you have a place to step back but you can’t hide; you have a place to step forward but you can’t dominate.  Four gives you the best energy for really productive conversations. There’s always a way to keep the conversation going or to branch out into places you never expected.”

Expect the unexpected

The unexpected sometimes happens as well, in part because you never know who you are going to meet, or where they will be from. It is one of the big attractions of the platform. There is little opportunity to discriminate, and the structures and features in place enable interactions that can prove life-changing. The biggest deal they have ever seen secured through a meeting is worth at least £3 million. It came about through a conversation that would not have happened had the people known who was going to be in the room.

“A key piece of functionality for us is that you’re not able to choose who you speak to because fundamentally, you don’t know. Every choice you make about who you think is right [to speak with] is a self-limiting decision,” says Chris.

To ease people into the rooms, there are ice-breakers and a simple structure that gives everyone the chance to introduce themselves in order and then an opportunity to continue the conversation by mutual agreement in a breakout room afterwards.

In fact, everything is permission-based. From screen sharing to a mystery-question ice-breaker, there is consensus. Private messaging is not allowed; their ethos is very much about inclusivity and removing ways for people to feel marginalised or uncomfortable.

“We designed the platform to be a really easy self-hosted environment. It brings people in, gives them a chance to feel comfortable and a chance to speak… The great thing about the format is that it allows you to have a conversation, not to have a structured meeting. The whole purpose of everything we do structure and feature wise, is to promote natural, engaged and enjoyable conversation.”

Chris and Simon, co-founders of Meeow, virtual networking platform and on-demand networking

Forging connections from home

These are the conversations that are very often missing in the typical day of a homeworker. 

The genesis of Meeow began as something Simon dubbed ‘a Zoom a day’ to replace his usual in-person networking during lockdown. These meet-ups had been his usual conduit to meet new clients. When the pandemic took hold and businesses closed or scaled back, Simon’s usual networking opportunities dried up. While some groups moved online, he says, “It immediately showed me transposing the traditional networking model – getting as many people in one space at the same time – doesn’t translate online because you can’t talk. You can meet people from all over the world but you can’t talk to them all.”

He began hosting one-hour Zoom calls, open to any of his network to book to have a chat throughout the day. “I was deluged. Inside three days I was booked a month and a half in advance,” he says. “We started having some great meetings and getting some great outcomes.”

In May 2020 he was running five meetings a week. A year later, after launching their own platform, they were running 60 meetings a week with volunteer hosts who facilitated meetings around the clock with people in the US joining.

The platform was always designed to give people as broad a connection as possible from wherever they happen to sit with their laptop,” says Chris.

Virtual networking on-demand

As well as their on-demand networking meetings, you can now create and schedule your own Meeows on any subject you like and invite people to join. You can also book into other scheduled Meeows if there is a subject you fancy talking about. Scrolling through the events already scheduled, you will find meetings about video marketing, crafting, adult dyslexia or app building.

Simon admits, “I was surprised, when we first started asking, at how many people said they genuinely don’t expect to get anything from it, their reasons for being on Meeow were because they just need to talk to someone else during the day.”

They say it gives women and caregivers more agency especially. “If you’re the primary caregiver, if you’re responsible for the childcare or caring for anyone else, you can’t get to breakfast meetings because they interfere with the school run. You can’t go to evening meetings because they interfere with dinner time or bath time. You don’t want to do lunch time because it’s the only time for yourself,” says Chris.

We’re here for you to be able to talk to each other, that’s where opportunities come from, that’s where connection comes from,” says Chris. “We make a massive positive difference to people’s feelings of connectedness and belonging, and making and sustaining really strong relationships whether personal or professional.”

Discover Meeow.

It is free to join and you can start with on-demand networking as soon as you sign up. You can also book on to Meeows that have subjects of interest or start your own Meeow.

Check out the new conversation and connection platform.

The Homeworker magazine volume 4

You can also read the interview with Chris and Simon in Volume 4 of The Homeworker print magazines.

About the author

Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of  The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.

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