The Oxford Business Podcast

As in-person meetings have returned in this post-pandemic world, how can networking events help businesses grow their client base and how can these businesses get the most out of such events?

Show Notes

As in-person meetings have returned in this post-pandemic world, how can networking events help businesses grow their client base and how can these businesses get the most out of such events?

In this episode, Ben speaks with Matt Eastland-Jones of Story Ninety Four, Ted Yeates of Kept Assets Limited and James Constable of Get Support IT Services.

  • The importance of networking
  • Building trust with clients
  • Utilising networking to build a brand online
  • The benefits of podcasting for B2B purposes
  • How networking can facilitate collaboration
Listen to the podcast to hear expert insights on those topics.


Matt Eastland Jones:
Matt is the founder and Managing Director of Studio Ninety-Four, an Oxfordshire-based podcast and video production company. Starting as a freelance filmmaker and digital storyteller, Matt's work at Story Ninety-Four focuses on helping businesses engage new audiences, grow visibility, improve social engagement and enhance conversion rates.

Story Ninety-Four

Ted Yeates:
Over the years, Ted has excelled at identifying areas of concern affecting family welfare and has worked tirelessly to develop suitable solutions. Now in his 70s, Ted is passionate about helping those who are later in life protect the assets they have accrued throughout their working lives by arranging Bloodline Planning, Will Writing and Estate Planning.

Kept Assets Limited

James Constable:
James is an ex-Professional footballer with more than 15 years in the game, who has recently taken up the position of Business Development Manager at Get Support IT Services. Through his work, Get Support IT is able to provide every aspect of computer hardware and software support for the UK's small and medium-sized businesses. 
Get Support IT Services

About the Oxford Business Podcast:

The Oxford Business Podcast is a podcast by OBCN, the Oxford Business Community Network, and hosted by Mike Foster, the Entrepreneurs Mentor, and Ben Thompson from Thompson & Terry Recruitment.

Mike Foster: @mikefosteroxford
The Entrepreneurs Mentor:

Ben Thompson: @ben-thompson
Thompson & Terry Recruitment:

The Oxford Business Community Network has been established to provide a trusted, peer-to-peer, group networking opportunity for businesses based in Oxfordshire, where 'people buy people'.

The Oxford Business Podcast is produced by Story Ninety-Four and recorded in their Podcast Studio in central Oxford. 

What is The Oxford Business Podcast?

Hosted by Ben Thompson, the Oxford Business Podcast is a monthly podcast featuring conversations with experts in a range of fields including marketing, finance and sales.

Ben Thompson 0:06
Welcome to the Oxford Business Podcast of the Oxford Business Community Network, produced by Story Ninety-Four at their amazing podcast studio in Oxford. My name is Ben Thompson, owner of OBCN. Our podcast aims to share the expertise, knowledge and experience of our members covering those key issues impacting businesses. For this episode, I'm really pleased to be joined by three guests. We have Matt Eastland-Jones, who is the founder, director and producer at Story Ninety-Four. We have Ted Yeates, estate planning consultant of Kept Assets Limited, and we have James Constable, Business Development Manager at Get Support IT Services and today we're going to be talking about the good, the bad and the ugly of all things networking in Oxfordshire. So let's start by introducing our three guests. So Matt, introduce yourselves to the listeners.

Matt Eastland-Jones 0:51
Hello. Yes, thank you, Ben. So my name is Matt Eastland-Jones. I am the founder of Story Ninety-Four. We are a video and podcast production company based here in Oxford and we are home to the Oxford podcast studio, where we are here today.

Ben Thompson 1:03
Amazing. No, thanks so much. Ted, as with Matt, introduce yourself to the listeners.

Ted Yeates 1:09
Thanks, Ben. My name is Ted Yeates. I'm working now with kept assets. And I help people save their assets during their lifetime and on their ultimate demise, they pass them on through their family bloodline to their dependents.

Ben Thompson 1:26
Amazing brilliantly. And last but not least, James tell the listeners all about you.

James Constable 1:31
Yeah. Thanks, Ben. Yeah, I'm James Constable, Business Develop Manager for Get Support IT Services based in Ensham. Joined the company a couple of months ago, so sort of new to the industry. But yeah, really enjoying the challenge and getting used to the new role that I'm doing.

Ben Thompson 1:46
Amazing. No, thank you. So let's start with a big question. Matt, I'm going to start with you what has been your experience of networking in Oxfordshire and I know that you do a lot of networking around podcasts. So yeah, tell the listeners a little bit more about your story.

Matt Eastland-Jones 2:03
Yeah, so my story when it comes to networking. So I think actually, the very first networking event I went to, was one for the OBCN. And I can't actually recall the dates. But I think it was just after I set up Story Ninety-Four. So that's sometime in late 2019. And that was when I first met you and Mike and kind of everyone that is a part of that network, and I loved it, I thought was great. One of the things I liked most about it is it's such a relaxing environment and everyone's just so friendly, there wasn't this kind of pressure, which I sometimes later found with other kind of networking groups is sometimes it can be this environment, which can sometimes make feel a little bit uncomfortable, you feel like you have to kind of give referrals like you kind of, this gamification of networking. So one of the things I love about OBCN and Independent Oxford, another networking group that I'm part of, is that it's just such a friendly community and there's the real emphasis on the community side of things. So for me, networking is, yeah, being a part of those groups, but then also, one thing I really enjoy doing is this kind of collaboration. That's how I kind of do the majority of my networking and that's through things such as doing podcasts like this one with you and hosting it and providing it for you and some other podcasts as well.

Ben Thompson 3:14
Amazing. No really good insight. Ted in the most complimentary way. You are one of the most well-known networkers in Oxfordshire and probably started networking before a lot of us were born. So Ted, tell the listeners a little bit about, I guess, your networking journey and I think a good secondary question is, why do you network?

Ted Yeates 3:34
Well, I start off with the last question first, because I love it. I love the feeling of camaraderie, and things of that nature, within networking groups, with some groups, it's a lot more than others and it's not simply a way of going in and looking for new clients, which is a mistake some people new to business, very often get into, they think if they walk into a group of 20 or 30 other people who are also in business, they're told it's a business networking group. So they go in armed with 20 or 30 business cards in their hand, and walk up to people and say, "We haven't met before have we? This is what I do. Here's my business card. Can you call me because I'd love to come and do business with you". And they don't last very long. But you're right. I have done a lot of networking in my time and as you also said, I'm quite well known for it, at one time or another been party to the majority of networking groups in and around Oxfordshire. Some of them I've held you know, I won't say management positions, but as an example, I was a chapter director with BNI for a while, and sometimes you grow out of these things. Other times you think, well, this simply isn't for me s you don't join in the first place. But I think it's necessary to look at networking in any business situation, because people buy from people, and therefore you've got to meet the people and were better than somewhere like OBCN where you do get the friendly reception, you do get people that have been around, like me for many, many years, and others who are reasonably new, but have got different ideas, perhaps for me, but they still got ideas that they can share. And people sometimes say to me, "Oh, I can't afford the time to go networking, I'm too busy working". And I say, "well, the clue is in the name, it is net-working". So it's not just a jolly, and coffee and biscuits, or a pint in some network places you go to... or two, but it is work.

Ben Thompson 5:53
No, really good insight and actually, I think that you really hit the nail on the head there in terms of that whole networking and I think the people that I think are the best networkers are those that turn the relationships they build in networking into the collaborations that Matt was talking about, and friendships, because people want to do business with their friends. So no, that's a really, really good insight. James, you're quite new to the whole world of networking. But you've certainly, to use a swimming pool analogy jumped in at the deep end. So yeah, talk to listeners a little bit about kind of what you've seen in the world of networking and I guess how it compared to, I guess what you expected when starting that journey?

James Constable 6:32
Yeah, well, I think for me, it was from my background of football, like it's something that we were, we would have end of season awards with sponsors, and obviously things out and about with the football club, but you wouldn't necessarily see it as networking. So I think for me, it's something you would see and read about, but not really know what to expect, what it was going to be like. So, as Ted mentioned, I think I was at that guy walking around my business cards and sort of trying to pass him around and trying to speak to as many people but actually, I've already sort of been doing it two and a half, sort of three months now. But I've realised that's not the sort of way it should be done and obviously, from our conversations, you've been great OBCN and getting me out there to events that like say I probably wouldn't have been able to go to if I hadn't spoke to you. So that's made a big difference for me and obviously, my confidence in getting up in front of people and talking about things that you're not always 100% sure about yourself straight away. So I think that's been a good sort of learning curve for me, but to learn sort of what that feels like and get more confident doing it. So it's been a great sort of journey. So far. It's only I say, a couple of months in, but I've really enjoyed it.

Ben Thompson 7:41
Brilliant. Thank you, really, really good insights. Matt, I just want to come back to you and lean on something we touched on a little bit in the intro around that kind of collaboration piece because I think that one of the things you are very good at is collaborating to create those win-wins. Can you just talk to the listeners a little bit about how collaborations have come out of networking and I guess what would be your advice to people maybe listening in who maybe don't collaborate as much as they'd like to, through networking? How you've, I guess, thought about those kinds of relationships?

Matt Eastland-Jones 8:12
Yeah, definitely. So for me collaborating was quite an obvious kind of progression of kind of my networking. The nice thing about going to events and join networking groups is that you have this immediate pool of people who are all interested in getting to know each other, building relationships and the opportunity for collaboration. So I started off by going to these events and meeting people and then from that just built up these relationships. So to give you an example of collaboration, I guess, the one that we're doing right now. So speaking to you and Mike, I knew that you guys have such a unique perspective on all these different topics. And by having the group of people are part of the OBCN, we could produce a really great podcast and so by me providing the space, the facilities and the resources for you to be able to create that and then to for you to be able to bring people into the studio, it is that kind of win-win. And I think if people are wanting to collaborate with other businesses, I think sometimes people think of collaboration, or they kind of think of it as was is it quid pro quo, is that when it's kind of like, I'll give you my services, you give me your services? I wouldn't really say that's a form of collaboration. It's definitely a way of kind of building relationships and strengthening your business and other businesses because it is a degree of win-win. But I think collaboration is something where it's not necessarily specific to the services you're selling or the products you're selling. It's just an opportunity for two businesses or two individuals to work on something together to create something that benefits both of them, something kind of bigger than their business. And, you know, podcasting is a great way to do it. So if you know you have two different estate agents or you have two different people in a slightly different industry, you know, to have a podcast where you're co-hosting, where you're talking about topics that affect both businesses or both industries. It's just a great way of just being able to share information. and build relationships not only with each other as co-hosts, but if you were to bring guests onto the show, you can start building relationships with them that way. And I guess that's why I'm just such an advocate for podcasting. And you tell a podcaster to talk about podcasting and honestly, I could talk forever. But there are just so many benefits that you get through podcasting, and through other forms of collaboration as well.

Ben Thompson 10:18
Definitely, definitely couldn't agree more and actually, I think that by us collaborating with you, I think we're, I can't count the episodes. But we're more than a handful of episodes now. And it's certainly been really, really great to give members the opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge on the podcast. But actually, it's been really great to bring them here and it's been really great added value for our members. It's certainly that win-win piece is really something that shines through. Ted, I'm just gonna come across to you slightly on this because I know that and I hope you don't mind me sharing that Richard and yourself came together because you met through networking. And I was really excited when I found out about because I think it is a really, really good mix. How do you go from meeting somebody at a networking event to collaborating and being in business together.

Ted Yeates 11:05
Ooh, it's difficult, because it will change in every situation. With Richard and myself, for people that don't know, I'm working with Richard who owns, or is the director of Kept Assets, and I've joined him as an Estate Planning Consultant. The role I have done before, many years ago, I was in financial services for 23 years and we recognised that we were in the same area, but he was doing things differently to me. Because I was concentrated on monetary problems that people were having, finance, before going on to the legal aspects, which I've been doing for quite a number of years now. But he must have seen something in me that thought somebody that I could work with. And we chatted after meetings and things and it was never the question that was actually raised directly. And then one day, he gave me a call and said, "Can we meet up for coffee sometime?" And I said, "Yeah, sure". And he said, "Do you fancy coming to work with me because I think we'd be a good fit". So I thought, well, of course, I would, I have nothing better to do. That's not true, Richard if you're listening! No, I jumped at it because it gave me some of the structure that I needed because people don't realise as a sole trader, or as an individual business owner. Very often, it's a lonely business working on your own and it's good to have a sounding board. It's good to have somebody that you can relate to that knows what you're doing, and the problems that you might be experiencing. But also somebody to get advice from and maybe on occasions give advice to because you're in that close relationship.

Ben Thompson 13:01
Definitely no. Couldn't agree more. Again, some really good points are made by all of you so far. So no, thank you for that. James, I'm just going to come across to you and go back to football, if that's okay. Because I know that as a fan of Oxford United you always appeared to be the one that was engaging with the fans, and you're always willing to get involved in charity events and work in that way. So I think from an outside perspective, it was always clear that you were going to have that career after football. But equally, I know that you've done a lot of work around talking to football clubs and talking to footballers around how can they get that support whilst playing football to be able to make that transition more quickly. What do you think could be done in football or any career around supporting people to be ready to network once they finish, be ready to, I guess go from playing football to being a networker?

James Constable 13:55
Yeah, I think it's somewhere we just spoke about before coming on air. I think as a player, you're very much sort of wrapped up in that bubble. But I say from my experience, I was fortunate that I didn't start at the normal sort of 8-10 in an academy all the way through, I was obviously working a sort of normal-ish job before, doing a bit of coaching, before signing professionally at 21. So I think I had a little bit more of an understanding of life outside of football. So I think for me coming to the end of my career, I was fully prepared for what was coming, even though it's still been a huge sort of shock to the system. You're very sort of fortunate in what we do as footballers, so to come out of that, but yeah, I think I was sort of as best prepared as I could be for what was coming but I feel there's a big gap between that and players that that aren't prepared and that really struggle sort of coming out of their football career with little to no qualifications and not really the tools to be able to go and network, like I say, most sort of football players, they're used to speaking to press and radio and things after games and during their careers, but it's very different to stand up and talk to 20-30 people about... to say for me personally, IT is not my background, it's not something I've sort of picked up too much of yet. Obviously, it's something that's coming slowly, but it's a different sort of kettle of fish when you're doing that. I could stand up and talk in front of hundreds of people about football quite comfortably, but it's getting used to that sort of way of doing things and how different it is. So there is lots to be done. But I'm hoping that we've through conversations and stuff with the PFA and different people at different football clubs, we can sort of put something in place to help like a platform, like, obviously networking is, is fantastic, especially if it can be somehow utilised and sort of put into a platform for players to be able to get together and speak to each other and obviously, hopefully, future employers as well.

Ben Thompson 15:55
Having worked with a number of footballers, in terms of making that transition from football to that working career, I certainly think that there is just such a wealth of talent there and I think there's such huge benefits for that support network to support footballers. But there's a huge benefit to the businesses that are hiring them.

James Constable 16:11
Yeah, I was just going to say exactly that. I think there is a lot of players with a lot of skills from outside of football that they can... obviously businesses crying out for those sort of people and I think sometimes, I think as players you think, well, I've got no qualifications, I've got no sort of things to fall back on. But actually, you've probably got a lot of different skills that other people aren't used to working under pressures constantly and say driven to get to the very top because it's, I think the statistics out there only 1% of any sort of kids getting into academies or whatever go on to make it professional. So already, you're in a high category of sort of determination levels to reach the top anyway. So they've got a lot of drive and a lot of things they can offer for businesses as well.

Ben Thompson 16:57
Definitely, definitely couldn't agree more. Couldn't agree more. Thank you, Matt, I'm just going to come back across to you. Because I think one of the things that you do really well, is that online piece of networking. So I know that you know, we all go to networking events, and we meet somebody. But I think what a podcast can give you is build that reputation online and almost when somebody doesn't see you at a networking event, they almost know you don't because they've listened to you talking on a podcast, they've maybe seen you on LinkedIn. So I guess what would be your advice to businesses who are looking to build that brand, maybe a little bit outside a networking event, whether that be through podcasting, or whether that be through social media or video which is the other part of your business? Yeah, what would be kind of your top tips?

Matt Eastland-Jones 17:39
Hmm, that's an interesting question. One of the things that's really quite unique and special about podcasting, from a B2B standpoint, is, if let's say a business was producing a podcast, actually let's say my podcast for example. So my podcast is called Out of Hours. I speak to other founders, business owners, about entrepreneurship and passions, and we record this out of hours, that's the fun thing about it is we usually have a drink or two and enjoy ourselves. And one of the really cool things that I like about it, and that any other business kind of replicate this is that I get to sit down and spend an hour talking to someone about a topic that they're incredibly passionate about and it's very rare that you get to spend that amount of time one to one with someone. And in that short space of time with a conversation that's that detailed in that in-depth, you really start to build a really solid rapport and that's great for me because for me, networking is usually not about kind of trying to succeed in business, it's more about just trying to build relationships with other business owners, it's more that kind of personal side, as Ted was saying, you know, prior to only a couple of weeks ago, I was also a solopreneur. It was just me and the business, I now have Nick as an excellent podcast producer with me. And you know, it can be really lonely and you can feel quite isolated and so networking for me has always been about creating relationships, and actually, you know, just kind of building a network of friends more than anything else. But if a business were trying to replicate that for like a B2B sense, let's say you had a business that did, you know you're a SaaS business, you create a digital product, that people subscribed to. Well, you could create a podcast where you then invite other founders, other creators of SaaS businesses, onto your podcast as guests, and you can then sit down and spend, you know, 30 minutes, 40 minutes talking to them and you're able to then build these relationships with these other founders and the other businesses that occupy similar space to you and provide, you know, a similar type of service but not the same service and that then allows you to increase your audience, increase their audience, and that is, again, a classic kind of win-win. Another example would be let's say you're a marketing company, and you're invited. You could invite prospects that you want to work with onto your podcast as potential guests because lots of people will try kind of cold email outreach or that type of thing to try and get new clients and usually they kind of unless you're very good at it, gets shut down quite quickly. But the conversation is completely different if I'm there like I have a podcast, and I would love to speak to your CEO about this topic, which I know they're interested in talking about and suddenly I have an hour talking to the CEO of a company who I could potentially throughout the conversation and throughout, you know, the later times, after that could build up the relationship and then who knows, you know, one month, two months, six months down the line, they could become one of my clients. So there are unique and clever ways that you can use podcasting to not only network personally, but also to network professionally as well.

Ben Thompson 20:44
Very solid answer. So Ted just coming across yourself, the product that you've got through networking is very much about a trust piece so people trust you, don't they, they work with you because they trust you and they're probably sharing the most intimate parts of their life in a lot of ways. So what would be your advice to people listening, who, whether they're a long way in their networking journey, or quite early on in terms of how to build that trust through networking, and how to, I guess, make it natural without forcing?

Ted Yeates 21:19
Very good question and I think it's an area where a lot of people fall down, by going in as like a bull in a china shop, which I have been accused of on various occasions, not necessarily in business. But I think you've got to establish yourself as somebody that they can trust and to do that, you've got to show that you're always going to be there, you'll always going to be on time, you're always going to be presentable. You're going to respect their opinions and more than anything else, I think you've got to learn to shut up and listen to what they want and ask them frequently know, what exactly are you trying to achieve? How do you think I can help you get from here to there? And what do we need to establish that, and then move on to the point of well, I think we'll sit down if you're an agreement to a formal meeting. The first one will be a fact-finding exercise, where you just collect the facts. The second one would be to follow up once you've prepared an initial report. And once they've received that initial report from me, they will then make decisions to go along with it, to engage the company and pay us for our work. And it's all done at the second meeting. And then the final meeting is to sign everything off and collect the money and carry on writing to them. Saying don't forget if otherwise, we can be of further assistance. Call me.

Ben Thompson 23:02
Perfect. Really good insight there really good insight there. So James, I'm just going to come across to you, we are coming to the end of this podcast. But I just think a really, really good way to end would be to lean on really the fact that you have been properly networking for two or three months, and you've gone into an industry which you're doing amazingly well at James and Rohan, don't stop singing your praises! But nevertheless, it's a new industry. What I see in networking is I think a lot of people are quite fearful of taking that first leap or with my recruitment hat on quite fearful of completely changing, changing careers. So what would be your advice or indeed, reassurance, if it is reassurance and for business people that are listening that might not have been to a networking event before or might not have taken that step? What would be your perspective?

James Constable 23:58
Yeah, like you say, it's, it's new. And obviously, because of my background, it's no different to when you sign for a different team, or you meet new players at the start of each season, you're thrust into that sort of environment, you're out of your comfort zone and again, for me, this was a huge step out of my comfort zone. But I'm sort of a true believer, that's the only way you're ever going to sort of find anything is if you put yourself in those positions, otherwise, you just go along and you never sort of step out of that comfort zone. So for me, it was something I'm really glad I did do but for anybody that was looking to get into it, it makes a huge difference as well because of not having the sort of tools in IT enough to know I can stand up and I can talk about what we do as a company and what we offer. But the sort of people that are going to get in contact with me and pass me the sort of recommendations of people that they know. So you're opening up a completely different group of people that you wouldn't normally get to speak to. Again from my background, starting on LinkedIn, it was football clubs, managers, players, sort of sports industry people, not business people, not people that would require our IT services. So for me, it's been growing that side, but it takes time. So obviously, because of my background of playing at Oxford, I know a lot of people in Oxfordshire, but hopefully, making more connections will then bring more leads and obviously, they'll sort of be talking and they'll be like, oh, we need IT and then someone will know that that's what I do now. So it's that really, it's a slow process, but like, say something I've enjoyed, and I would highly recommend to anyone that like you say, works or wants to sort of grow that reputation and grow what they do as a business

Ben Thompson 25:43
Certainly from my point of view, knowing the three of you. If somebody is listening and would like to build on any of these points, I'd really recommend reaching out to the three of you, because certainly you're all so giving with your time. But that does bring this episode to an end. But thank you so much for listening to the podcast of the Oxford Business Community Network. Thank you to our members on this podcast. And we've had Matt Eastland-Jones, Founder, Director and Producer at Story Ninety-Four. We've had Ted Yeates, Estate Planning Consultant at Kept Assets, and we've had James Constable Business Development Manager at Get Support IT Services. Thank you again, and double thank you to Story Ninety-Four for producing the podcast, at their podcast studio in Oxford. If you've not been to the podcast studio before, I definitely recommend getting in touch with Matt and you can have a look. It's a really, really good space. As always, please do subscribe to the podcast and we look forward to sharing more information and more insight into general business with you very, very soon. Thank you so much.

Matt Eastland-Jones 26:42
Thank you, Ben.

Ted Yeates 26:43
Thank you, Ben.

James Constable 26:44
Thanks, Ben.