Some ideas just seem to come together by themselves. That’s how it was with the #BlindBusinessDate in the Lovely Business Ladies Facebook group. The idea came to me after I’d been mulling over the following thoughts:

  • We’re now over 1000 women, but you only ever seem to hear from a small proportion of them. Not everyone wants to post all the time, which is perfectly fine, and the local meet-ups – by their very nature – are only attended by people who live in the area or happen to be visiting. So there are lots of interesting women in the group who you just don’t get to meet or hear from. I wondered if there might be a way to tap into that potential.
  • One of the advantages of social media is that it allows you to focus in on people you have something in common with. That’s certainly a great feature and can save a lot of time. But sometimes the best encounters are those that you didn’t expect. Sometimes you get wonderful ideas and input from people you didn’t select for yourself. With the Blind Business Date I wanted to bring in an element of randomness, in the hope of bringing women together who wouldn’t necessarily have found each other.
  • It’s much easier to talk about someone else than about yourself. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds it hard to write openly and naturally about myself and my business.
    So I put my idea to the group: Let’s create an activity that puts you together with a random partner to talk about your business. The pairs meet online or on the phone (or in person if geography allows). Then, each person introduces the other and their business in a short post to the group.

Suddenly we had 82 women who wanted to be involved! It was time to write down all the names and draw them out of a hat (or actually a bowl in this case!) to create the pairs.

Before long the first write-ups were posted. All of them were really interesting, and it was exciting to find out about all the fascinating people we have in the group and the cool things they do. It was also great to hear about how the pairs had discovered things they had in common, even though it might not have been obvious at first glance. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: finding out about people I hadn’t met or seeing women I know being described to a tee by their partner.

Thanks to the write-ups, all participants became more visible in the group. And for some, being described by someone else was a way of reflecting on their own message. It gave them an opportunity to see how they had come across in the conversation: which things they talked about were seen to be significant.

We got some wonderful feedback from those who took part:

“Although we work in very different areas, we had a very interesting conversation and the time passed really quickly”
Manuela Lamberti

“I LOVE these reports on the #BlindBusinessDates. I read each of them in detail and am delighted to see how each person is valued and respected”
Dunja Schenk

“We have to do it again!”
Brigitta von Grünberg

Many thanks to the Lovely Business Ladies admins – Elke Schwan-Köhr, Frauke Schramm and Kristiane Marx – for the opportunity to try out my idea, and to Kristiane for helping me put it into action. I look forward to round two!