Over the first series myself and four colleagues have had the pleasure of interveiwing guests from all walks of life, while getting to the bottom of their inspriring life stories so far and delving into all things Manchester and digital marketing.
In this blog I’m sharing with you five key takeaways from the second episode, in which myself and fellow co-host Charlie spoke to the co-founder of Manchester Young Professionals (MYP) – Rich Tyrrell. MYP is an inclusive and accessible network for progressive, like-minded young professionals in their 20s and 30s, across Manchester.
The organisation helps people to connect, socialise and develop in a personal and professional manner through events and schemes. And better yet, as a digital partner, Embryo will be supporting these events as well as MYP’s mentoring programme.
1. You can start a business or organisation by recognising the gaps, which might not be obvious, in any industry – even if it’s not the one you work in
Rich and his co-founder and best friend Andrew Bennie moved to Manchester in 2013 and didn’t waste time exploring the city. They recognised early on much more could be done to unite professionals from various sectors, and bring them together.
He said: “We moved to Manchester in 2013, and we recognised early on that there could have been more ways for young professionals in different sectors to connect, and from there we got our heads together after living together for six months and experiencing the city
“We started what is now known as MYP, which was just a Twitter page with two followers at the start. I work in FMCG, the food and drink industry, and Andrew does investments, so we’re at very different ends of the spectrum.”
The pair launched MYP while working, and still to this day working, full-time jobs in different industries. So don’t be restricted by your job or the industry you work in, if you want to set something up that has nothing to do with your current employment, you can!
2. Being in business with a friend could be tricky – but Rich got lucky
Rich explained that “being in business with a friend is great, but at the same time has its challenges” – so if you’re thinking about launching a business, project, or organisation with a close pal, consider whether or not it would work in the long run and what boundaries you’d need to set.
“We’re lucky that when we started, we wanted to try new venues in Manchester together, the latest gyms and stuff, to be able to do that with your best mate is a great thing,” he said.
“However over the years you’e got to make decisions at certain times – in reality they’re small decisions but sometimes ones you wouldn’t have had to make with a friend before, so having those conversations can be a little difficult. But we find common ground quite quickly and that’s what makes it what it is, our mix of ideas.”
3. Developing core pillars and listening to your community in any organisation is important
While MYP started out hosting mainly social events, after listening to their community and asking for feedback from staff and networkers, the co-founders incorporated health and wellbeing events and educational events into their remit – which make up the three core pillars of the organisation.
This was an important move for those who wanted to engage and network – but in a different capacity than a primarily social one. Rich said: “Outside of events we recognised a community growing, which is what we feel like we’ve created, and now there’s more than just events needed. Some don’t come to events but are still a part of the MYP community because they want to engage separately. We run 55-60 events across the three pillars in the year.”
To bolster this, two years ago MYP launched its mentoring programme – pairing mentors and mentees together – and it’s been nothing short of successful.
4. Don’t give up but adapt to difficult situations – and you never know where it might lead
When the Covid pandemic hit, MYP were left with a calendar full of face-to-face events that had to be cancelled, and the way in which the organisation worked was thrown into question. But instead of giving up, the pair thought about how they could use technology during such a tough time to continue to connect people and spur their development.
They decided to set up a mentoring programme, the first of which was executed in 2020, linking like-minded mentors and mentees together for regular online meets, with a very thorough application and matching process.
Rich said: “We recognised that development is a key part of MYP, so we thought about how we could do something with technology and development in that tough time with everybody. We thought something to connect people online would be great and there’s a lot of people who want to help others out there and develop their careers further, there’s still a need within that space.
“We got feedback from our team, we did a survey, and 97% of 350 people said career development was still key for them outside of their day job. We launched our first mentoring scheme in summer 2020, during lockdown and it’s so popular we’ve done it again this year.
“We’re so impressed with the amount of applicants we’ve had, with more than 200 pairings since we launched the scheme. We make sure we take the time to match people, we work with a specialist to go through everyone’s application with a fine tooth comb – their objectives, career, study history, personality.”
5. Networking might sound a bit scary – but it really doesn’t have to be
Rich agrees that a network isn’t going to be for everybody – that’s fair to say. But consider the different ways you can network, because while it might sound like something out of your comfort zone, it really doesn’t have to be.
Networking isn’t just about corporate events or social gatherings, which is why MYP introduced a mentoring scheme, health and wellbeing events and educational events. They also have a LinkedIn community and a team of people working hard to support people across Manchester. Don’t underestimate the value of human connection with those outside of your circle!
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