These days there’s a networking group for just about everything—whether you’re a mumpreneur looking for inspiration or just interested in a specific topic, you can find likeminded people to connect with. So when Fulham-based mum of three Simona Barbieri invited her contact list for an informal coffee morning to see how women can help one another, the response she received was unexpected: 90 people descended on her, ready to “network”.
“The idea came about because I never enjoyed networking,” Simona recalls. “There was a format that wasn’t right for women.” What started off as an impromptu meeting evolved into what is now known as the Hub Dot.
The Hub Dot doesn’t fit nicely into a specific genre or industry. Unlike a lot of other networking groups, which tend to be career-focused, the Hub Dot is more about making personal connections. Simona recalls an encounter between a lawyer and a musician at a recent event: “The lawyer had always wanted to learn to play the double bass—it just so happened the person she was talking to knew how to play it and offered to teach her.” As she says, “One connection can change a person’s life.”
Simona herself knows about big life changes. Prior to becoming a mother she produced events at Goldman Sachs, but in 2004 she left the financial sector to raise her family and also pick up a lifelong passion—to be a jazz singer.
At the events, there’s no nametag with your profession on it. Instead Simona has cleverly devised a set of colour-coded dots that attendees wear: each dot symbolizes something, and you can wear as many as you like.
“The dots define a mindset, which can act as an icebreaker so you can talk freely,” Simona explains. “If you wear yellow you’re looking for help, purple signifies a passion for something, red means you’re established, green is looking for inspiration and blue says ‘I’m here to socialize!’” Simona calls the concept “dot alchemy”, as the little coloured circles open a doorway into something magical and allow the stories to flow, rather than simply labelling each person. In fact, when two people connect, the opening line isn’t “What do you do?” but rather “What’s your story?”
Simona’s concept has struck a chord. In less than a year the Hub Dot has held multiple events—the large ones follow an “open mic” platform allowing people to share something in one minute, and smaller events are themed (“Our Love for Fashion”, “Philosophy Hub: On love”, “Art and Creativity”). In addition to the London presence, Hub Dots are popping up around the world, in Luxemburg, Los Angeles, Milan and Naples.
There is, however, one theme that underlies all the Hubs: for now, it’s ladies only.
For more information, please visit: thehubdot.com