Sign up and keep up to date with SocialLifeUK’s events this weekend here: www.meetup.com/SocialLifeUK/
We caught up with Julie Lord, to see what SocialLifeUK has to offer the people of Leeds and what makes them different.
Tell us a bit about what motivated you to start SocialLifeUK.
I love the concept of social networking! I’ve used social networks for years and made some amazing friends from it. The reason I decided to invest in my own site is because I feel the user’s experience can be heightened, improved and socialising on and offline can appeal to so many more people if the “word” was out there, making busy professionals aware that local and friendly gatherings existed. What I found from attending and hosting socials is how many people are nervous about attending their first one (even socially confident people). What I believe is that the user’s experience and safety should be the number one priority (and certainly is ours!) for example, if you were new to Leeds or even the UK, or if you just wanted to make new friends, would you go out not knowing who you were meeting?
At SocialLifeUk, we only run a social gathering whether it be coffee, a meal out, a bar crawl, a hike, a movie night or a dating night if there is a SocialLife host present. This way you can see online what the host looks like, have their contact number so you can check in before hand, and more importantly recognise them when you first walk into that social environment. We only choose good quality venues and work closely with bar groups in Leeds.
I was astounded how may sites didn’t offer such basic safety to help the user’s confidence and join in!
My background is as a National Accounts Manager with the big pharmaceutical companies so I am well used to communicating and dealing with people on all levels, internally and externally. I also held a freelance manager position with a social networking site a few years ago managing numerous big events and had a team of 20 strong hosts which I recruited to offer diversity and choice, so I am well aware of the sensitivity involved when dealing with nervous, new, apprehensive people and ensuing they feel welcomed and relaxed.
Once Leeds is up and running we will be recruiting more hosts in the Northern towns and cities and hopefully will be welcoming even more members!
For anyone who’s reading and would be interested but is concerned about coming along to their first event, what advice would you give them?
Have a look through the site and choose an event that appeals. We have a good and diverse hosting team and the hosts have been recruited so they can put on a range of socials to appeal to different tastes e.g. some will be dating, some for friendship over coffee, some to have their meal with after work, some to tour the bars on a Saturday night! Trust the fact that we are all experienced and the fact that I’ve invested in a site where people can feel welcomed, involved and safe. Your host will be well aware to look out for members and involve you and introduce you to others. After a few drinks and some conversation you won’t look back and we welcome new ideas and new people into the hosting team.
What makes Social Life UK different to other similar services?
To be honest the concept is similar to other good sites out there. The difference is how we run SocialLifeUK, for example under no circumstances will we run a social with no host present. Our users experience and safety is paramount and that’s it. We also put less emphasis on the website, meaning that we use this as a simple “joining in” vehicle, but our real focus is the offline, face to face social gatherings. When you join the site you will be able to set up a profile and attend or host events but we won’t be sending you endless marketing hooks and using the website as a platform to send numerous emails as we leave that to the main event which is offline and face to face! We also ensure our key hosts have business cards so you can see their face and have their number. We also have Facebook and Twitter pages so there is always some platform to contact us.
You’re obviously a busy business woman, what do you do to switch off?
I don’t! I have two businesses since leaving the corporate world. I run both and have recruited good teams to work for me. I also work alongside the teams but tend to do the admin, marketing, finances, accountancy, recruitment, customer care in the evenings and weekends. It never stops but I love it! What I believe is that running your own businesses shouldn’t be work, but fun!