A HAWES-BASED networking group for self-employed and professional women has been created to help raise the profile of local businesses across Richmondshire.

Dales Business Women will launch with a speed networking event at the NASH, the former National School in Hawes, on March 1, and will then meet quarterly throughout 2018.

The group also has an online platform dedicated to sharing the achievements of local businesses.

Founder Sharon Davis said she hopes businesses across the district will use the group to raise their profile and collaborate with fellow businesses.

“Dales Business Women is for women who want to connect with like-minded women. Running a business or building a career can be extremely fulfilling, but it can also be a lonely place and I hope the group will create a platform for businesses to find new growth opportunities while supporting one another.”

“I’m passionate about helping businesses promote themselves effectively and I’m hoping that through the multi-faceted offering of this group, members are able increase their exposure.”

Sharon, who moved from London to Richmondshire nearly two years ago, said she’s been impressed at the level of enterprise that exists within the Dales.

“I’ve met so many people who run a business in addition to a job and the level of creativity in the area is amazing. I guess the geography of the area, especially the Upper Dales, may push people to be more industrious than they would be if they lived in a city with many opportunities on their doorstep.

“Dales Business Women is for those who are self-employed and in managerial roles who want to connect with like-minded women.

“I have found networking to be such an effective way to gain new business and develop new professional relationships.”

“I know the prospect of being in a room of unfamiliar faces can be daunting and it can be hard to talk about yourself, but it’s the perfect environment to overcome such fears and a great way to build confidence. So if anyone is in two minds about whether they should attend, my advice would be to give it a try – after all there is nothing to lose.”

The group is open to self-employed and professional women across the district and Sharon hopes to eventually have networking events in multiple locations across the Dales.

Sharon, who lives in Hawes, moved from London in May 2016 initially for the summer after she had wound down her PR consultancy.

After working in temporary roles, she and her husband now live near her mother-in-law Meg Davis, who has recently taken over the Old Library Bookshop in Hawes, and who also moved up from London.

Sharon is the director of Dales Marketing which provides PR, communication and marketing services to small businesses as well social media courses. She is a former journalist and has been running her own business since 2010.

The speed networking event will take place at The Nash, The Hill, Hawes, on Thursday, March 1, from 6pm-8pm. The cost is £7.50.

For more information, visit dalesbusinesswomen.com.