A very successful networking event was held at the end of October, in the Harlequin Hotel, Castlebar. The event was hosted by Mayo Community Futures and the Rural Alliances EU project from Mayo County Council. Local communities which had participated in the Community Futures community planning programme and the recently formed Rural Alliances came together to share ideas and learn from their individual experiences. The event was open to all communities which had participated in the Mayo Community Futures programme, Rural Alliances, County Community Forum members, and members of the Community Futures management sub-committee, and was well attended on the night.
The chairman of the Community Forum Brendan Sammon welcomed the community members and stressed the importance of working together. Pat McHale, from the Rural Alliances team in Mayo County Council, gave a presentation on the Rural Alliances programme. The guest speaker was Seán O’Riordáin from Seán O’Riordáin and Associates, who gave a context to some of the changes in local government and the impact they would have on the community. Mr O’Riordáin also gave feedback on the evaluation that he had concluded on Mayo Community Futures. Sandra Hart from Business Networking Ireland (BNI ), a business networking expert, then facilitated the event. Through a series of interesting exercises Ms Hart gave helpful hints and tips on how to network effectively, and word of mouth marketing with the overall objective of building solid relationships to share and learn from each other. Suggestions were made by the participants on what the next steps should be in setting up a county network and the benefits it could achieve.