Networking in Leeds in Covid times
Although we can’t get together at physical events like we used to, there are still plenty of online opportunities to expand your network and build strong connections in Leeds.
Business is like anything – you only get out what you put in, and the good news is that it doesn’t all have to feel like work. Networking is one of the most powerful ways to learn, develop, and to grow your business.
The key is simple – turn up! Find an event that takes your interest, book a ticket – many events are free, even if numbers are restricted – and log on with an open mind and a positive attitude.
Luckily, Leeds is home to a huge range of networking events, and is one of the most collaborative, generous business communities in the UK. Whether you’re a familiar face with years of experience behind you or a complete newcomer to the digital and tech sector, you will find a warm welcome in Leeds.
Follow some or all of the events and people featured below and you’ll soon find out how busy the tech sector is in Leeds.
The Leeds networking and events scene
Leeds Digital Festival Now in its 6th year, the Festival will take place across the city and wider region in April 2021. This open-platform event is the largest tech event in the UK, and the two Covid-interrupted events in 2020 saw 428 events with over 45,000 attendees from over 60 countries. The festival celebrates Leeds’ unique collaborative spirit and outstanding digital and tech talent with events for everyone. @LeedsDigiFest
Several other events take place around the city throughout the year, so there’s always somewhere to go and someone to meet. Here are a few of the regulars:
Women in Leeds Digital Originally scheduled as a two-hour slot at the Leeds Digital Festival 2019, it quickly grew into a full-day conference of 50+ speakers and 600 attendees, with a similar online version in 2020. Sessions covered every aspect of tech and they’ll be back at the 2021 LDF with another programme of events and talks. @WILD_igital
Empowering Women with Tech A Leeds-based group that runs events with the aim of encouraging, elevating and empowering women into Digital, Technology & Science careers. Set up by Natasha Sayce-Zelem who’s an integral part of the tech sector in Leeds and has been able to encourage local women onto the stage as well as big name speakers. @EmpowerWithTech.
Lean In Leeds Set up by Zandra Moore, this is a regular meet-up bringing women together in a supportive environment with interesting speakers covering topics from setting up a business to working in large companies. Aimed at building women’s confidence and network. @LeanInLeeds
70+ tech meetups Leeds has a great variety of regular tech meetups from She Does Digital to Northern UX to Game Makers Yorkshire – many of these hold their events online so you can join in from home. Natasha Sayce-Zelem highlights these and more on Leeds Digital.
Mills & Reeve Tech Tuesday is a really informal meetup held every 3rd Tuesday. It used to be based in the Brewery Tap pub, but has been held online since April 2021. It usually features a guests speaker, sometimes from the firms featured in the Top Tech Yorkshire report.
meeow A Leeds-based startup, meeow aims to bring traditional networking online, with a video-based platform that brings four people together at random (“imagine if LinkedIn and Zoom had a baby”). meeow
Virtual “Elevenses” Jonny Ross from Fleek Marketing runs a weekly meeting every Friday for an hour from 11.00am with different guests speakers each week and a growing community. @Fleek_Marketing
People in Leeds to follow
Deb Hetherington Head of Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech, Deb is one of the best connected people on the Leeds tech scene. On the steering group of a number of organisations, Deb is also the co-founder of Women in Leeds Digital. @DebDoesDigital
Sarah Tulip The other co-founder of Women in Leeds Digital, Sarah is well-known in Leeds for holding senior roles in tech companies such as The Test People, aql and EY, and is now Director of Transformation at BJSS. Sarah is also the Ambassador for Leeds as a Digital City. @SarahTulip
Anna Sutton An award-winning entrepreneur, Anna is the co-founder and CEO of fast-growing data services consultancy The Data Shed. A regular speaker at tech events, Anna is involved in a number of initiatives and is on the steering group of the Leeds Digital Festival. @DataShedAnna
Jem Henderson Seen at many events across the city, Jem is the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Yorkshire at @TechNation, helping to make the region the best place to imagine, start and grow a digital tech business. @tn_yorkshire
Kane Fulton Jem’s colleague at Tech Nation, Kane is the Entrepreneur Engagement Content Manager, bringing stories about interesting tech firms to life. He is also the creator of the Yorkshire Startups Facebook page and the unofficial photographer for many tech events in Leeds. @KaneFulton
Places and spaces in Leeds
Leeds has a range of co-working spaces which are great places to work and meet like-minded individuals. Ideal for start-ups, scale-ups, and lone workers, the best of these venues create natural hubs which support and encourage individuals to flourish and businesses to grow. Many have a bar or cafe and organise their own networking, social events, and workshops.
Platform In probably the best location in Leeds, directly above the train station, Platform is home to a cluster of over 80 digital and tech startups, with flexible workspaces and professional support that will help your firm to form, scale or grow. @BW_SciTech
Avenue HQ Centrally located, it offers co-working and self-contained office spaces. They offer regular workshops to keep their members learning – from tech to mental health and well-being – something that lone-workers often miss out on as they’re not part of a big corporate programme. They also have social gatherings including table-tennis tournaments and cocktail making classes. Barclays Eagle Lab is situated on the top floor. @avenuehq_lds @Eagle_Lab_Leeds
Duke Studios Duke Studios is an open collaborative space just outside the City Centre. With a company motto of People first, Business second, Duke is not your usual work space provider. Based around a coworking model, Duke Studios provides a range of workspaces, creative services and facilities. They have a great cafe and a regular live music and dj schedule in their large event space. @Dukestudioleeds
34 Boar Lane One of the newest workspaces in Leeds, owners Kinrise have turned a former ironmongers and unloved office building into a high quality space with co-working and private offices. In a great location close to the station, there’s a restaurant at street level open to public and members. @34boarlane
ODI Leeds Well known for the sheer amount and variety of events that are held there (from hackdays to monthly meetups from the likes of Leeds Devops to even Algoraves), ODI Leeds also offers 36 co-working desks (in non-lockdown periods). Situated next to the Cultural Quarter, it even offers unlimited Yorkshire Tea, so what’s not to like? @ODILeeds
Nexus Since it opened in 2019, this University of Leeds building has been connecting the region’s businesses with the talent and expertise of university staff. You can rent a single desk, a whole office or even a laboratory. @nexusunileen
Stuart Clarke is the founder of Paceline, a marketing strategy and PR consultancy working with firms in the tech sector.