Facebook inspiration for networking Apprentice

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A FORMER finalist of television’s The Apprentice is setting up her own ‘lean in circle’ in Yorkshire for people interested in business after taking inspiration from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

‘Lean in circles’ are small peer groups that meet regularly with participants sharing experiences and offering support to one another.

West Yorkshire-based Claire Young, who appeared on The Apprentice in 2008, said she wants men and women in Yorkshire who are interested in getting involved to get in touch.

Ms Sandberg, the chief operating officer of social networking website Facebook, wrote the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which aims to empower women in the workplace, and promotes the concept of ‘lean in circles’, which are run on a not for profit basis.

Ms Young, who is behind business ventures School Speakers and Girls Out Loud, said: “I personally find networking groups more productive and pleasurably in smaller when formed in smaller numbers.

“You get to know the members as people rather than just for a title or job role. I find lots of networking events are like being at a deli counter. You take a ticket and get rushed along throughout a process. It’s impersonal, sometimes a little intimidating for some, and you don’t feel very valued.”

Ms Young said she wants to build a network of local business-minded people, bringing together individuals from different backgrounds, age groups and industries.

Participants do not have to be business people, but must have an interest in business. Teachers and doctors, for example, are increasingly involved in managing budgets associated with their schools or practices, she said.

Ms Young said the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey has offered to host the first event. She hopes to hold it before Easter.

She said that she envisages a database of a maximum of 50 people who would have the opportunity to attend two or three of the four events of the year. “This would keep the events fresh with different delegates”, Ms Young said.

“I have friends who run ‘circles’ in US and Canada and they have really benefited from the groups.”

Email claire@claireyoung.co.uk.

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