I recently relocated from Australia to The Netherlands and have ended up living in a place called Ypenburg. This is technically part of Den Haag (The Hague) but is also quite close to Delft.
When I first visited the main shopping area, not too far from our house, I was excited to discover De Byzaak – a not for profit organisation for small business owners in Ypenburg. It’s a great initiative, with 16 flexible workplaces, with possibilities for private meetings and small group meetings as well. It’s a type of community space where business owners pay an annual membership fee and can attend a series of workshops, networking lunches and more.
At first (August 2012) I just dropped in for a quick look but as I hadn’t yet started my business and it was all run entirely in Dutch, I navigated more towards the english networking and business groups. However a couple of weeks ago I received a flyer in the post for the Ypenburgse Week van het Ondernemen (loosely translated as week of entrepreneurs/small business owners). There was a programme of various workshops and networking events. Unfortunately it was a busy week for me so I only managed to make one – but it was enough to see this is a vibrant business community.
The presentation I did attend was by Hans van Kalsbeek about the Ontbytzaak. You kind of need to understand Dutch to get this but it’s a great take on the name of the Byzaak, but over breakfast (ontbijt) and I really liked the logo’s assimilation with the Byzaak logo (then found out Hans actually designed it). Apologies for the poor quality photo but it’s a nice brochure.
I’m quite pleased to have not only followed pretty much his entire presentation all in dutch, but to have also had a reasonable conversation with the other attendees beforehand – and I did my first ever “elevator pitch” all in dutch! The point he made that I liked most was the difference between a business club and networking events. With a business club, it’s more intensive (in this case meeting once a fortnight) and you have more of a chance to develop trust and understanding – and ultimately referrals to and from other businesses. Networking events are more a now and then and can be rather hit and miss. Unfortunately my schedule and budget, as well as still relatively limited Dutch doesn’t make the Ontbytzaak suitable for me right now, but was interesting to learn more about it. I also enjoyed meeting the other attendees:
- Erik, a photographer who owns Hof Fotograaf
- Marlies is a Lean 6 sigma black belt! Elemens
- Hans, the presenter, who is a creative designer Nieuw Kleurrijk
- Esther: BestelMijnBoek which is an interesting concept I must look into more, where, if I understand correctly, is a publishing company where you can order a small number of books/print them as needed.
I think there were one or two others but I was working so hard to keep up with everything in Dutch.
While there I also enjoyed meeting:
There is a section at de Byzaak where you can pick up business cards and here are a few of the local businesses I’d like to check out:
- Feestig: Cakes and kids parties
- Verhalen Koffer
- Muziek Spel
- Aktief (development & printing of marketing materials)
- Ja No Development Coaching & Training
- i-webs WordPress & SEO
- Inblik Coaching
- Pinta People
- Woord in Stijl: Tekst & communicatieadvies
- De 7 Mythen
- Bezorgservice Ypenburg (Brochure delivery & more)
- WIN: Werken in Netwerken
It’s actually quite interesting looking through marketing material in another language. Though my dutch is reasonable, I still have to struggle to understand from the business cards & flyers what exactly they are offering while others are very clear to understand. Good point to consider in your own marketing.
I was delighted to see two of my favourite topics highlighted during the week: Social Entrepreneurship and Work Life Balance. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend these sessions but look forward to being more involved with de Byzaak in the future. It’s great they have a variety of different events for both members and non members so I hope to be there again soon!
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