Natalie Lloyd and Sophia Hill


Sophia Hill

What do you do when Twitter isn’t enough? When moving to a new town means discovering or building a new, supportive community of friends and mentors?

The idea of networking is great, but the reality? An awkward evening of trying to balance a glass of wine, canape and business card of someone whose name you have already forgotten whilst also trying to have a meaningful conversation.

It didn’t work for Natalie and Sophia, so they found a better way.

Natalie and Sophia met through a mutual friend over a coffee in Lewes. Their first conversation covered everything from prejudice to periods, sofas to social media. By the second meeting they had discovered a united love of food, wine, proper conversation and getting shit done. And in a somewhat caffeine-fuelled haze, the idea of Manner was born.


Natalie Lloyd

The idea of these events is to bring together strangers, sit them at a table, feed them great food and a glass or two and invite them to converse. But there’s a twist. Rather than the standard patter of ‘what do you do?’ etc. Manner provides a menu of conversation. Each course is accompanied by two or three carefully crafted questions around the theme of the evening, designed to allow deep, wide ranging, maybe somewhat controversial conversation to occur.

And oh, it does.

Manner is an experiment which aims to be as much about the enjoyment of food, wine and bringing people together, as creating networks. What has become clear is that guests quickly form bonds through the conversations they share, despite the fact they may not discover in the course of the evening what each other does for work.

And surely in a world where real, simple human connection is becoming increasingly elusive this is where the networks of the future should begin?

Natalie and Sophia think so. And at BelongCon, they’ll be sharing what they’ve discovered.

Follow Natalie and Sophia on Twitter: @natalie_l_lloyd and @sometimesophia