Attending Jelly

What is Jelly?

Frome Jelly in action by Sarah GodsillJelly is an informal day event for freelancers, home workers and people running small businesses.

The idea is to get together with likeminded people for a change of scene, to chat, exchange help and advice, and work together.

Jelly is coworking, not networking, and is different from networking in that the aim is not to try to find new clients or to sell yourself or your business.

You’ll be very unpopular at Jelly if you don’t grasp that it isn’t a selling opportunity.

What happens at Jelly?

It’s a bit of a strange concept to get your head around at first, and something that certainly puzzled me, as I’m used to working alone in my home office and never play music or the radio, preferring peace and quiet.

People turn up at Jelly at any point from the starting time onwards, introduce themselves to the Jelly organiser and everyone else, plug in their laptops and access the wifi.

You’ll find that Jelly simply takes on a life and character all of its own, depending on where it’s being held and who’s there.

The usual pattern for Jelly is that it’s quiet at first while people adjust to the situation and get some work organised. Then somebody might ask a question, maybe about an annoying technical problem that’s been bothering them.

Somebody else will have an answer, and some chat will develop, either among the group as a whole or between individuals.

And then people will return to work and peace will prevail…till the next round of chat.

Shropshire Jelly in action

One of the many joys of Jelly is that you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, because people who don’t like networking or don’t need to network will come along to Jelly.

For example, people working in a specialised niche whose clients are not locally based or who don’t frequent networking events.

Jelly winkles out interesting people who would otherwise stay firmly under the radar.

I’ve attended many business and networking events and Jelly is a uniquely relaxed occasion, so don’t worry if you normally work alone – there’s absolutely no pressure to be entertaining.

Obviously somebody might ask what you do, but they do so because they are curious, and expect you to respond on a social level and definitely not with a sales pitch.

Depending on the venue you can make or buy a drink at any time and bring your own lunch or pop out for a sandwich. There’s no obligation to be there from start to finish so you can fit in Jelly around other commitments like the school run.

But before you leave, take the opportunity to say hello to everyone there and find out a bit about them. You just never know how you might be able to help each other out…

Thoughts on Jelly

Jan Minihane - Organiser of Shropshire Jelly

@JanMinihane runs The Net Advantage, offering online marketing advice, and was the founder of @ShropshireJelly. Here are her thoughts on the best bits of the day and why you should consider coming to a Jelly:

  • Lots of those annoying little IT questions that slow us all down got answered instantly by the more IT-savvy attendees.
  • Often there was a buzz in the room as people chatted, sometimes in small groups, sometimes the whole room. At other times there was complete silence as we all cracked on with work.
  • I was genuinely less distracted there than when I work from home – I couldn’t go do the ironing/cooking/cleaning/shopping because I was ‘at work’.
  • Someone sneezed (bear with me!) and someone else said ‘bless you’ – when you work on your own day in day out you don’t get that feedback – it put a smile on my face anyway (yes, yes, I may be nuts).
  • Some attendees asked for advice on things (e.g. how their new website was looking, how to deal with a difficult client, what social media they should be using etc) and got instant honest feedback from like-minded people.
  • Having lunch with people – what a treat that was and made a change from my usual bagel & jam lunch at home sat at my laptop not actually having a break….
  • Someone offering to make me a cup of tea – I’m telling you it was the little things that mattered most!
  • Meeting people who I’d had conversations with on Twitter/Facebook and finally getting to meet them and having time to have a ‘real’ chat in person.
  • I got through a lot of my admin that I always put off (mainly my accounts!) – come on admit it, you do it too…..

I could go on, at some length believe me, but hopefully you get the gist!’

What can I do at Jelly?

Jelly Logo - casual get togethers for homeworkers & freelancersAnything you can do quietly and independently, so anything on a laptop, or catch up on some good old-fashioned reading or writing.

Other Jellyers will appreciate you taking calls outside the room if your mobile rings. (And for more suggestions about Jelly etiquette, see the Jellyquette page!)

It’s the ideal time and place to catch up on all those little jobs you keep meaning to do, and that help your efficiency so much if you can just get round to them, but somehow usually stay firmly on the to do list.

Stuff like:

  • Accounts
  • Emails
  • Online housekeeping – moving information into easily accessible files and folders

Then there are the jobs you’d like to do more often that will benefit your profile and search engine status:

  • Blogging
  • Updating social media profiles
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Tweeting – there’s usually a Twitter buzz going on about the Jelly and who’s there, and it’s a good way to let your followers know about Jelly and coworking in general

Communicate with your fellow Jellyers:

  • Only communicated online before? Now’s your opportunity to meet face-to-face
  • Listen to conversations and join in if you can add value
  • Ask questions
  • Answer questions and share your knowledge and experience

What have other people achieved at Jelly?

Work at Jelly with David Killingback

Well, at one Frome Jelly, Jennie Wood @snowballthrower laughed until the tears rolled down her cheeks. I don’t think you can really do any better than that!

David Killingback had a constructive time at Jelly – he brought along pliers, metal coathangers and black cardboard and constructed some ‘flags’ for his photographic work, as shown on the left. They are used to ‘give a nice expensive looking shadow in things like glass and…err, engine oil.’

@paulclammer is a travel writer who completed the research and most of the writing for an article long before the deadline

@andybritnell discovered how to put a Twitter button on his email signature thanks to the help of @johncscott

After Jelly

Enjoyed your day? The venue would appreciate a thank you email or tweet extolling their virtues. Keep up with your fellow Jellyers by following them on Twitter. And how about a Linkedin recommendation for your organiser if they’ve done a good job? 😉

Illustration of Frome Jelly by Sarah Godsill

Enjoyed this and want to know more? Try –

Coworking for home workers and freelancers

Jelly for home workers

Jellyquette – what’s that?

How to start your own Jelly


Checklist for Jelly organisers

Pass Jelly forward

Jelly for workhubs