Elizabeth Marsh exiting the Audi A7 Sportback holding a bouquet of flowers

Business in bloom

Floral design company owner and mother of twins Elizabeth Marsh finds out whether she can save some time in her day thanks to speed networking and the Audi business pack

Elizabeth Marsh browsing London's New Covent Garden flower market

Elizabeth Marsh entering the Audi A7 Sportback

It's just gone 6am, but when we meet Elizabeth Marsh at her headquarters inside London's New Covent Garden flower market, she's already been up for a couple of hours. 'To get the freshest blooms you need to get here early,' she says cheerfully. 'Then the real work starts. Arrangements need to be designed, made and delivered to customers before their businesses open for the day.'

As the head of a small team, Elizabeth must focus on all areas of the business. So when she's not helping with the hands-on creative work, she's dealing with office administration, helping with the deliveries, or attending client and customer meetings. Elizabeth says that friends often ask her how she copes with all the responsibility. 'I simply reply that, after raising my twins, this new schedule seems like a breeze,' she quips.

Elizabeth Marsh being chauffeured in the Audi A7 Sportback

Elizabeth Marsh going to a 20/20 speed networking session

Elizabeth Marsh attending a 20/20 speed networking session

However, such a busy schedule doesn't leave much time for the pursuit of new business. So far her company has grown organically, but Elizabeth is keen to make some new connections, which is why she's decided to try out speed networking – a new meeting format designed to accelerate the process of making business contacts, for professionals who are short on time.

To this end, Elizabeth makes herself comfortable in the back of our Audi A7 Sportback, and we chauffeur her to a five-star West End hotel, where a 20/20 Speed Networking event is being held. Before stepping out of the car, she picks up her computer, which is stowed in the laptop bag mounted behind the passenger seat – a feature of the Audi business pack. She is then greeted by Wes Mendy, the organiser, who ushers her inside before explaining the set-up. 'Speed networking is basically speed dating for business people,' he says. 'We fill a room with professionals, usually divided into two groups – those who want a service, and those who need a service. One group sits down at a desk and the other group sits opposite them. People get 10 minutes to pitch their work face to face, before a bell rings and they move on to the next desk. It's an extremely efficient way of doing business. In less than a couple of hours, professionals can have more than 20 interesting meetings. Our success rates are incredibly high.'

Upshot of London buildings

Elizabeth Marsh holding a bouquet of flowers

Laptop bag mounted behind the passenger seat

The event goes on until lunchtime, after which we drive Elizabeth to an important meeting with the manager of the Gilbert Scott restaurant, housed in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. On the way she gives us some feedback on her speed networking experience. 'I was a bit sceptical at first but it was actually great fun and very interesting,' she explains. 'I really made the most of my time, and spoke with event organisers working for some really fantastic companies all over the city. There were even a few companies I would have never thought of contacting. Let's hope some of this actually turns into business.'

In front of the restaurant, Elizabeth collects her immaculately pressed coat from the seat-mounted coat hanger (another Audi business pack feature), picks up a bouquet of specially arranged flowers and jumps out of the car. Before shutting the door, she turns and says: 'I think I’m going to break a new record today. This is going to be my 25th meeting and it’s not even 4pm!'

Written by John Silcox. Photographs by Juan Trujillo Andrades.


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