98 FREE business events to grow your network in July 2024

Your ultimate guide to the best courses, workshops, and forums to attend during the summer holidays.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
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Networking is a difficult skill to hone. We all know that meeting new contacts and clients is crucial for growing a business, but, unless they weirdly enjoy small talk, most entrepreneurs would probably rather spend their downtime in a sunny pub, not a basement event space.

Thankfully, most modern networking events now understand that. Rather than stiff suits and pencil skirts, they’re relaxed, fun environments to socialise as well as sell. And in the hot summer month of July, they’re not far off that pub garden trip.

We’ve pulled together the best conferences, workshops, and seminars for business owners this July. It’s not just London; we’ve highlighted events taking place across the UK’s 14 largest cities. And, as with all our events lists, all are completely free to attend.

Free business events in London this July

  • TALiNT Partners Growth Lunch & Learn at Haymarket Hotel (2 July at 9:30am) the global recruitment expert will host roundtable discussions and panel debates on the biggest trends and challenges of hiring today (culminating in a networking lunch).
  • Scaling Business in Speciality Coffee at Volcano Coffee Works (8 July at 5pm) a must-attend event for anyone interested in setting up a coffee shop. CEO Emma Loisel will share her hot takes on generating greater returns from customers. Plus, how cafes can sell online. Refreshments will (naturally) be provided.
  • Harnessing AI for Financial Growth at The Shard (10 July at 5:45pm) you’re a finance business that has been told to use AI for efficiency. But how? This event provides best practice tips on how to turn generative and conversational AI into boosted profit margins with speeches from fintech experts.
  • Grow London Locals Coffee at Triton Square Work Cafe (12 July at 10am) forget the elevator pitch, this event is an hour of friendly conversation, knowledge sharing and great coffee (and cake). Grow London Local’s support team will also be on-hand to listen to your business goals and answer questions.
  • City Ladies Women in Business Networking at Hilton Hotel, Tower of London (25 July at 9:30am) a regular monthly breakfast event designed to connect “like-minded, ambitious and fun women”. Motivational speaker TBA.

Free business events in Newcastle this July


  • Launching the Lean Startup at The County Hotel (2 July at 10am) a 3-hour workshop 101 for new or aspiring entrepreneurs on how to adopt a lean business model and keep costs down from day zero. Covers how to build Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and how to identify and fix customer problems.
  • Whey Ayes & Shine Breakfast Networking at Komodo Digital (3 July at 8:30am) a brilliantly named, two hour-long meetup for Geordies who work in tech to get together and trade ideas over a complimentary breakfast.
  • Introduction to Sustainable Marketing at PNE Enterprise (4 July at 10am) after you’ve cast your ballot in the general election, why not head to this marketing workshop for sustainable Tyneside businesses? Led by experienced advisors, the session will cover tips for social media, websites, and print marketing.
  • Confidence and Self Belief for Social Entrepreneurs at Enterprise Central (9 July at 10am) a masterclass on personal branding for founders who want to be the face of their brand. This event is led by confidence coach, Nichola English.
  • NatWest: Let’s Get Going Newcastle at Enterprise Acceleration Hub (18 July at 9:30am) just in time for the Paris Olympics, this event invites local founders to chat to an inspirational panel of business leaders and Team GB athletes for a morning of networking, free breakfast, and frank conversations about overcoming challenges.
  • PLATFORM at Forth Street (19 July at 9am) a new, monthly event for 2024 from the organisers of the Newcastle Startup Week festivals. Expect all the staples of a great business event, such as business pitches, time to mingle, light refreshments, and a (summertime) fireside chat.
  • Chamber Inspiring Females: Coffee and Connections at BALTIC (16 July at 10am) a relaxed, hobnob morning led by experts from the Chamber Women’s Leadership Forum. Dress code is apparently ‘look like you’re meeting a client’. This event is for Newcastle Chamber of Commerce members only.
  • BUSINESS ‘N’ BAIT at Northern Design Centre (17 July at 5pm) a free and informal educational event that promises to equip attendees with the full toolkit of new business marketing. Featuring case studies from successful startup founders.

Free business events in Leeds this July

Ay up! Easily the biggest event in July for Leeds-based entrepreneurs is the SME Leaders Forum, which will be thrown by Leeds University Business School.

Taking place from 3:45pm to 6pm at Nexus, University of Leeds it promises to bring together fellow founders from the region to share knowledge and strategies for success.

Plus, the CEO of marketing agency Zeal, Jane Slimming, will talk about finding the right business partner, and when to hire an external marketing consultant.

Other free Leeds business events in July include:

  • Level Up: Mastering Growth for Tech Execs at Avenue HQ Leeds (3 July at 5:30pm) a specialist meetup event for tech leaders to discuss the unique challenges that CTOs, CIOs, and CEOs face when running a fast-growing technology startup.
  • How to Enter the North American Market at Whitehall Quay (3 July at 2pm) thinking of taking your business across the pond? Natwest is hosting this free session for Americanophiles on strategies for expanding into the US, including funding and support available. Snacks available (we’re hoping for buffalo wings).
  • She Can Shine Founders Book Club at Shine (5 July at 5:30pm) open to female founders in Leeds, this month’s book is ‘The Brand Power Manifesto’, written by local entrepreneurs, Abigail and Chloe Baldwin, who will also be present for a Q&A.
  • Startup and Grow Workshop at The Reginald Centre (15 July at 9:30am) a workshop run by Business and IP Centre Leeds, four experts will hold seminars over two days on sales, marketing, business planning, and financial strategy. Light lunch, refreshments, and breaks for socialising will be provided.
  • Female Founders Forum North Networking at Platform (17 July at 5pm) organised by Bruntwood SciTech for women founders based in tech, this event will take place on a sunny terrace in central Leeds, where attendees can rub elbows and discuss the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in STEM industries.
  • Developing a Formidable Business Strategy at The Rose Bowl (31 July at 5pm) a two-hour event to help new founders develop a “kickass business strategy”, it promises to motivate founders and get them ready to take their firm to the next level.

Free business events in Sheffield this July

Business Sheffield is back with its popular ‘power hour’ business growth sessions. Hosted at Electric Works, a modern office space at the edge of the city centre, each hour-long workshop is designed to upskill entrepreneurs on what they need to grow their company.

  • Power Hour 1 (18 July at 10:30am) will focus on startup costs, and the overheads you’ll need to factor in the early days of running your new business.
  • Power Hour 2 (25 July at 10:30am) will explore where to base your business premises, and the pros and cons of starting at home, in a shop, or in an office.

Other free Sheffield business events in July include:

  • SSEN x SADACCA at The Daycare, SADACCA (5 July at 9am) a networking breakfast put on by the SADACCA (Sheffield and District African Caribbean Community Association) for local entrepreneurs to connect over a cup of coffee.
  • Business Sheffield Networking at The Great Escape Room (11 July at 5pm) one room you won’t want to escape from. Founders (and game enthusiasts) can make conversation while engaging with interactive challenges, brain teasers, and puzzles. At the end of the night, you’ll likely win a few business cards to take home with you.
  • Sheffield Social Enterprise (SSEN) Summer Conference at The Circle (16 July at 10am) a free event for SSEN members with panel discussions, workshop sessions and networking opportunities for purpose-led founders.
  • Sustainability Netwalking at Sheffield Botanical Gardens (18 July at 9:15am) don’t fancy standing around with a drink in hand? Sign up for a casual walk around the Rivelin Trail with founders, and then connect with a coffee mid-afternoon.
  • Business Power-Up Clinic at Mantra Media (25 July at 9am) a speedy, 20-minute coaching session you can fit into your lunch break. Bookable sessions cover video production, marketing, branding, and employment law.
  • CITB Construction Employer Forum at Sheffield College (26 July at 9:30am) a valuable event for small construction businesses to gain insights on one of the biggest challenges for the sector: hiring. Includes tips and advice on recruiting and employing apprentices, and what grants are available for employers.

Free business events in Manchester this July

Manchester skyline

GM Business Growth lays on tens of “Your Business” workshops and online seminars each month, every one of which is tailored to meet the needs of early-stage or prestart business owners in Greater Manchester.

In July, there are four in-person events taking place at the Royal Mill on Cotton Street. These are:

  • Introduction to Social Value (3 July at 10am) an explainer of what social value is and why it’s important for today’s businesses
  • EnterprisingYou – Launchpad (5 July at 9:30am) a session that examines the blockers to, and myths around, starting a business, and how to overcome them
  • Social Media for Small Business (11 July at 10am) an interactive session on how to create the perfect social media strategy
  • Authentic Pitching (18 July at 9:30am) for developing a compelling early-stage pitch or sales presentation

Other free Manchester business events in July include:

  • Start & Scale: MCR at Forward Role (3 July at 5:30pm) a community led, open forum event where Manchester-based founders can lean on their fellow entrepreneurs, plus listen to insightful speeches about growing your business.
  • Northern Sustainability Summit 2024 at Manchester Central (8 July at 9am) features 30 exhibitors, 48 speakers, and over 600 attendees, all of whom will discuss the sustainable mission. Includes talks from business leaders on how to attract eco-conscious consumers, access finance, and report on emissions.
  • TALiNT Partners Tech Lunch & Learn (9 July at 9:30am) the global recruitment expert presents roundtable discussions and panel debates on the issues of using tech to tackle modern hiring challenges (followed by a buffet and networking).
  • Marketing Leader Forum (10 July at 1:30pm) a practical, hands-on session for participants to have a go (and get it wrong) at using generative AI to create marketing and recruitment content, before you can relax and socialise with fellow attendees.
  • ECOMM North at WPP Manchester Campus (11 July at 6pm) a brand new, multi-series event targeted at supporting the growth and development of ecommerce businesses in Manchester – featuring free food and drink, and relaxing chats.
  • Prosper² Brunch Club at XYZ Building (18 July at 10am) take an early lunch break and head over to the XYZ building to eat and meet with fellow founders.
  • Networking Evening at The Generator (18 July at 4pm) freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives are invited to attend an evening of activities and refreshments at The Generator, a new enterprise hub in the city centre.
  • BGH Match at Resource Solutions (25 July at 5pm) an evening of food, drinks, creating new connections and expanding your business community on a roof terrace looking across Manchester’s Skyline, also hosted by GM Business Growth.
  • Sustainability Meetup at Sandbar (25 July at 6pm). A local meetup for eco-friendly founders to connect at this trendy bar and eatery and swap the suit and tie for sustainability debate. The evening is billed as ‘People, Planet, Pints’.

Free business events in Liverpool this July


Liverpool City Council (LCC) is putting on four support sessions for entrepreneurs based in the city. Designed for startups which have been trading for less than 12 months, each event is tailored to newcomers who might find other events on this list intimidating to attend.

Other free Liverpool business events in July include:

  • Sustainability Meetup at Botanical Garden (4 July at 5:30pm). An eco-conscious event for sustainable founders to connect after work. Run by social entrepreneur, Fiona Shaw, the evening is billed as ‘People, Planet, Pints’.
  • Summer Special Netwalking Tour at Pier Head (11 July at 5pm) fancy a post-work wind-down with local business people? Get some fresh air by taking an educational tour of the city centre, followed by a trip to the pub (to network, obviously).
  • Exploring TikTok for Business at Maggie O’Neill Business and Training Centre (16 July at 9:30am) it’s taken the world by storm, but how can latecomers capitalise on the TikTok trend? Run by advertising expert Jo Austin Greer, this workshop explains how to use the lip syncing app to make your marketing strategy sing.

Free business events in Birmingham this July

Birmingham, UK.

Brummy entrepreneurs are incredibly lucky to have STEAMhouse, a support service run by Birmingham City Council and located at Birmingham City University, on their doorstep.

Throughout July, STEAMhouse has arranged no fewer than 14 events, courses, and workshops for SMEs, covering topics such as how to identify customer needs and how to use sustainable materials in product development.

Other free Birmingham business events in July include:

  • Finance Readiness Workshop at The Great Barr Hotel (2 July at 9:30am) everything you ever wanted to know about funding your business, spread over a two-day workshop and run by local business finance experts.
  • Brummies Networking at Grosvenors Casino (9 July at 11am) a monthly networking session for ‘stripped-back’ conversations fuelled by free teas and coffees.

No need to impress; just turn up and meet with local, friendly founders.

  • Navigating AI Bias at Enterprise Wharf (9 July at 9:30am) describes itself as an enlightening morning for AI startup founders to join up and discuss one of the hottest debates in the sector right now: how do we eliminate bias in AI?
  • Entrepreneur Business Social Group at O Bar (18 July at 5:30pm) a tight-knit, welcoming entrepreneur community group that puts on monthly, informal networking events for founders to chat away from the pressures of the boardroom.

Free business events in Nottingham this July


  • Nottingham Networking Lunch at Holly Tree Farm (2 July at 12pm) kicks off with a 40-second introductory pitch, before transitioning into teas, coffees, and a ten-minute chat with your fellow Notts entrepreneurs.
  • Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing at Delta Hotels (3 July at 9:30am) there’s a reason why social media marketing workshops keep appearing on this list; it’s very difficult for business owners to get right. This day-long workshop offers a basic introduction to social media content, platforms, and analytics.
  • KuKu Connect at Nine Six Two (10 July at 6pm) is a monthly event that takes the pressure off founders with its relaxed, friendly approach to meeting new clients and leads. This month, a new bar based in Mapperley will host (and cater) the event.
  • Design and Innovation Meetup at Antenna Nottingham (18 July at 6:30pm) bringing a new product to market requires a lot of brainstorming. Why not attend this evening and enlist the help of Nottingham’s best UX developers and designers?

Free business events in Cambridge this July

  • Founders Live Cambridge at Mills & Reeve (11 July at 5:30pm) a fun-filled evening of networking for business enthusiasts. Five business owners are invited to pitch their ideas in 99 seconds and be judged by a panel of experts and peers.
  • Go Meet at Mantle Space (23 July at 10am) is a regular in-house event that this month features EA as its sponsor. Hayley Murfitt, EA Associate Director, will be sharing her top recruitment and onboarding tips for entrepreneurs seeking to make their first hire, for example interviewing technique and salary benchmarking.
  • Lunch and Learn at Together Culture (27 July at 2pm) a good opportunity for business owners who are thinking about moving into their first premises to explore the facilities on offer at one of the city’s biggest coworking spots, Together Culture (and enjoy a light lunch with the current members).
  • You can also become a Cambridge student for an hour by signing up to the many free lectures and talks available on the University of Cambridge event website

Free business events in Oxford this July

  • OxBOoSt Network at The Oxford Retreat (2 July at 4pm) a monthly networking club in Oxford in which founders can practise their public speaking skills. Apply for one of eight pre-arranged slots to share your story or pitch for collaboration.
  • FREE Coworking Day at The Quad (4 July at 8:30am) is an open house day for those hunting for a new office space. Walk around The Quad building in Summertown, sip some bubbly, and try out a workspace for the day.
  • Sales Club at Oxford Eagle Lab Main Space (11 July at 1pm) most business owners will need to sell (whether their product or themselves) to clients, but how do you learn the skills of sales? Eagle Lab puts on this regular ‘sales club’ to teach business owners the tools and techniques they need to secure their first deal.
  • Startup Huddle Networking Event at Oxford Business & IP Centre (18 July at 6pm). A monthly launchpad for new businesses. Founders present their venture to a supportive community for valuable Q&A time with peers and business experts.
  • Entrepreneurs should also check out the University of Oxford’s free public lectures for business tips and talks from the experts.

Free business events in Bristol this July


Throughout July, companies based in Bristol can attend six two-hour intensive business workshops at Bristol Central Library. Titled ‘Ready, Steady, Grow’, the series is led by local experts, and covers fundamental topics such as:

Other free Bristol business events in July include:

  • South West Founders at Runway East (3 July at 6pm). Fancy a pizza-fuelled night of networking? South West Founders is a monthly gathering, and informal support group, for wannabe tech entrepreneurs. This month’s theme is ‘Sports’.
  • Meet the Funder at Engine Shed (11 July at 10am) a fireside chat with an angel investor and a venture capital (VC) expert, this event aims to translate the complexities of raising money for new business owners.
  • Success in Business Network at Natwest Bristol City Centre (11 July at 5:30pm) a low-key social event organised by Natwest Bank and Black South West Network to help founders connect and share their stories with each other.
  • Innovation Ecosystem Surgery at Engine Shed (16 July at 12pm) invites tech entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs to sign up for a 10-minute slot with a growth expert who will interrogate and suggest ideas to support your business development.
  • Accelerator Open Day at NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator (24 July at 10am) will see Natwest throw open its doors to entrepreneurs hoping to apply to its fully-funded incubator programme, due to start this September.

Free business events in Cardiff this July

  • Neurodiversity in the Workplace at Principality Stadium (10 July at 9am) it’s become a hugely hot topic in workplaces but many employers still aren’t sure how to support neurodiverse employees. This half-day long session will tell you, by explaining what a neuroinclusive workplace looks like, and how to achieve it.
  • Innovators Uncensored at Steinbeck and Shaw (11 July at 6pm) forget the sales talk and leave your elevator pitch at the door. This networking event celebrates founders’ biggest failures, to help fellow attendees avoid the same mistakes.
  • Diverse Founders Networking Night at Tramshed Tech (2 July at 6pm) sponsored by Barclays Black Founder Accelerator, this event is aimed at minority business owners and addressing the unique barriers they face to access support.

Free business events in Edinburgh this July

Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh

  • Unfiltered Edinburgh at 37a Castle Terrace (3 July at 8:30am) a deliberately unorganised opportunity to connect with tech entrepreneurs in Edinburgh. Organised by CodeBase Edinburgh, founders can drop-in for a casual chat, and then hotdesk.
  • Founders Live at CodeBase Ltd (23 July at 6pm) like its sister event in Cambridge, this is another pitching competition. Five founders are invited to speak about their business for 99 seconds, before answering a live audience Q&A for four terrifying minutes. Whichever side of the stage you’re on, this one promises to be fun!
  • Presentation Club at CodeBast Ltd (24 July at 1:30pm) a supportive environment for tech startup founders to practise public speaking and pitching. Each session offers two five-minute slots for participants to fill and present on any topic.
  • Barclays and CodeBase Quiz at CodeBase Ltd (25 July at 5:15pm) before the world descends on the city for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there’s just time for business owners to enjoy a fun quiz with, crucially, free pub snacks and pints.
  • Startup Huddle at Bright Red Triangle Canalside Office (30 July at 11am) a mixer event for women and non-binary entrepreneurs to offer each other support, whether as a fellow founder, a mentor, or just to lend an ear.

Free business events in Glasgow this July


  • How to Plan Your Business at The Mitchell Library (2 July at 3pm) part of BIPC Glasgow’s ‘How To’ series, this online presentation is a great one for budding entrepreneurs to attend. It covers all the basics of business creation, development, and growth, and includes a five minute Q&A for any burning questions.
  • 8 Networking Coffee Morning APR at The Alchemist (17 July at 9:30am) free for first-time visitors, 8 Networking prides itself on its relaxed, friendly coffee meetups, and reviews repeatedly praise host, Colin McKeand. Come along, but be warned: signups who go MIA will be added to Colin’s famous ‘no show’ naughty list.
  • Glasgow Small Business Network at Bank of Scotland (18 July at 11:30am) why not take a long lunch break and rub shoulders with like-minded Glaswegian founders? With a dedicated networking hour, this event acts as an accessible, no-pressure way to dip your toe into Glasgow’s business community.
Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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