A FORMER student of Bolton College and Bolton Institute has developed her “fascination for people and how they earn a living” into a networking business.

Karen Tems bought the Bolton and Bury franchise of The Business Network in March, 2012, and has seen membership rise to more than 50.

The group meets monthly at the Last Drop Hotel, in Bromley Cross, or the Red Hall Hotel, in Walmersley, Bury.

She also has two other groups in Lancashire and south Manchester.

She said: “As the host, I broker high-value introductions so that Bolton and Bury businesses can expand their client and supplier connections.

“They gather and exchange knowledge by mixing with like-minded people from a variety of professions and industries, including physiotherapists, accountants, IT consultants and architects.

“Members have made valuable introductions, mentored each other and collaborated on new projects.

“For example, Bolton marketing agency Silk Group was helped by telecoms company Matrix 247 when its mobile systems were hacked into.

“They were saved from paying bills in excess of four figures.”

The group also facilitates companies from outside the area, with the Lakeside Hotel in Cumbria increasing its exposure to potential customers in the Bolton, Bury and north Manchester area.

Born in Bury and still living there, Ms Tems began her career as a secretary after completing a course at Bolton College.

Later she started her own training company focusing on small and medium-sized firms, blue chip companies and public sector bodies.

She also completed an MBA at the Bolton Business School, part of the Bolton Institute, which is now the University of Bolton.

Explaining why she bought The Business Network franchise, she said: “I saw the benefits of networking at first-hand when I was a member of the Central Manchester group, so much so that I bought three groups and hosting became my full-time career.”

She works with Michele Barnes, a friend she has known since her days at Derby High School, in Bury,who helps with the day-to-day administration of the group.