CEO’s Blog – 21/01/2016

So here we are in 2016 and have “auld acquaintances” been forgotten already? I do hope not as over the past year I have learned that new, as well as old acquaintances can be great assets, both personally and to an organisation.

I was reminded about this as at a recent networking breakfast I had the pleasure of meeting up again with someone I got to know last year – Paul Andrews. Paul is an angel investor and entrepreneur, owner of a long list of companies, including the two I have subsequently had dealings with – and Channel Radio. He’s also President of the Kent Deaf Children’s Society, presenter of The Business Bunker show, involved with the Bank of England and the FSB, a mentor and goodness knows what else! When I first met Paul I quickly realised that he was someone who knows his onions (and his donkey cheese, but that’s another story!). Anyway, I listened with interest to him saying that he believed that in business, the new “big” is actually being “small”, i.e. small businesses are the fastest growing business type around. Indeed, we also talked about how the big networking events were not as productive as the more local, smaller ones. As The Bridge Trust is a small business it got me thinking about our own strategy for survival over the coming years. I know I will be picking Paul’s brains further about this; a valuable contact made through networking.

Also, through networking over the past year I have purchased services for IT, telephony, Will drafting, graphic design, web design, had invites to radio shows and probably a lot more that I have forgotten about, all from businesses that I have met and importantly, grown to like and trust, which is what networking should be about. In addition, The Trust has received direct charitable support from businesses with fundraising and donations and we have benefitted enormously from pro-bono advice, goods, and services.

During 2015 my attitude to networking has changed from one of “I can’t afford the time” to one of “I must make the time”. As most networking meetings are over breakfast, my attitude to what I eat has also changed. Gone are the “full English” as my waistline can’t handle it – I’m strictly a croissant or muesli man these days!

So in summary, is the cost of Networking worth it? Well yes, because it’s not a cost, it’s an investment. However, I do believe that “small” is the new “big” when it comes to networking as well as businesses; they both have common principles as they are all about getting to know people and forming relationships and indeed friendships. So if you make one New Year’s resolution, maybe it should be to go networking and if you approach it in the right way, you won’t regret it. Here’s to a challenging, but exciting and profitable 2016.