Recently I was in Oslo and, as often happens when I’m in one country I want the cuisine of another country, so I was yearning for pasta. We found what looked like a nice place. Looking at the menu outside it also seemed, whilst expensive, that we wouldn’t need to sell a kidney when the bill came. The tables outside were packed and since I always feel like I’m the animal in the zoo who people are watching being fed, we went inside, which was virtually empty. The smiley waiter put us near the bar and I said, “That’s good we’ll get served quickly”. I need to keep my thoughts to myself sometimes. Anyway, we ordered—nothing that wasn’t on the menu and straight into main courses.
Eventually our mains arrived, well not all of the mains, because my side salad only arrived when I reminded them. This was followed by a basket of bread which skidded towards us as the not-so-smiley waiter practised his spin bowling. Now I knew what was happening, because they were not busy, they were having a lovely time and we were interrupting their fun. Beloved and I began to chat about a proposed holiday to the Artic Ocean so I wasn’t really paying attention to the staff, but slowly they became more raucous. It seems that they were all of different nationalities and so they spoke English, which, unfortunately I could therefore understand. They (all men of about 25) discussed women’s rights, gender inequality, and when they started to discuss their sex lives, I’d heard enough and explained to them how inappropriate their conversations were. Their answer? “We were just having fun”. Which is lovely, but not the aim of my evening out. I’m sort of wanting to have fun spending time with beloved and just chatting, rather than getting bad service and indigestion.
I am all for having fun at work, in fact it is my rule number 1. But not when the customers are therefore forgotten, seen as an inconvenience, or badly served. Of course, the service charge was not paid, and, as someone who has worked in hospitality, I really try to give good tips. But there has to be at least an average level of service, so perhaps getting no money might make them think. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Customer service? You either get it or you don’t.
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Quite often people contact me to enquire about attending one of our Groups, or, more recently, one our new afternoon networking events. (Here’s more info: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/afternoon-networking-tickets-136617202731?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch )
We talk about various aspects of our networking, membership (or not), virtual or face to face (All virtual for now, and always will be for the afternoon meetings). However, at some point some ask the following question, ”…and how many people attend?”
To be honest this is where I lose some interest in the conversation. Why? because I have always worked on the ‘quality not quantity’ principle when it comes to networking. Some people seem to think that the more people there are, the better any event is. Not true in my experience. I was once invited to an event in London and I was told afterwards that there had been over 600 people at the networking event. It was horrendous: so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think, and people were so packed in that, being short, the taller people took away my air and light. After about 15 minutes I gave up, I left the room and wandered around the hotel till I found a small bar, and guess what? There I met other people who had ducked out of the main event.
I had a great time. I met some people I knew, they introduced me to some people I didn’t know, and I reciprocated. In the end there were about 5 small groups of people getting to know each other, either with initial meetings or building deeper relationships with people we already knew. Fantastic networking. We exchanged cards and kept in touch and from that small number of people I have grown my contact base and the relationships have been mutually beneficial. That’s what networking about: quality not quantity.
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Recently I was talking to a new contact. We had met at a networking event, connected on LinkedIn and he suggested we have a 1-2-1. Lovely, that’s how you build business relationships.
When we started to talk he said that he hardly did any networking because his company was so big that businesspeople he met owned businesses that were too small to pass work to him. I was a bit surprised since he seemed to have misunderstood what networking is all about.
If you read my blog – What is networking all about? ( https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=169 ) I talk about the advice, information and support that you get from networking. One thing I didn’t mention was the business that happens when you network and this is the part that my new contact seemed not to understand. The amount of business you and I can do may be limited, unless you are a purveyor of fruit scones when I may be a very regular customer. If, however, you are a mortgage advisor I either need a mortgage or I don’t and, if I do, it could be a while before I need one again. However, I may know people who need a mortgage and these are the people you want to be introduced to. You know me and through me you potentially know my contacts.
So, what about my contacts. Well,
- I am not a man, but I know men,
- I am not young (Honestly, hard to believe isn’t it?) but I know young people,
- I am not a tall person, but I know tall people,
- I am not the owner of a large company, but I know people who own large companies, and
- I am not a millionaire (yet) but I know a few millionaires.
So my new contact is missing this point. If we build a strong relationship then you may meet my contacts and you don’t know who I know.