It’s nothing.

A few years back I had finished a long term tenure with the Ex-Pat Chamber of Commerce and was looking for another similar role after the ‘said’ organisation announced it’s impending relocation to Brussels.

Now, going back 12yrs I was confident of a new assignment with a similar organisation, a familiar role and simply bided my time. I contacted one or two agencies and sat back waiting for the ‘offers’ to come by.  I figured that in three or four months I could transfer all my contact and all I’d learned and move amongst a familiar network once more – as if nothing had happened at all.

Twelve months arrived without any interest, then 14 came and went and I found myself chasing shadows with ‘specialist recruiters’ and the limited and much oversubscribed ‘vacancies’ that vaguely offered an opportunity to shine.  I wouldn’t say that I was worried, although after eighteen months I was now considering working on settling for diversity, facing up to the fact that ‘familiar’ was not going to be my next move – I had to start with a blank canvas, leave the comfort zone of what I knew – start with nothing.

About this time a friend suggested I visit a local networking even, something which might ‘do me good’ and ‘get me out of my own mind.’  I said yes and agreed to meet Bob later that evening. On the way I was visiting the local automatic bank teller.

I’d never been in a position when I found myself ‘broke’ … although the message as I requested my withdrawal now spelt it out – ‘funds unavailable.’ Starting at nothing was one thing, existing on it was another and this moment took me aback and hit me hard.

Needless to say, I did meet up with Bob (over a soda water) and discussed my plight with him when after a while he introduced me to an acquaintance who happened to be heading up a Govt., funded drug rehabiliation unit. It so happens they were looking for a Trainer who could manage a programme of the dangers and awareness to the harms of substance abuse. It did not take me long to confirm that I was interested, so we set up a meeting at his office next day which led to a 4 month delivery cycle.  It was a start.

Some way into the new role, after business one wet December evening I suggested to ‘dear wife’ that I was on my way out to pick up a bottle of ‘favourite Shiraz’ – would you like anything?  It was a short walk to the convenience store and the rain did not bother me too much. On the way I saw a familiar face coming toward me …

“Hi George” I called as my near neighbour approached, almost colliding with the chap.  There was a short exchange of pleasantries although at the time I did feel that George was not acting his usual buoyant self – I also noticed that he’d beaten me to the off-licence.

The next couple of weeks were fulfilling and very busy on the project. I had certainly not given up hope of moving back into a similar ‘comfortable role’ I was used to, although I was grateful for this hiatus in my search for the ideal in life.

The training I was charged to deliver one evening, 7-9pm was to a group who were unknown to us, until the last minute … except for tonight. I was given the expected attendance sheet and saw a list of names – amongst them was George Parks.

Sure enough, a band of six ‘offenders’ arrived, one being my near neighbour and all accompanied by community police officers.  This was going to be tough I thought to myself, sure enough, George saw me and immediately broke down.

Little did I know beforehand, George and his wife were having a tough time, he had been made redundant and her health suffered and all was not as it should be. George had picked up with his drinking and included a ‘recreational powder’ to accompany this.  At nearly 50 years of age, married for 25 years, this was awful time for them and the situation was not improving.

Eventually George stayed with the programme of three weeks and I came to know understand him well.  Both he and his wife moved on from their problems and opted for a quite place on the coast after selling his home, the health of Mrs Parks improved and the pair are much happier as a result.

My lesson from this was pretty easy really.  I have always known that networking is an antidote for many ills, whether business or personal – we all find different answers when meeting new people and talking through our needs and wants, our offer in life.

People really are the key to getting us where we wish to be and we should never be afraid of the ‘nothing’ because that ‘nothing’ can inspire us to leave behind our doubts and insecurities and just like George Parks and myself … move on to better things.

Learn from the past, start with nothing, create what you desire and GO!


Gone Fishing

Networking is a little bit like fishing. It takes time.

We need to pick the spot – find the right conditions for you

Is it fairly local?

Fair Weather, without any competition or potential snags?

Do we have the right tools? A smile, business cards, pen perhaps …

We need to prepare the pool to ensuring the audience know that we are regularly around and that we have a better chance with our cast (or message in this case)

The Lure – are the conditions right?

People buy seasonally, try and adapt your offer to the marketplace

Have patience.   And throw the little ones back. It takes time …

After you plant the seed, give the potential a chance to grow, if the work on offer is not right for you, say so and point your colleague in the right direction.

You know they will be back and that you will be rewarded down the line.


Avoid disappointments. Give more time

Developing the relationships through networking is important it is the foundation of success. Most of us are aware of this although there comes a time when we need to step back and think:

‘Is the relationship i value really a priority for my network colleagues?’

I’ve had my own personal experiences with supposed allies, friends even! Those go-to like-minded associates who carry the same vision and principles as yourself, only to see it all goes sour – for lots of different reasons.

The most common influence, not just in my own experience, is impatience and greed. Especially true of course during our recent unsettled economic climate.

The lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that trust is an ever more valuable commodity in the business world. Trust is built over time and enables the fast track to business development and success. These days I give my networking more time. I am much more selective and of course much more wary of whom I befriend of who I offer help and ultimately to who I offer my trust.

Business is personal and there are givers and there are takers.

We may have our own business priorities although when assessing our business ‘partner,’ it is my view that we need to really understand where they are heading.

What is important to their business?

  • Is it regular cash transactions,
  • New business partnerships,
  • Network education or
  • Diversity through people?

In most instances it is a combination of all of the above although the time to be wary is when you find that the only relationship your ‘trusted’ business partner is interested in is the regular cash transaction – this is a relationship that has no solid foundations and in my experience greed soon possesses your once trusted partner.

So what happens when you find your trust is compromised for the sake of a run of cash transactions – or the gain of a ‘quick buck?’

Walk away, and remember to close that kitchen door behind you!