community network

Community-focused networking has lots of benefits, some are immediately evident, others need clarification and I was witness to this just recently as around twenty met over ‘brunch.’

Our guest was Michael has a lot of domestic responsibility, being the ‘office at home’ and supporting two young kids. He loved the idea of opportunity through engagement, connecting with others in business. The same for many sharing a similar routine these days …

‘Great business today Charlie, met some good people and so glad I accepted your invitation.’

It’s taking that first step, isn’t it? That’s where the intimidation lies, right? Stepping outside of the ‘comfort zone’ into an alien landscape, we all become moulded by our routines and I think Michael was no exception.

With a greater number working from the home office, we soon realise the value of people.

‘I didn’t know what to expect really. Although, I was half expecting the selly-sell, and/or the ‘sign-up’ so today was a refreshing change.’

‘Yes Michael, it is good to have you with us and course there are those who come along fishing for business, with focus on the referral. Others Michael, are just as happy to engage views, share the dialogue, focus on areas of passion, of need and the point of view, not to mention collaboration and to ultimately sample the ‘culture.’

Business is at times a secondary consideration – or ‘the bonus’ as some put it.

Seems to me, the development of community engagement is important, not least because it inspires better efficiencies by creating belonging. Along with a clear infrastructure, community helps us all, in whatever line business.

Most especially, those working from the home office.

‘Happy people mean a happy business, right?’

True Michael, cultivating the community network has enabled many to plan for the realisation of longer-term goals, the chance to step away from the monthly/quarterly led management figures and visualise the ‘bigger picture’.

Cultivating community delivers so much more. Community inspires relationships, affinity, infrastructure and ultimately the trust – then comes referral.

The Extraordinary

Surrounding ourselves with extraordinary friends, those of like minds, not only makes us feel good, it simply helps to get the job done, don’t you think?

I’m in the business of connecting people and although I’m more than comfortable having a room full of people – who perhaps don’t quite yet share my conviction of the powers of connectivity – I find the task of ‘technicolor presentation’ can be tough work at times.

After all, a room full of apparent strangers asking questions of each other is not a universal pleasure. A learning curve it could be said and not just for the aforementioned newbies either.

So therefore whenever I’m building these new groups, ‘the Forum of connectivity,’ I’m extremely lucky to be able to call upon those with an understanding of what it takes to go the distance, to follow the path of strategy for success.

It is mighty beneficial to include one or two network colleagues who have experienced the learning curve, taken off and bumped just a little coming in for the landing, a little bruised maybe, hugely better off for the experience … enlightened folk who have an understanding of the profound results networking may bring when the follow-up to that initial connection is delivered.

Connecting, really connecting for better business is essential if you wish to develop your referral potential. It can be fun of course (it should be fun) but never lose sight of the goal. Always follow-up and offer to help, find ways to be special, be the provider you’d like yourself to meet.

Strive to surround yourself with peers, those trusted friends who, like you, understand that by going the distance, doing extra when helping others is just what it takes to be extraordinary.

Consolidate the relationships by setting the example early, introduce those new connections to your trusted network, leverage those who work hard at being extraordinary by routine. Be remarkable and you cannot go wrong – your network will thank you for it.

People buy from people

Just ask Hilary. People buy from people.

With the spotlight on choices by the people and some monumental personal decisions on both sides of ‘the pond’ this year, it is never been so blindingly obvious:

          “I’ve learned that people forget what you said,

                people will forget what you did

         but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

                                                                    ~ Maya Angelou

It was clear, citizens had reason to vote for change. We knew it here in the UK, Donald knew it, change was due…

It’s not what you have that makes the difference, it’s how you relate.

People are the key to where you wish to be, that’s why … ‘people buy from people …’

Lessons from The Bridge

It was ‘after hours’ and (unlike me) I found myself on my way to a pre-arranged meet with friends and colleagues at London House Of Lords (!) … ‘come along’ they said, ‘it may be worthwhile simply to take a look at the place.’

As I alighted at the station and made my way, I noticed I was a little early and headed toward the Millennium Wheel, just for a peek.

Half way along the bridge I was struck by a vision out of the corner of my eye…

She clung to the lamp stanchion in the damp half-light of a miserable February evening. Pleading to passers-by, anyone …

‘Give me a cigarette or I’m jumping from this bridge …’

My focus from the distant wheelie attraction wavered upon hearing these words and my gazed fixed upon the eyes of what appeared to be desperation.

‘Social Security have taken my children, I’ve nothing to live for … someone give me a cigarette, please.’

Without hesitation I reached for the Marlboro, half-wondering why it was that no-one else had bothered to heed what appeared desperate cries from just a few metres away.

‘I need to speak with the Prime Minister, get me the Prime Minister otherwise I’m going over this bridge.’

I stood for a few minutes in the middle of Westminster Bridge listening to the repeated pleas from this stranger and realised she was seriously considering action if her wishes were not met.

‘Sort her out mate.’ Came comment from one direction. ‘Silly cow!’ From the other.

Am I dreaming? I wasn’t the only one in earshot but I was the only one #listening. What??

I motioned a move for my mobile and suggested to my new friend I’d call the Prime Minister and managed eventually to make contact with the city police.

Our distressed conversation continued, further cigarettes passed and it wasn’t long before a police motor-launch appeared atop the murky water, some 15 metres below.

My new best friend again repeated her threat to end it all. I’d run out of cigarettes.

‘Having trouble with the missus?’ A call from a passer-by …

Amongst the rush hour din our fragile ‘conversation’ continued when one demand led to another and I found I’d simply run out of patience …

I bleated: ‘Ok, if it’s so bad, then throw yourself from the bridge and get it over with then …’

It was not the thing to say; although now I could not help notice her eyes were now transfixed on me. I had at least gained her full attention.

‘Help me please.’ she continued.

With the illuminating blue light I became aware of the presence of police standing either side of me and further afield, a gathering of bystanders  stood-by and gawped.

‘Now Sir, having trouble at home are we?’ Asked the male officer.

I bit my tongue and began to explain as the female police office made her way to our hapless subject.

‘You can’t stay up there all night my love, come on down. Why is it you want to throw yourself from the bridge anyway?’

Without hesitation my traitorous ‘friend’ shot a condemning finger in my direction and spat … ‘because he told me to.’

Now was my opportunity to depart further earshot and as reinforcements managed the further conversation and coaxing, I headed toward my meeting just opposite, beyond the murk at the House Of Lords promenade.

Our guests that evening were representing a major mental health charity.

Our host had offered them a ‘tour’ of the facilities and while the party awaited my arrival they were witness to the commotion ‘across the water’ through the dim light, toward Westminster Bridge.

Now the story I related to all that would listen that night needed no fantasy. I was happy to be away from the commotion and just as enthusiastic in relating my experience of ‘new best friend’ to colleagues.

Also very interested were our special guests, who took particular interest in my own support for someone less fortunate than himself and who of course had found someone within the entourage that evening who may just have the affinity and potential trust required for ongoing business relations …

#networking is an opportunity. #success takes time and #participation, #empathy to build #trust and most of all … #patience.


PS … Unlike friends reading here, I chose not to tell my colleagues how on that wintry night my lack of patience almost let me down badly.

People, funny?

“People are funny”

I find I quote this phrase regularly during conversation, even to myself although most often when I’m indulging with friends over a ‘sticky bun’ and a decent coffee.

I find engagement with like-minded souls is always good for the morale and if we’re lucky we receive more than just a boost for the psyche. An introduction perhaps, even a smile!

After all, people are just like me, they’re much like you – hey, we’re all alike and although we surely have our very different views on life, it’s one of the essential ingredients when reflecting with a smile … how people have that great ability to lift you up when you are down or level the ‘playing field’ when you fly too high.

I recently had an acquaintance get in touch, calling early one evening whilst I was demolishing a fine … home baked rice pudding …

Anyway by the sound of his voice, Shah was having troubles. His wife was leaving him, his children, now post teen, had moved out and with the home-front in disarray, the business was suffering.

Shah initially called to ask me for money. He thought this may be the cure.

Rarely have I set aside the rice pudding once I’d started. I was not about to ignore it at this point either, so I suggested we meet up.

The opportunity came at the local hostelry – always a good idea (and no, it’s not somewhere I often frequent, much!) I insisted on ale, Shah and I had a chat.

It was all too apparent Shah needed to talk. He was very good at talking and with limited family engagement and no-one listening to his recent domestic plight he turned to someone (me) who might just listen. I like to listen. It soon became apparent that Shah had historic family problems that required his attention and his business needed an interim manager to enable him to manage the home front. He was uncertain how to go forward, he continued to talk and I simply listened over my ale.

Shah is part of my own network of friends/colleagues. Until recently I was frequently meeting with him and a number of other independent businesses for referral engagement. The reasons for his regular absences were unclear – until just now.

After a most enjoyable soirée at the aforementioned hostelry it was agreed that we meet with some key people within the business forum – after all, what is an affinity group all about if not to offer support and guidance to a colleague?

The meeting of minds took place the following week, we found the right connection who knew the right kind of people for business support, Shah took time off to be with his family – and pretty soon we saw him smiling again.

“People are funny” is something I often repeat (yes, to myself if there is no-one else around) and Shah is indeed funny.

Shah had built a trusted network of contacts over the years and here he was – blinded by his plight where he simply couldn’t see a way forward until … he asked for help through the aid of conversation, engagement and …it cost him nothing but the odd ale …

Shah now sees the value of his network. People can help you engage, develop and grow, so build the relationships and ask in confidence.  He

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