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The value of networking

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Over the years, I have been to myriad events that have gone under different titles, but have all, effectively been ‘networking’ events. Usually mad-eyed business people veer across the room to engage in obsessive chat about what they want me to buy from them until I whimper and slink off. There was an enjoyable speed-networking event a few years ago, but that was probably because there was a shift of emphasis and also I was sitting down! ch 18 r19-sm

My attitude to networking has been influenced by reading on the subject, but also by what I myself would like to achieve. A network of good contacts and opportunities is my gameplan, which makes these obsessive sellers quite simply terrifying!

Tilia Publishing UK’s first book has been my grandfather’s It’s Warmer Down Below: the autobiography of Sir Harold Harding [HJBH], 1900-1986. He was a hugely important influence in my childhood, but working through the book, it became obvious how little I had actually known of his world. He networked magnificently! All through the book he is chomping in fancy restaurants, or having dinners with eminent engineers. Sitting spending quality time with interesting people, discussing widely. He did this all over the world. 

One magnificent example of this and how effective it could be took place the day after he was appointed to sit on the tribunal investigating the disastrous colliery slip at Aberfan in South Wales, (50 years ago, on 21st October 1966). The whole country was at this time in shock at the terrible deaths of 116 children and 28 adults in an accident that had effectively been avoidable. dsc_0946

Having been trained as a soldier in the last months of the First War, HJBH continued to be an active member of the voluntary reserve and, of course, this meant dinners cropped up from time to time. On 27th October 1966, he was at the Annual Dinner of the Engineer and Railway Staff Corps, RET and AVR of which he was an honorary Colonel. They touched on the subject of the disaster and the Engineer-in-Chief asked to know if there was any way in which he could help. On 28th October HJBH was at Imperial College, mobilising the soil mechanics experts under Professor Bishop. A few days after they started their site investigations, the Imperial College team asked if HJBH could find them a tracked vehicle, as the terrain was impossible in its then condition. Remembering the Engineer-in-Chief’s offer, a phonecall generated the loan of two articulated tracked vehicles that the Canadians had sent to the UK for some vigorous testing! They were in service for the investigations for the rest of the winter. Networking at its very best!harding sir h j b094

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  1. Thank you Ashley, yes, it does just go to show you never know what things may lead to. Calm decency may be the key?! And never belittle jobs or people....

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  2. Ashley Price

    A great article that shows how networking can help, not just in business, but in all areas of your life. It pays to be nice to everyone, because you don't know who THEY know who might be able to help you in the future.

    And a big thing to remember is other people's networks as well as your own. By knowing people, you are automatically "plugged" into their network, which can lead to help and success that you wouldn't otherwise have access to.

    Let me give a business example. I used to run a typing service. Our niche was audio transcription of lectures, interviews, meetings, etc., especially for university researchers.

    One Sunday(!), out of the blue, I got a call from someone wanting some typing work. We didn't work Sundays so I was a little surprised when my mobile went off. But it turned out the caller was from a government-backed company based in Abu Dhabi with business interests across the globe (and their weekends are Friday and Saturday - so that explained the Sunday call). They were looking for a transcription service to type up a recording of a two-day medical based seminar they had held in America with some of the worlds' leading experts in their field. We quoted them for the work and we won the contract.

    So, the immediate question is, of course, how did such a huge organisation in the UAE come to call a small transcription service on the south coast of England?

    Well, the company have links to Oxford University, and one of their directors sat on one of the Boards there. They had mentioned to other board members that they were looking for a transcription service. Another member of the board was the Head of one of the research departments. She asked her colleagues, if anyone had experiences of transcription services. As it turned out, one of them had used my business some months before, had been very happy with what we had done for them, and so they recommended me.

    The contract was worth just over £2000.

    That just shows you how what you do for one person today, can have unknown consequences in the future. So, it's best to be polite and helpful to everyone, because you don't know who is in their network.

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