Confessions of a Networking Skeptic
I am going to be absolutely honest here and tell you that I am a Networking Skeptic. In fact I'd go as far as to say that I've scoffed at the idea of attending Networking Events in the past and passed them off as a sanitised version of what I consider to be - the good old fashioned, honest practice of 'selling' - for people who don't want to admit - they're 'selling!'.
Rewind to a couple of months ago pulling off the M90 one beautiful Fife & Kinross Shire morning to take a call with Christine Esson - she knows exactly where I am and what the late summer morning can look like on Loch Leven - as she dodges through the Covent Garden rush hour. She tells me that the idea behind the Scottish London Business Network is to connect Scottish Entrepreneurs with the London business community via our diaspora of intelligent, dynamic and very well intentioned Scots who've already made their way through the Big Smoke!
What an absolutely fantastic idea - I'm instantly smitten. Two weeks before this I was cold calling Technology Incubators in London to no great effect at all. Christine explained that there are 17 similar Irish networks in London and nothing whatsoever in place for Scottish entrepreneurs - until now!
One of the things that has stood out for me since my first ever international sales trip is that anywhere in the world that we Scots go - we are welcomed with a warmth that indicates a perception of honesty, integrity, ingenuity and hard work. I was both surprised and delighted by this as a young man - 'they actually like us!'. We live our lives in Scotland under the shadow of the Scottish Cringe - yet we get on a flight to almost anywhere and we find not only a warm welcome but other Scots who have been there before us.
Is there another nation in the world that suffers from this self deprecating irony? I don't know. But what I do know is this - I presented our company, Planys Mobile, at the Scottish London networking event on the 20th of September at the prestigious offices of Bristows LLP, Victoria Embankment and my colleague Steve and I were overwhelmed by the warmth, encouragement and willingness to engage with us that we encountered there. We met with business owners, investors, technologists, marketers, financiers and every single one of them went out of their way to make a connection for us or point us in the right direction to somebody else in their own network. I had emails of introduction and exchanges being made in my inbox before breakfast the next morning - that's how fast and how positive these people are!
Now London is the fifth largest commercial metropolitan area in the world with vibrancy and commercial colour that you'd have to travel a very long way to match. Christine Esson, Russell Dalgleish and their friends and supporters in the Scottish London Business Network have gone out of their way to do something quite remarkable in setting this up - specifically for Scottish entrepreneurs to navigate and engage with a huge economic opportunity right on our doorstep. Why it hasn't been done before now is another question. But one thing is for certain sure - we owe them huge gratitude for opening this unique opportunity for us. We will be participating as much as we possibly can - and if you're not part of the Scottish London Business Network - you certainly should be - and that's from a self confessed Networking Skeptic!