Telling the truth about SME life today

Entrepreneurs, networking and pastries

Anyway Oli mentioned that he was holding a breakfast networking event at One Alfred Place this morning. I have to admit, the word ‘networking’ normally makes me squirm a little but Oli’s an energetic guy with lots of projects on the go – ranging from speed networking to subscription-based sock-selling – so I decided to give this one a whirl.

So who was there

While we all tucked into our pain-au-chocolats and OJ, Ben Keene regaled us with the story of how he went about setting up Tribewanted in September 2006. For those of you not in the know, Tribewanted is a unique proposition: pay £180 and become a member of a brand new tribe on a desert island.

The idea is that visiting tribe members contribute to creating an eco-friendly sustainable community on Vorovoro island in Fiji. Their progress is monitored on – a site on which members can debate and vote on how the island community should be structured. There are still around 4,000 Tribewanted places left, so if you feel the urge to join a tribe then you should definitely check out:

The bubbly Jane Hill, (BBC News 24 and 1 O’Clock news presenter) also said a few words about breaking the story of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance last year on May 3rd.

Hill recalled how she flew out to Portugal the following day with a suitcase packed for four days – three weeks later she was still there.

“Of course, no one could have predicted how big a story it would become,” says Hill. “And it was only when I got back to the UK that I realised how big the story had become.” Weird to think that as we approach the first anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance, despite no trace of her, the story is still generating column inches.

Darius Norell, founder of Real World magazine, is a larger-than-life character who had everyone chuckling when he asked “Hands up if you actually know what you’re doing in life ”

Real World was set up seven years ago in order to provide graduate recruitment advice to confused students who are having an early mid-life crisis, not knowing what career to pursue.

Norell recounted how when setting up the magazine, he had to make 1,000 calls to agencies before finding someone who was willing to advertise in the mag. Norell then had only three weeks to find an editor and a graphic designer to produce the first issue. “It turned out that the graphic designer had never designed a magazine in his life so we ended up finding someone at the eleventh hour who we spent all night re-designing the mag with!”

Norrell was too modest to say so, but Real World is now distributed in more than 130 universities nationwide, with an average 40,000 copies published per issue. (There are 11 issues a year.)

On the subject of career crises, after the three guest speakers had finished, Oli introduced me to a friend of his from school who works for a company called The Employment & Career Channel, which is currently putting together short videos that provide an insight into the corporate environment and structure of various workplaces.

Amongst others, the company is currently videoing in accountancy firms, solicitors’ offices and banking institutions. As he pointed out, when you do internships, you tend to be working alongside other interns and don’t get an overview of the company.

If you ask me, what a great way to ‘try before you buy’.

I also said hi briefly to the lovely Sarah McVittie of Texperts fame and then on my way out the door, I met a girl who does PR for mybnk – a social enterprise whose aim is to increase financial literacy and develop young people’s enterprise skills. Young people can put their good ideas into practice by taking out small (interest free) loans that can be used towards the development of new enterprises.

So, what can I say – apart from being a converted networking cynic, I would recommend One Alfred Place’s pastries anytime.

Picture source


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