Last night I attended one of Carole Stone’s regular Monday evening “salons” – and had a great time too!
Carole is highly regarded as the “Queen of Networking” and has over 30,000 contacts on her database.  Just as some might accrue pens from conferences, Carole gathers contacts, but not in that sort of manner where one feels marketed to once she has your business card. No, Carole is a traditional networker, genuinely interested in you, remembers your name and introduces you to others.  It’s like going to a great restaurant and marvelling at how wonderful the service and food is – Carole has created the art of good networking.

With a little trepidation I arrived, only to be met with a smile and encouraged to take the plunge and start chatting to one or two people in the throng.  Whilst its a relatively small flat in Covent Garden, its like an Aladdin’s Cave of interesting people.  You don’t know who to speak to next because there is such a rich diversity of knowledge and experience in the room. It seemed to me that there were at least fifty people there, and there’s no hope for you if you like a little personal space.  Perhaps its the rubbing shoulders that does it – it certainly means you see the whites of other peoples eyes. 

I was having a conversation with a man with a distinguished miltary background and he mentioned a quote from Charles Handy – the legendary thinker and specialist in organisational behaviour and management.  We considered it and carried on talking.  The next moment we were joined by a grey haired gentleman and his wife.  I introduced myself and so did he – it WAS Charles Handy!  Such is Carole Stone’s ability to attract people from all walks of life to her salons…..

Of course, follow up is a vital part of networking – and as one might expect by 8am this morning a lovely message from Carole was waiting in my inbox to be read.  It raised the networking bar to a new level for me  and gave me hope that networking can be fun when the right environment is created and people are genuinely interested to be there.