Dear Lord Sugar
In response to Lord Sugar’s contentious view on networking groups, Fiona Davies at WiRE has her say on just how beneficial networking can be. WiRE has the proof…
View Lord Sugar’s article at The Telegraph Online
Dear Lord Sugar,
When you tire of looking menacingly out of your office window at buildings of dubious shape and name and bored with writing articles about how businesses should shut up and shape up, perhaps you could find time to visit one of the many WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) Networks. We would like to show you that contrary to your belief that; “these events are money-making exercises and benefit one party and one party only: the organiser and that they “have become an escape for people to justify sitting around wasting a day bullshitting with each other while they should be working, where you “will learn nothing, other than that there are another load of people in the same boat as you”. We would like you to see how valuable networking can be and what a powerful business support mechanism it really is.
Now that you work within a large organisation there is always somebody around; to provide practical support, to solve a problem, to consult with, to explore ideas or provide an expert answer. But you must remember what it was like to be the chief cook and bottle washer at the helm (sink) of your own business where it was not so easy to find the support you needed.
To survive, all businesses need to continue to collaborate, learn, refresh skills, solve problems, mull over ideas and do business with trusted colleagues – networking is a great way to find this support. Just as you would choose which colleagues would be most helpful in a given situation, you must carefully choose your network. Nothing is quite so disheartening, time wasting and likely to put you off for life as finding yourself networking in a group which has no interest in what you are selling and no use for your skills (they may in fact just be there to make money for the organisers). But not all networks are the same, the reason that WiRE networks are successful is that the constituent parts of the network are likeminded; they are largely rural, run small but very professional businesses, care about their area and locality, have strong ethics, are looking to succeed and want to see other businesses succeed. It doesn’t really matter what the businesses within the network are (professional, craft, artisan, food etc.), it just matters that the underlying principles of the members are as matched as possible – likeminded.
Scratch the surface of any of the 60 WiRE networks and you will find a rich and varied tapestry of businesses – a personal business board; they haven’t just read about it they have done it, there isn’t a single business problem they haven’t experienced and lived to tell the tale. WiRE networks are not franchised, they are run by WiRE member volunteers who believe that the right sort of networking provides fantastic business support and opportunities – all we ask is that attendees join WiRE (just £50 per year) and contribute generously and enthusiastically to their network.
Support from networking doesn’t let distance and geography get in the way, when you are part of a national likeminded network (like WiRE) networking becomes much greater than what you can achieve, learn, sell and share face to face. The WiRE network comprises thousands of members running rural businesses, so it is a mine of information and experience, if you can’t make it to a meeting, you can still tap into the expertise.
So Lord Sugar, networking works, done well it becomes your team and your business support network, we would love you to come and experience this at first hand – but you can’t because you are a man, please extend our invitation to Lady Sugar.