£1,000,000,000 worth of business… Wow!! That’s a lot of money coming in. I’ve mentioned Fit for Legacy (FFL) before; it’s the organisation based in Canary Wharf that provides support to businesses in and around neighbouring boroughs. On Tuesday night, they held a party to celebrate the amazing achievement of bringing a staggering £1bn worth of business into the area!! I’ve only been a FFL training provider for eight months (social media and time management) and I’ve met some fantastic people during that time, so I was really proud to be invited.
I trotted off to the East Wintergarden in my long purple dress and high heels – the relevance of this will become clear later… Over 200 businesses were represented in the tall glass building overlooking the evening sun-kissed river. I usually enter these events with my eyes firmly fixed on who to say hello to first – after all, networking is the key to being remembered. But on this occasion, I was sidetracked the second I stepped onto the marbled mezzanine: the longest, most colourful, most beautiful array of cupcakes stared up at me, simply begging me to take a bite.
Hope Mutongwizo is the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery and creator of these fantastic delicacies. My favourite was the red velvet with a thick, sugary, buttercream swirl and a raspberry. I liked it so much that at the end of the evening I ‘stole’ eight cakes – and this is where the long dress and stilettos became a bit problematic. Along with a couple of glasses of red wine and the slippery looking flight of green glass stairs facing me, I knew I’d have a problem balancing the eight ribboned boxes on my journey home.
As if by magic, my friend Mark from the Barking Enterprise Centre appeared with car keys and a smile – and the kind offer of a lift home. So I tricked him into helping me sneak out the cakes quietly and unobtrusively… which would have been fine had I not dropped one and cried out loudly in horror as it squidged across the floor. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t wasted. Mark scooped it up and put it on the edge of the table, and we later saw someone carrying it away! Oh dear.) Turns out crawling around in a long dress in a puddle of buttercream is the key to being remembered.
I first met Hope when she attended one of my time management sessions. (If you’re reading this Hope, thank you for the LinkedIn recommendation!) Other people I’d never met before recognised me from my LinkedIn photo. Ade, a business growth coach that I bumped into at one of my first networking events, knows me only as WeekendWitch and did a great job of promoting me throughout the evening! (Thanks very much for your LinkedIn rec too!!) Proves my point that you must must must have a clear, current and professional photo on your LinkedIn profile.
Cakes aside, the evening was brilliant. It was a genuine delight to be part of the celebration and to feel I’d contributed to the success in some small way. Karren Brady gave an amusing keynote speech about being a ‘woman in a man’s world,’ showing off plans and photos of the new West Ham stadium being developed at the Olympic Park. I didn’t chat to her about football though. We spoke about our mutual work for the Stroke Association and her business mentoring for women.
I’m not a football fan, but what with the West Ham presentation, world cup sweepstake and being part of a client’s football predictor game, it’s been a very sporty week for me! No football songs this week though! As this blog was about networking, this seemed a relevant song to choose as networking is ALL about talking to people. It was also number one the day Karren Brady was born!
“I finally got to talk to you and I told you just exactly how I felt. Then I held you close to me and kissed you and my heart began to melt.” (Actually, kissing is not obligatory at networking events…!!)
If you’d like to know more about networking, FFL or your LinkedIn profile, feel free to ask me here: @WeekendWitch.
(Lyrics: Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller)