John’s Personal Highlights of the Networking Year - 2016

The festive season with parties, awards events and end-of-year gatherings galore is a great time for looking back at the past year.

Bearing in mind that networking is a skill and not merely a task, and should never be confined to designated “networking” events, my compendium of highlights takes in a mix of sectors and event types.

In no particular order, stand-out gatherings this year included three events at the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge: Expo West (three days of food and drink, what’s not to love?), The Cornwall Business Show (put on by Andrew Weaver, a leader in his field) and The Royal Cornwall Show, an unmissable showcase for this wonderful county.

Hazel Parsons’ and Jenny Phipps' Wed MeetUps have established themselves as essential for anyone involved in the wedding industry in Cornwall and this year the concept travelled very successfully across the border for the inaugural Devon Wed MeetUp.

An entirely new addition to my networking calendar came in the very welcome form of the Cream Tea Club, an initiative from Devon that came to Cornwall’s Mullion Cove Hotel in September. Further events in Cornwall are planned for 2017 including a collaboration with The Samphire Club.

I’ve always found awards ceremonies themselves, with their off-duty vibe, great for making valuable connections. This year’s gongs for best awards events included the Cornwall Business Awards (great networking in the secret after-hours bar and this year, Levi Roots was an outstanding speaker), Michelmores Property Awards (at Sandy Park in Exeter), RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards in Bristol, the prestigious PWC Awards (again, a fantastic after-party) and the Cornwall Tourism Awards. The Tourism Awards were a personal favourite, coming as they did after a particularly successful season, and featuring Sir Tim Rice who I had the pleasure of collecting from the station.

Notable also this year were a number of events hosted by Rick Stein’s Cookery School in Padstow – not least an evening in May to celebrate this very magazine’s 100th issue!

And that brings me very neatly to a prediction for 2017. As mentioned earlier, the best networking doesn’t always take place at designated events.

Courses, seminars and conferences where common interests and values converge make for excellent, less pressured networking. This is something that, no doubt, contributed to the success of September’s inaugural TEDxTruro.

The Cookery School always offers more than an event, it creates an experience, something to savour, share, value and remember. I expect that this experiential approach will be one we’ll be seeing a lot more of in 2017.

Here’s to a great New Year!