My Column

Important to keep up the good network

  • Date: Monday 1st May 2023
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I was chatting to a business contact recently who thought networking was a total waste of time.

It took me by surprise because I couldn’t disagree more.

I dug deeper to find out why, and it turned out they’d had a few rubbish networking experiences which put them off.

Their first ever session was a disaster.  To call it poorly-attended would be an understatement – even the organisers forgot to show up.

My contact ended up sitting with the one other person who came along, and spent an hour having an awkward obligatory coffee with the chap while he ranted about his wasted journey.

Attempt number two was marginally better attendance-wise, but useless for business-building.  This time they were sandwiched between someone who made cushion-covers and someone who ran a printing firm, and both spent the entire session relentlessly trying to make a sale.

In fact, the whole room was full of people with tiny start-ups, pushing their product with no regard for whether it was relevant to each other’s business.

I’d love to say tales like this are uncommon, but in reality some sessions are just better than others. It doesn’t mean you should let a bad experience put you off though.

Shop around, and seek recommendations from your peers, because there are some real gems out there.

Once you’ve pinpointed a group or event that’s reputable, do your homework. Some organisers even share lists of the companies who’ve signed up, making it easier for you to identify the most relevant events (and helping you make a beeline for the right people once you’re in the door).

And once you’re there, watch and learn networking etiquette – or if you’re already a seasoned pro, be patient with those who aren’t.

It doesn’t take long to realise that nobody wants the hard-sell at these things.  Don’t make it all about you. These events are all about listening. Ask people about themselves, make connections, learn about industries outside of your own.

Even if the person you’re chatting to isn’t someone you’re likely to do business with, you may have contacts you can introduce them to and vice versa, making it a superb way to expand your network.

Once you’ve rubbed shoulders with enough people you may even be lucky enough to invited to speak at events.  I was honoured to speak at the Glasgow Business Club Networking Lunch a few months ago and I talked about my own path to success which, at times, has been down to being in the right place at the right time.

Sometimes that happens by chance – but you can create chances too.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to attend a dedicated “networking event” to actually network with people.  There are a million and one other events that serve the same purpose.

For example, if your clients, colleagues or connections invite you to something they’re running (such as a dinner, corporate bash or business launch) get yourself there. You’re showing them you value them – and who knows who else you’ll meet.   

And have a think about what events YOU can invite guests along to.  Earlier this year I attended the Great Burns Supper in aid of Social Bite at Gleneagles and invited some brilliant people to join me. We had a brilliant time and helped boost the charity’s coffers at the same time.

Last but not least, remember that networking doesn’t always mean having a physical presence somewhere – and LinkedIn is the perfect example. I use it regularly to connect with clients and prospective clients.

I shout about my company’s successes and acquisitions, and it can also directly drive new business because if I have an industrial investment opportunity up for grabs I’ll share it with my network.

Last but not least I also use this social platform to give a bit of insight into my life out work, like my recent trip to Phucket where I tried out the digital nomad life while learning kickboxing.

It’s not the place to over-share (nobody on LinkedIn wants to see pictures of your dinner or hear your personal dilemmas – save that for Facebook) but I do think a peek into your personal life shows your human side and helps forge connections.

Suffice to say that there’s nothing you can say to put me off networking – I’ll forever be a fan – and if you’re not, you probably just haven’t found the right setting yet.  Persevere and who knows what opportunities it may bring.



If there was ever a brilliant example of the power of one person’s grit and determination, it’s Hospitality Rising’s ‘Rise Fast, Work Young’ recruitment campaign.

It was launched by a guy called Mark McCulloch with the aim of championing the industry and addressing the recruitment crisis.

The marketing whizz has worked with massive brands including Yo! Sushi and Pret a Manger and decided to use his wealth of experience to get young people excited about the prospects the industry has to offer.

He has used a combination of his marketing know how and his little black book of industry connections to garner a level of support that is jaw dropping.

Everyone from celeb chefs to an army of around 300 hospitality businesses have given their backing and it only took two days for 7,000 job applications to fly through the door.

Fast forward to today, less than six months from the campaign launch, and that total has just hit a whopping 100,000. Wow.

There are a lot of great lessons to be learned from this campaign.

Firstly, one person with one big idea really can have a tangible impact.

Secondly, play to your strengths to find solutions. This guy knows all too well about the power marketing can have in changing perceptions, and he recognised that this would be essential in appealing to potential recruits.

And thirdly – and here I go banging this drum again – use your network.

Mark new that big things could be achieved by utilising the amazingly talented people all around him from the worlds of both marketing and hospitality. Together these bright minds are pooling their skills to attract a whole new hospitality talent pool. Bravo.


Scotland boasts a huge number of world renowned culinary delights, from the humble haggis to Scotch Beef, mouth-watering tablet and much more.

I had to chuckle when I noticed an Edinburgh brewery business decided to take inspiration from one of our quirkier famous foods though – the deep fried Mars Bar.

Sour beer specialist Vault City Brewing have paid homage to the battered bar by creating a new stout ale in partnership with Neon Raptor Brewing Co. They reckon it ‘guarantees the authentic deep-fried flavour’.

When Cold Macsween Beer, a haggis spiced pale ale, was launched a while back I thought I’d seen it all, but obviously not.  Whether you love or hate the idea you can’t say it’s not innovative.



I was sad to see that, after 55 years of high flying, Scottish business Tayside Aviation went into administration with the loss of 22 jobs.

The firm, which was based at Dundee Airport, provided courses from private licenses to full commercial licences and has delivered the RAF air cadet pilot scheme for more than 30 years.

Not only does it mean a loss of jobs, but also looks like customers who have put down sizeable deposits will lose out.

I read a heart-breaking tweet from one Scottish student pilot who said his dreams had been crushed.

However I was pleased to see that not-for-profit Wings Alliance has swooped in and said it’ll help Tayside pilots find new flight schools, and Bristol Groundschool is also offering to complete ATPL theory training for Tayside students free of charge.

I hope they can still achieve their dreams.



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