Safaraz Ali has been bringing people together for two decades with different networking initiatives.
He is joined by Dr Richard Fallon, a scientist by training but now running a business that brings people together.
He has set up and leads the technology supply chain that supports the technology sector in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Saf and Richard talk about networks, both formal and informal. They share their own experiences and tips about how to engage. The message from both of them is that good networks are about much more than people selling to each other.
A conversation about how to bring people together has Safaraz Ali and his guest Dr Richard Fallon sharing their experiences of networking. Many years ago, Safaraz learned that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that is why he has set up a number of different groups to meet different needs. He talks about the thinking behind ‘Coffee and Natter’ and ‘Chutney and Chat.’
Richard is a scientist by training with a PhD in photonics. He has moved into marketing, especially in the technology sector and heads the Birmingham Supply Chain initiative.
For both Saf and Richard, establishing trust is vital to every network and so is an understanding of concepts like USP. Richard tells the story about how an accountancy firm told him that there USP was doing a good job and being nice people. He points out that given that being incompetent and unpleasant are not characteristics most people want in an accountant, this is hardly a USP.
Saf and Richard consider both formal networks such as BNI and informal networks like a golf club. They agree that there is a place for both. The conversation also turns to how technology is changing networking with an increasing use of platforms like zoom, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It might be easy to think that networking is a recent invention, but it has been happening since the dawn of time. People meeting each other, finding more about each other and building a relationship based on trust are the foundations of every good network.
Richard and Saf also stress the value of networks not just in selling products and services but sharing experience, mutual learning and in some cases just ‘providing a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on.’