Being part of the 42 under 42 alumni, means that I get invited to their annual dinner, in Manchester.
Last year I was not able to make this networking event, and I almost missed it this year, as it seems my spam filters had intercepted my invite.
Luckily fro me the organisers phoned to ask if I would be attending.
I duely accepted, firstly because it would be rude to turn down such a generous offer, but secondly, it's always good to hang out with fellow entrepreneurs, listen to their stories, get to meet new people and of course network.
Yes granted it also means I am going to have to negotiate the M62 car park at rush hour, and we are currently being battered by torrential rain from storm Lennard, but opportunities don't come gift wrapped.
As it so happens, the traffic wasn't too bad, and I arrive early, there was less people than I expected, and there appears to be a heavy slant towards marketing, social media and internet companies in the room.
The one thing I love about this event is that most of the attends love to talk, and luckily for me I love to listen and learn.
This was quite handy as I was talking to Bruce, between opportunities, business wise, currently, whose new business name was a bit of a mouthful, and not very punchy, especially for a branding marking set-up, said the best social media tool for business was LinkedIn.
I have used LinkedIn, in the best but over the last couple of years, felt it did not really have much to offer, but I was looking at re-engaging, but could not see how I could leverage it as a business tool.
Bruce gave me a new perspective as to how I should be using LinkedIn as a connectivity tool, that I can then utilise as communication tool in order to generate sales.
Interestingly enough, he did not have a business card, and I am still waiting for him to accept my invitation on LinkedIn!
I then met a lovely couple, attending their first 42 under 42 dinner, who invest mainly in bio-medical technology, it was refreshing to hear their insight in the business model and their ethos with regards to giving something back.
I must admit finding out that innovators underestimate their investment requirement by 10 fold, was very surprising, especially when you are talking millions, a long with their mindset when it comes to paying themselves before the concept is proved and created income.
The only female on my table of mainly 42 under 42 alumni, mostly in the IT sector, from the Manchester area, although 3 people were missing.
Listening to the issues and/or challenges of the entrepreneurs growing their family business, changing it from generational constrains was an eye opener, from a founder perspective.
Dinner was great, even though the dessert was a bit chocolate heavy, and I found one on our table was allergic to chocolate!
The highlight of the evening is always the panel, and this year was no exception, granted I have never hard of these people, but what they had to say was inspirational and interesting.
This is what I took away from them:
Richard Tang - Zen Internet
"In Business People come first, not money. the Capitalist system is failing because it putting profits before people"
Laura Earnshaw - CEO My Happy Mind
Explained in layman terms what happens physically to the brain, in that adrenaline rush of Flight, Fight of Freeze mode, that can lead to performance anxiety.
So all in all a good night.
Taking on Bruces' advice the next day I was all over LinkedIn, and sent out invites to connect with people I meet at the dinner, but also with others I wanted to connect with but thought I couldn't.
I also looked a the groups and hastags that would be a good fit for the company moving forward.
Some have accepted my invitation.....