If you were paying attention to Friday's Posts, specifically my spotlight on networking, I told you that I would have the pleasure to talk to Ash Phillips from Young Entrepreneur
Networking Association. I wanted to ask him about his thoughts on networking and his experiences. This is what he had to say...
Q: Let’s start off with a bit of an introduction for our readers. What’s your name and what do you do?
My name is Ash Phillips. I’m a serial Entrepreneur and the Founder of YENA, a social enterprise that
supplies young people with a non-intimidating networking environment. We run free events to bring
people together in order to increase their network size and opportunities.
We also supply exclusive access to many business services, and are working on integrating a mentor
scheme within the group.
Q: And how long have you been attending and running networking events?
I’ve been attending networking events since I started my own business 4 years ago. These range from
long running institutions, to bank-run events. I’ve been running YENA for around a year now we’ve
learnt a lot in that time but time is a resource you can’t buy and can only learn from.
Q: So in your opinion, what makes a good business networking event? (examples from ones you
organise/attend, good practice)
From what I’ve learnt from other events, and running YENA events, there are many aspects that balance
an event and make it great.
Location - this is important in getting the right people involved. Our Bristol event is based at a quirky
hotel/bar which is luxurious but not pretentious. This has helped people feel important but not out of
place. The team there is also fairly young but very good at what they do so this helps us with the quality
of our event.
Content - what your event consists of is important. Regardless of how relaxed it is (YENA is very relaxed)
is still needs some format. This makes people feel comfortable with the organiser, and with what they
should be doing at the time.
The People - the most important aspect of the event, undoubtedly, is the people in the room. This
doesn’t even mean the organisers it means the people who are there. YENA has been a success and still
exists because of our wonderful community. The event is an event without people and the right people
make it great. We love our attendees, and we tell them that at every event.
Q: Why do you think it's important for businesses to attend networking events?
Yes. In attending a networking event, you’re not selling to the people there. Whilst they could become
clients, what you’re really doing is winning advocates of what you do. You have a potential workforce in
that room who can recommend you to their network so in a room of 10 people you’re potentially connected
to over 1000 people. If you make those 10 people love you and want to give you work, it’s likely it will
come. If you spend your time pitching all of them to get turned down, you’ll likely never hear from them
again in the way you’d like.
Q: What about people who don’t run a business? Is it worth their time to network with businesses?
YENA is one of the only events I know of that promotes the use of networking to improve opportunities.
Giving professionals, students, and NEETs (not in education, employment or training) somewhere to
increase their connections, gives them the chance to increase their opportunities. They say it’s not what
you know it’s who you know, and whilst I believe it’s both, you’re not going to get far with all the
knowledge but no contacts to help that turn into something.
Q: Finally, what would be the best piece of advice on business networking that you would give to our
My best advice is to give. Give advice from experience, lend an ear and listen to the other person, actively
think about who you can put them in touch with to increase their opportunities. The more you can give
someone, the more they’ll want to give back, and that’s when you gain from networking.
So that was Ash, the real question is what do you think? If you want to find out more
about YENA, take a look at their website http://www.yena.co.uk, follow them on twitter