Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers
London & South East Branch

In Praise of Networking

by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 20 May 2020 

When something is no longer available in the same way as it is normally, its value tends to become more obvious than it was previously. And so it is with networking, the benefits of which are many and varied. This activity can be shown to fulfil very useful purposes, at the same time as being thoroughly enjoyable, with potential for valuable outcomes.

Such thoughts have arisen during the enforced semi-isolated existence most people in the UK have endured, while the pandemic lockdown period unfolded. This restricted lifestyle is extending into the greatly limited ‘opening up’ phase. Networking is not on the agenda for the weeks ahead.

Opportunities for networking at our London & South East Branch events – frequent seminars and social/networking evenings – often have rewarding consequences.

Our Branch events provide a convenient location for brokers, other shipping professionals, students and those looking for shipping employment, to make contacts that would be difficult to arrange in any other way. A chance contact can lead to an unexpectedly valuable introduction. There are numerous examples of this happening – new possibilities for business transactions, new possibilities for employment, added information about industry trends, along with career ideas and guidance sought and given. 

Of course, ‘chance’ contact is not always as ‘accidental’ as it sounds. Many participants at these events come with ideas about what they would like to focus on and talk about in informal chats, and are receptive to anyone who has a mutual interest or is willing to assist. Moreover, such conversations can stimulate thoughts which, in turn, lead to further visions and action.

These benefits of networking have become steadily more apparent during the past couple of months. There has been an absence of any events of this nature during the pandemic lockdown period, and the absence looks set to continue in the immediate future and perhaps for much longer. It is a great loss. The eventual resumption will be enthusiastically embraced by many of us.

Author’s note: thanks to Chris Hibbert who suggested the topic for this article.