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In this blog I am going to mention COVID-19 as little as possible as we have to look forward to the time when things begin to return to normal.  Currently, the last thing anyone should be considering in the short term is Networking, or indeed any type of business or social gathering.  That said, one of the blogs I was working on three weeks ago was about Networking, its importance to most organisations and the wisdom of business professionals taking every opportunity to do it.

These days most networking is carried out via the various social media facilities that now exist and they are indeed very effective and hugely important.  However, there are some physical events that take place in the business world that use social media to advertise them but at the event itself, it is the personal, face-to-face contact that is the main attraction; the exciting bit, if you will.  The success and continued establishment of these tangible events can be justified by the fact that, in most cases, they continue to flourish in spite of social media alternatives.

I am thinking here of Trade Exhibitions; Business Award Ceremonies; Business Lunches and Dinners; Business Clubs; Professional Association Gatherings; International Trade Missions; Jobs Fairs; College Alumni Events; Trade and Professional Conferences; Local Fundraising Events.  There are many more.

Two events that Julie, Solar Solve’s MD and I managed to get to before the clamp down were; our local Mayor of South Tyneside’s Charity Business Dinner and the North East Branch of The IMarEST Annual Dinner and Dance.

The Mayor’s Business Dinner was held in South Shields Town Hall Reception Room, in mid-February.  It was hosted by His Worshipful the Mayor, Councillor Norman Dick, supported by the Mayoress, Mrs. Jean Williamson.

John and Julie were photographed having a convivial chat with the couple after having presented them with a donation for the Mayor’s Charities, with the compliments of the Solar Solve Team.  Carl Johnson, Solar Solve’s Operations Manager also attended.  There were a lot of VIP’s, Councillors and other local business owners and managers in attendance and all three of us took advantage of the networking opportunities to find out as much as we could about things we were particularly interested in.

The North East Branch of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology; Royal Institution of Naval Architects; and the Nautical Institute held their Annual Dinner Dance in the Great Hall of Newcastle Civic Centre.  It was hosted by Gabriella Grasu, the new Chair of the North East Coast Joint Branch.  During the event a special Award of Thanks and Appreciation was presented to John Eltringham and his wife Jane.  John is the retiring Chairman and after many years of unstinting service in the role, ably assisted throughout by his wonderful wife Jane, John has decided to take life a bit easier so that they can enjoy some quality time together.  Both the award and quality time together are very well deserved.

About 300 people who work or are associated with the global marine industry attended the black tie event and once again we spoke to as many as we could, with a particular emphasis on opinions regarding the state of the marine industry worldwide and what the future might hold.  Renewing friendships is also very rewarding and enjoyable as was the meal and drinks.  One friend on our table kindly took a photo of Julie and I for the Solar Solve archives file and this blog.   The tombola raised a significant amount of money, to be shared between the 4 charities that the Joint Branch supports.

Taking into consideration the time, cost and organising; Julie and I felt that both of the events were well worth attending.  As always we made some new friends, renewed contact with old friends, learnt some new ideas and were brought up-to-date on many other things.  We were also able to promote Solar Solve just by being there and being photographed, which could prove to be an invaluable reward in the future.

It definitely confirms my opinion that Business Networking is Important, Useful and a very Wise use of time and money.

JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman