Thursday 20th November
I'm at the Business Northwest event at the G-Mex in Manchester. There's exhibition stands where businesses have stands to promote their products and services. There's an area for presentations at the back of the building with talks on topics ranging from finance to internet marketing. Near the front there's a smaller area for presentations by business consultants. In the middle there's a networking café and an area for speed networking. It's a very well organised event and I'd recommend it for anyone that runs their own business.
I came today to meet businesspeople who might be able to promote or buy my book. I meet some people, have a go at speed networking and watch parts of a few presentations. It's an enjoyable event and I meet a number of people who are interested in buying my book.
At one point I'm standing near the speed networking event having free drinks – there's a bar serving free cocktails, there's free beer too – and watching everyone network. There's two long lines of chairs with people sat opposite each other. An ex army guy is running it, he blows a whistle at 1 minute, then blows it twice at 2 minutes. At the 2 minute signal the businesspeople move along one seat and speak to the next person. Then there's another 1 minute whistle, a 2 minute whistle, the people move along one seat, and so on. The result is meeting 30 people in an hour.
At standard networking events you talk to who you like as long as you like. Speed networking gives an advantage that it's one on one so you don't have to approach groups of people in conversation, and structured so you meet everyone rather than a few people.
By the way, if you've never been to a networking event, it's a room with 50 or so businesspeople who talk to each other about business and try to sell each other their products or services.
When going around the exhibition stands and meeting the businesses. Something I notice is that the stands with the business owners there are working a lot harder and doing a lot more selling than the stands where it's employees without the business owner.
Now it's 4:30pm, the event is finishing and I'm sitting in the Networking Café with Jackson. Jackson is the guy from the social event in Didsbury that meets on the first Monday of every month. He happened to be here too, and we saw each other while going around the stands.
Jackson: "Do you want to go to Fallowfield?"
I've left my car at home because with the event on there wouldn't be many places to park, and my car is too big for many multi-storey car parks. We take the bus from outside the Palace Hotel on Oxford Road to Fallowfield.
Now we're in Fallowfield and walking along the street.
Jackson: "Let's go in there."
He points to the Cheshire Cat pub. We go inside and the atmosphere is really good. The music is loud enough to enjoy but not too loud, they've got it just right. There's a song playing and I wonder what it is. We're standing near a guy and a lady having a chat and sitting on the sofas.
Me: "Do you know what this song is called?" I ask them.
Guy: "I don't know. It's good though."
Her: "The bar staff will know."
Guy: "If you find out let us know."
I ask the lady at the bar
Me: "Do you know what this song is called?"
Bar lady: "It'll be on the jukebox."
She walks around the front of the bar and goes over to a modern mp3 jukebox on the wall. She reads off what it says on the jukebox.
Bar lady: "It's I Feel by MGMT."
It was nice of her to find it out, the staff are really polite in here, the service is very good. Me and Jackson decide to have a game of pool. I win one game, he wins one game. Playing pool in this venue, the music, the style, it's what all bars should be like. I'm having a really good time.
As we're walking across the venue on our way out, I'm walking past the people I asked about the song in the first place and they say
Him: "Did you find out the name of the song?"
Me: "It's I Feel by MGMT"
Him: "I thought so. Thanks. It's good."
Me: "Are you students?"
Him: "No. I manage All Saints on King Street."
Her: "I'm a fashion student."
We chat for 5 minutes. We get on well. They're called Chris and Chloe.
I realise that I got on really well with those fashion people and part of the reason could be because of the clothes I'm wearing, although they were nice as well. I'm wearing light coloured chinos, a light green shirt in a nice green with white and cream stripes. Also I'm wearing a black jacket and black shoes. It's smart and stands out when everyone else is wearing jeans and t-shirts. Jackson is wearing a grey-black suit and a black shirt. I'm noticing that people react differently depending on the clothes I'm wearing and what they're wearing, or what they're interested in. It's like if you want to meet anyone interested in indie music wear a check shirt over a t-shirt, jeans and indie type shoes.
We leave Cheshire Cat and go to Revolution. Revolution is another popular bar in Fallowfield. It's 6:30pm by now. Revolution has vodka shots on offer, I get a rhubarb and custard which really does taste like it. Jackson gets cherry. We get some beers. Then we get strawberry cocktails – since it's £2.50 per cocktail with 2 shots of vodka in it.
We notice 2 ladies looking over to the table where we're sitting down.
Jackson: "She keeps looking over."
Me: "They want to talk to us."
Jackson: "Are you going to approach them?"
Me: "Why always me? Are you going to the bar in a bit, chat them up on the way."
I enjoy approaching but it's good if someone else does it too.
Jackson: "Ok, I'll be back in a minute."
Jackson goes to the bar. One of them looks over again so I might as well go and see what they're like.
I go over to them.
Me: "How's it going?"
Lady 1: "Good thanks. How about you?"
Me: "Good. Are you celebrating anything?"
I ask this because they're dressed smart like they're out on a special night.
Lady 1: "Yes, it's her birthday."
Jackson comes over
Lady 1: "Hi."
Me: "What do you do?"
Lady 1: "I'm a violinist."
Lady 2: "I'm a cellist."
Me: "That's interesting, it's good to meet people who do something different. Where do you play. Bridgewater Hall? Royal Northern College?"
I say the question to Lady 2, trying to get her involved since it's her birthday but Lady 1 always replies.
Lady 1: "I'm in-between orchestras. I play at some events."
Jackson: "You're in-between orchestras, I haven't heard that one before."
Jackson says it in a cocky and funny manner. This changes Lady 1's attitude a little.
Lady 1: "Ooh, haven't you?"
She's gone into wind up mode. A lot of guys use this wind-up mode to attract women, some women enjoy it. I use a different approach I developed over a while of approaching people. It doesn't go well together with Jackson's approach.
Then the ladies enter conversation between themselves for a few sentences. It's a game to test us and see what we do. I pretend I don't notice and continue the conversation. If they do it again I'll leave.
Me: "What have you done for your birthday?"
Her: "Nothing yet. We're going to some bars later, we're not sure which ones yet. What do you do, are you a student?"
Me: "No, I run a website. What kind of places do you go out?"
I tell them this because I am setting up a website for the book so it's not a lie, and I don't want to get into talking about the book.
Lady 2: "Everywhere really."
Lady 1: "We're working whenever we can get a gig, so it depends."
Then they do the talking amongst themselves thing so I start to leave. I know the score, they think they're all smart at testing people, and don't realise that 90% of guys know the game and brush it off and them off. It's like someone once said to me how they read that a dog that barks at the postman believes it scares off the postman every day, successfully protecting the home. Many women think they successfully test the men, but all they do is make us realise – here we go, she'll be no fun and a real handful.
I don't play this game, so I go and sit down leaving Jackson to do the talking. I'm gentle with people when I first meet them because after all, you never know what type of day they've had, what's going on in their lives, and so on. Then after we get on a while do we might wind each other up and so on. I can deal with the best of wind-ups, but this isn't even wind-ups, this is game playing. It's boring and uncool.
Jackson comes over to where I'm sitting and we continue with our conversation and enjoying our night out. It's turning out to be a fun evening.
The bar staff really enjoy their jobs here. It comes across well, everyone has a better night, and the place has a good atmosphere. The music playing is really good.
At 9:30 we leave Revolution We're out on the street and I notice a goth.
Me: "Hey, it's a goth."
Me: "What kind of places do you go?"
Her: "Not many places."
She's apprehensive because she thinks I might not like Goths.
Me: "It's good to see someone who's got a proper style. You've got the goth look really sorted."
Her: "There's not much for Goths in Manchester."
I think back to the night in Jillys – that Rock club that was derelict inside.
Me: "Isn't there a university society. There used to be a Heavy and Alternative Rock Society."
Her: "Yes. It's still there. It's ok."
Me: "You should go."
Her: "I do, but still, lots of people at Manchester University are from small towns near London. They're all very similar and not into alternative style."
Me: "I noticed that happening when I was in my last year of university. It was attracting lots of Londoners."
Manchester University seems to attract lots of people from private schools now. It's the market they're going for with the drive to make it one of the best universities in the world. I get the impression it's becoming a place for southerners to visit for study and entertainments, then they all go back to London to get jobs in the city. I get Manchester University Alumni letters in the post and the majority of their events for past-students to get together are held in London. They've also started asking me to donate money to the university a lot lately.
Me and the goth get on well, she's a good person, so I ask her for her telephone number, maybe she'd like to meet up again. She gives me her number, her name is Anna. Then me and Jackson walk along Wilmslow Road.
As we're outside Sainsbury's a lady hands me a flyer. I often take flyers because it's interesting to see what's going on. This one is for Tiger Tiger, it's the venue's 10th birthday party tomorrow with Coco (Fragma), breakdancers, and 500 free pairs of sunglasses. It's a 90's themed night. The leaflet is one of the best designed leaflets I've ever seen, with a silver 10 on the front and pictures of things from the 90's. It's that good you could frame it!
Then we go to the Wetherspoons pub for a while.
I leave at 10pm, go over to Moseley Road where someone is waiting for me in a car, and I get a lift home.
It was a very good night out. There was a real party atmosphere. It happened by chance because I met Jackson who I recognised at the business exhibition. The highlights were the Cheshire Cat and Revolution because they got everything right – the music, service, décor.
Summary and venue reviews: Friday 14th November
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Summary and venue reviews - Thursday 20th November 2008
G-Mex Business Northwest exhibition
Busy. Clientele: business people.
Notes: There was lots of businesses with stands, seminars and networking at this well-organised exhibition.
Business Northwest event
Not busy. Clientele: students and someone who manages All Saints on King Street. Décor: 8/10. Music: jukebox.
Notes: An excellent venue with pool tables, music the right volume and polite service.
Cheshire Cat pub
Medium busy. Clientele: students and musicians. Décor: 8/10. Music: classic hits, pop.
Notes: Excellent service from the bar staff. Very good choice of music and the right volume for a bar. A party atmosphere partly due to the bar staff genuinely enjoying their jobs.
Revolution in Fallowfield
Medium busy. On the streets: students, a few Goths, and someone handing out leaflets.
Wetherspoons pub in Fallowfield - Lloyds Bar
Busy. Clientele: locals, office workers, students. Décor: 6/10.
Lloyds Bar in Fallowfield