A few weeks ago, my friend, Erin, who runs Big Apple, an IT company with her husband, Stuart, asked if I would be willing to attend a networking event at Bowman House, where their office is situated, because, she said “I was good at talking to people” - for the life of me, I can’t imagine where she got that from!!

I said I would, although I explained I hadn’t done any networking for some time, having been retired for almost ten years and little did I realise that it would mean getting up at some unearthly hour to drive over to Royal Wootton Bassett where the event was taking place.

I arrived to collect Erin just after 8 a.m. expecting that her two children would already have gone to school.  Cerys, her older daughter had left earlier, but Alfie, had had a poorly tummy a couple of days ago, and the rule is that they are kept off school for two days afterwards, so there he was lying on the sofa looking really poorly bouncing around and full of beans!  So instead of just baby Marnie to look after, Grandma had her and Alfie - so off we went, leaving Grandma to it!  

However, before we left, I need to use the “little room” and remembered that the last time I had visited their house, they had wonderful wallpaper in there.  I asked Alfie if he would mind standing in front of the chimpanzee wallpaper so that I could take a photograph and he duly obliged - he is such a cutie - and I did get Erin’s permission to use this.

I had forgotten just how “buzzing” an atmosphere there is at an event like this and I really enjoyed speaking to people and finding out about the various businesses that are in and around Royal Wootton Bassett.  I guess an interest in people is a “must” and it was interesting to note, as I chatted, that many felt we were losing the ability to converse face-to-face and in years to come may never meet those we work for and with.

For the first hour, Erin was pacing up and down because the stand that she had ordered over a week ago hadn’t arrived and I could tell she was getting rather anxious because there was nowhere to put their business cards and flyers.  Rather than get into the same anxious state, I turned it around and whenever people came up and asked what we did, I said that we were in the business of “invisible” refurbished Apple computers, and at one point, when a lady from another stand walked through the area where the Big Apple stand should be, I expressed concern that she had just trod on one of our MacBooks!  She looked very startled, and then saw the funny side of what I was saying - so at least we did have some fun and I met some lovely people.

The stand eventually arrived so all was well and then Erin and I took it in turns to go round the various stands introducing ourselves and speaking to different people - I was even told by two ladies that I could go and work for them in their will-writing business!  However, I was able to tell them that I was “happily retired” so won’t be going back to work anytime soon.

We met up with Owen Collier, the local Town Crier, who has held this voluntary position since 2000 and accompanies the Mayor on many ceremonial occasions.  We chatted with him, when he said that he in in the High Street at Royal Wootton Bassett every Wednesday to promote the Charter Market and on Saturdays too.  He said he was an honorary member of the Chamber of Commerce in the town and is also the Chairman of The Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers and competes in Town Crier competitions across the County - a busy man and he doesn’t even get paid!  In the midst of all the chatting, he silenced us as he rang his bell, shouted “Oyez, Oyez”,  gave his little speech and then shouted “God Save The Queen!”  He was happy to have his photograph taken with Erin and I also  managed to get a sneaky photograph of his shoes and the bell, which he told us was very old - so I have made a collage and put that in as an extra.  

Many reading this may remember that Wootton Bassett was often in the News when, since 2007, the whole town came to a standstill to pay tribute to servicemen killed in Afghanistan - as they were repatriated - you can read more about it here.  For your information, Wootton Bassett is the first town in more than 100 years to get the title of "Royal" in recognition of its efforts to honour the UK's war dead.

I was delighted when Erin said that she would treat me to lunch, as a "Thank you" although I said there was no need as I had really enjoyed the morning, but she insisted so we went to The 5 Bells just off the High Street - and a very nice lunch it was too - so thank you Erin! 

“Networking is more about
     ‘farming’ that it is
          about ‘hunting’.
It’s about cultivating
Dr. Ivan Misner

P.S.  Out to our Church AGM this evening, so there may be NO comments!  

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