Claire Bradford: Networking really does open up new doors

Regular readers of this column will know that I frequently extol the virtues of networking.

By this, I don’t mean the clichéd idea of networking but true networking – connecting, being genuinely interested in others and putting people in touch with other people you think they’d get on with or who can help them in some way.

Of course, this is good for business, but ultimately I believe that it’s good for the soul, too. If you go into any social situation willing to be curious about others and open about yourself you can reap massive rewards.

But you mustn’t let yourself be constrained by the event itself: I have made true friends at business networking events and found clients at parties.

On Saturday, I did my first-ever radio show, and how it came about is a great example about the kind of connection and networking I’ve just described.

Several months ago, Renaissance WI invited the national chair, Janice Langley, to our meeting. I had a good chat with Janice that evening, then bumped into her one morning a few weeks later while waiting for a train.

Without having met her at WI, I might not have felt able to chat to her, but as it was, we spent a very pleasant half-hour or so on the train talking about the WI and what it means to us.

Soon afterwards, Janice was involved in a World War I project for BBC radio and recommended to the producer that he contact our WI to be part of it. The producer asked me to be interviewed on BBC Sussex about the WI today, which I did and had a fabulous time.

Later that week, I was speaking on a panel for a PR event with the Mumpreneurs networking club and a fellow panel member was Mark Carter, the assistant editor for BBC Sussex.

We got chatting and I told him how lovely everyone had been at the station when I went in, how much I had enjoyed the experience and would love to do it again sometime. He told me some of the many and varied things he’d been up to that week, the event was a great success and everyone went home smiling.

Not long after that, I got a phone call from Mark asking if I’d be interested in hosting my own show for four weeks as part of a new talent showcase.

From the WI to the BBC to the Mumpreneurs networking club and back to the BBC again. I’m closing the loop by interviewing Janice about the WI for my last show, too.

I’m supremely grateful for this amazing experience and truly in awe of the power of networking.