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Networking in the New Year

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Towards the end of the year one of my good friends Mayur Gupta, a fellow Enactus UK Alumnus, asked me to go along with him to a networking event for sixth form students at Ark Global Academy.It was my first experience in a while at a pure networking event and it brought back to me many of the lessons that I have been fortunate to either be taught or have observed in people I really admire. I thought I would share a couple of my key takeaways:
1) Always respect the person you are talking to – it’s amazing how often in that initial conversation you can misjudge someone and blow them off – everyone has some unique value to add and if you don’t find it that’s your issue, not theirs. 
2) Whilst you can learn techniques to “work rooms faster” and “harvest contacts” they are only applicable if you actually strike off enough of a relationship to actually contact the person! 
3) Always seek to help or provide people you meet a win – whenever you meet someone new the quicker you can offer someone something they really need the quicker trust begins to build – also if everyone gave a little more wouldn’t it be a better more connected world.
4) Follow up – so simple – if you promise something, follow it through. Sometimes it’s actually really hard to remember everything you have promised but that quick message or LinkedIn connection could become something really valuable. 
5) Be genuine – it’s easy sometimes to try and take on little techniques to try and make someone like you. There are some great tools in NLP but if you aren’t genuine in the conversation how can you build a lasting and real relationship.
6) Detail can go a huge way to making you stand out from the crowd! It doesn’t matter what method you use to collect information (my personal preference is LinkedIn notes next to the contact name or notes on my phone which I email to myself) just make sure you do collect it.
A short personal example below:
“I met Tripp at an Enactus Networking event in my first year of university. He was working at Enterprise Rent a Car at the time and, whilst it was too early for me to know where I wanted to work, I really got on with him so we kept in touch via social media (Twitter & LinkedIn). Over the next two years we bumped into each other a number of times at events including Undergraduate of the Year 2011, Loughborough university careers events and other Enactus events. Through this relationship over the years I was involved in supporting Enterprise Rent a Car in getting access to a number of candidates interested in them from our university. In return they supported me through the charitable arm of Enterprise Rent a car to take a small group of people on a research trip to Finland as well as kindly offering me a job when my personal circumstances meant I no longer wanted to leave the country for my placement year. When Tripp moved on from Enterprise Rent a Car we kept in touch and I got involved in supporting Aston University Enactus team, where Tripp was university adviser at the time. I feel very fortunate to have someone with his experience that I can reach out to.”
If you are a part of Enactus I would really encourage you to come along to our professional development events and socials. The next one is coming up soon, you can sign up for more information here or if you want to find out more feel free to drop me a message – students, alumni or advisers (I have worn all the hats at some point!) This is World Cup year after all!
Even if you are not part of Enactus, please feel free to comment below or drop me a message and share your thoughts / experiences on networking, I am always interested to hear more stories/learning on the topic!

The Cult of Entrepreneurship

The fine lines between proactivity and entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship, as we all, know is a huge buzz word at the moment. Whereas once people grew up wanting to be an astronaut or a hippy we are now seeing a generation wanting to be the next Richard Branson, Mark Zuckenburg or Alan Sugar. Myself included.


Karan Bilimoria – Founder of Cobra Beer

While it is admirable, having this ambition to fuel the world’s growth and sounds rather appealing to be earning $2.5 billion in a year, the truth is they are the exception not the rule. The process of creating a multi-billion or even million dollar concept involves so many long hours, character traits and a bit of luck along the way.

So this leads me to my big question… Is pro-activity amongst a cult of university students to do something bigger than themselves, just that… a cult or can we truly change the world?


The Kairos UK Summit

Or is that even the right question? Do we really have a choice… Are we not the generation that has to solve the world’s problems?

Our parent’s generation have given us an incredible platform, for the first time we can communicate almost instantaneously with countries all around the world at low cost, we have the technology to start to tackle climate change and connectivity to get access to pretty much anything we want any time of the day through the internet. If you were looking at it in technology terms you would say we had the platform from which to build the subsidies that can change our world.

But with these rapid developments we have problems. We are going into a generation where unskilled people are being replaced by machines, which will, whether government intervenes or not cause huge structure economical skill differences between what we need and what we have. We are now more aware than ever before of the scale of: cancer, poverty, corruption, lack of education and the environmental impacts we are causing. We cannot, whether through ignorance or otherwise, turn a blind eye to these problems as people have a voice through the power of social media and other online forums.


Matt and Me presenting at the South Africa Challenge Showcase

So this leads me to one simple conclusion, whether it’s entrepreneurship or good old fashioned pro-activity, we have a responsibility to take action. We need to be the generation that is willing, to think differently, to be ambitious and push our generation forward. This does not mean more replicas of great ideas because you “think you can do it better” unless you actually can do it better! One lesson we need to remember from those we are following is those that succeed, and I am referring to the Nelson Mandelas and Martin Luther Kings of this world, were, and in Nelson Mandela’s case are, obsessed that they could change things and were willing to die for it.

So let’s do this, it is our moment.

8 highlights from Loughborough Enterprise

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Today is the first day after my internship at Loughborough students union as enterprise and employability intern. I felt that it would be a fantastic opportunity to share some of my real success stories from this year.

8) TEDx Loughborough

For the first time Loughborough hosted a TEDx conference. Curated by Youcef Hakem and his team, the theme of the conference was “Painting Humanity” and brought together thought leaders from the world of blogging about sex to a story from the london riots. I feel honoured to have been a part of delivering the conference in Loughborough and I am really looking forward to the 2013/14 conference. TEDx Loughborough

7) Simventure installation

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Peter Harrington early on during my role. Peter has been a real inspiration to me during the year. His incredible story and blog, The hitchikers guide to entrepreneurship, have really inspired me to push myself.  The software that he created Simventure allows you to simulate starting a company. During the year I was fortunate enough to lead on getting the software installed across the university campus, it is now available to all students in the university. To top of the year Peter also agreed to come and do the key note at our universities Think BIG! business ideas competition.

Peter Harrington at Think BIG!

6) Securing the role

As the higher education section changes so rapidly it felt vital to secure Loughborough’s commitment to student enterprise. It was fantastic to have the university confirm that they will continue to fund an intern until 2015.

5) Startup Showcase

As a part of the intern process I was asked to try out some new style events. The first event I tried was getting 6 of the student startup companies to come into the students union in a “chat around the campfire” talk. The purpose of this event was really to inspire more students to get their ideas into action.

Startup Showcase


During the year we became more involved with NACUE, attending and taking students to their: bootcamp, national student enterprise conference, TATA sec social enterprise conference, startup career launchpad and National leaders summit. I sat on the student advisory board and helped hosted the Midlands strategy workshop for enterprise educators at Loughborough.


4) International Development

During the year one of my primary objectives from the job description was to increase Loughborough’s reach for enterprise. Early on in the role I started to attend a number of conferences both learning and speaking on Loughborough’s enterprise set up. I was also fortunate enough to receive funding from Enterprise Rent a Car to take a team of 4 students to Finland to visit Aaloes Society. As well as heading out to New York for the Kairos Society summit after being accepted as a fellow earlier on in the year. Further to this, I had also previously been out to Washington as a part of the Enactus UK team for the Enactus World Cup. Finally, this summer I am leading a team of 5 Loughborough students out to Durban, South Africa as a part of the South Africa Challenge.

Enactus World Cup3) Publicising our Startups

Early on in the year I was approached by the marketing team to support in delivering the inspiring enteprising graduates campaign. This campaign aimed to advertise and promote Loughborough as a university that focuses on more areas than just sport. Through pushing a selection of the graduates that have incredible companies. I was really excited to be partnered with Claud Williams from The Creative Circle, one of our inspiring enterprising graduates, and am really looking forward to all of the campaign being released.

Inspiring enterprising graduates

2) Enterprise Outreach

As the enterprise section was such a big pull for me in coming to Loughborough, I was very passionate about working on how we are portrayed by universities and colleges. In order to be able to deliver this I worked with the enterprise outreach officer from the university growing a relationship with Young enterprise and working with Loughborough college. Further to this we also partnered with Claud to deliver an outreach video for colleges and schools.

Outreach video