Russell Wardrop

Guest blogger. Russell Wardrop, the co-founder of Kissing with Confidence on the amazing potential of a ‘chance conversation’ and how building on the strength of your networking is crucial to future success.


It's amazing where a chance conversation can lead to. Twenty years ago I decided to leave behind the heady heights of a career in architecture and academia in favour of taking the plunge and starting my own business.

Starting out in Glasgow, the foundations of my business were laid by the networking I did through the Junior Chamber International (JCI) and a few other organisations. My accountant (now our chairman), my financial advisor and my biggest London client appointment were all connections from my JCI network. Sitting in the audience of the first ever presentation workshop I held was an ambitious young man, Michael, who was at a crossroads in his career, feeling that the legal world, where he had achieved a successful partnership was no longer filling him with passion. After the workshop, Michael and I briefly grabbed a few minutes when we talked about the presentation and chewed the fat.

Russell Wardrop

Roll on to 2020 I find myself celebrating an amazing twenty years in business. Still based in Glasgow, we have a team now travelling throughout Europe, providing specialist training to a mix of corporate clients, including large financial service clients, and I'm very proud of that. The very same Michael now heads up our legal division, turning gamekeeper to poacher, and walked away from practising law to helping lawyers in their bid to grow.

Twenty years ago a chance conversation was never considered to be 'networking.' But the value of networking, such as the regular business gatherings in Glasgow's IFSD, should never be underestimated.

Building on the strength of your networking is crucial to career success, regardless of whether you are starting out or nearing the top rungs of the ladder. Not only is it cheap, it's effective - a personal recommendation is pretty much the best there is - and it can be fun.

Concerning though are reports that millennials, who apparently this year will represent more than 50% of the workforce, don't like attending networking events outside the office, despite recognising their value. But networks are hugely important. That's your future sales funnel, the recommender for a vacancy in the business you want to work for. The person who knows someone who knows someone else who can help you.

I get it though, for some the mere thought of attending a networking event creates anxiety. But, like everything in business, having a plan helps. So, the next time you sign up to a networking event in the IFSD -

  • Find someone on their own and introduce yourself
  • Have something to say - the weather can still be interesting
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Decide you are not leaving until you speak to three people
  • Follow up your new contacts by email and Linked-in
  • And then do it again. Send them something of interest, arrange another coffee

And before you know it, you may well find yourself sitting in an airport in Milan, pondering over your twentieth year in business and how it all started with a few chance conversations in Glasgow.

Russell and his team provide programmes on business growth, leadership and pitching for individuals and teams located all over the world. An internationally experienced keynote speaker, trainer and coach, Russell works at the highest levels of government and academia, and at board level within commercial organisations.

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