Networking – the joy and the bain for a portfolio worker. I would argue that this a life skill not just for all portfolio workers but for all paid and non-paid workers and on my high horse would claim that whover you are you need to  know how to do this. If you can the research is clear. You will live happier, healthier and longer.

So – how to do it. I was stimulated to write this by an article in the Guardian Small Business Network (which by the way I would suggest that you sign up for – it’s free). The media  of course love to report the outlandish – like sauna’s in Scandinavia – at which I laughed then remembered that when I had a number of lecturing and consulting contracts in Sweden in the 80′s I was often invited to meetings like this. Some of them were also mixed sex. And yes – I do recall meeting people who then hired me to do more lectures and more consulting. I did the latter with my clothes on I hasten to add!

A number of apps are available to help business people make the most of a plane journey’s networking opportunities. Planely and KLM’s Meet & Seat both enable you to share your travel and profile information with other travellers, and then arrange to sit with those whose interests align with your own. Have not tried this yet but would love to hear from anyone who has.

I have a number of much younger friends who swear by the value of the gym for networking – sweating your network I guess! And if you think I am joking try googling ‘sweatworking’. Increasingly I find that I am invited to walking meetings – almost always by women. With men the invitations are usually for breakfast, coffees, lunches or dinners. I say no more! Fitness First  launched a structured breakfast networking meeting at one central London club. After making introductions, attendees do a spinning class before heading to the juice bar for more networking.

When Mike Scally and I created our list of what we saw as 50 essential skills lor living (in 1981 in our book ‘Lifeskills Teaching’) that needed to be taught in schools we did not say ‘networking’ as that was not a phrase that was in common use. But we did identify ‘how to make, keep and end a relationship’, ‘how to be assertive’, how to influence people and systems’, ‘how to work in groups’. Today we would be talking about networking which would subsume most of these skills.

People who are poor at this or lack confidence are far less likely to design a life and career that they love.


One of the people that Katie and I interviewed for our book was Oli Barrett, who, even in 2009, was already described as the founder of speednetworking in the UK. If you have ever speed dated ( I have not!) you will know what I mean. I suddenly came across a piece of advice he regulary gives to people whether they have portfolio careers or not. That is the title of this posting. It is still a great piece of advice and I always try to remember to do that. And it is worth repeating.

It can of course then lead to you being asked the same question so off you go with what you are up to!

I then thought I would update myself on Oli’s career since we last met at our booklaunch. He now has an MBE and is  a co-founder of Cospa which helps companies and causes to create and grow ventures which make money and make a difference. A good example of this has been helping young people to fix their own youth clubs, with Wickes, the DIY chain. He started Tenner (now run by Young Enterprise), the scheme which has challenged over 100,000 school pupils to see what they can achieve in one month, starting with £10. He has hosted and spoken at events around the world. He has led trade missions to the US, India and Brazil helping British companies (in health, clean-tech and web) to explore business opportunities. Oli’s entrepreneurial career started as a student and has included an events business in nine cities, an international language practice website (sold in 2008) and a sock subscription website which continues to ship internationally. He is an advisor to the Centre for Entrepreneurs and co-founded the national, business-funded campaign StartUp Britain.

Breathless? That is one of the joys of having a portfolio career and the reason, like Oli, that I would never give mine up.


6 Ways Work Will Change

2 November 2015

This is the title of a blog piece for Fast Company magazine that is well worth reading. Why? Because ever since we wrote our book it has become increasingly obvious that portfolio careers is increasingly a first choice for people of all generations. The baby boomers are especially jumping on to this way of working [...]

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How vulnerable are you to being replaced by a robot?

5 October 2015

One of the pluses that portfolo workers like to emphasise to more normal people (!) is that there is less and less job security around compared with the 20th century so it pays to have more than one egg in your paid work basket. A fascinating website that was sent to me recently attempts to [...]

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Hannah is 31 and has 11 jobs!

13 August 2015

Yesterday I bumped into Hannah Gamble who has 2 horses in the field next to my house. I discovered her passion for horses but also for a lifestyle that I found mind blowing. In our book, Katie and I found one person that we interviewed that won our hypothetical race as to who had the [...]

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Lynda Gratton supports notion of portfolio living

22 July 2015

Well – not in so many words! But read on. As Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and founder of the Hot Spots Movement, Lynda is universally regarded for the insights her books and research have provided into organisational behaviour and management. Her most recent research focuses on the organisational, personal and social [...]

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More about portfolio careers and the arts

16 July 2015

Can you believe that within an hour of my posting my last blog on Australian students being taught how to create a portfolio career for themselves that someone brought my attention to an article in the Guardian this week that was advocating exactly this but this time in relation to the arts in general. Charlotte [...]

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Musicians taught to create a portfolio career

16 July 2015

In the past we have discussed how many people working in the arts are already and have been pursuing portfolio careers for some time now. So it was especially interesting to discover that in Australia knowing how to build a portfolio career has become an essential skill for Australian musicians. ‘Being led by a Conservatorium [...]

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Portfolio careers for lawyers

7 July 2015

“This is a guest blog by career strategist and coach Rachel Brushfield at Energise – The Talent Liberation Company (see below for more about her).” Research shows that lawyers are one of the unhappiest of all the professions, so no wonder then that many lawyers are finding the prospect of a portfolio career appealing. There [...]

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Are you using social media in your portfolio career?

1 July 2015

I have to admit that I am not exactly at the forefront of social media when it comes to furthering project opportunities. As I reported in my last post I have been working for much of the past year in writing a learning programme to help people to design a retirement that they love. My [...]

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