Category Archives: Merseyside Young Professionals

MYP Networking Masterclass with Dougal Paver – Thursday 26th April 2018

When networking, one of the pleasures I get is learning from the experiences and stories of others more experienced than me.

Last month, I attended a networking seminar jointly hosted by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments (CISI). Held in the lavish surroundings of Signature Living’s 30 James Street hotel, this was hosted by Dougal Paver of Merrion Strategy, regarded as one of the most networked people in Liverpool. I have heard several great testimonials about Dougal’s networking skills, so I was looking forward to learning from a master.myp_networking_masterclass1

From start to finish, Dougal delivered a first-class tour-de force seminar. Drawing on his vast experience with humour and wisdom, I was taken by the scope and breadth of Dougal’s networking knowledge, especially on the technical aspects, some of which I had never known previously. As a result, I not only found myself listening with great interest, but I also mentally related Dougal’s knowledge and understanding of networking to my own.

Along with consolidating my own knowledge, there were other useful techniques that I learned. Some of these were completely unique to me, as I had never thought about them, when attending past events and seminars.

These techniques included the following bellow:

  1. As the world changes you need to stay relevant, which is where networking helps.
  2. Small talk works as it helps to find common ground.
  3. Pay attention to what’s happening out there.
  4. Read the Economist and subscribe to your client’s trade magazines, and your industry’s newsletters.
  5. Networking won’t always deliver business, as it is about delivering long-term relationships, based on mutual trust and respect.
  6. Never dominate others, so remember to back off!
  7. Keep your social media activity professional.
  8. Plan what you can add to an event.
  9. Ask for the guest list.
  10. Evaluate what you got from an event and plan for the next.
  11. In theory, 150 is the maximum number of people you can maintain a relationship with.
  12. Demonstrate your capability and worth over time.
  13. Be reliable and always remember to follow-up.
  14. Your existing network must be nurtured with care.
  15. Remember to show your gratitude by saying thank you.

Dougal also explained about a key aspect of building and sustaining relationships. These include sending relevant articles, reports, and white papers, along with introducing clients to people who may help them, as well as inviting them to events. Another method to build relationships is to promote the work of your clients, e.g. blogs, articles and their businesses. Whilst I have applied some of the above, I have not always been consistent, meaning this is an area of personal development that I will need to address.myp_networking_masterclass3-crop

Overall I was very impressed with Dougal’s presentation of a true networking masterclass. From sharing his knowledge and experience, I was completely mesmerised by his performance, content delivery, humour and storytelling, which captured my attention throughout. In fact, I was so spellbound that I came out the seminar afterwards, feeling I had learned from a master networker. Such an experience is always a sign of a fine speaker, which is high praise indeed!

I would like to thank Dougal for presenting a magnificent seminar, MYP and CISI for organising a first-class opportunity for myself and everyone, and to the staff of 30 James Street for their hospitality. To conclude, I would like to end on the following point that encapsulates what networking is about.

Networking is what you make of who you know, and what use you let them make of you!



The Art of Hostage Negotiation – An MYP & CISI event

In all aspects of our professional life, the ability to successfully negotiate is an essential skill. This can be for various reasons, from negotiating with potential clients, to get a pay-rise, or a better deal with a supplier.

Last month, I attended a joint event organised by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), called “The Art of Hostage Negotiation”. Delivered by Richard Mullender, a former hostage negotiator and coach, I was looking forward to a fascinating event, with the opportunity to learn from an interesting and experienced coach. As it turned out, I was not disappointed at all by my experience of the event. Indeed it would have been even better if Richard had given a glimpse into his personal background in hostage negotiation, having worked with Scotland Yard and the FBI.

I am very happy to let the above pass, as I learned plenty from this worthwhile investment in my own time and personal development. From the importance of listening properly, talking normally and building trust, Richard spoke with a quiet intensity, authority and humour. This commanded my attention from start to finish, and I also understood Richard’s teachings with a straightforward ease.

In addition, I also learned that professionals sell successfully when working as a team, and not as individuals. Listening to Richard speak about all of the above, I realised and understood that everyone sells every day, by persuading, influencing and motivating.

Other interesting points that I learned included

  1. It is important to understand what motivates potential clients when selling, therefore it is crucial to know their values and beliefs.
  2. When people give their opinion on something, they reveal a lot about themselves.
  3. Rather than asking too many questions, it is better to talk in normal conversation.
  4. Through listening to clients, facts and secrets can be collected from them.
  5. Professionals must always be honest with their clients, as trust is everything!
  6. Clients need to feel comfortable with others, before business relationships can be built and nurtured.

Upon reflection, I enjoyed listening to Richard share his knowledge and expertise. The best compliment I can give is that I have since re-evaluated what I have learned about what is effective communication. For instance when listening, it is less effective to write down notes, as it is important to concentrate on the speaker’s facial movements, emotional expression and tone of voice. Finally I have learned that rather than asking multiple questions, communication needs to be natural.

Preparing for Promotion – MYP Breakfast Meeting – 21st April 2016

The race to climb to the top of the tree is highly competitive. In today’s corporate jungle, there is so much required of professionals, in order to put themselves in pole position for promotion.

Last Thursday, I attended a Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) breakfast presentation at DLA Piper LLP’s Liverpool offices called “Preparing for Promotion”. The purpose of this was to highlight the skills needed by professionals, to enhance their chances of achieving promotion. As a professional, my curiosity was captured and drawn to this opportunity to learn and broaden my personal development further.20160421_081235

Delivered by Simon Bernstein of Empathy Communications, this presentation was a fascinating insight into the qualities needed for career progression. I have attended similar personal development sessions previously, but it is just as important to refresh and consolidate existing learning, as much as it is to understand newly acquired knowledge. The above was my experience of the presentation, and I am delighted to say that it was extremely valuable and worthwhile.

Simon talked a great deal about the skills required. These included the importance of personal branding, positive attitude, creative thinking, focusing on clients and overcoming self-limiting beliefs. As he talked, it made me think about what I had previously learned about overcoming self-limiting beliefs. This made me realise that we must continually push out of our individual comfort zones, to develop both as people and as professionals.

Other points I learned included the following below.

  1. Important to be proactive.
  2. You must develop and nurture excellent client relationships.
  3. Personally invest time in your own development.
  4. Your personal brand is your reputation.
  5. Think creatively about how you make yourself stand out from others.
  6. Only yourself can identify and remove self-limiting beliefs.
  7. Get a portfolio together (CV, LinkedIn profile, achievements, testimonials).
  8. Future-proof your career by keeping an eye on changing trends and skills requirements.
  9. Demonstrate that you are capable of working at a higher level.
  10. Identify what you have done inside and outside of work that is extraordinary.

Through the points mentioned above, the running theme I learned from the presentation is the importance of taking personal responsibility. This means that you are solely responsible for everything you do, and that actions and achievements carry more weight than words. Therefore it is how you are perceived both internally and externally that determine your chances of moving up the corporate ladder.

To conclude, I really enjoyed the presentation, as it was not only well delivered and presented, but it was also refreshing to hear Simon highlight and share his knowledge. I found Simon to be extremely knowledgeable, and also inspirational and interesting to listen to. As he spoke, my ears were straining to soak up his words, faster than I could write up my notes!

A Night at the Everyman – Thursday 18th February 2016

In the capital of culture that is Liverpool, an opportunity to visit any our fine theatres and come away feeling entertained and moved at the same time, is certainly worth taking.

Last Thursday, I attended the Liverpool Everyman with Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP), to see The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary, an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s 19th century classic novel. Not only did I enjoy the play, but I found it to be an experience of constantly swinging emotions, from laughter to sadness.20160218_181905

I had previously been to the Everyman, to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Therefore, I was once again looking forward to a fine evening of theatre. As I arrived suited and booted, I remembered how stylish and modern the revamped Everyman now looks, making it a shining jewel in Liverpool’s cultural crown. Before the play, there was time for complimentary pre-show drinks, nibbles and networking with fellow MYP members.

I must confess that I had not read the novel beforehand, as I wanted to discover the story before my own eyes. This was the right decision, as I found myself falling into a world of love, comedy and emotional pathos, where I could not take my eyes of the action. Indeed as the play unfolded, I laughed at the funny moments and was really moved at the touching ones. In addition, the excellent performances of the actors, the lighting and the usage of visual effects, allowed me to interpret and visualise the story in my own mind.

On reflection, I loved every moment of the evening from start to finish. Many thanks to all the cast and crew, and everyone else behind the scenes, for putting on an excellent show. In addition, thanks to MYP Committee member Leanne Dolan from Hill Dickinson, for her excellent work in organising the event.

To conclude, the best compliment I can pay is that after experiencing such a rollercoaster ride, I felt emotionally drained afterwards. This was because I had been from one extreme to the other, and I was silent all the way home, contemplating and reflecting on what I had seen.

I would have not have missed a single moment, for I loved it all!

MYP Speed Networking Presentation – Thursday 23rd October

Last Thursday, I attended an MYP presentation on Speed Networking. This was presented at DLA Piper LLP’s offices in Liverpool’s India Buildings, by Lee Warren of Invisible Advantage. Lee is a motivational speaker, career coach and a magician, who has coached several well-known clients.

The presentation covered how to network effectively. As it turned out, of all the talks and sessions on networking, that I have attended, this was the best that I have been to.

As a keen networker, I was eager to see, how I could improve my networking skills further. I enjoy networking and meeting people from different industry backgrounds, and hearing their stories. From a personal perspective, I consider networking not just to be about making connections and giving out business cards, but to establish a two-way relationship, based on respect and trust.

The presentation itself was very informative. I particularly enjoyed and was impressed with how Lee introduced the event, by performing a magic trick for starters, before bringing his networking experience to the audience, using humour and enthusiasm, to get his points across. Lee also allowed us to practice, by conducting a number of short exercises. An example of this, involved talking to a fellow audience member, which was fun to do, and everyone was able to get involved.

Lee talked about the fundamentals of good networking, which included these interesting points.

  • Avoid factual questions e.g. “What do you do?”
  • Find something in common with others
  • Avoid staying on a single topic.
  • Remember to always listen.
  • Repeat a person’s name out loud at least once.
  • Comment positively on a person’s business card.
  • Always follow up afterwards.
  • Use LinkedIn to connect, comment and contribute content.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch.

All the points above made sense to me, but the importance of preparing an elevator pitch has since stuck in my mind. This is because I have not always been conscious about the importance of this previously.

Afterwards there was an opportunity for everyone to have a drink and nibbles, whilst practicing our networking skills by developing our networks, and sharing stories and interests.

To conclude, I have learned some useful networking tips, and it was a privilege to listen to Lee Warren, as his networking knowledge and magic tricks are a joy to see and listen to. I seriously recommend going and hearing him speak, if an opportunity arises. For more information, you can visit Invisible Advantage at

The Importance of Enhanced Communication

Communication skills are crucial, in the success of our personal and professional lives. Regardless of industry, professionals with enhanced communication skills can make the difference between winning an important contract, or losing it to a competitor and facing financial difficulties and potential ruin.

The reason that I am writing this is because I recently attended a breakfast meeting last month, organised by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) called “Career-enhancing Communication”. This was delivered by Andy Bounds, a renowned communications consultant, speaker and author, who has advised companies all over the world, on improving the communication skills of their staff. As a professional, at the beginning of my career, I am passionate about lifelong learning and improving my skills, through constant training and development. Therefore this was a meeting, I could not resist attending. I was really glad I did so!

Andy explained about how enhanced communication is crucial. This included the following necessities for successful communication:

  • Concise and clarity of information.
  • Being approachable.
  • Looking different from the competition.
  • How clients will be better off using you.
  • Putting the needs of the client first.
  • Empowering clients by giving them a choice.
  • Making things happen.

Clients, colleagues and managers will always have problems that require swift resolution, which suits their particular needs and requirements. Therefore the purpose of enhanced communication is to get information across to clients as accurate and concise as possible, through being knowledgeable, approachable and trustworthy, by addressing the needs of clients first. Through this, productive working relationships with clients, through getting points across in as few words as possible.

I was very much impressed with the quality and depth of Andy’s teaching, which has made realise the importance of communicating to others. I have also learned several tips including avoiding “fyi” in e-mails, and conclusion slides in presentations.

For more information on Andy Bounds, you can visit his official website, where you can also register for his Tuesday Tips. These are free e-mail communication tips