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June 8, 2013 By Andy Ross

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The importance of networking

Networking is one of those jargon-y words that people use. But what does it really mean? Here is a lesson that I learnt this week.

Yesterday was a day that was full of those serendipitous moments that make doing business so much easier. On the ferry from Yell to Mainland Shetland, I met Daniel who has started a summer job working at the local promotional radio station, 60 North. The station is offline at the moment but when it comes back after some upgrades you will hear the ShantyYell Men singing their hearts out over the airwaves.

At a local shop, after having met Scottish Opera rehearsing their production of Slim McBride with the Bells Brae School where we had been doing Creepy Crawley Musical (the school was full of music that day!) I fell into conversation with the people who are working to raise Dementia Awareness in Shetland. It is Dementia Awareness Week and I believe that music and dance is especially useful in helping people with dementia to enjoy themselves and cope a little better, and for those of us who care for dementia sufferers a chance to express ourselves and share the joy of the arts. I exchanged cards with Ann Williamson and we will have a  chat sometime about the great work that Alzheimer Scotland and NHS Shetland are doing to raise the understanding for all of us.  Points two and three to networking...

In the afternoon I had a fantastic rehearsal with Peter Haviland, my very talented and accomplished accompanist. We are working on two pieces by a local painter and composer, Peter Davis that he wrote for us a few years back, one of which is created from spells and incantations from Shetland and Orkney. It is so good to have someone like accompanist Peter to play Peter composer's music and we had a good chat about the things that needed work and the things that we are doing right. Out of that rehearsal will come a recording and we are also speaking about some more projects in the future.

Following that, we met Kirsty Leadbetter, weaver in residence, at the Shetland College end of year show. An enjoyable show with lots to see and some interesting ideas in the collections. If you get a chance to go make sure you see the Eric Gray Centre film sets. Really creative and wonderful imagination goes into this work with disabled adults and I had a good chat to Amy Fisher who leads the workshops. Amy is one of our school weave tutors and sketches our work in care centres so it was lovely to see some of her other life. At the show Kirsty and I met Angela Hunt, Head of Department, who has arranged now that Kirsty go in to speak to the students and also that the students will come up to see us.

But what of the lesson that I learned? Well, I re-learned that chatting to people is interesting and makes things happen.  Simple and straightforward but something that we forget sometimes. And that is what networking is! Making time for speaking to people and helping people to achieve what they want to achieve.