Networking can be vital for your business

The advantage of a trade show is that you can arrange to meet lots of people in the same place

There is a great moment in the film The Social Network when Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, meets Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, the founders of Facebook, in New York. Parker has made the trip to New York to meet Zuckerberg and this face-to-face meeting will make all three immensely wealthy.

In Aaron Sorkin’s script this is a pivotal moment in the success of Facebook. Saverin is in New York, networking and meeting potential advertisers to try and turn their start up into a business. He is thinking it could be worth a million dollars. Zuckerberg is not interested. He thinks Facebook is cool. He is keen to meet Parker because he has cool reputation as the man who brought the music industry to its knees. The other person at the dinner table is Christy, the girlfriend of Saverin. It is a fancy restaurant and Parker is 25 minutes late and Saverin does not like him or being there.

After initial discussions Parker scales up Zuckerberg’s ambition. Facebook, he says, could be worth a billion dollars.

–        And that’s where you’re headed, Parker tells them. A billion dollar valuation. Unless you take bad advice in which case you may as well have come up with a chain of very successful yoghurt shops. When you go fishing you can catch a lot of fish or you can catch a big fish. You ever walk into a guy’s den and see a picture of him standing next to 14 trout?

–        No, says Christy. He’s holding a 3000lb marlin.

–        Yep, says Parker.

–        That’s a good analogy, Zuckerberg says.

–        OK, says Saverin. But we all know that marlins don’t really weigh 3000 lbs, right?

–        Have you seen the big fish up close, says Christy.

–        I haven’t, says Saverin. But I don’t think the guy is holding a marlin the size of a Range Rover. That would be a really big fish and a very strong guy.

–        You think we might be getting away from the point, says Christy.

–        I don’t have a dog in this fight, says Parker, closing. I’m just a fan who came to say hi.

But in the film, the camera cuts away from the face-to-face meeting and we are in the law offices where Saverin is suing Zuckerberg for millions of dollars. And he says: “He owned Mark after that dinner.”

And this scene shows you the power of meetings. How face-to-face Parker’s fantasy ideas overpowered Saverin’s business basics.

How do you create moments like this for your business? By getting out of your shop and meeting people. One great opportunity on the horizon is the Independent Retail Show, run by my company in a joint venture with the NFRN at EventCity, Manchester on October 6-7.

Your 3000lb marlin may not be a billion dollar business. It could even be a chain of yoghurt shops! You can meet people one-on-one anywhere.

The advantage of a trade show is you can arrange to meet lots of people in the one place at the same time. Put it in your calendar and if you make a billion, remember where you got the idea.


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