Sunday, May 12, 2013

Talk up your chances - Schmooze or lose - It's who you know that counts (The Sydney Morning Herald)



The first grisly lesson for anyone entering the job market is to throw the books away. It's who you know, not what you know, that counts. As a young PR consultant, nothing filled me with more horror than the pressure to "work a room". Arriving at industry get-togethers with a business card hastily scrawled in felt-tip pen and avocado stains down my front, I looked more out of place than Paris Hilton at a Vatican tea party.

Networking still comes with a powerful stigma, even though it's vital for developing business portfolios or finding job opportunities. A friend of mine calls it "careerist brownnosing by the professionally undeserving".

But the fact is, it works. Greg Tingle was a blue-collar boy "destined to drive trucks" until he gatecrashed the media world five years ago. Now he runs his own PR firm and lists himself as "a TV presenter, journalist, radio broadcaster, internet author, all-round media entrepreneur and man of business brilliance".

Tingle cast his net wide for career openings, unable to rely on the traditional avenues of family and friends. His big break came in 2000 when he rang 2UE's John Laws to offer the inside scoop on life in the athletes' village at the Sydney Olympics, where he was a volunteer. It was the beginning of a lucrative relationship with Laws, 2UE and Southern Cross Broadcasting.

Tingle's approach to networking is no-holds-barred. One time, he cornered celebrity PR man Max Markson for a photo at the launch of his book, Show Me the Money! They've since collaborated on projects for stars such as Shane Warne and he now considers Markson "like family".

Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room, insists we shouldn't be ashamed of networking. It's simply about "sharing resources", which has been occurring ever since "Eve offered Adam an apple in the garden of Eden".

Besides, she says, there is a definite need to resurrect the art of conversation.

"Technology [is the culprit] in most countries," she says. "People are doing things online and not face-to-face ... they email the person at the next desk instead of getting up and going to talk to them."

So what are the secrets for triumph at those dreaded networking events? Internet research is vital, otherwise you might accidentally ask the chief executive to refill your wine glass. "With Google, we can go into every event a little bit more prepared," RoAne says.

Conversation starters are also important, so if your knowledge of international affairs doesn't run beyond Brad and Angelina, it's time to scour the newspaper. This means reading the footy pages, even if you have as much interest in sport as jumping around a padded cell.

RoAne denies that networking is manipulative and fake, even though some of the advice she reads in self-help books "turned my stomach, [it] was so smarmy". "I don't have children, but I have [learned] that when people have children, that's what they talk about," she says. "I couldn't care less about the [food] mothers are feeding their babies but if I want to have a relationship or do business, I've got to be a little more flexible."

RoAne suggests a seven-to-nine-second "opening gambit" that puts a humorous spin on your job title to make you stand out from the crowd.

Tingle, meanwhile, believes in flashy business cards. Rather than opting for Patrick Bateman-style monochrome sleekness, try something more flamboyant. Tingle's are black and gold and "stand out a million miles away".

He also carries around recent clippings of his work. "[People] like to see what's occupying someone at the moment," he says. "Just to make sure they're being active and hitting some runs."

But beware: even the smoothest networker can be relegated to a "one-night stand" if follow-up with a contact is poor. "While everyone else is emailing, text messaging or maybe doing nothing," RoAne says, "you [should] send a note saying, 'Thank-you for [your] time', and they will be happy to recommend you further. We save thank-you notes, we don't save thank-you emails."

Finally, it's important to store your hard-earned contacts. Carole Stone, a prolific party hostess and author of Networking - The Art of Making Friends, keeps a personal database with more than 25,000 "friends". The database contains information on when they met, who introduced them, what events she's invited them to before as well as details on their partners - both personal and professional.

Stone is famous for her regular "salons" at her London flat, attended by some of Britain's leading movers and shakers. Her annual Christmas bash is no drinks'n'nibbles affair with the rellies, but a gargantuan military operation with a guest list of 1000 including cabinet ministers and movie stars. "As the replies come in, I update my database with new telephone numbers and addresses," she says. "That's a big job that sometimes keeps me up all night."

Stone is the ultimate proof of how networking can, as RoAne says, become a "lifestyle not a work style".

So where does that leave me? I'm still a grumpy hermit who enjoys showing disdain for 99.9 per cent of human kind, but I must admit the concept of networking has become ever-so-slightly more palatable.

At a social event the day after speaking with RoAne, I decide to follow some of her advice. I talk footy, despite not having touched a playing field this side of the millennium. I discuss my career without being stunted by a terminal bout of self-deprecation. I even log the phone numbers of people I meet on something more durable than a napkin.

As I walk away with a fistful of contacts and a small glow of self-satisfaction, I begin to wonder if being "a schmoozer, not a loser" is really as hideous as it sounds.

Is networking a necessary evil? Share your tips at radar.smh.com.au

HOW TO GET AHEAD

* Treat networking as a lifestyle, not a work style.

* Before you attend an event, use the internet to find out about people who might be there.

* Read that day's newspaper to pick up some conversation starters.

* Prepare a seven-to-nine-second light-hearted introduction explaining what you do.

* "Good mouth" others and pass on praise you have heard.

* Follow up contacts in a timely and "appropriately persistent" manner.

* Send handwritten thank-you notes - we all want to be appreciated.

* Stay in touch via phone, fax and email even when you need nothing from people. You'll seem altruistic even though you're not.

Source: Susan RoAne

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Gamesys Group Acquires Virgin Games Business and Forms Long Term Partnership for Global Online Gaming



Gamesys Group and Virgin Group announce that they have signed an agreement that will see the Gamesys Group acquire the assets of Virgin Games and form a long term partnership to develop real money and social gambling propositions globally under the Virgin brand.

Gamesys Group CEO, Noel Hayden, commented; “We have been long term admirers of the Virgin brand and all it stands for. We are delighted to have the opportunity to leverage our unique platform, games and services to power Virgin gaming propositions around the world.”

Gamesys Group is a UK success story. Built on true entrepreneurship, the Group was founded back in 2001 by Noel Hayden, Robin Tombs and Andy Dixon and now employs more than 700 people.

Virgin Games, which was founded in 2004, has grown consistently since launch and regularly won awards for its customer service and advertising.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group said; 'We are delighted the Gamesys Group has acquired Virgin Games and formed a partnership to build a global games business. Simon Burridge and his team built a strong platform and now with the help of the Gamesys Group we can expand further internationally. We believe the Gamesys Group shares our vision and will be great partners in the sector.'

Simon Burridge, CEO of Virgin Games said: 'With many new opportunities opening up across the world, it was important to attract a new partner to capitalise the power of the Virgin brand. We are delighted Virgin Games is being acquired by the Gamesys Group, whose track record of growth and innovation speaks for itself.'

Gamesys Group will relaunch the existing Virgin Games UK site in the first quarter of 2013.

Virgin was advised by Oakvale Capital.

ABOUT GAMESYS The Gamesys Group was founded by Noel Hayden, Robin Tombs and Andy Dixon in April 2001 with a small team of developers. The aim was to build a profitable online entertainment business providing Instant Win, Bingo and Casino games to a worldwide audience using proprietary gaming software.

After eight years, the Group's leading brand Jackpotjoy.com has built a considerable UK and pays out in excess of GBP250 million in winnings every month. The success of Jackpotjoy.com has established the Gamesys Group as one of the UK's leading online gaming businesses. In 2006 they were named No. 1 in the Microsoft / Sunday Times Tech Track 100 League Table, and they're now one of only four companies to have appeared on the list four years in a row. This feat reflects both the company's capacity for sustained growth and its remarkable resilience during periods of financial instability.

In 2008 Gamesys Group entered into an agreement with News International to build and operate Sun Bingo and have since launched Fabulous Bingo with the same Partner.

For more information on the Gamesys Group please see http://www.gamesyscorporate.com

ABOUT VIRGIN Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world's most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors ranging from mobile telephony, travel, financial services, leisure, music and holidays to health & wellness. Virgin has created more than 400 branded companies worldwide and employs approximately 50,000 people, in 34 countries. In 2012 global branded revenues were £13bn ($21bn).


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Super League has announced that Foxy Bingo, the UK's top online bingo site, will become the competition's official bingo partner in 2013.

Foxy Bingo, a subsidiary of bwin party digital entertainment plc, who count Real Madrid and Manchester United in their sponsorship portfolio, have signed up as Super League's bingo partner in a multi-year deal.

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An extensive programme of community -based activity, involving the much-loved Foxy himself, has been planned to support the partnership and will be rolled-out throughout the season.

Welcoming Foxy Bingo to the competition's growing stable of partners, Super League Commercial Director James Mercer said: "It gives me great pleasure to welcome Foxy Bingo on board as an official partner of Super League for the next three years.

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"Super League's popularity continues to grow and with Foxy Bingo on board I am sure we will build on our achievements of 2012, when attendances reached an all-time high and more TV viewers than ever before tuned in to see the extraordinary action."

Golan Shaked, Group Director of Bingo at bwin.party said: "We are really excited about our new partnership with Super League. Foxy Bingo is the top UK bingo site spreading the fun and thrill of winning across the nation. These attributes fit perfectly with Rugby League.

"The partnership will be a cornerstone of our campaign to directly engage the Foxy brand with the players who make it such a thriving online bingo community. Eyes down for a thrilling Super League in 2013!"

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