Here’s a question for you… Where, in one room can you find Michael Portillo and Charles Kennedy, Going for Gold’s Henry Kelly and former newsreader, Michael Buerk? Where, for that matter can you find, in one room, 900 people raising a glass to one person?
The answer is Carole Stone’s Christmas Party. Carole is often described as ‘Britain’s Networking Queen’, with over 23,000 contacts in her database. A former producer of the BBC’s Any Questions, for many years Carole hosted a weekly salon in her Covent Garden Flat for up to 100 people. Meanwhile, she has worked with companies from Coca Cola to Camelot casting a series of lunches to congregate the great and the good around a subject of interest to the client.
My confession about Carole is that I did not expect to like her. How could someone who had written two books on networking, who has that many people in her rolodex be anything other than a nightmare? And that was where I was wrong. For Carole Stone is one of the most caring, fun, generous people I have ever met. Contrary to what you might expect, she always has time for a catch up, an exchange of news and a helping introduction. The nine hundred people at her party last night ranged from their twenties to their eighties and many had travelled from far and wide. In the same way that a group might remain ‘in character’ at a murder mystery party, I really sensed that there was a terrific willingness in the room to meet new people, just as Carole would have wanted.
Carole is one in a million and though it’s easy to knock someone known as Britain’s Networking Queen, it was pretty clear that by bringing that number of people together, both on the night and day by day, year by year, she is and has been an amazing force for good. Long may she reign!