The Butterfly Effect of Networking

Years ago, I was relaxing on Necker Island in the Caribbean where I was meeting with about 20 business leaders including Sir Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and owner of the Island.

My journey to this island is a dramatic example of “The Butterfly Effect of Networking”,  a theory that a small action in one place may have a ripple effect that creates a dramatic action in another place. It is like a pebble in a pond creating ripples on the surface. For networking, it is about how a seemingly minor connection or conversation with one person may, after many ripples across the network over time, ends in a dramatic connection later in the process.  Let me share my story…

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Virgin Territory

I recently spent a week on Necker Island with Richard Branson and it was an amazing experience, just as it was when I was there a few years ago right about the time I first started writing this blog.  During that initial visit to Necker, I wrote about the Butterfly Effect of Networking for the first time ever.

Branson and Misner Walking CroppedDuring this visit, Richard told me a very interesting story about his early days with Virgin Records.  He was 20 years old and publishing a student magazine.  He wanted to give students a better deal on records and decided to start a new business.  “Slipped Disc” was initially one of his favorite ideas for a business name but when one of the people working with him suggested that they were all “complete virgins in business,” Richard decided on the spot to call the new business Virgin Records.

Once he had the name in place, he moved forward with the process of getting a trademark on it.  He put in a trademark application through the UK trademark office for the name “Virgin Records.”  However, he immediately encountered a problem; the trademark office denied the filing stating that the term “Virgin” was, according to them, “rude!”  Richard shared with me that he continually tried for nearly four years to get them to approve a trademark on his company because, the fact was, without it the brand was in danger of being copied.   Finally, out of frustration, he looked in the dictionary for all possible definitions of the word “virgin” and discovered a definition that might assist him in his plight to gain a trademark.   Armed with his newly discovered definition, he contacted the trademark office yet again and explained to them that according to the English dictionary, the term “virgin” was not rude.  In fact, when he cited the dictionary definition of “virgin” as “pure,” the frustrated bureaucrats had no choice but to relent.  That’s the story of how Richard Branson finally received the trademark on his iconic company – The Virgin Group.

After sharing this story with me, Branson said, “Brands are very important.  You either need to be very creative or you need to spend a lot of money to build the brand name.”   He explained that Virgin was one of the brand names that was really creative and that’s why it worked from the start.

There are now hundreds of companies within the “Virgin” brand.   I’ve personally used Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Blue, and Virgin Hotels (to name a few) and as a customer of each of these companies, my experiences have been either good or great.  If you’ve been a patron/customer of any of the Virgin companies, I’d love for you to leave a comment in the forum below offering your feedback on which of the Virgin companies you’ve used and what your experiences were like–do you think the global image/reputation of the Virgin brand factored into your decision to give your business to a Virgin company as opposed to their competitors?  Why or why not?  I would love to hear your thoughts–thanks!

Today Marks the 500th Blog Post on Business Networking.com!

I am very pleased to announce that today marks the 500th blog post on BusinessNetworking.com!  To celebrate, my wife Beth and I recorded this video where we reminisce about which blog posts have been our favorites over the five years I’ve been doing this blog and why these individual posts stand out to us.

Below you’ll find the links to the specific blogs we mention in the video so you can check them out if you’re interested.  To celebrate this 500-blog milestone, I’d love nothing more than to hear which BusinessNetworking.com blogs have been your favorites through the years and why.  I’d really like to hear what you think so please leave a comment in the comments section.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my BusinessNetworking.com blog posts and I am very grateful to have a forum where I can share what I’ve learned throughout the course of  my career and learn from all of you who contribute such great feedback.  Thank you so much for being a part of this community of learning and sharing knowledge to promote the success of business networkers around the world–I’m looking forward to another five years (and hopefully more) of keeping this blog going!

1. The Butterfly Effect: September, 07 – http://businessnetworking.com/the-%e2%80%9cbutterfly-effect-of-networking

2. OMG, I’m an Introvert: February, 2009 – http://businessnetworking.com/omg-im-an-introvert

3. Premature Solicitation: February, 2010 –http://businessnetworking.com/premature-solicitation

4. The Networking Disconnect: September, 2010 –http://businessnetworking.com/the-networking-disconnect/

5. Who’s in Your Room: March, 2012 – http://businessnetworking.com/whos-in-your-room

* Rants:*

6. Networking — A Soft Science: September, 2007:http://businessnetworking.com/networking-a-soft-science-only-to-college-profe…

7. My Philosophy About Competition: June, 2010 –http://businessnetworking.com/my-philosophy-about-competition

8. Relationships are Irrelevant!?: February, 2010 –http://businessnetworking.com/premature-solicitation-from-a-believer

9. You Don’t Become Exceptional by Looking for Exceptions: September, 2011 – http://businessnetworking.com/you-dont-become-exceptional-by-looking-for-exce…

10. Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Welcome: February, 2012 –http://businessnetworking.com/unsolicited-advice-is-rarely-appreciated

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