I watched my mother go from being a dental nurse to the founder of one of the UK’s largest arts organisations, The Arts Society. I saw how it had started from nothing and then grew into this large organisation, primarily based on her ability to make connections. I saw the importance of connection and she knew how to make them at a high level.
Somewhere around the millennium, the ability to make connections had taken a nose dive: guests weren’t being introduced like they used to be, right across the board. I think a big element to that was that women were taken out of the home and they went into the work place. Women have always been the socialisers because we’re just so good at it and we just want to make groups gel, it’s in our DNA I think.
So we put them in the workplace and we all just assumed that women would carry on doing what they’ve always done, which is basically organise the parties and social things and make them work. I don’t think anyone foresaw that it would have a detrimental effect on this particular area of our lives, that is, socialising.
When I’m asked to be at a party or an event, the starting point is I make an appointment to meet the host and we sit down and talk through what it is they want to achieve, who the people coming will be and their backgrounds, the balance of males and females and, most importantly, the number of people who will be in the room. Then, you may not know who’d like to meet who, so we’d talk that through and you could give me all the information you want to about the people. I’d go away and prep the event, work out who should meet who, know the names of people coming and the sort of things they do.
So, if it’s a business environment, it’s about their jobs and who they work for. If it was a social environment, it would more likely be their interests that you, as the host, would know and if you don’t, there’s a lot of online information these days.
My favourite part of the job is making matches that really work and just the buzz of it. I love being in a room full of strangers, I appear to be wired differently to other people. The hardest part is when there’s not enough time to introduce people and then people have left – but then my skill is to retain people and make people want to stay because they are having fun.
This interview by Melonie Clarke first appeared in The Lady, 18 August 2017