Hello Christian, I’m glad you’re here!
What were the first contact points you had with the topic of networking?
When I came to Leipzig from my home village, I started to distribute fashion. We helped small designers to get a market place. And if you have a store in the center of Leipzig, you actually know a lot of people. That means it was already like a small network back then. In the finance and networking industry, I had then built my first real network, with a structure of 300 to 400 people.
You set up the community event “Freude hat Stil” (“Joy has style”): Tell us a little about it.
At some point, a friend asked me if I could help to organize a kind of regulars’ table in Leipzig. So about 15 people met in a restaurant in Leipzig, ate together, drank together and just exchanged ideas. We all had a great evening and made new contacts. We took this simple idea of a regulars’ table a step further and found a place where a larger meeting would be possible. We then invited our contacts, who we thought would find it cool. Then 40 to 50 people came to the meeting and they enjoyed it. It developed relatively quickly. At some point, I continued to organize and run this type of event on my own. Until Corona, there was a network meeting every two months. At some point, I gave the event a name, and because what we were doing had style and we were all crazy and a diverse bunch of people, the network meeting was given the name “Freude hat Stil“. These meetings should offer added value for each person who comes, and people should have a smile on their face when they go home. Naturally, a wide range of people came together, and so were the conversations and thoughts of the participants. For example, it was about business, but also about personal matters. Meanwhile, there are about 300 people I invite to the evenings, and 80 to 100 people always come to the events.
Why did you start your own network?
I started the network because I like to get to know people. I like when people benefit from what I give them, which is the space, time and place in this case. I know that when I throw people together, something good happens. I wanted to create something different, something more creative and personal than classic networking meetings that have been around so far. Which led to me benefiting from it as well. I had a great evening, of course, but I also made contacts and gained customers.
Which networks are you in yourself?
I am in no networks except my own. On top of „Freude hat Stil” I have a closer network with my business and spiritual friends, plus a leisure network for festivals and celebrations. There are several networks that I kind of built. The networks are about fun and passion, so I’m not in any other networks that are just about making money.
What role do networks play in your own development?
A very big role. You have a huge pool of people that you can help. There’s always something happening with them, whether I get a commission, a commission share, or just have a favor with someone good. So a lot is happening within the network. By meeting with a huge amount of people and meeting new people, you hear a lot of stories. Those stories help you learn things, reflect views, and gain experience.
How many members do regularly meet in your network?
The “Freude hat Stil” events regularly attract 80 to 100 people. But that also depends on the location. Together with a friend, I organized an event called “Healthy Funky Mind”. We had 120 people at this event.
How do I build a network?
You can build a network if you tell yourself you want to make a difference. You need a project and a to-do list. Some things on the to-do list you will be able to do yourself or learn, but some things you will not be able to do. For example, if you want to make a product, you will need suppliers and companies to manufacture the product for you. You have to research and find those suppliers and companies. So you start to build your own network, a network of suppliers and companies. Then, when the product is ready, you start asking around in your circle of friends and other people. So you build up a network of customers. They want something from you, but you also want something from them. People from your network will approach you and need your assistance, and you will connect them with others in your network. So you develop a network that works with and among each other.
What are the difficulties?
At some moments you will not be in a good mood yourself and you will not want to meet with people. Sometimes your battery will simply be empty. Then you need to rest and do something on your own.
You will also come into contact with many people who are only out for their advantage. So only let people into your network that you know are serious. A network always consists of deeper relationships and people who help each other. It’s not about a lot of simple contacts. So it can happen that a person gets carried away with building up contacts.
So the problem is not the network itself, but either yourself, because you have no strength left, or the other participants, who do not see the network for what it really is. It is problematic when people try to abuse the network because they are too superficial or too greedy.
How important is it to set a vision or mission statement and how do you implement it?
It’s usually the case that I give a talk after about two hours. That’s when most of the people are there. I share with the people what the vision of the network is and why these people are all here, and what they are doing that evening: exchanging ideas, and making new contacts. At the end of the evening, I ask people again to go to someone they don’t know yet. And that works, they run towards each other like crazy. The people are happy then, because many would not have dared to do it without an invitation.
My invites are always very appreciative, I try to make people feel special, and ask them to bring another special person that they think would fit into the network. That way everyone can identify with it and reflect the vision.
But there are a lot of things that go into that. I’ve taught myself that over the years. The important thing is that many people come together with the same values and ideas, yet they couldn’t be more different.
People who have not understood the vision properly or who abuse the network are no longer invited. That’s how I try to protect the network.