Nigel Robinson does the business on the gay networking scene
Take a look at your collection of business cards. You know, that pile youâ€™ve got in the bowl by the window, or the ones stashed away in your deskâ€™s bottom drawer.
Now, be honest, are you ever going to ring Piers in Soft Furnishings or Sonia who runs that dodgy publishing venture south of the river, let alone clinch a business deal with them, or form any sort of useful relationship? Face it, probably the only thing you have in common is a love of the free plonk and dodgy canapÃ©s served at corporate and more often than not mismatched networking events.
And then of course thereâ€™s the Big Gay community thing. You might be an LGBT and gay community member and out and proud at your work, but meeting other professionals in the gay community who lead the same gay lifestyle as you on a one-to-one basis can be awkward, especially when certain professions are not particularly known for their gay friendliness.
So itâ€™s no wonder thereâ€™s been a phenomenal explosion in gay networking groups and sites over the past few years â€“ and no, weâ€™re not talking Gaydar or Grindr here â€“ where you can connect and meet up with like-minded gay people on a social or professional level, away from the commercial gay scene.
Within the gay networking scene, one of the longest-established groups is Jake, founded over ten years ago by gay entrepreneur Ivan Massow. Pre-dating Facebook by a fair number of years, and back in the days when most gay websites and online forums focussed on random brief encounters, Jakeâ€™s emphasis on building lasting social and professional relationships was a breath of fresh air.
Jake continues to offer the LGBT and gay community a unique community to communicate with like-minded professionals that all what to be part of the gay networking scene, and following a recent revamp has reinvigorated itself, hosting a series of events in central London from drinks events and dinners, to pop-up art galleries. Their weekly e-zone The Briefing has rapidly become the must-read events Bible for the metropolitan gay community member about town.
â€œWe have a strong reputation and a solid membership of 55,000 influential gay community professionals,â€ says Jakeâ€™s Stephen Unwin, who works in the media industry. â€œJake has gravitas and a high-spending and taste-making ABC1 demographic. Itâ€™s a way for professional, like-minded gay men to meet and network in sophisticated surroundings and away from the scene.â€
Indeed, the majority of Jakeâ€™s gay networking scene members are business owners, CEOs or management, and almost half of them earn over Â£50,000, way over the national average, with 60% aged under forty.