Building’s inaugural networking event proved a hit with the industry’s new professionals

You know that feeling when you’re throwing a party and you’re not quite sure who’s going to turn up? It was a bit like that last Thursday at the launch of Phase One, Building’s networking event for new professionals.

The night, held in the trendy loft-style Light Bar in Shoreditch, east London, was something of a departure from Building’s glitzy awards dos. This was a deliberate move, as we wanted to meet the next generation of industry leaders, the people who you don’t yet see on the traditional networking circuit. However, it did mean that we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

Thankfully, we weren’t left sitting on the sofa waiting for the doorbell to ring for too long. More than 200 people had signed up before the night, and the venue was packed with energetic, enthusiastic people from every part of the construction industry.

Denise Chevin, Building’s editor, discovered the downside of such a vibrant venue as she tried to shout above the din to welcome them all – the venue wouldn’t let us use a microphone in case it disrupted the main bar below.

As it was Building’s graduate advisory board who came up with the idea in the first place, it was fitting that Dan Kola from Mace and Andy Link from Bovis Lend Lease should also say a few words to welcome their peers.

The main attraction though was a rapturously received speech from long-time Building columnist Tony Bingham.

“I started 20 years ago writing about a bee in my bonnet – now it’s your turn,” he told the assembled crowd, before working the room like a pro.

Never let it be said Building doesn’t know how to throw a party. As the real purpose of the evening got under way, the booze flowed, contacts were made and alliances forged late into the night. Some people even had a bit of a dance. And then there was the invention of the “Phase One Fling” – a cocktail the Light Bar’s mixologists formulated especially for the occasion in Building’s signature blue. No one seemed exactly sure what was in it – guesses ranged from gin to cointreau or vodka. The only certainty was that blue curacao had been involved at some point. Didn’t stop them quaffing gallons of the stuff though.