Want to further your career? Young Entrepreneurs in Property has a networking solution

Networking has always played an important part in greasing the cogs of industry, and nowhere is this more evident than in the property sector. Getting on, and clinching that vital deal, is invariably all about knowing the right people. However, by its very nature,

this way of doing business tends to favour people of a certain age, with a lifetime, or at least a couple of decades, of carefully honed contacts behind them.

Which was part of the reason why, three years ago, some enterprising young go-getters decided to set up Young Entrepreneurs in Property. The London-based organisation, which boasts some 450 members, organises six networking events a year, ranging from speeches by key industry figures to open mike nights, where members are given two minutes on stage to talk about themselves and their companies. “That one can be pretty terrifying, but very rewarding,” says Alex Thorpe, YEP’s chairman. “People come and hopefully go away with 10 new contacts.”

A YEP event is arranged with ruthless efficiency. Welcome group leaders are tasked with helping to initiate networking by immediately introducing members, who are generally aged between 20 and 35, to 10 new people on arrival. “That way there are always people you can go back to throughout the evening.”

Thorpe, business development manager at Tilney Shane Architects, is one of a committee of 10 young entrepreneurs who organise the events and is understandably keen to sing the forum’s praises. “I must have met 200 people through the events, with about 15 who I regularly call. I know of people who’ve won jobs through contacts they’ve met here.”

Thorpe is anxious to emphasise that YEP is not just about how to win friends and influence people. He says: “In this industry, the best results come from people working well together. It’s important to gain an understanding outside our own discipline.” An example of this theory being put into action was in evidence last night at YEP’s most recent event. Jack Pringle, president-elect of the RIBA, was invited to give a speech at a function in a bar in central London, chiefly addressing the concerns of young architects. Because only about 60 of YEP’s members are architects (there is a similar number of project managers, surveyors and developers, and lawyers, property consultants and bankers are also represented), a mix of professions were present, making it likely that a few surveyors, lawyers and developers went away with a greater awareness of the concerns and aspirations of young architects. “Because we’re all at the same level, there’s no feeling of power play,” adds Thorpe.

This underlying motive of the organisation has led YEP to become involved with g4c, construction body Be’s graduate off-shoot, which explores ways of increasing collaboration between the various organisations within the industry.

However, Thorpe is quick to reiterate the importance of entrepreneurialism to the spirit of the organisation. “We want to protect the entrepreneurial side. Before they join, we ask people to fill in a form, explaining what they can bring to YEP – that way we can keep the right mix of people.”

The entrepreurial side seems to be in good hands. Thorpe is also hoping to get the Movers and Shakers forum for senior industry figures involved in some way, perhaps in terms of a mentoring scheme. Meanwhile, the committee has arranged a “speed networking” event in September, which sounds every bit as terrifying as the open mike nights. It clearly takes a certain level of bravery to become a young entrepreneur.