I am delighted to return to support Fashion Fiesta for a third year. It’s fantastic to see so much planning and energy go into delivering the event, which can be life changing for those designers and models taking part; but which also supports charitable causes. The organisers – Rachel, Chris and the rest of the steering and planning teams do a brilliant job to give us an entertaining evening. I pass on my grateful thanks to them all.

Once again I congratulate all those designers, makeup artists and models showcasing their talents at the event, and hope you will continue to be resilient and determined as you continue on your exciting journeys and for some of you into successful careers.

Do make the most of the evening – this is not a time to be shy. You have just a few short hours to seek out and take fantastic opportunities to reconnect with previous contacts and find new ones. Starting a conversation to learn something new about a few people, could be all it takes to help move your life closer to the success you seek.

Time and again I see people walk into networking situations and miss the abundance of opportunities that exist. If you want to effectively network don’t boast about who you are and what you’re brilliant at.

You’ve decided this is a good room to be in. And there could be some great opportunities during the evening. Will you take them?

Take time to research who will be in the room? Wouldn’t it be even better if you can identify some of the people attending in advance, including influential people in their industry?

Once you’ve been introduced (by someone you know to someone you don’t) take time to learn about their achievements, interests, networks and skills and what they’re planning next? Listen a lot, and talk only a little. This is learning time, and by listening you might just pick up a few snippets, gems, problems and challenges that you might just be able to help that person resolve with what you can offer.

I urge you to learn about who knows who and hopefully start conversations that could lead you to that STAR connection that could be life changing.

One of the objectives of Fashion Fiesta 2018 is to help raise funds for Peer Support Yorkshire and Simon on the Streets. I hope everyone can do something to help both very worthy charities to move forward with their incredibly hard work. With so many organisations that have community interests competing for ever diminishing funds, then the help of everyone attending tonight is vital.

If you can contribute a donation, or buy a raffle ticket great. But also consider what else you can do to raise awareness for these organisations. Something that doesn’t cost money, just a few minutes of your time. Perhaps write your own blog, make a posting of a few words or photos to social media. You know you’re good at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.......so make the most of them. Share your content about the event with your contacts and followers. As well as talking to people offline let’s get #FashionFiesta18 trending.

Fashion Fiesta photo of Phil Paramore

The charities too have a great opportunity to connect with others. With grants for organisations doing social good becoming so competitive, it’s time to look at alternative forms of income generation. Don’t forget the Enterprise in Social Enterprise. Many organisations fail because they rely on grants and donations that can eventually dry up.

Back at your community hub why not brainstorm the possibilities, involving your Trustees, staff, volunteers and people who use services. Get them to contribute any and all ideas about how additional funds could be raised. Tell them no idea is a daft idea and everything will be seriously considered. Grab the idea now, evaluate it later. This way you might find some really great opportunities, something you haven’t thought of before.

But before then, the evening of Fashion Fiesta 18 gives you a real opportunity to connect with businesses who may really want to make a difference to communities and the causes you exist for. Many businesses have a social responsibility agenda and are waiting to contribute to the right cause.

So Charities please, don’t leave Fashion Fiesta 18 thinking “If only”. Do your preparation and think about the questions you need to ask people and businesses.

Leave everything out on the catwalk! I urge you to please connect with a range of people, talk about the good causes we are here to support and about how each of us might help you.

I hope you all have a fabulous and enjoyable evening and that you can support both charities to make such a difference to the communities they serve.

You can contact Phil T: 0345 241 5323 M: 07910 875425 W: www.guidedtoyou.co.uk