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					                                                                                                           JAMES DYSON HOW TO CLEAN UP ON SMART TECHNOLOGY

                                                                                                              australian                                                                the magazine for australian
                                                                                                                                                                                            fast-growth businesses
        feb/mar 2006 | issue #14

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                                                                                                                                                                                                     feb/mar 2006

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                                                                                                                                                                              CHINA: OPEN
                                                                                                                                                                             FOR BUSINESS
                                                                                                                                                                                 PART II – LESSONS
                                                                                                                                                                                   FROM THE FIELD
                                                                                                                                    NETWORKER:                                         HOW
                                                                                                                                                                                   JON BURGESS
                                                                                                                                                                                   IS CHANGING
                                                                                                                                                                                   THE FACE OF
 business >> technology >> innovation


                                                                                                                                                                                    Bell Awar05
                                                                                                                                     6 AUSSIE SPORTS TECHNOLOGIES
                                                                                                          Print Post 328567/00140
                                                                                                                                     WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN
                                                                                                                                                                                        r ru
                                                                                                                                                                                    (two yea

                                                                                                                   ISSN 1448-7330    GOLD, GOLD, GOLD!
 NETWORKER:                                                        GET TO KNOW AS MANY
                                                                 PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND
                                                              REMEMBER YOUR MANNERS.
                                                               THAT WAS THE ADVICE THAT
                                                               HELPED EX-SOCCER PLAYER
                                                           AND PROFESSIONAL NETWORKER
                                                               JON BURGESS SURVIVE THE
                                                           MEAN STREETS OF EAST LONDON,
                                                             CIRCA 1983. IT ALSO BECAME
                                                               THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLE
                                                            BEHIND HIS GROUNDBREAKING
                                                                   AND AUSTRALIAN-BORN
                                                                NETWORKING PHILOSOPHY.
                                                                  PAUL D. RYAN MEETS THE
                                                           ORIGINAL INVISIBLE NETWORKER.

Photography: Eddie Javier
Digital effects: Angelito Jose Lawang & Melanie Woolcock
34 >> issue fourteen >> australian anthill

    meet up with Jon Burgess for a                   But according to Burgess, effective            good, but not quite good enough. After            Burgess’s formative education was on
    morning coffee in Richmond on what            networking is rooted in everyday                  five years of travelling through England        the ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’
    is evolving into a baking hot summer’s        interactions. It is not about forging artificial   donning boots for any club that would          streets of Essex, where firms (not gangs)
day. There is already a sheen on my brow,         relationships with big players. Neither is        give him a run, Burgess ended up having        ruled the neighbourhoods and broke
but Burgess looks cool and composed in            it about getting results at all cost.             a chat with Tony Brooking (brother of West     anyone who didn’t play their game.
his expensive suit. I later discover that he         In fact, his personal evolution into the       Ham legend Trevor Brooking).                      “I realised that I had to get to know a
is an ‘ambassador’ for the elite men’s            world of networking can be traced back               “I asked him why I hadn’t made it. He       wide group of people. As long as I showed
clothing label Henry Bucks, and has a             to the mean streets of East London, circa         said to me, ‘Aussie (that was my nickname      respect and manners and always said
similar relationship with Montblanc. In the       1983, and a chance meeting with a                 over there), you had more ability than         hello to them, that always got me through.
world of Jon Burgess, it seems that clothing      skinhead called Denis.                            anybody I’ve ever seen. You just couldn’t      And that is essentially what I do today.
sponsorships are no longer reserved for                                                             put it together on the day consistently.’      It’s what every great networker in the
the sporting elite.                                      LONDON CALLING                             It’s the same in business,” says Burgess,      world does.”
   He looks about his age, 39, and carries           As a child, Jon Burgess wanted to be           palms open to the sky. “It doesn’t matter         Burgess tunes out for the briefest of
himself easily, informally. But there’s           a soccer star - the next Craig Johnston.          how skilful or bright you are, you have to     moments, gazing beyond me to the thought
something else there, just out of reach,          As a 15 year-old, when most boys are              put it together on the day. That was the       he is apprehending.
which I later decide is tenacity. It’s a trait    learning to shave and going out on dates,         second big lesson I learnt while abroad.”         “Remember your manners,” he says
you often find in sporting types and               Burgess embarked on a bold journey. With                                                         with a smile. “I think that’s what networking
gentlemen of modest height.                       the blessing of his parents and the support            CAREER DECISIONS                          is missing. I think we are just taught to
   We start chatting and, right off the bat,      of an English aunt, he headed to England,            At the ripe old age of 20, Burgess’s        be very predatory – that title, that card,
he asks me to tell him about myself. So           alone, spurred on by an opportunity to            dream was all but over and he admits to        that person. I think that those five years
I find myself in an unusual and slightly           train with West Ham United.                       being totally lost for the next few years as   in England, tough as they were, were
surreal role for a journalist – being                On his first day on the London estates,         he poured over the carcass of his nascent      very positive.”
interviewed by my interviewee. And it             Burgess recalls, he was kicking a soccer          football career and tried to make sense
isn’t just about this article or about Anthill.   ball on the street, by himself, when a            of his future. His dream hadn’t worked           SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Before I know it I am relating salient            skinhead approached him and demanded              out, but in pursuing it he had unwittingly        At the age of 20, Burgess returned
moments from my childhood to my                   to know, “What the fuck ya doin’ in my            refined his skills as a networker: someone      to Australia. He worked briefly for his
nodding, empathetic companion. I’m                area?”                                            who could access people of influence and        father as an air conditioning mechanic
being networked.                                     “I just froze,” says Burgess. “I didn’t        create opportunities.                          before going his own way. He then spent

           IN SEARCH OF                           know what to say. I eventually told him
                                                  that I was there to play for West Ham,
                                                                                                       “I became very street smart,” says
                                                                                                    Burgess. “What most people live between
                                                                                                                                                   time in the mail room at the National Bank,
                                                                                                                                                   then selling detergents, and finally entered
            A NETWORK                             which was lucky because that was his              the ages of 24-34, I lived when I was 15-
   The networking world is a bag of               team. He said, ‘Look, I’m going to teach          20. I got to meet a lot of people. I saw a
liquorice allsorts. For every genuine             you two important lessons: remember               lot of things that I don’t like to remember.
expert there exists a glut of cranks and
promise peddlers looking for a taste of
                                                  your manners and get to know as many
                                                  people as you possibly can.’ That’s essentially
                                                                                                    But it was a great experience. Without
                                                                                                    that upbringing, I don’t think I would
                                                                                                                                                                                 “REMEMBER YOUR MANNERS,” HE SAYS
the corporate honey-pot.                          how I survived there, because a lot of            be here doing what I’m doing today.
                                                                                                                                                                                    WITH A SMILE. “I THINK THAT’S WHAT
                                                                                                                                                                                NETWORKING IS MISSING. I THINK WE ARE
   Most networking philosophies focus on          my friends had faces like British Rail. It        When you have to network to survive,
the student’s ‘game’ – a magic combination        was a great place, but the suburbs were           and everything is on the line, you need

                                                                                                                                                                                  JUST TAUGHT TO BE VERY PREDATORY –
of orchestrated serendipity and chutzpah.         a real challenge. You had to get to know          to learn fast and the lessons are burned
They either assume that most networkers           people very quickly. I survived five years         onto your soul. Meeting my first skinhead,

                                                                                                                                                                                 THAT TITLE, THAT CARD, THAT PERSON.”
are little guys with big ideas, who need          in London without really getting ‘touched         going to a bar and building relationships
some face-to-face time with that elusive          up’, as they call it. That was my first lesson     with people – not for the right reasons
CEO, or in-house sales people in search           in networking.”                                   but for safety reasons – that really
of doors to bust down.                               As a junior footballer, Burgess was            changes you.”

36 >> issue fourteen >> australian anthill                                                                                                                                                                    australian anthill >> issue fourteen >> 37
the printing world where he began to find         giving me a chance. I thought, ‘If I can        personality-driven. However, the theory
his feet for the first time as a professional     get you to this person, why wouldn’t            behind the Invisible Network is simple and
networker.                                       you pay for that?’ I just didn’t                pragmatic, not reliant on self-help manuals,
    And then he saw the film Jerry Maguire.       understand it. It was a tough two years.”       analysis of corporate management charts
    “Sitting in the cinema, a word came up
– kwan, which is now the name of my                   THE INVISIBLE
                                                                                                 or contrived serendipity.
                                                                                                                                                                                    “WHO MATTERS? EVERYONE MATTERS.
company,” says Burgess. “Tom Cruise was
                                                   NETWORK UNCOVERED
                                                                                                    THE BIGGER PICTURE                                                                EVERYONE MATTERS IN THIS WORLD.
                                                                                                                                                                                     THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MY
saying to Cuba Gooding Jr, ‘You have to                                                             Burgess starts every relationship by
get the chip off your shoulder. You have           Burgess spent many long nights                asking his new friend, “How can I help

                                                                                                                                                                                             NETWORKING APPROACH AND
to get back to where it all started, and         contemplating his skills as a networker         you?” It is guaranteed to pique curiosity,
then you’re going to earn the dollars            and how best to apply them. The Invisible       despite the inevitable cynicism. He puts

                                                                                                                                                                                      EVERYBODY ELSE’S. EVERYBODY ELSE
you’re always talking about.’ Gooding            Network crystallised in one of those            the Invisible Network in deeper context
says, ‘It’s not just the money I deserve.        A-ha moments.                                   for me, using our new relationship as

                                                                                                                                                                                  GOES FOR THE BIG HIGH FLIERS. I GO FOR
It’s not just the coin. It’s the... kwan.’ Tom     “We get business from our clients, we         example.
Cruise says, ‘Great word! What does it           get business from our marketing activities,        “You are now in my visible network.

                                                                                                                                                                                      THE PEOPLE UNDER THE RADAR WHO
mean?’ Gooding says, ‘Love, respect,             we get business from our accidental/            Sure, I’ll look out for you if I feel there’s
community... and the dollars too. The            chance meetings and we get business             something. If not, we’ll catch up for coffee
package. The kwan.’
    “That hit on everything that I admire.
                                                 from our visible networks. But what
                                                 about our invisible networks? You might
                                                                                                 and have a good time. But let’s say that
                                                                                                 you were in my network. I’d find out a                                             CONNECT PEOPLE TO THE HIGH FLIERS.”
You have to have good community. You             meet 500 people this year who could             lot more about you, so I know who you
have to have love. You have to be respected      potentially help me. So how do I activate       are, what you do and what a business
by your family and peers and you have            you to help me? That’s the Invisible Network.   opportunity for you looks like – and you
to have money, but not in any order. It’s        For the first time in my life, everything        know the same for me. Everyone in the
the Chinese concept of completeness. I           came together.”                                 network is trying to be more relevant to
                                                                                                                                                  Tom rather than trying to forge a new               Burgess remembers his soccer days in
                                                                                                                                                  relationship with Tom directly on the            England. He remembers not being given
                                                                                                                                                  basis of that one opportunity. It makes          a chance to grow into a professional

                                                                                                                                                  Steven look good in Tom’s eyes and may           player. As a result, he is committed to
                                                                                                                                                  lead to Tom being activated to look for          nurturing three graduates every year, to

BUSINESS FROM OUR MARKETING ACTIVITIES,                                                                                                           genuine opportunities for Steven. It also
                                                                                                                                                  gives Burgess a big tick (and a personal
                                                                                                                                                                                                   give something back.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      He also remembers the haunting words

WE GET BUSINESS FROM OUR ACCIDENTAL/CHANCE                                                                                                        thrill).
                                                                                                                                                     “We’re trying to promote a culture
                                                                                                                                                                                                   of Tony Brooking on why he didn’t make
                                                                                                                                                                                                   it as a professional footballer, and has

MEETINGS AND WE GET BUSINESS FROM OUR                                                                                                             where genuine efforts are made to help
                                                                                                                                                  other people, rather than create a system
                                                                                                                                                                                                   vowed never again to miss an opportunity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   It has seen him take his Invisible Network

VISIBLE NETWORKS. BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR                                                                                                              than promotes token referrals,” says
                                                                                                                                                  Burgess. “That’s the difference and that’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                   to corporate heavyweights, such as
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Westpac Private Bank, Ernst & Young,

INVISIBLE NETWORKS? YOU MIGHT MEET 500                                                                                                            how the Invisible Network came about.
                                                                                                                                                  Our networks, our clients and friends,
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Deloitte and the elite Entrepreneurs’
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Organisation. He is also pushing into
PEOPLE THIS YEAR WHO COULD POTENTIALLY                                                                                                            are constantly in contact with people who
                                                                                                                                                  could potentially help us. Why aren’t they
                                                                                                                                                                                                   the international market, working with

                                                                                                                                                                                                   individuals and companies in New Zealand,
                                                                                                                                                  activating them for us? Because they don’t       Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and

                                                                                                                                                  know how… yet!”                                  Thailand, with further expansion planned.
                                                                                                                                                     Burgess’s own network includes the            And, of course, Burgess has begun
                                                                                                                                                  likes of John Ilhan (Crazy John’s Mobiles        working on an Invisible Network book;
                                                                                                                                                  founder), Robert Kirby (Chairman of              something he hopes will launch his fresh
                                                                                                                                                  Village Roadshow), Janine Allis (Boost           new approach to networking onto the
don’t care what I’m earning. I need to have         Burgess and his company, Kwan, are           others in the network – and to their clients.”   Juice), Carlo Santoro (Regional Director         global stage.
the full unit to be complete.”                   all about activating the untapped potential         The system relies on universal               Asia Pacific, Entrepreneurs’ Organisation)           After all, with all of those hucksters
   Filled with the Kwan spirit, Burgess          of existing networks. He claims to have         commitment within the network to creating        and David Flaskas (founder and Director          and charlatans out there who profess
called his friend Francis Awaritefe, an          developed the world’s first effective how-       opportunities for network partners               of Grand Slam International).                    to be custodians of the pot of gold at
unknown talent, and proposed that he             to for networking. And in a world crowded       without any obvious or immediate return.            “I shouldn’t be able to meet with these       the end of the networking rainbow, it’s
become his sports manager – a pitch              with networking celebrities, such as            It’s a bit like Don Corleone without the guns    guys. I’m not in their financial league,”         pleasant to hear someone as modest
made then and there, in the cinema lobby.        Anthony Robbins and Wayne Berry, he             or the horse head.                               says Burgess. “But I’ve found a way to           and even-headed as Burgess strip it all
   “I said, ‘I don’t know anything about         may well be right.                                  When Burgess uncovers an opportunity         access these people and communicate              down to basics.
sports management but I can access                  The difference is practical. I ask Burgess   for a network partner, his name often            with them at a level that they are comfortable      “Who matters? Everyone matters.
people. Just give me a chance. We’re going       how different his philosophy is from,           does not get dropped in the process.             with. It’s about finding out a lot more           Everyone matters in this world. That’s
to the top’,” Burgess recalls with a broad       say, de Bono’s six degrees of separation.       He relates the example of an extremely           about them first, and trying to help them         the difference between my networking
grin. “It took me 12 months but I got him           “de Bono talks about six degrees of          prominent and well-connected member              first, to earn trust.”                            approach and everybody else’s. Everybody
on SBS, with Les Murray.”                        separation, but he doesn’t tell you how         of his network (names withheld on                                                                 else goes for the big high fliers. I go for
   Next Burgess built a rapport with             to get there. I could perhaps get to a          request) – let’s call him Steven – who is                LIVE AND LEARN                           the people under the radar who connect
Ian Thorpe’s manager, David Flaskas,             bluechip CEO in eight moves, but not            connected with another prominent and                Kwan is now three years old – officially       people to the high fliers. That’s the
a relationship that remains critical to          unless I know how to get to each step.”         well-connected individual who is not in          one year in the Invisible Network space          Invisible Network.”
Kwan’s network development.                         For a networker who acquired his skills      Burgess’s network – let’s call him Tom.          – and it is a growing success story. Burgess        Or, in its most simple form: get to
   He started a company, Kwan, initially         on the streets of London, you would expect      Burgess discovered an opportunity for            asserts that he is not about money or ego.       know as many people as you possibly
offering sales coaching. “No one was             Burgess’s approach to be instinctive and        Tom and passed it to Steven to give to           He’d rather just fly under the radar.             can, and remember your manners.

38 >> issue fourteen >> australian anthill                                                                                                                                                                                                      australian anthill >> issue fourteen >> 39