Talk to most people about networking events and you’ll probably struggle to find any real fans.  Images of dreary hotel bars, limp sandwiches and the pain of endless small talk result in many people, myself included, opting to politely decline the invitations that frequently pop into my inbox.

The paradox of course is that most of us really enjoy meeting new people and we’re all aware of the benefits of a having a wide professional network of contacts. As CRS professionals, we’re also acutely aware of the need for far more collaboration and shared learning if we’re to tackle some of the really big issues like human rights, climate change and resource scarcity.

So as we were planning our first face to face event for ICRS members, we decided that we’d kick the term ‘networking’ to the curb along with any ideas about structured conversations, kick off presentations or elevator pitches and instead just focus on bringing like-minded people together over a few drinks.  

A passing comment from one of our members summed it up nicely. As the bell rang for last orders he said, “This was a networking event? I thought I was just meeting some really interesting people and putting the world to rights over a beer.” Exactly. 

Claudine Blamey is Chair of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) and Head of Stewardship at The Crown Estate. Find out more about the ICRS at

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