Hot idea is a way to curry favour

DINER Mark Tillison, 39, the managing director of Tillison Consulting in Waterlooville. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132439-1413)
DINER Mark Tillison, 39, the managing director of Tillison Consulting in Waterlooville. Picture: Malcolm Wells (132439-1413)

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A PORTSMOUTH business owner has found a tasty way of making new connections and drumming up new business.

Mark Tillison, 39, founder and managing director of digital marketing agency Tillison Consulting in Waterlooville, likes to get to know other businesses over a curry.

Not seeing value for money in traditional breakfast networking events, he and his firm of accountants decided to change tactic and opt for an evening meal instead.

But it was the use of Twitter, the online microblogging site, which has seen it become very popular and raise money for charity.

Mark said: ‘My accountant Paul Wragg from Focus Accounting and I would have discussions about breakfast meetings.

‘We’d both been to them and they didn’t really work for us.

‘We wanted to do something like that but we didn’t want to commit to going every week, spending all that money to meet the same people every time.

‘So we got a bunch of people together and said, “let’s go for a curry”.

‘We did that every two or three months and it became quite popular, and we got some new business on the back of it.’

Mark’s business uses the internet to raise the profile of his clients, so he is a huge supporter of social media, and joins in a weekly discussion on Twitter under the #HampshireHour link.

Between 8pm and 9pm every Tuesday businesses in the county come together on Twitter for some online networking.

And it was during one of these that Mark introduced the curry networking idea to a wider audience.

He said: ‘We all brought some business cards and called it a networking event.

‘It was just a nice social evening and then I organised the first Curry Business event in Botley for 16 people.’

The event has since been held in Emsworth, and the next event is on Wednesday, September 18 at the Indian Palace in Port Solent.

The group negotiates a discount with each restaurant and gives the difference to a local charity.

‘We gave £25 or so to The Rowans Hospice after our event at the Taste of India in Emsworth,’ said Mark.

‘And at the next event we will be donating the difference to Naomi House.

‘It’s good because local charities get a bit of support, we might meet some new people, and if we get some new business out of it then that’s great.’