Q: I read a lot about networking being essential. I'm 30 and feel I'm doing OK. But the idea of shaking hands with people I don't know appals me; this false bonhomie is senseless. Don't you agree that what is important is what I achieve during my working hours?

A: It depends on what you mean by achieve. If you believe you have a job for life with the same business and you will not be tempted to jump ship or get pushed out, then you may be right and networking is not for you. But it's a brave - or foolish - man who closes off all exits.

With all relationships, you get what you put in - so if all you think networking is about is shaking hands, then you're right to forget about it. A client recently told me that by failing to network during his early career he had missed opportunities outside his own business that would have taken him to the top rung of his sector much sooner.

So have a go. Networking is an ugly word but is only another name for making relationships. You network with your children, your neighbours, your work colleagues - hopefully you don't find this hard work or senseless. You need to have relationships outside your business, in the wider world of your industry. Listen to others, share some of your issues. Introduce yourself to winners - their magic will rub off on you.

I can tell you stories of people getting very serious jobs because of someone they met and impressed years before. So get going, it's never too late to start. And you never know, you might enjoy yourself.

As MD I often feel that I want the office to look a little tidier - our head office looks like Steptoe's yard. Everyone tells me to get over it but my intuition is that a tidy office equals an efficient office.

A: I went to a merchandising office recently and it was a tip - but an exciting one. You could almost touch the energy and purpose from the team, though I would not fancy that in the finance department. In general, I think good office organisation reflects a well-run business and a clear desk with just the task at hand visible helps enormously in focusing your mind. It may be simple but my clients have said it is almost miraculous in getting stuff done.

Try having a Tidy Friday where you chuck out the clutter - including what's in your email. It's just a thought, but many of us use office disorder as an excuse for procrastination and sloppiness.

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