clubs, an old-fashioned thing, but still useful

“The man who invited me to the Automobile Club, I tell myself he is clearly a man who missed the train”laughs a Parisian firm partner.

The Automobile Club de France, the Siècle, the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée: these clubs still symbolize the socialization of the French political and economic elite. over 50 or 60 years old.

These organizations prove less attractive to senior executives, who prefer areas that are considered newer, with less strict codes, and are often easier to join (though still expensive), like Saint James or again the club we are_ (more for the cultural and digital industry). Sports clubs should not be overpowered, like Lagardere Racing – which, on the other hand, is not new: “It’s a very expensive sports clubanother partner said, And it works great. » Membership costs around 7,000 euros, to which is added an annual fee of around 2,000 euros.

Consultants are no exception to this dynamic, and our first anonymous partner added, quite amusingly: “The old clubs are more out of step with the times. Going there, I think, is almost equivalent to sending an anti-signal to your customers and prospects. The person who is invited three times a week to the Automobile Club is he works in geriatrics. »

Also read

The twilight of historic clubs may be coming. But, for the moment, they are far from lost in the landscape. Guillaume de Ranieri, McKinsey partner, is still a member of the Automobile Club, as is his colleague and senior partner Franck Laizet, as well as their Roland Berger counterpart Christophe Angoulvant. Also at Roland Berger, senior advisor Jean-Michel Mangeot is a member of Interallié. On the Century side, we can see Olivier Marchal, president of Bain France, but also Matthieu Courtecuisse, president of Syntec Conseil, or Agnès Audier, senior advisor of BCG. Every club has possibilities. At Le Siècle, monthly dinners allow discussion on a predetermined topic with an audience of senior civil servants, managers or journalists. The Automobile Club and the Interallié are mainly a place where you can arrange breakfasts and dinners.

Clubs and retired consultants

These socialization skills are difficult to document. Some scholars have written about links between clubs and strategy consultants, but usually as examples within the framework of more general consulting practices. So, in his book Sociology of management consultingMichel Villette did not hesitate to express that “Consulting is not a profession, but a relationship”where the most influential are those who have “an extensive and relevant address book”. According to him, clubs are therefore one of the many ways to expand this address book.

Do the principals concerned consider the clubs explicitly and primarily as a means of professional development? Interested parties remain very reluctant to talk about it. Contacted to find out if he is ready to talk about his favorite clubs, a consultant answered us firmly: “Of course not! I’ve been a member of these circles for 40 years! I’m not going to tell you my life anymore, sorry!!! (right)” Most others refer to the clubs’ internal codes, which prohibit them from discussing it. When they accept, it is obviously on condition of anonymity, and with lip service.

Pious wish of disinterest

In fact, why should be interested in the frequency of companions? Contacted, some of them dismiss the subject as trivial, or consider it only a question of their private life. However, as another consultant inadvertently points out, the separation between mundane life or private life and professional life is far from watery. And this, although most partners refuse to network at parties, lunches or other fun.

In the same discussion, we can hear that participation in a club is only done for meetings, “in person”without representing his company: “This is not a place where you go to do business. »

Networking that is too clumsy is actually dangerous: “Those people who have too much entryism, I don’t think their membership status is confirmed. It is not the spirit at all. »

Five minutes later, however, this same consultant regretted that his colleagues were “too little invested in this type of activity”. And to conclude: “It’s good to put the cabinet. And then, this is the opportunity to meet people who can be useful for the business. »

Because if the partner bases his legitimacy on the knowledge he has, it is first of all his relationships that allow him to work.

What sociologist Michel Villette summarizes as follows: “To advise, you have to ask, and to be asked, you have to be known: the relationship comes first. »

And the club therefore provides both a place and a reason for new professional encounters, even if business is not directly discussed there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *