welcome

With a little help from my friends …

So if you have read some of my blog posts before, especially on my own site, you will have no doubt realised that there have been many occasions in my life where times have been tough and I have been left reeling. However, I am a strong believer in no matter what life deals you, if you get knocked down, you dust yourself off and bounce right back again, but this time not only stronger but also smarter because you learn from that episode in your life.

I know so many people who have gone through all kinds of challenges within their lives and they still keep fighting and smiling. So, why is it that when people receive knocks and obstacles within their business lives, they often crumble at the first sign of difficulty? Having gone through personal and professional difficulties, I believe I know the answer.

All this social media stuff doesn’t work!

So many people scoff when I tell them how active I am on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ecademy and about 30 other networks.  “I don’t have time for all that,” they say, “It’s a time waster – and, anyway, it doesn’t work.”

“What do you want it to do?”  I ask.

It’s a question guaranteed to stop most people in their tracks.  The responses I get vary from a shrug to a bit of preliminary mumbling followed by “More sales!”

I can be really horrible and ask a lot more tough questions (I was trained as a coach once) like:

“Do you like people selling to you on social media?”

“Do you have a marketing strategy for your business?”

“How much time to do you invest in networking offline?”

I’ve tried asking some of these questions, but they scare people!

So here’s my opportunity to explain about why social media doesn’t work – and how it can work very well indeed.

History lesson

Social media has been around since the 1990s, Ecademy launched in 1998.  LinkedIn appeared early in 2003, followed by Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006.  They’re not going away so people who don’t use their free services are missing a marketing opportunity.

Activity

Social media needs consistency – so one tweet a fortnight isn’t enough.  If you’re not making any noise people don’t know you’re there.  If you have a Facebook business page you need to keep it active, it won’t happy all on its own.  If you have a LinkedIn profile you need to be seen in groups and on the Q&A section for people to know you exist and get to know you.

Time management

The time issue is important – it’s true that you can get distracted and find a morning or afternoon has disappeared if you’re not careful.  However, most people are willing to attend one networking meeting a week to promote their business and meet people who may either become customers or refer them to others who need their products or services.

The challenge for most people is that it’s easy to get sucked in and spend half a day chatting to people about inconsequential trivia.  I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have conversations, but they should be a conscious investment of time.

The average networking event lasts a couple of hours plus travelling time.  It’s part of your marketing effort – why would you not be willing to invest three hours a week in marketing online too?

Planning your networking = more success

I am waiting for The Business Club East London launch so I have sought refuge in a coffee shop with what turns out to have lousy music and coffee to match. The wifi really is just as bad too!

 

I am sitting here thinking about what I want from the launch tonight.  Who I want to meet?  What I want to achieve whilst I watch the city employees scuttle home after their day at work and while I prepare for another few more hours work and not getting home until midnight. And probably a night on the sofa but that is a whole different story!!!

 

It has been said before that networking is perceived as just a jolly up… Joked that I’m a lady who does breakfast (not lunch or women only events!) but by the very definition networking is working.  I plan to work the room.  I plan to meet my targets.  I plan an outcome.  After all if I fail to plan then I plan to fail; as the saying goes.

 

My targets for tonight are:

  • Arrive on time or slightly early (coffee shop is less than 1 minute away)
  • Get a contact list
  • Find suitable contacts
  • Meet and talk to 5 people I don’t already know
  • Leave with 2 meetings

My target audience is:

  • Construction Industry – interior fit out companies, M & E companies, developers – Project managers, Estimators, QS’s
  • Technology industry – IT companies, Telecoms companies.
  • Education sector – colleges, primary and secondary schools, universities
  • Commercial property managers – facilities managers such as Regus, etc

Anyway I will report back on my evening as I am off to get there early!

 

Some time later….

Networking Persistence Leads to Results

 

It has been an interesting week for me. My husband has completed an NLP Practitioner’s course and I was helping out running the event as I completed the course a while ago. One of the things that I realized is that Chris worked really hard in the lead up to the course to feel that he was capable of doing the course. I, on the other hand, had done very little and felt fine.

It struck me that this is a pattern for me – throughout school, university, sports and my corporate career I breezed through life and everything came easily. I saw pretty much immediate results from the effort that I put in and didn’t really have to put in a huge amount of effort.

Business, and in particular business networking, is different though and dealing with this change has been interesting. In actual fact, the best way to succeed in developing your business through networking is to not be looking for immediate results at all.

The real results in networking come from the time taken to build relationships and build trust with the people you come into contact with. Then they will come to you to sign on the dotted line or will send people to you that are pre-qualified for your product and service and are ready to do business with you. How long this takes depends on your willingness to persist and participate as well as your particular business and the circumstances of the people that you meet. You might get lucky and be delivering the message at exactly the time that the person you are talking to needs to hear it – or it may take a bit longer.

Pass it on economy – are you listening?

 This post is by Bernie  Mitchell

This is almost too obvious to write, “word of mouth is just the best thing you can have.” All the words that go with it like buzz, vibe, pass it on are groovy – ok maybe not viral.

I was at a networking lunch and we were saying what we did and someone jumps in with – “I am Penny and the type of referral I am looking for today is…”

Now was this a misunderstanding? Does she operate in a world where she sits down with people she has never met and something other than lunch arrives at the table?

It occurred to me that the “People to People” economy is a very technical business to be in because you have to plug something in and I don’t just mean electrical power.

I mean REALLY technical as in emotional which is even more complicated. Oscar Wilde famously said that the “only thing worse than being talked about was not being talked about.” Because in the “People to People” economy you need to get people talking about you and that does not happen overnight. Amber Naslund explains this in her blog about building your network before you need them here.

 

I know that people do business with people they know like and trust; previously this applied to B2B, these days both corporate and small companies are in the people to people business.

 

“If you get quiet for long enough, if you really listen, then and only then will they tell you the secret. Knowing the secret means you get to be here five years from now.”

 

Word of mouth is in just about everything we read, write and speak. In the super market or bar a buying decision will be triggered by people talking and an emotional connection.

That gap between stimulus and response happens when we feel something, in this way emotion is our social currency, and passion drives us to pass it on. Because people will naturally pass on passion word of mouth is the most amazing positive influence. Often sales and marketing is misunderstood as a “convincing business” no one likes to be sold or to have someone convince them to do something, whether that is buy a beer, choose a school for their child or buy a new laptop.

 

Your Personal Brand

Whether it’s a life long ambition or where the pathway of fate has led you, deciding to become self employed is extremely daunting. OK, we all know that losing a regular income is possibly the most frightening part of it, and probably what separates the risk takers from the risk adverse, but deciding to become self employed has many more implications, for example it may challenge how you perceive and present yourself.

If you have long worked in a corporate environment, you will quickly realise that the same rules no longer apply. If you market yourself and your business at a local networking group using corporate jargon such as ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ or ‘hitting the ground running’ you will immediate lack authenticity and personality, making people immediately opt out of buying from you.

7 things you shouldn’t do with a business card and 3 you should…… in my opinion!

 

Don’t

  1. Use it as an invitation to send hundreds of sales emails, or even worse (and my personal cardinal sin) add someone to a newsletter email list. Treat people’s details with respect. If you hate receiving spam, don’t become a spammer yourself!
  2. Keep them in bundles, wrapped in elastic bands, waiting for work to come to you. There is a wealth of information in those bundles and you’re missing out by just leaving them languishing in the corner
  3. Collect as many as you can at a networking event. In this case it really is quality over quantity. I’d rather collect one card from someone I want to talk to again then collect 20 from people I didn’t get to know. And of course don’t be the person that rushes round the room throwing your card at everyone in the room, whether you’ve spoken to them or not
  4. Leave them in a library book when you return it. This is someone’s personal data you have taken. They didn’t have to give it to you. You need to respect it and not use it as a bookmark. If you want to do that; use your own! So maybe that s an extreme case , but it’s a serious issue. People don’t have to give you their card; so look after it and use the information wisely.
  5. Make it such an odd shape or size that it doesn’t fit in a card holder. While I love cards that are unique, or different,if you want me to be able to access your details, or more importantly be able to pass your details on to others, then make it easy for me.

Being yourself …

What comes to mind when someone mentions authenticity? Genuine,  credible, real, dependable are just some adjectives that you may first think of, all of them are admirable adjectives and no doubt ones that we would hope to be associated with ourselves. We all have the possibility to create our own image and yet some spend so much time on creating a ‘front’ in order to hide their authentic selves, that this becomes almost a full time job especially when they have a different ‘mask’ for each different social setting.

How do you feel when you partner comes to a work party with you? Is it difficult for you to merge your work and home persona or are you totally at ease in this situation?

10 top tips for new blog ideas…

 

 

As its Easter and a Bank Holiday we’re not posting a blog from one of our regular contributors but thought we’d post one from us instead.

The most frequent question we get asked as the admin of this site is “what would you like me to write about?” so we’ve written this post about where we get the inspiration for our posts from, or which topics make us read a blog post.

Who is your ideal client?

 this post is by Ruth Thirtle

Often when networking, I ask people to tell me who their ideal client is. I am amazed by how many people have no idea or really don’t know how to answer the question. So for this week’s blog I have included a subject I talk about in one of my Business Booster videos. To gain access to the entire FREE video series, go to www.business-booster.co and fill in the form.

Knowing who your ideal customer is will save you time, money and effort as you will be able to focus your efforts to attracting them. When you try to be all things to all people, you will end up being nothing to anyone. On the other hand, when you know your ideal customer you will be able to get totally focussed on your sales and marketing efforts – and you will therefore get better results. Knowing your ideal customer and being specific in talking about what you do will make you more memorable, which in turn makes it easier for people to refer business to you as they know exactly what you are looking for.

When you know who your ideal customers are you will be able to:

  • Understand their problems and challenges and therefore more clearly define how you can help them
  • More easily undertake market research as to what your customers are looking for
  • Build trust and rapport as you truly understand their wants and needs
  • Take a more targeted approach with your marketing and produce more exact results
  • Develop a memorable and engaging business introduction that will have people talking about you
  • Build word of mouth within your target market as they will tend to associate with one another
  • Be more comfortable and confident talking about what you do

 

The 10 Questions to Help Reveal Your Ideal Client

LinkedIn : Connections – who should I connect to?

This post is by Philippa Bowen

 

 

As I work with clients on their social media strategies I often get asked about how to grow their connections on LinkedIn. And who should they connect o? Accept invitations from?

 

Well LinkedIn is very specific in its terms and conditions about why it exists and who you should connect to:

A. Purpose.

Networking. Where to start?

An important part of any new business is networking, meeting other people that may either require your services or perhaps know someone that will. Laying foundations with new contacts, and sowing seeds for business growth.

And this day and age there are many networking events out there. All of them are very good. They all have something slightly different to offer.

Why being too Social is bad for Business

This post is by Helen Stothard

 

I had an interesting conversation recently. We were talking about being yourself on Social Media.  Now I have always been an advocate of showing people your true personality on Twitter, down to sharing the mundane stuff such as what you had for dinner, the weather and your TV viewing habits.  I know some people don’t ‘get’ that side of Twitter but for me, it helps me see the person behind the tweets, I build an impression in my mind, whether it’s right or wrong, of that person, and can then tell whether or not I feel I can connect with them.

This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, you should always remember that whenever you tweet you have an audience of thousands, and you also have Google storing your tweets away to resurrect in a Google search out of context at another time.

The weird and wonderful world of networking

This post is by Victoria Roberts

 

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of networking.  If you’re a virgin networker, don’t be scared…I can gently show you the way.  If you’re a seasoned networker – bravo! I love it too.  If you’re of the tried and didn’t like variety…read on as well…you may be surprised.

After 15 years in the corporate world, I didn’t ‘get’ networking.  The only networking I had been to was the kind of scary ones where you have to be there at the crack of dawn week in week out, cant’ miss it and have to give referrals (“My Auntie Margaret needs her carpet cleaning” cue applause)or the informal ones by the Chamber of Commerce.  They were useless for me…as a woman, walking into a room full of pinstripes suits in a bar was bad enough, never mind trying to make conversation with strangers! Nope, I would stand in the corner with a couple of people I already knew, down my vino and run, which defeated the object.   I prefer some structure and some fun…for my bet, you can’t beat 4Networking (www.4networking.biz) though there are lots of fab networking groups all over.  Google networking in your area and get yourself to a few to try.  However it doesn’t matter who what or how the networking event is, there are some golden rules and some useful tips you need to know.

So for the virginal, tried and died and downright scared…here are my Top Ten Tips to get the most out of your networking:

Staying Focussed – The Challenge of Being Your Own Boss

This post is by Martin Broadhurst

It has been a busy month in the Status office as we continue to establish our business. Since I last blogged on the BBN we have won our first significant contract and we have been making a lot of connections to get our name about. It’s been a great start for us and we’re beginning to see positive results from our efforts.

While getting work in and building up awareness of our business is good, Mark and I have still been mindful to remember to work on ourselves as well as bringing in new business. This past week in particular I have personally been developing my time management skills. While I have been on time management courses in the past when I was employed elsewhere, working for yourself brings new distractions into play.