Author: Glenys Chatterley

What can you expect from networking?

Recently I have been talking to people who are new to networking and some of them are not sure if networking is worth doing. In case you fall into this category let me explain why I think networking is a vital part of any marketing strategy. It is true that I have always networked, both before and when I worked in the corporate world and certainly when I became self-employed. The only difference was that when I became self-employed, I realised that what I did had a name…networking.

People often seem to think that they network to get work and, while this is certainly one result of networking, it is not the only result. When you network you build relationships, people get to know what you do, and they learn to trust that you know what you are doing. If you build strong relationships your contacts will feel confident that their reputation is safe when they recommend you to one of their contacts. So when you network you meet people who almost become your salesforce. For some people this is all they think you get from networking and—certainly if they don’t immediately get work—they say that networking doesn’t work. Yes, it does, but you need to work at it.

There are other things you will get from networking. One is that you meet people who do other things that you may need in your business: accounts, IT, recruitment etc. They can supply their services to you which means you can concentrate on what you do, servicing your customers, developing new products or services etc. Networking enables you to grow your business because you are not being distracted by sorting your tax return, sorting out a bug on your computer or ensuring you have robust contracts for your staff.

You also get people around you who will support you on those days when things are not going as planned and you just need someone to talk to about it, and this may just be someone who you can use to rant to about life, challenges or whatever. I certainly have a few people who fill that category. (I usually find that the phrase “Is it me” gets said at some point! They can share some of their energy when you have none, but don’t forget that, at some point, the roles may be reversed and they may need you when their day is going the way they planned.

One final thing you may get is opportunities that come from networking. I’ve networked in a high security prison, a cinema with a tour included, been given access to parts of Stansted airport that I would not have had if I had not networked. I hope that you have been persuaded that networking is not just about getting work, it is so much more.

If you want some help with your networking let me help with a gift to you: my Top 20 Networking Tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Why network?

Recently I was talking to a contact, let’s call him Fred, about some work his company had just started. He was really surprised, because he knew that a lot of people had gone for the work and his company was quite a small one. They could do the work, but he was surprised that he had won the work rather than one of the larger, better-known companies. I asked him how he had heard of the work and he said that a business contact had told him, and introduced him to the potential customer. My next question was “How did your contact and the potential customer know each other?”  He said that they played golf each week.

Now, assuming that his prices and service provision were similar to all the other potential suppliers there had to be something that gave him the edge. In my opinion, it was that he was connecting with someone who wanted to use his company. Why? Because someone who the potential customer knew and who he met once a week had made the connection. They probably knew each other well and they trusted each other and Fred’s contact was willing to put his reputation on the line by introducing them. That’s why he got the contract. That’s networking.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and my business to know that I fundamentally believe in networking as a powerful marketing tool. It turns cold connections into (at least) warm connections. It puts your company in front of potential customers, even when you are not there. It puts you in front of people you might not have ever met, and it raises your profile. My question who be: Why would you not network?

If you want some networking hints and tips let me help with a gift: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Pulling into the sidings

Recently I was discussing workload with a business contact. This was, in part, because we were talking about Christmas and the number of extra things that needed to be done. Neither of us had been twiddling our thumbs before Christmas loomed its head! (Full disclosure means I need to say that being on holiday a lot was both wonderful and brought with it challenges of time management. My contact’s business was also growing, bringing with it its own challenges.) We talked about how we were feeling, and we both agreed that we were feeling a bit of pressure.

We began to discuss what we could do to reduce the stress and we both had different ways of dealing with this. For me exercise is my stress reliever. When I exercise, I feel better about myself, more able to deal with stress and tasks. I also do some of my best thinking as a I work out. Often I will do some exercise interspersed with admin tasks, phone calls, invoices etc. My contact had a completely differed way of dealing with his stress.

He said he “Mentally pulled into the sidings”. It was a phrase and a practise that he had learned from his dad and whilst never really analysing what it actually referred to, for him it meant stopping what he was doing and going and just sitting, usually in his garden. He would make a nice hot drink, sometimes some music or an article he wanted to read “when he had a minute” or a chapter of a book he was reading. He had learnt to use this as a way of switching off for a short time.

Although our methods were completely different, we both agreed that allowing that time for ourselves left us feeling better able to deal with the things needing doing. So what is your way of dealing with pressure? Exercise? Pulling into the sidings? Something else?

If one of your pressure is networking let me help with a gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Being outside my comfort zone

Recently I have been on holiday to the Galapagos Islands (Yes, we had a lovely time, thank you). This was definitely a “Bucket list” holiday and one which I would recommend to anyone. However, it was not our usual type of holiday. Until we did this holiday, we hadn’t done any nature-type holidays where we were continually up close and personal with the nature. I first realised this was going to be different when I looked at what they recommended we bring:

  • snorkelling equipment. Not a problem, as we had our own, but they could provide anyway,
  • wet suits. We didn’t have any, and we had never been anywhere where we needed them,
  • wet shoes for “wet landings”,
  • walking poles.

I started to panic after snorkelling equipment. This holiday list was definitely not in my comfort zone and all the pictures in the brochure showed people dressed in khaki.  Khaki is not in my colour palette. After fretting for a week or two I gave myself a good talking to and decided that I would arrange my own spin on khaki. There didn’t seem to be any mention of people dying on the holiday, so I reckoned I would be OK. So, I bought all the stuff and started the adventure.

What I hadn’t realised was the continual challenge of getting on and off the boat into dinghies, often in choppy waters, and getting to land hanging on for dear life. The first time, I had a major meltdown, which the guide pretty much ignored. This wasn’t his first rodeo! Outside my comfort zone and I couldn’t have seen my comfort zone through binoculars!

Slowly, I learnt to relax and decided not to ask how many they lost in an average holiday.

So, what did I learn?

  1. That you don’t need wet shoes for wet landings, the water is very clear, and you can easily see where you are standing so bare feet, and then put on walking shoes is less faff.
  2. You need to leave any dignity you have behind. When getting on and off dinghies you will be hauled, pushed, pulled, and grabbed. You just have to give yourself up to the people who do this all the time. They get you where you need to be.
  3. If you are 6 foot and do a wet landing the bottom of your shorts may get a bit damp. If you do a wet landing and like me you’re are below 5 foot, your top knicker elastic will be soaked!

I learnt a lot, and some of it was about myself. I realised that occasionally being out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Would I do it again? No, bucket list entry has been ticked. Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely.

So, does networking place you outside your comfort zone? Then here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Why keep their details, I don’t need a widget maker

Recently I was talking to a new contact about how to follow up after meeting people. Obviously, I suggested looking at their website, making contact via email, connecting on Linkedin and then I said, “and add their details to your database” He said “but what if I can’t see myself ever getting any work from them”. Then we talked about what networking is about, yes, of course, we want to increase sales but networking is also about, building relationships, helping others by making introductions, having a support system of people who may be able to be suppliers and people who may offer advice, share knowledge, listen when you need someone to listen etc. This is all achieved by the first objective, building relationships.

It is true that you may build relationships by occasionally meeting that person on an ad hoc basis at future networking events. But that means that your marketing is in the hands of others, and you need to be in control of your marketing. For this reason, I always add people to my database. Not sure about GDPR? If I give you my card or give permission by attending an online event, and they are given the option of unsubscribing then GDPR is satisfied. I then use this database to send newsletters, to answer questions such as if someone asks me if I know someone who does whatever. I use it if one if one of my Group Directors asks me if I know someone who fills a category they have available. (This is usually because members have said they would like that category filled because they know they can do business with them). It is a working part of my marketing, not just another file on my computer.

Of course, you may just decide to depend on remembering every person you ever meet networking, what they do, and what their contact details are. I can’t always do this, so I have a database and I actively use it as part of my marketing. It might be you have another system for keeping track of your contacts, if so let me know what it is, please.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

It’s OK to have fun, just don‘t forget the customers.

Recently I was in Oslo and, as often happens when I’m in one country I want the cuisine of another country, so I was yearning for pasta. We found what looked like a nice place. Looking at the menu outside it also seemed, whilst expensive, that we wouldn’t need to sell a kidney when the bill came. The tables outside were packed and since I always feel like I’m the animal in the zoo who people are watching being fed, we went inside, which was virtually empty. The smiley waiter put us near the bar and I said, “That’s good we’ll get served quickly”. I need to keep my thoughts to myself sometimes. Anyway, we ordered—nothing that wasn’t on the menu and straight into main courses.

Eventually our mains arrived, well not all of the mains, because my side salad only arrived when I reminded them. This was followed by a basket of bread which skidded towards us as the not-so-smiley waiter practised his spin bowling. Now I knew what was happening, because they were not busy, they were having a lovely time and we were interrupting their fun. Beloved and I began to chat about a proposed holiday to the Artic Ocean so I wasn’t really paying attention to the staff, but slowly they became more raucous. It seems that they were all of different nationalities and so they spoke English, which, unfortunately I could therefore understand. They (all men of about 25) discussed women’s rights, gender inequality, and when they started to discuss their sex lives, I’d heard enough and explained to them how inappropriate their conversations were. Their answer? “We were just having fun”. Which is lovely, but not the aim of my evening out. I’m sort of wanting to have fun spending time with beloved and just chatting, rather than getting bad service and indigestion.

I am all for having fun at work, in fact it is my rule number 1. But not when the customers are therefore forgotten, seen as an inconvenience, or badly served. Of course, the service charge was not paid, and, as someone who has worked in hospitality, I really try to give good tips. But there has to be at least an average level of service, so perhaps getting no money might make them think. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Customer service? You either get it or you don’t.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

When I grow up, I’m going to be…

Recently I met a contact at a networking event, and he introduced me to his son. Still at school, he said he was planning on studying business at university and his dad thought it would be good for him to come along to a networking event and meet some businesspeople. This got me thinking: when is a good time to start to learn about, and have, a business?

I think there are aspects of business that I didn’t formally learn until I became self-employed: how to read a P and L sheet, how to set prices, and so many other things that this list would be too long and slightly embarrassing. The reality was that I have earnt money since I was 13. My first job was a paper round, Monday to Friday evening and Sunday morning only and that was great. I also had a babysitting job, got money from my mum and dad for washing the pots after tea, and at the same time I made money by crocheting shawls, baby clothes etc and selling them to family and friends. This continued to be the pattern of my making money, some ‘regular’ work and some side ‘business’ but I didn’t know many aspects of how to run a business and, believe me, it was a steep learning curve when I left the corporate world.

Because of this slightly random plan of action, I am always impressed when I meet some young person who knows what they want to do and has started to put the pieces in place to make this happen. As I spoke to my contact’s son it was impressive as he talked to me about his plans, how he was going to get where he wanted to be and he was really focussed. I have never had this type of plan, my progress has always been a bit random, happy to have people around me who know stuff, so I don’t need to, happy to take on new adventures which is why I have had different businesses. Perhaps it is because I’m waiting to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

How about you?

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Be polite. Please. Thank you.

Recently I was shopping in Chelmsford and as I went to the door of one shop I saw that someone was coming the other way. Since my mam did a good job on me, I opened the door and held it open for them to come through, which they did, along with another couple of people. As each went past and ignored me, I did my customary thing of saying “You’re welcome” and got nothing.  My beloved has long told me that one day someone will turn on me because of this habit or another one I have. What is it? When I am in a shop and someone doesn’t say please when asking for (in my mind ‘demands’) something without saying please, I will say it for them.

This got me thinking: was it an age thing? A cultural thing? A male/female thing? Why do people seem not to say please or thank you anymore? So, I started to do some research and actively noted when I got please and/or thank you as appropriate. I also actively noted when I didn’t. The latter was easier because I had the urge to growl when I was ignored.

The results? Well from a fairly small sample (does it show that I live with a statistician?) I discovered that there was no clear correlation between those who, in my opinion, are ill-mannered and those who weren’t, based on any of the categories given above. Some were polite and some not. The other thing I realised was that I judged them based on this behaviour. Now what if that was someone I met in business? The same judgement would be made, and I don’t develop relationships with impolite people. Now It might be that I am just old and judgemental. That is, of course, a possibility. Would you, as a businessperson, want to take that chance? It might be that I know someone who would be your best connection, but I wouldn’t put you in front of them because when I make a referral my reputation is on the line. What if you are impolite to my referral? I wouldn’t take the chance, others might.

So I have a plea: can you make sure you fall into the ‘polite group’ rather than the other lot? Please. Thank you.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Where does virtual fit now?

Recently I have been reviewing my networking strategy. I do this on an ad hoc basis and, as we all come blinking into the sunlight of a post-lockdown world (Yes, I know we are all still learning with the pandemic but, for now, this is where we are. Anyway, back to the networking strategy: All my strategy has been on the basis that we can meet face to face and since this is the type of networking, I had never attended a virtual networking event. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew of any networking online. On 23rd March 2020 all this changed. My amazing team of Group Directors took all our meetings online and we carried on and learnt how to navigate this new world.

Then we were told we could once again meet face to face and slowly people felt confident enough to come back together. But virtual networking didn’t go away. As a company we went back to face to face and didn’t keep any virtual meetings. But some face to face had become virtual like us but, unlike us, they have remained largely virtual with some face to face as an add on.

Of course, as business people do , some companies saw new opportunities during covid and so some virtual networking had started during Covid and stayed. I have spoken to some of these business owners, and they see this as their future and have no plans to change or include face to face networking. This got me thinking: Where does virtual fit within my networking strategy?  It becomes part of it. I have five networking events booked into my diary for this week. Three face to face and two virtual. So virtual networking, seemingly, has become part of my strategy without me making a decision about it as part of my strategy.

In the future I see this as being usual for me. My preference has always been for face to face networking and this will not change. However virtual networking allows me to attend networking events which are further afield, and on days when time is a bit tight, I can still go networking. Of course some things stay the same:

  • remember you are representing your business, so dress appropriately, no swearing and generally act professionally
  • do you like to event, was it useful, did you like the format?
  • always follow up after the meeting. Strengthen the connections and build relationship

If you would like some help with your networking strategy, do get in touch.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Taking responsibility

Recently I have been having some problems with my bank Click here After approximately 5 weeks and having no access to my business bank account, the challenges caused by the bank, and their apparent inability to deal with the technical issues of their making, it was starting to undermine my business. I started to check my account every day and, finding I still couldn’t access my account, I’d email my ‘Relationship manager’ each day asking for an update. Finally, I was told “it might take a few more days”, which was well outside the 72 hours I had been promised. I went into my local branch—which was naughty of me because my ‘Relationship manager’ made it clear that he had to manage any interaction with the bank.

At the local branch I once again told a member of staff my woes…and guess what, she said “We will deal with this”. Hurrah! Someone who was prepared to take responsibility for dealing with the problem they had caused. I became a customer and not an inconvenience and it was great. I had to go to a meeting, and I was asked if I could call in on my way back and, of course I said yes. Two hours late I returned, I was sat in front of the computer, a magic wand was waved and I again had a fully functioning online bank account. All it took was for someone who saw me as a customer, who accepted they had caused the problem, and who wanted to help. All it took was someone to take responsibility.

I have always said that you judge any business, not by what they do when things are going well but what do they do when it goes wrong. In this instance 8 people failed to take responsibility and there was no access to senior management. Also, customer-facing staff were unaware of known technical problems.

This made me think, what happens in my business? I have no staff—all my Group Directors have their own businesses and work with me not for me. So, I make the decisions. However sometimes I have holidays, so what happens then? Well, there are very rare occasions when something that needs dealing with immediately and cannot wait till I get back. On these occasions GDs may chat to other GDs, and a decision is made, a solution found and I always support that decision. Then I look at the problem and see what needs to be reviewed to ensure that problem doesn’t happen again.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys