Recently I’ve been having some challenges at home because my beloved has been in hospital, it seems forever, following a heart attack. (As I type this, and after nine weeks, he is home now. Yay!) Now, you may be wondering “Why is she telling me this?” Well I think it is fair to say that my patience, which I have never had in abundance, has been even more lacking of late. I have a very familiar follow-up process when I network. I spend time afterwards getting in touch with the marvellous people I have met the previous week and adding their info to my database.
Most of the time this is a nice, relaxed process—a lovely cappuccino or two, maybe a familiar TV programme on in the background as I input to a spreadsheet. (Love a spreadsheet.) Anyway, in the last few weeks some cards have not made it onto the spreadsheet. (You might be thinking “Why does that matter?” Well I meet literally hundreds of people in any given month and not being on my spreadsheet means if someone says “Do you know a widget-maker in Scunthorpe”, or whatever, wherever) I won’t find the widget maker from Scunthorpe that I met ten years ago. It often happens that I have to look at a website to find out what someone I have met does, and, it has to be said, sometimes I still don’t know because their website is full of “management speak” but that is a whole other rant, so back to the current one.
Some of the reasons they do not make it to my spreadsheet?
In no particular order, (although if they are nearer the top than the bottom this is probably because they irritate me more). They have:
a sparkly card, usually with a sparkly, but different sparkly lettering. I like sparkly, but not when it makes the information illegible
very little information on the card (I refer you back to website comment)
cards which have no name and/or info/sales/enquiries@Idon’twantyoutogetintouchwithmepersonallyreally.com
tiny, tiny, tiny writing on the card.
My rule is if I have to get out a magnifying glass to try and read your card then it probably won’t make it onto the spreadsheet. OK, now all the above might just be me, however when we pay good money to have business cards designed and printed, we probably want people to keep in touch and for people we have met to be left with a good impression about my business. If the magnifying comes into use, then these goals have probably been missed.
Don’t have a process for your networking? Want some help with your networking? 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.
Recently I was on holiday and started talking to an American woman about what she did. She was a registered nurse who had a doctorate in medical administration. Her special area of interest was preventing heart disease. As part of her work she gives talks to various groups of people. Being who I am, I asked her if she wanted to make this some sort of business to (and remember I was talking to an American) monetise it all. (Apologies but I could not bring myself to spell monetise with a z!) She said she would love to offer products and information etc. online but didn’t know where to start. We went on to chat about other things and didn’t get back to business mode again.
The next day while eating lunch I realised I knew how to do what she needed to do, because I had done it for my (and staying in American jargon) “side hustle”—helping people lose weight by devising their plan to balance and manage their weight loss. (If you are interested here’s the link: www.glenyschattertley.uk.com). What we did was have a breakfast talking business, which felt like being home, if we had meetings that looked out over the Indian Ocean! I quickly outlined what her online “funnel” might look like (I had to explain this to her) based on what I had on my website. We also spent some time looking at marketing. I also remembered how panicky I felt when the mighty Lesley Morrissey (https://www.insidenews.co.uk) started me on the journey of online selling and also, of course, social media.
Lesley reduced my panic by not only providing her expertise but also support (think hand-holding) as we got this project off the ground. During my conversation with my new contact I could hear myself echoing some of the things Lesley had said: “You can choose how and when you do something”, “this is your business and these are my suggestions”, “You can stop at any point” etc.
During my slightly surreal breakfast meeting I amazed myself at what I knew, however I know that I am not an expert and I believe we should always use experts and not think we know everything, so I referred her to Lesley’s page and suggested she sign up. I also reminded her that she could choose not to do anything, or choose not to anything just yet. As a potential small business. That is her right.
Now, I am back home and back into my usual networking, which I do know something about. In case you need some help with your networking. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently I was talking to one of my contacts about what we wear when we are networking and let’s just say we have different styles!
I know that during lockdown some people changed their style…although I would never find that “I just got out of bed” look…or, even worse, the “I’m actually in bed just lying on top of the covers” look. I need to dress for work, and by dress, I mean make-up on, hair brushed and appropriate clothes on. In order to have full disclosure. when networking virtually I’m probably not wearing shoes, but apart from that I’m dressed as I would be if I were networking face to face. I’m representing my company and, because I want to build relationships with like-minded people, I dress smartly and by smartly, I mean business-smart. Smart casual is saved for the weekend.
The person I was discussing this with was dressed smart casual. I asked him whether he would change what he wore if he was meeting with a potential customer, a customer who would be the absolute best cherry on the cake. He said no, this is how he dressed for work. Since we know each other well I asked him “Is it me getting it wrong? Am I just a different generation? Am I old school?
He thought for a moment the he said basically “Maybe, yes and yes” That got me thinking. Do I need to rethink how I dress? One of my concerns is that if I move my style of dress for work more towards the smart casual, does that become the new norm and might it slowly move towards the casual? I believe that if I want to attract business people to me (particularly those I want to emulate) I should dress in a similar style. So my question is: Is it me? Am I just “Old school”… and is that a bad thing? For now I’m going to continue dressing as I have always dressed for work, where I feel comfortable which is not wearing “comfortable” clothes.
Whatever you are wearing as you read this, 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.
Well that’s it, 2021 done, cards being recycled and now looking forward to 2022.
For some, the year will come as a bit of a surprise when it comes to marketing. For others, the marketing plan is simply being continued and for others, myself included, a new year is the time I implement any new plans. Throughout any year my marketing strategy is tweaked, and during the past two years tweaking has been a process of “Flippin heck what am I going to do now?”, discussion with smarter people than me, then rapid implementation. This year may still involve some of that process: I have control of lots of things but not the challenges the world throws at me! What I can control is my response to these unexpected challenges.
So I have a strong marketing plan, and I accept that some may have better, stronger, more dynamic marketing plans than mine. That’s OK, I am a business owner and can choose what I do, how I do it and when I do it. Last September I started to seriously look at what my marketing would include in 2022 and how I would adapt if government guidelines changed. So, plan A if face-to-face meetings are allowed, and Plan B if they are not allowed. Underpinning this is marketing as usual. What has worked, what hasn’t, what needs to be changed, what needs to be increased and what needs to be ditched. Some of this decision-making is based on what I want to do and how I want to develop my business.
In 2020 I added some afternoon online networking which was always going to be online, and available free to members and available to non-members for a small fee. I really worked hard at these, honest. Then I realised that a) most of my members are breakfast people. b) this was a lot of effort for little return and, most importantly, c) this was not my core business, so I stopped. Now this may not be for ever but it is for now.
Now, 2022 will be a time for new adventures: some will succeed, some will fail and, at the moment I don’t know which one is which…isn’t that exciting?!
Want some help with your networking? 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.
At the beginning of the year I was talking to a business contact about why his networking seemed to have stopped being so effective. He thought it was because people felt they couldn’t spend money because we are living in uncertain times or, he said, it might be because he was not meeting people face-to-face. So we started to talk in more depth because, he said, things were really not going well and they had been going very well.
The first question I asked was, had anything changed with his marketing? Well, of course, we were no longer allowed to meet face-to-face, but I know many people who had flourished despite having to use virtual meetings. So, not being able to meet face-to-face couldn’t be the problem, or at least not all of the problem. I also know many companies who have managed to maintain, and even grow, their business throughout the difficult times we have been living through. So, there is money out there that people want, or need, to spend.
Then he said “I really don’t like networking at virtual meetings”. (I’ve paraphrased a long monologue that he needed to get off his chest about what he really didn’t like about virtual meetings). Some of the things he mentioned are covered in my blog “Would you do that if we were meeting face to face?”
The main thing that came out was that he was networking less, so he was not meeting new contacts, and he was not nurturing those contacts he had made before March 2020. So we made a plan (I love a plan). We looked at what had happened to those networking events he used to attend and, for those which had started meeting virtually, we developed a diary of events he could attend. We also looked at what events were now available virtually and added them to his diary. He decided he would start by attending two or three a week. Finally, he decided to set aside half an hour a day for getting in touch with people he had lost touch with, to renew and develop the contacts he had worked hard to nurture. He actually made a promise to himself to do all this because, as he said ”I never break a promise.”
Every couple of weeks we would have a quick catch-up telephone chat, and guess what? Money is coming in! The reason it worked? Because you have to work at networking and keep working at it, otherwise it doesn’t work.
If you want more networking tips go to: Top 20 networking tips or get in touch if you would like me to work with you to improve your networking.
Recently I was talking to a business contact about someone we both knew. He said “Oh I’d never refer him to my contacts, he’s always late and disorganised” I was surprised since I also thought the same thing. I was interested to work out why we had come to the same conclusion but we both didn’t really know why.
We discussed it further and realised that it was based on two things:
1 Arriving late at meetings, even virtual ones!
Now, neither of us had actively thought about this individually, but both of us thought he was always late, without being able to say when he had been late, how late and how often. We just both thought he was always late, and we wouldn’t make any introductions because we assumed he’d turn up late to any meeting.
2 Not prepared.
Again, we realised that we hadn’t made a decision about this, we just thought he was ill-prepared. My contact said he never came to a meeting and seemed to have thought about the meeting. In addition, my contact had once seen him give a presentation at an event and he didn’t seem to know what was coming next…and it was his presentation! Oh, and he had turned up late!
So why is any of this important?
We need to know that we all make judgements: “Wouldn’t have put those shoes with that dress” at a base level to “Wouldn’t refer him/her to my best client” at a much more important level. The problem is that some judgements we know we are making, even if we try not to. Some judgements we make subliminally and those are the ones that are much more difficult to deal with.
The important thing is to know that subliminally we are all being judged, and so perhaps we need to behave as if we are trying to make a first impression.
Recently I was talking to a business contact who said she was too busy at the moment to network. It is great that her business is thriving, but I think she is wrong about thinking the right time to network is when she is not busy.
Why? Because networking takes time. It’s a slow burn and people need to get to know you before they will be prepared to trust their reputation by referring you to their contacts. If you don’t network there may be a steep downturn between busy and no work at all. You need to maintain relationships, or even start to build relationships. I know this balancing of actual work against possible work is difficult, but remember: networking can be done by email, via social media, telephone calls, virtual meetings or 1-2-1s. Networking is about starting conversations, starting to build relationships. If the past months have taught us anything, it is that face-to-face is fantastic. I can’t wait to get back to those meetings, but there are other ways that allow networking.
Also, when you network skills are learnt, maintained and improved by practice, so if you stop networking, because you’re too busy, your skills can become rusty. In addition, maintaining your networking means that you stay on people’s radar. If you stop networking people will forget you, however fabulous you are, or think you’ve gone out of business, particularly given the challenging times we have all had since March 2020.
One of the things I have noticed in this last year+ is the number of new people who are networking, either because they decided to start a business in a very difficult year or because they have started to network because they feel more confident being in their office than in a room full of people. (If this is you, make face-to-face networking easy by reading my blog “The 3-3-3 rule” https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=34 )
Why is this relevant to your decision to network or not? Because if you don’t network you will miss the opportunity to meet all these new people and that’s a fabulous opportunity missed in my opinion, because you don’t know who they know.
So—don’t leave networking for when you aren’t busy. Add some networking to your diary every day, even if it’s just a phone call as you drink your morning coffee. Find a way to maintain your presence, contacts, and relationships. Networking works, I know. I now do it for a living.