Recently I had to ring a small company with a couple of queries. The lovely woman I spoke to (let’s call her Lucy, because that’s her name), helped and resolved my first query. I then said I had another query, which might be another department and Lucy chuckled. She said “I am that department too”. Then she summed up, in one sentence, the challenge that faces many small businesses, she said “In fact, really, I am all the departments”.
I can remember when I started my first business. The shock of realising that I was responsible for everything: marketing, toilet paper, doing work that had been secured, accounts (particularly getting money in) and paying staff and bills, plus contracts and HR. The list went on and I had been used to have departments for each thing, in my lovely corporate office looking over London. I had my private parking space and if I needed anything then the relevant department did whatever it was and actually, I was often even separated from asking, since my secretary managed my office.
I can remember the first few months of self-employment, as I got used to doing it all and always feeling I was missing something (often I was right!). I was sometimes overwhelmed by, as some people say, having many hats to wear.
As my business grew, five things happened:
I developed and fine-tuned systems and processes so they, and I, became more efficient.
The business grew.
I discovered networking and met other small business owners.
Some of these small business owners took on some of the non-work requirements, so my list reduced to looking after customers and adding new ones.
My business really grew!
Lucy made me remember how I had got to where I am and how learning I didn’t have to be all departments had helped me to focus on what I was really good at and which I loved doing. I stopped feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis and started to enjoy being a business owner with the responsibilities that involves.
If you are feeling that you are tired of saying “I am that department” in your business, then let me help you with your networking, here’s 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 business contact who I have known for a few years, but not really well. I knew that I liked him and, if you had asked me why, I would have said things like “Well, he is always pleasant and he has a great sense of humour—he makes me laugh”. Over the last few months, for various reasons, I have met up with him more than I had and each time I have come away feeling upbeat. In networking that is not always the case!
A couple of weeks ago we arranged a 1-2-1 and before we started talking business, we had the “How are you doing?” conversation. Often this can be quite superficial. Business people put on their business faces and they talk about the good things that are happening. Occasionally, and usually after a long-term relationship with someone, with some people the business face can be ignored and they talk about real problems that they are dealing with and real, current challenges they are facing.
This is one of the benefits of networking that rarely gets talked about, the business relationships that become so secure and the people so confident in each other that they know that they will not be judged, they will be supported, and they can be confident that the issues shared will not make it on to the 10 o’clock news. In business it can seem at times as if you are alone, and are not sure where you can go for support, or if you should just keep it all to yourself.
When I met this contact, who I did not know well, I was sort of expecting a low-key and slightly superficial kind of ‘business-focussed’ chat. But this was not what happened. When I asked how he was he said, “I am dealing with some real problems, and I don’t know where to turn”. Over the next hour he poured out all the issues, side issues, what he’s done, what he’s thought of doing, what had helped and what had not. Then we worked together to work out some possible solutions, we identified some people who might be able to offer some practical help and we arranged a date when we would meet and catch up again.
This time it was him with the challenges the next time it could be me who needs someone to help. If you need help and you think it might help to talk, then get in touch. If you would like some help with your networking here’s 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 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.
We talk about various aspects of our networking, membership (or not), virtual or face to face (All virtual for now, and always will be for the afternoon meetings). However, at some point some ask the following question, ”…and how many people attend?”
To be honest this is where I lose some interest in the conversation. Why? because I have always worked on the ‘quality not quantity’ principle when it comes to networking. Some people seem to think that the more people there are, the better any event is. Not true in my experience. I was once invited to an event in London and I was told afterwards that there had been over 600 people at the networking event. It was horrendous: so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think, and people were so packed in that, being short, the taller people took away my air and light. After about 15 minutes I gave up, I left the room and wandered around the hotel till I found a small bar, and guess what? There I met other people who had ducked out of the main event.
I had a great time. I met some people I knew, they introduced me to some people I didn’t know, and I reciprocated. In the end there were about 5 small groups of people getting to know each other, either with initial meetings or building deeper relationships with people we already knew. Fantastic networking. We exchanged cards and kept in touch and from that small number of people I have grown my contact base and the relationships have been mutually beneficial. That’s what networking about: quality not quantity.
If you would like some more ideas to make your networking work, go to: www.ebn.uk.com and download my top 20 tips.
Recently I was talking to a new contact. We had met at a networking event, connected on LinkedIn and he suggested we have a 1-2-1. Lovely, that’s how you build business relationships.
When we started to talk he said that he hardly did any networking because his company was so big that businesspeople he met owned businesses that were too small to pass work to him. I was a bit surprised since he seemed to have misunderstood what networking is all about.
If you read my blog – What is networking all about? ( https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=169 ) I talk about the advice, information and support that you get from networking. One thing I didn’t mention was the business that happens when you network and this is the part that my new contact seemed not to understand. The amount of business you and I can do may be limited, unless you are a purveyor of fruit scones when I may be a very regular customer. If, however, you are a mortgage advisor I either need a mortgage or I don’t and, if I do, it could be a while before I need one again. However, I may know people who need a mortgage and these are the people you want to be introduced to. You know me and through me you potentially know my contacts.
So, what about my contacts. Well,
I am not a man, but I know men,
I am not young (Honestly, hard to believe isn’t it?) but I know young people,
I am not a tall person, but I know tall people,
I am not the owner of a large company, but I know people who own large companies, and
I am not a millionaire (yet) but I know a few millionaires.
So my new contact is missing this point. If we build a strong relationship then you may meet my contacts and you don’t know who I know.