Category: Networking

Being hit with a two-by-four

As I write this it is four months since England when into lockdown. On that day two things happened to me:

  1. On paper, my business stopped. ebn is a business networking company, we meet face-to-face, over breakfast. For a few weeks before lockdown things had been decidedly different: members not sure what would happen with their business, what they needed to do, would they survive and how could they protect and support their staff. Then on 23rd there was some clarity, at least for me. On a business level I couldn’t continue my existing business model. It justwasn’t an option, that was very clear.
  2. I was told, very emphatically, that I was classed as vulnerable and must not go out of the house for any reason other than my regular fourweekly hospital appointments.

Maybe if one of these issues had happened in isolation I might have coped better, as it was I felt like the twobyfour had been applied. (Not that I know what it actually feels like to be hit with a twobyfour, but I have an active imagination!)

So, what happened? My network immediately kicked in; my fabulous team of Group Directors, all business owners themselves, took their groups online and this gave me some space to get to grips with all aspects of ‘being vulnerable’, from the psychological impact of that, to the practical.

My beloved, who is high risk, decided, to keep me as safe as he could by also not going out. We, therefore, had to work out how could we get things like food, medicines, and other frivolities.  The next-door neighbour became our short-term lifeline and then three people from my business network volunteered to shop for me. (Any of you who are thinking: what about home deliveries?” are delusional. I never managed to get the golden ticket, or as some people called it, a delivery slot.)

Since 23rd of March four things have happened:

  • ebn has grown as people came to virtual meetings as visitors, got help, advice, and support from my wonderful members. Business people have come together and supported each other. It has not just been about how they are coping but how their businesses are doing.
  • I have realised that, if nothing is normal then, for my business everything is possible. So, I am reviewing my business model. This includes how and where we open groups and when and how we develop additional products, which would be available to members and non-members
  • I have realised that ‘vulnerable’ is a label that others apply to me
  • My long-held belief has been proven; networking works.

Since networking is about building relationships, please accept my gift of Top 20 networking tips by following this link: and complete the form to download your copy.

Networking should be scary

Last week I made my first virtual presentation. I am really used to giving presentations and I see nerves as part of the process. It’s the body’s physical reaction (fight or flight) and chemical reaction (the release of stress hormones, particularly adrenaline and cortisol) to new activities, which I accept. So, scary is good, because it keeps us alert and proves we’re still alive!

Once the thunderous applause had died down, I’d been showered with virtual flowers and virtually paraded, shoulder high, round the town, there was a Q and A session. I was asked what my top three tips for nervous networkers were. Now that’s a whole different presentation, so I gave a quick list, but realised this was something that I could share on a blog.

For the purposes of this blog I am going to assume you have prepared for your networking meeting before you walk through the door or turn on your computer. (You can download networking tips here)

Tip number 1:

Accept that networking can be nerve–racking. Remember others may be just as nervous, so accept that nerves are part of the process. Most people are nervous when they are new to any activity and for some people each networking event is as nerves-inducing as the last.

Accept this and accept that you are amongst friends, even if you don’t know them yet. No one wants you to fail.

Tip number 2

Keep it brief. One thing that will turn friends into less happy friends is if you pin them verbally against a wall and spew your entire product range at them. Practise introducing yourself before the event. I would suggest:

  • Your name (see my blog for reasons why you should wear a namebadge, or in the virtual world, put your name and company name on the screen)
  • Your company name
  • Then ask ‘What do you do? ‘

Then shut up and let them talk!

Tip number 3

Get a business card if it’s a face-to-face meeting. If you are networking virtually copy the chat feed and/or jot down their name and business name. Then, after the meeting, connect with them by email, social media or LinkedIn. Ask how you can help them. Would they like a 1-2-1? Would they like some more information? Obtain feedback on how you did. Remember, this is about building relationships and not selling.

So, three tips for people new to networking, which might also be helpful to people who are already networking and who might want to review how they are doing.

Feedback on this, or any of my blogs is always welcome.

If you want more handy tips on networking download my top 20 tips, and you may want to read some of my blog posts.

How do I choose which networking to attend?

Recently, I was talking to a new member about other networking that was available. He was surprised that I would recommend other networking events, so I explained my theory for a robust networking strategy.

He asked, “How do I know if they are right for me?”

I work on a questioning process:

Do the times of the event work for you?

Do you do work or hope to do work in the area the event is held?

The next part of the assessment happens when you attend the event: How do you feel? I’m a great believer in gut reaction; I think that this reaction is based on our brain drawing from previous experience and comparing it with the current situation. The fact that this process is made in nanoseconds makes people doubt it. My advice? Don’t ignore your gut.

Now you have attended an event and your gut is happy, time for your brain to take over. Consider if you like the format; some people like structure, some don’t. But if you are attending a variety of events, you will experience different structures. Your next thing to think about: are there people in attendance from businesses which have synergy with your business? Talk to them. Then are there people you like the look of? This is not a dating event, but when I attend an event I am attracted to people who are dressed professionally and look interested in being there. I think they are people I would find it easier to work with and get work for.

If you don’t like an event, ask yourself why. Use your brain to analyse why you didn’t like it. If it was the people, don’t attend for a few months and then try again; you’ll almost certainly find new people attending. If there is a committee that leads the event, it might have changed – the organiser may have moved on. Don’t just give up after one attendance. If you don’t like the format, work out how you can make the most of your time there, within the format.

And remember to have fun.

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5 steps to reputation marketing success

The ebn network is full of people who know their ‘stuff’.  To add value, I’m asking a few willing victims volunteers to share some of their wisdom.  The first – er – volunteer is Lesley Morrissey of Inside News.  Asking her was a no-brainer – she’s a writer, so writing a blog was like falling off a (b)log – and she’s given me tons of useful advice about her area of expertise.  Read and enjoy!  Glenys

Over the years many of my clients have come to me for a specific job – like writing a website or managing their Twitter account – but, when asked, they can’t tell me who I’m writing for.

I get on my soapbox about knowing your ideal client – a lot – so here are my 5 steps that I think EVERY business owner should work through and revisit regularly.

  1. Who do you want as clients/customers?

This needs to be as specific as possible.  So it’s no good saying ‘accountants’, because there are big, multi-practice accountants, smaller practices with a handful of staff, specialists in taxation, one-man (or woman) bands who work from home – and that’s just a few.  Which one is your perfect client – because they’re all different, with different issues, worries, problems and needs?

  • Why you?

What have you got to offer that’s different or better than your competitors?  What makes you unique?  What issues can you resolve for your ideal client?  What do your current clients rave about?  Don’t guess – ask them.  What are the measurable benefits of what you do?

  • Where are your prospects hanging out?

A blanket approach to marketing probably isn’t going to work, so you need to think about where your target market are active.  Are they on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube?  What groups do they contribute to?  What publications do they read?  Which networking groups do they attend?

  • Develop your strategy

Get your brand and identity sorted.  That means your logo, strapline, font styles, colour references, headshot, banners, etc.  If you don’t have a brand guide – you should – and make sure everyone in your organisation uses it properly.

What activities will you engage in to establish a top flight reputation in your industry?  Blogging, social media (which ones?), List building, lead magnets, newsletters, email campaigns, direct mail, advertising, networking (where), etc.?

  • Means, manpower and measurement

Who does what, how often, where and how?  How will you check progress?  What are your measurement parameters?  How much time needs to be invested – daily, weekly, monthly?  Who is responsible for managing the project?  Who else will be involved?  How often will you review and revise the plan?

This is the basic steps of a good reputation marketing plan – and the first three steps are important not only for marketing but will make a positive impact on the whole business plan. 

Lesley Morrissey is a copywriter, consultant, and reputation marketing expert.  Raid her Treasure Chest at

How to make online networking work

Well, aren’t we living in interesting times? People keep talking about the new normal: have we reached it, is this just a different normal, will our old normal return? It’s disquieting and perhaps even a little exciting. Nothing is as it was and many of us are having to rethink our businesses.

My business is networking, this was always a massive part of my marketing plan whatever business I have owned and now it is the thing I do.

I have always had a networking strategy, part of the larger marketing strategy: a set of rules, things to do, how to do things and when. Networking has always involved face-to-face meetings, often including a coffee and a sticky bun, and now this method is on hold. If you want to see that strategy go to:

Rather than look at what I used to do I sat down and looked at the new rules, how do we adapt to this different world of networking?

These are my takes on the original rules – and what today’s version is:

  1. Wear a name badge so people don’t have to try and remember these details rather than concentrating on what you are saying.  Now: Put your name on the screen, and your business name, if space is available (TIP: if you have a pop up banner, place it behind you.)
  2. Turn up on time, That hasn’t changed…and you can’t blame traffic!
  3. Arrange 1-2-1s,  The only difference is you each provide your own drink and sticky bun.
  4. Show respect to the meeting…don’t mess around! No dogs on desks, don’t keep changing your background, don’t take telephone calls (and if you have to, then mute yourself) This is still a business meeting.
  5. Dress appropriately…even if it’s only from the waist up.
  6. Agree to use of your business details.  Instead of exchanging business cards, connect on Linkedin (although you should do that anyway).
  7. Allow others to talk.  If you can’t resist, mute yourself.

One thing that will never change is the need to work together to grow all our businesses. More information about mine is at: and it include networking tips to sign up for Let me know if I can help you or your business in any way.

Virtually surround yourself with positive people.

These are challenging times for everyone, whether you own a business, work for someone, are self-isolating or because you are worrying about you, yours, or your community. The COVID-19 virus  is undermining our society at a very basic level, and there are many of us who face a very real risk.

One of my rules for life is to surround myself with positive people. I find they help me with the various challenges, be they personal or with my business. My initial thought when the ban of meetings was announced was “Aaarrrgghh!” My business is all based on face-to-face meetings and it won’t come as any surprise when I say that I fundamentally believe in meeting people face-to-face.

However, I was amazed at the positive reaction I received from members when we made all our meetings virtual.  This is a temporary measure, and we will return to the old format when all this malarkey is over, but for now we meet using Zoom (other systems are available) each sat in our homes and offices. Looking smart—at least from the waist up—and sharing support, knowledge and information. In fact, all the things that we gain at our usual meetings. But this way we stay safe and well and in touch with other businesses. Since we work under the Chatham House rule (what is said at a meeting can be told to others, but not who said it) and those people who are still choosing to visit can talk about their concerns. At the meetings I have attended in the past week people have also, I have noticed, shared personal concerns as well as business concerns.

I have also noticed that some, after the initial aaarrggghh moment, day or few days, have started to look at other options for doing what they already do, or at how they might do things completely differently, and some have already given up. Now, before anyone takes offence at that last sentence let me say that I know that some businesses will not survive. However, my belief is that if you try, desperately sometimes, to find the positive, however small that is, that helps. It also helps if the people around me are looking for the small positive too. It also means that when we each reach that aarrgghh moment again the positive people around are supportive and helpful and when it is their turn I can reciprocate.

I hope you and yours are safe and well. If I can help in any way let me know how and, if you want more information, or some more networking tips, have a look at my website:

Selling through the room

I was talking to a contact recently and used the phrase “Selling through the room”  They said they did not know what this meant. I realised that, in any industry, we use jargon that we assume others understand, and I had just fallen into that trap.

I have a belief that responsibility for successful communication is with the person doing the communicating.  I had used “selling…” phrase before and have assumed that the person I was talking to understood the jargon. So, in the past week, I have reviewed all my presentations on networking, my blogs, my postings and the notes I use when having a 1-2-1.  I have made a commitment to taking jargon out of my communication, or at least not assuming everyone understands the jargon being used.

Someone happy to ask the question “What does that mean?” has really helped me to improve my communication.

And, by the way, the phrase “Selling through the room” means doing business with the contacts of people you meet, not necessarily the contact themselves.

How do you deal with jargon?

More networking tips on:

Three stages of networking

I do a lot of networking and I treat each event as a business meeting, and I always prepare for business meetings.  At each event there is the possibility that I will meet the best contact I have ever met, and that’s what excites me about networking.

Here are three stages I use:

The first stage is prior to the event: when I accept an invitation to an event, I book some extra time after the event into my diary, so I don’t have to rush off. If there is s delegates list I look through and see if there is anyone I would like to take more time to talk to and I will contact them and ask if they would like a 1-2-1 after the event.

If there isn’t anyone who I want a 1-2-1 with at that time, then I can just spend more time with people at the event.

Stage two is at the meeting. I use my 3/3/3 rule (See

After the meeting I move into stage three, I continue to develop the relationships with people I have met at the event. First, I email everyone who’s card I have and thank them for their time, ask did they find the event productive, send them any information I have agreed to send them, sometimes this is information about one of our Groups, sometimes information about the ad-hoc networking events we arrange that are not part of our core business.  (I always ask someone when they give me their card if they are OK with me sending them information) Occasionally I will suggest a 1-2-1.

Whatever the email says I always make contact after any event, and yes it takes time, but since the point of networking is starting and developing relationships, it seems obvious to me that this is part of successful networking.

What do you think?

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The more the merrier?

My business is business networking, we have Groups who meet every two weeks and there is membership. We also have a maximum number in Groups of 25 and our Groups start small and grow organically to that number. When people contact me about visiting a Group one of the questions I am often asked is “How many are in the Group?” To me this is based on the idea that the more people you have in a room the more chances there are of getting business. That has never been my experience.

I have been to networking events of over 600 people and a) You could not hear yourself think b) It was all sell, sell, sell and c) I did some great networking with the small group of people who sought peace in the bar.

My Groups are small, start small and remain under 25, and we do have a waiting list so I could choose to get more into some of our Groups. Why this decision? When I network I want to meet people who are there to build relationship, share knowledge, give support and then, when there is a strong mutual trust, refer people. The important part of this is building relationships, and I think this is best done, at any one time, with a small number of people.

As a business owner, it could be argued, that I should want to get really large Groups and make the most money. I disagree. I want my members to get the most from the business networking they do in their Groups and from the membership they pay. Within any one of my Groups there is a ‘Feel’ almost impossible to pin down but based on a mutual support of each other and on the strong relationships that have been developed. So, what I want for the members in my Groups are not just numbers of people there but of people who understand that building relationships is the most important thing about business networking. This is not a numbers game.

What do you think?

Have fun.

More info or networking tips?

Why bother with business cards?

I recently met someone at a business networking event who said “I don’t have any business cards, because I think they are a waste of money” he went on to explain that people tended to remember him and, if they wanted to know anything about his business, they would find him if they searched online. I was amazed. My business is business networking and so that’s what I do. In a working week I can meet perhaps a couple of hundred people and whilst each person I meet is memorable in some way, I’m human so  people I haven’t met before can be forgotten or I can misremember the name of their company. When making contact with them after the event it is the business card that is vital Why? Because I look at their business online, look them up on Linkedin and connect*, and then make appropriate contact by email. Appropriate? Some people may have asked to attend one of my meetings, others have asked to be invited to our corporate events, and some I have already met, and we are along the road of building a strong working relationship.

Anyway, back to the business cards. I know that these days people have various ways of collecting information electronically from the business cards of people they meet. That is great, but there needs to be a business card to collect the information from. So my advice to people who don’t have business cards, or people who just have a telephone number on theirs? Accept that we are all fabulous and all forgettable and help others help you and your business by having a business card, it won’t be a waste of money. Honest.


*Recently told about ‘Find nearby’ on Linkedin If you, and the person you are talking to, both have the Linkedin app on your phones: both open them, tap the My Network tab. Tap Find nearby at the top of the screen. Genius!

More info or networking tips?