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no giving up

When did you last give up?

The last time I felt like just walking away, leaving, giving up wasn’t the last at all.  I wouldn’t be human (ok, for clarification on this point, speak with Mrs K.,) I would not be human if I felt that my job, my efforts of encouragement at times fell on deaf ears as the recipient of my attentions paid more eye contact to the infernal device or the to-do list than to what I was contributing to the current crisis.

I get it. We all feel ‘defeated’ at times. There’s a lot distraction ‘out there’ today, and so it’s normal to feel ignored, not heard amongst the cacophony.

Blank expressions do happen, people do miss those predetermined goals we’ve settled on because other stuff gets in the way and so when that realisation of being second choice hits home, our response to this can often be negative … ‘whatever, that’s me, I’m done, had enough’… it’s that assumption when we feel that ‘it’ (whatever that ‘it’ is) simply doesn’t appear to be working’ and we just want to call it quits, throw in the towel, be done with ‘it,’ finito … 

In extraordinary times, what do passionate people do? We certainly don’t give in to market forces, we don’t give up.

We connect with those closest to us, we continue with our own stuff and we move on. Having slept, we find that miraculously, ‘the house’ is back in order with a solution. Some kind of solution is found and pick up the pieces. 

That’s just the way of us humans. Agreed?

We step back, accept our failings, we raise the flag of surrender (for today!) and move on. We talk, we mull and proceed with the next one, other stuff. 

So, what do we gain from the repetition of having lost?

What do we need to remind ourselves of if we’re not doing so already?

Where is the payoff for getting up again and going again and keeping at it? It’s tough times just now, I get it.

We understand the challenges of ‘just now,’ so knowingly we put those disappointments down to experience, put them behind us, we think again and start over. 

Experience is the lesson from loss. Experience is the reward for any failure.

P.S. Let me know how you contend with disappointments in business, I’d be very happy to hear from you!

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Right time, right place.


Johannes (Hans) is a friend of mine. I’ve known him my entire career.

We’d met during his reign as a celebrated owner of the local patisserie, Hans had one and all visiting for a weekend treat, or brunch stop.

That was in my old home town of Sydney, Hans lived there for around 18 years before meeting a young lady from Chicago, someone who he knew was Mrs Right!

So it was that off to the USA went Hans, there to meet the father of Susan, to do the ‘right thing,’ asking for her hand in marriage.

At the time, Susan’s family were in charge of Chicago’s eminently successful law practice, so when Hans turned up, seeking to ‘join the family,’ questions were asked:

I mean, after all, who was this oddball anyway?  How does a pastry-cook fit into the family business, the circle?”

I know what you are thinking, I could definitely see benefits!

Susan and Hans persisted and family saw reason, Sue and Hans began to make plans to marry. Although … business came first as prospective father-in-law wished to introduce Hans to one or two in his ‘network.’ 

“Let’s see if we can get you into management,” he says.

So comes the day, Hans was introduced to the local fraternity, it was a regular ‘thing’ and while Hans was not averse to meeting a diverse range of people, this new regime was going to take some getting used to. After all, he was from the catering trade and just now, looking for a job!

After a few months getting to know his new connections, patiently mixing in ‘certain circles,’ he met someone from a distinctly similar background.

‘Hi, I’m in the catering industry and looking to bolster the local sales team. Are you interested?’

It wasn’t long before Hans found himself with a job, the firm he had joined producing stainless cookware and his role found him responsible for developing more local sales.

The story goes that Hans is some twelve months into the new job and finding it tough going until he attended yet another trade fair where he met a buyer for a particular fast-food chain. The buyer was interested in what Hans had to offer and so they set up an appointment which led to the provision of cookware and kitchen utensils for their particular local market. 

From the local market, the client expanded, asking Hans and his firm to provide for the entire North Americas, soon after came the European marketplace and ultimately Hans was providing for the client’s entire global outlets.

Hans, (Global Sales Director by now) and his team began to prosper for over the next 20 years, as preferred supplier, they were to provide stainless steel products for McDonalds restaurants.

Luck? Right time, right place? I’d suggest that luck comes to everyone through determination, hard work, ‘being there’ for your contacts and a solid reputation.

Networking works, if you work at it.

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What WILL they think?

Hey, this ‘new normal’ is keeping me on my toes, how about you?

I’m managing to achieve a lot with the extra time I’ve found through not having to travel, achieving more means I’m accomplishing those tasks and schedules rarely given that much attention. Stuff like future planning, new marketing (reaching out) and keeping prospects warm through regular networking.

This ‘new normal’ has been good for me, I’ve seen past how I think people see me.

How I think people, see me?

I’ve made a few new connections recently (not all are new to business or career changers either,) those who have been unsure of their abilities, stressing about the validity of their offer or whether they qualify to deliver such a product or service.  I understand this, the feeling of “we are not worthy” comes to us all – myself included. 

It was that long ago … ok, I had a bit more hair when I met my first recession in ’91, the second downturn arrived in 2000 and of course, we faced more upheaval in 2007 etc, etc.

Now? Today?? I’ve learned to almost expect the unexpected and you know what?  Each time I’m kicked in the guts, start doubting the tools in my box, the skills I carry, I recall another lesson.

We cannot be everything to all people, but if we stick to what it is we do best and tell as many people we can about why we are so passionate about the skills we offer … then perhaps people will eventually see the value, the benefits in an alliance with you.  Once you begin to really nurture those true alliances, then your reputation begins to work for you, people begin to see you for how you make them feel.

So, how does working for the future work … when your vision says there’s nothing to work for?

Here’s how. Look past the fright of a ‘new normal’ and beyond that expectation, the ‘choke-hold’ we naturally seem to take on ourselves. Free your potential by broadening that vision!

You/I are continually working on the ‘best version of you’ (sorry) and it’s the best things, the ‘good things in life that take time’ (sorry, once again.)  Take time for the future planning, new marketing by reaching out regularly to prospects and your close community, because it really is good for business, believe me, it’s been more than 25 years of reaching out, engagement for me.

To be sure of your offer, your products?  Ask your close community, keep asking questions, offer support and you’ll be ready for the enquiries when they arrive, successful over time because you will be confident in what people think of you … or maybe it simply won’t worry you that much any more 🙂

Networking has a purpose, start when you are ready, do the business and don’t look back.

Let’s have a chat, every Wednesday 12.30 and Thursday 8 am (GMT):

https://mailchi.mp/45881c60b813/whats-happening-5144978

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having a chat …

Networking works for everyone, anytime, anywhere … and the magic is … all that is required is participation through conversation.


If you’re prepared to commit time in developing relations, reaching out by offering support and sharing ideas (or lack of ..!) along the way then, as a naturally inquisitive bunch, we’re going to create engagement, the opportunity that comes through affinity and the stronger connections. 


People love to do business with those who they know and trust.
… you may even find that networking is good for business.

So, if you understand the value of having knowledgeable, ‘giving’ people in your circle of contacts and if you are prepared to offer time during the conversation in developing stronger ties with those like-minded colleagues, we’d love to meet you for a chat at the Weeklybiz forum: 

Next Wednesday, 9th September (Thursday morning also) via ZOOM from12.30.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88499115214?pwd=NHc5T0NLaG9TQWttZ1J2RXhnOFNYUT09
Meeting ID: 884 9911 5214 Passcode: Ya1UM4

‘people buy from people’

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set up the win

So the world keeps spinning, stories are told, published, people hear and some even listen. The mainstream ‘news’ can be misleading, divisive, rabble-rousing. 

So, who do we listen to?
I find it helps to stay mindful, understanding that ‘news’ is designed to sell.

No-one wants to hear what a fantastic holiday you’ve had, although if the holiday turned out to be an extraordinary conversation with alien business angels offering pots of dosh … this may grab a few headlines. Perhaps.
Recently I’ve made a conscious effort to step away from the usual trough of misinformation to consider how lucky I’ve been for the projects keeping me busy these past months. I’m fortunate that I work with clients who need exactly what I have to offer. Stories. My clients understand I have knowledge of my given industry, trusted contacts in support of my goals, time for those small things during the conversation, the consultation and of course depth in recommendations.
I’ll continue looking to the future for inspiration while avoiding the continual mainstream dross, misinformation. I’ll maintain awareness of how fortunate I am with mental notes only on the positive as I reflect on the past several months. 
It’s now September and 2020 is approaching the final quarter.


So, bear with me …
I’ve played a bit of competitive rugby during my time, learning how to stay in front of your opponent with points on the board, staying ahead and playing for the win in the last quarter of the game … so it’s one of my routines to look at the calendar year with a sense of imminent completion once we reach September. Nearing completion, approaching the fulfilment of pre-set goals … the win.
OK, so it’s been an extraordinary year for all of us. Many people have lost loved ones and lost jobs, some have chosen to change their career. There are those who have made plans to start their own business and understandably the goals, the prize, the vision have all been clouded through uncertainty.  We all need to revise the plan.
Four months to go and we can still make a difference if only we’re mindful of preparation to this new beginning. We’re still able to finish this year on a positive note if we visualise, imagine where our efforts may take us … to what awaits.

So, who do we listen to?

Remind yourself of why you are moving in the direction you are and remember, you are creating change, the opportunity for future success, giving yourself exactly what your future seeks …  consultation with credible contacts, the opportunity to excel, new business, solid relationships and growth.
Be mindful of your actions, surround yourself with trusted people, listen to the positive you and … disregard the rest. 

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Less of the muddle

I’d collected an armful of firewood and returned to the house, just as the lifeline in my pocket ‘went off.’ I let the call ring-out.

I’d heard the reassuring confirmation of a delivered message as I despatched the wood and kicked off the boots. I was aware that I was expecting a courier delivery, ‘though just now it ‘felt’ like a time to write, I had a little to do, so I made my way to the office and settled down for an hour of notes…

Ten minutes later I began to fidget. Something seemed not right, out of place.

I was out of the chair and made my way to the bedroom for a quick scan … no, nothing here. I was alone in the house as Sue and the kids were out, so no-one would respond to any possible shout-out for assistance. I needed to do this and so carried on, next stop was the kitchen, nothing amiss here either as I filched an apple by way of some consolation. Ok, keep on moving I thought, it’s a mission now.

Entering the ‘spare room’ … ‘they must be here somewhere.’ No, then let’s try the living room … under the sofa perhaps? Always a good place to look, right? Wrong, nothing here either, not that the usually placid ‘puss-cats’ thought nothing of her unscheduled disturbance. A deft swipe from puss and I was away. Check the futon? Empty, still no joy, I continued on …

I eventually made it to the laundry and found zilch. Next stop the annexe where I had earlier kicked off my boots – and behold … firewood.

Where could they be?

I sat down upon the stairs just as Sue came through the door … “you look lost?”

‘I’ve lost my slippers … and I’m waiting for a delivery.’

Didn’t you pick up my message?  The delivery you were waiting for turned up an hour ago, just as you left, I put the parcel by your desk, beside your slippers …

The lesson of this story?

Mindfulness? Perhaps.

Nothing that any child isn’t learning as they set out to school and the big-wide world, being mindful helps us to be better people. We’re more content when we live in the moment, there’s less muddle, less stress, much less anxiety and a whole lot more clarity.

Faith? More like it.

Having faith in the tools we have(!) which we choose to employ, faith(!) in the people we know well, those we trust. That’s more like it.

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The opportunity, through trust

Yes, it’s tough ‘out there’ although if you have confidence in your business model, persistence and trust (there’s that word again!) in what you have to offer … if you know where to pitch the business, you have a reasonably ‘thick skin’ and plenty of patience, phew!, then you are half-way there!

Clarity.

We already understand that many firms have been forced to close through tough times. After all, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, there’s a recession on and to top it all, it’s August!  August to many, meaning take a holiday …

I hear you, take a holiday?   Fear not, please bear with me.

Now, according to those in the know, the entrepreneur, the start-up business for today has the best chance of being successful if they’re offering the following skills:

  • Garden design & build
  • Virtual Assistance
  • On-line education
  • Digital marketing
  • and Dropshipping!

“All very well if there’s a market for it, Charlie.”    I know, I really do hear you.

So, if you are starting out, or pivoting the business, developing the website, the marketing, organising livery, discussing an accountant, networking(!) and lots of other ‘bits and pieces’ … before you pick up those brand new, shiny tools, think about who you will serve.

We’re in business to serve our customers, right?

Here are just some of the business categories that are currently (Aug) thriving during our progression through lockdown …

  • Tech, cybersecurity
  • Grocery retail
  • Transport driver (haulage firm)
  • Cleaning  contractors
  • Warehousing
  • Gaming
  • Engineering

The market we’re looking to engage should be directly related to the solutions we offer.

So as an entrepreneur, efforts should be applied to engage, make a connection with those who are thriving and offer your services.

“What can I, as a gardens company offer an engineering firm?”

Now here is where networking may come in useful …

Your connection through LinkedIn may not result in direct business, the random images posted on Instagram may not be reaching the decision-maker. The handwritten note with your business card (remember those?) may not drop on the lap of the managing director or inspire an instant decision, although please bear in the uppermost of your mind …

Your decision to reach out, to a business that is currently enjoying growth, may, by simply receiving your details be inclined to use you in the future or indeed, pass your professional details on to another looking out for your services.

Your Networking (business) works if you work at it!

 

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The people person

Early in my career Terry and I shared a carpool.  We’d alternate weekly the responsibility for the drive across town, some forty minutes of discussion on the latest footy results, when we’d be off fishing again, perhaps a beer and most importantly what he, my trade mentor, had planned for me prior the day on the print factory floor …

Once I’d completed my ‘time’ – the four years of transition from apprenticeship to tradesman, like many before me, the opportunity for travel arose. So, I took a holiday while Terry moved into sales.

A few years passed and I returned home and just like my former mentor, I found employment in the publishing industry. In fact, I’d joined a firm who were direct competitors to the outfit Terry was working with.

It wasn’t long before we were able to meet, trade events were a huge part of the industry calendar in those times.

‘Any news Terry? The fish biting??’  I smiled as I caught him mid-mouthful of coffee …

‘Not with what you’re offering them!’ Came a spluttering, though thoroughly appropriate reply.

Needless to say, we shared smiles, spent a little while covering old ground, swapping stories and discussing mutual friends – plus a little bit of history – and the footy results!

‘So, how are you finding business, Terry?’ I asked.

… ‘Charlie, I wait for the business to find me.’

Terry was old-school sales, a people person. Never without a story and while not supremely gifted technically, he had the ability to put anyone at ease through conversation. Always with a smile, often with praise for those he met and always looking at the lesson learned if, (on the rare occasion) things didn’t quite go his way.

Terry was someone who had that rare ability to see an opportunity before it actually arose.

We (Terry) talked some more.

‘Charlie, the best piece I can give you just now is to simply believe in yourself, your strengths, believe in what you do and tell as many people about those beliefs as you can. This way, you give your audience the chance to buy-in to your story. Let the people come to you through recommendation, via the trust they have gained through association.’

I soon realised my apprenticeship hadn’t finished at all, it had simply been postponed.

Terry Flynn passed away peacefully earlier this year, no doubt still bemoaning the football (or racing) results and I’ll always remember him for the advice, the support and most importantly the time he offered me in those early days.

RIP Terry Flynn, your memory lives on.

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Digital or face to face?

The past few years have seen an astonishing rise in the investment of digital marketing, and it’s predicted to continue. According to US sources, prior COVID digital spend was estimated to reach around £115bn by 2023.

We’ll have to wait for father time to prove or dispel the above forecast activity, although even taking into account the current business climate, the ability for all to invest in self-promotion while engaging audiences over an ever-increasing stable of (trusted) platforms have become the lifeblood for many an entrepreneur. Today, digital more than matches the in-person or face to face marketing approach and in some sectors digital now leads the corporate strategy for growth.

My own business has always been heavily influenced on solid personal relationships and of course, the publishing industry has had to contend with ‘revolutionary change’ since the mid-’90s. So how do the ‘old school’ (face to face) aficionados contend or even compete in today’s world?

Today’s business world is really no different to methods of not so long ago. Success is ultimately about who you know, the relationships, the developed trust and I find face to face (even virtual face) referral networking is just right for my business.

Trust is something that has established many a great relationship, without this most important of ingredients meaningful business is rarely sustained.

An example being the UK phone tapping enquiry of 2005-7.

One of the world’s most successful media families were in charge of a popular Sunday tabloid, stories of phone tapping, celebrity witch-hunts, accusations/tales of institutional corruption and pay-offs that threatened to topple the government of the time.

The weekly gossip columns sold a lot of newspapers readers gleefully lapping up the scandal. That was until the same tabloid was accused of ‘listening in’ on the phones of victims of the London bombings, even deceased servicemen and of tragically the murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler.

What followed was a total collapse of public trust in the organisation, reviled were its masters and anyone else with affinity to the newspaper. A lengthy enquiry followed, people went to prison, reputations were ruined and the paper was closed.

Digital or face-to-face?  For me, business is personal, it’s about who (or what) I trust.

People buy from people.

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This time tomorrow

A little while ago I picked up a manuscript offered by a friend.  ‘Read it for me?’ Reg had asked.

It wasn’t a vast tome, some 120 pages of handwritten foolscap (in pencil) and I thought (as I weighed up the copy) that if the story was interesting enough, I would likely spend an afternoon deliberating the work and return it next day.

Reg and I had originally met through networking, juggling coffee, cake and a chuckle a few years back. We have a similar interest in the unfathomable – people – and so we ‘hit it off’ right away, although we hadn’t really been in touch apart from the occasional blog copy, until this day.  I happily agreed to read the hand-scrawled, grubby looking piece.

‘Sure, I’ll give it some time Reg, thank you.’

‘When can you let me know what you think, Charlie?‘  Reg sounded anxious, I sensed it important I acted quickly.

‘When would you like my opinion mate?’ I replied.

‘Asap please Charlie, it’s a story I’ve been working on these past 30 years … and I’m running out of time. You see, it’s Mary, (wife) she’s not well.

Needless to say, I was slightly taken aback and agreed to meet the same time, same place, next day.

Mary and Reg had been married for almost thirty years and during that time Reg had kept up a ‘diary’ of the highs and lows of living with another human being,  raising a family, juggling careers whilst making ends meet. It is a very personal story, with some pretty raw, emotional stuff evident, especially given the recent cancer diagnosis.

So, as promised, we met the next day for coffee and the ubiquitous sticky bun. I’d been involved with many projects of a similar type over the years, it’s my craft, memoirs are what I provide my clients. ‘Flesh on the bone’ one of my friends called it.  Episodes of life are more like it.

But I am not here to offer the selly-sell …

During the course of the next few months, I was privileged to a sometimes-humorous story of companionship, a portrayal of family life which is not that dissimilar to most others, a story that is testimony to the power of love and devotion brought about by great, long-term partnerships.

Both Mary and Reg were grateful and thanked me for helping with their story. We said our goodbye’s and as I went along my way, I thought, this is yet another lesson networking has shown me, being ‘available’ to help others is more than ‘simply business.’

Business is personal.

 

 

 

 

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Gossip is good …

As a relatively ‘green’ salesperson back in the 1980’s I found out, pretty early on in my chosen career that it’s not particularly what you have that’s important, it’s more like how you relate.

‘What’s new?’ I hear you say.

OK, here’s how I woke up …

It was while spending time on the road, calling on clients, cold calling prospects that I had my first really good break. My routine in those days was leaving the house, hitting commuter traffic and travelling the 10 miles or so to the manufacturing plant, my office. I’d spend a little time there before ‘hitting the road’ again, engaging people, knocking on doors, prospecting for business.

There was no internet to help us in 1984, the in-car telephone wasn’t yet with us. My job was to deliver the benefits of my business, in person. Like anyone else in sales during that time we were expected to be well-versed, resourceful, agile and always available for the opportunity. Pre-technology the job was heavily reliant on the ability to engage, developing the people skills not found in any on-line course or wikipedia research.

This particular morning at the office I’d received a telephone (land-line) call from Neil.

‘We’d like to speak with you, can we set up an appointment?’  It just so happened the ‘prospect’ was halfway betwixt my home and the office, so we agreed that I call-in for a meeting, next day during the course of my regular commute.  

‘That’s fine, can you get here for 7 am?’

Next day I arrived well before 7 am., parked up, made my way to reception to be met by a fellow with an outstretched hand and a smile … Neil.

‘Like a coffee? Follow me.’

My new friend proceeded to inform me exactly what he was looking for. He outlined how his company wished to be served and at what price levels, when he expected to see us, what he expected of me as his trusted supplier …

After all, I’d been ‘highly recommended.’  

So began nine years of regular visits to this particular client. Through regular contact Neil and his company became the ‘mainstay’ of our own business. Morning and evening, twice per day. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening. I was treated like one of the salaried workers, a regular fixture, all the time developing our ‘people skills.’ I had become a familiar face with each of the employees, we each knew the unspoken value of working closely together, developing the relationships. Business was good.

It wasn’t until several months had gone by, I was out doing my ‘regular rounds,’ calling on my regular clients, the people, the prospects for new business when one of those prospects invited me to tell them just a little more about the business …

‘Good to see you again.’  he said.

‘How can you add value?’

We spent a little time discussing ‘the trade,’ trends, other people and a little while later we started doing business. Then, one day he asked …

‘By the way Charlie, did you ever catch up with Neil?

Networking works, persistence pays off, people buy from reliable people.

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Just passing through …

 

It’s ‘that’ time again David …

What’s that you mean Charlie?

I’m seeing a lot of interest in our business forum lately, much activity from those looking for the quick fix, you know, those out distributing the business cards, looking specifically for the next order, something to fill the hole.

Hunters?

We see lots of activity from the passer-by-hunter at this time of year. It’s usually when their core industry activity has quietened down when out come the seasonal business. It’s this time of year when we try and discourage the impulse networker.

Impulse networking? Sounds intriguing?

For some. In this part of our world, you can set your watch, your calendar to it. There are those who are ‘in business’ and then there are the seasonals, those that wish to be in business only until something else comes along … it’s something that those of us being around awhile are very aware of, it’s transparently obvious at times …

So, you discourage these folk from participating?

Not exactly, but when that initial enthusiasm crashes through that door, I make a point of offering insight into how we like to do business.

You mean, there are choices these days?  You know it’s tough out there Charlie, are you not making it just a little tougher? Don’t you think that you and the rest of the meeting are missing out on the opportunity?

David, over the years we’ve had plenty of seasonal businesses through the door. In the early days, it was difficult to see through the initial enthusiasm and effusive declarations of future prospects. The love!

The almost unbridled joy of being in the room with untapped opportunity, the chance to engage other business owners who could offer the bigger picture has its benefits of course.  Energy … for one and we all appreciate the attitude.

So what’s not to like with newfound enthusiasm coming to the table Charlie?

It’s when they leave Dave. The hunter has no intentions of developing the close ties, it’s all about now.

Once the realisation that networking is about the community build beyond the room and the time that it takes in developing the relationships enabling the meaningful business … by having your name recommended to others.

This is when our seasonal hunters tend to leave the table before dessert, before that ‘bigger picture,’

Ok, but some of us need to pay the bills.

Correct Dave.

Sadly the effect just one or two ‘seasonal networkers’ have on a room can be devastating. It’s not good for the prospects of those with nobler intentions.

You see Dave, promises are made, appointments scheduled and leads are passed. All this comes to nought when the clock strikes ‘times up’ and it’s back to the attention of the “day job.”

Networking works best for those wishing to develop their business for the long term. Good relationships sell your reputation, there is no need to worry about when the next ‘fix’ is coming when we have our trusted network watching our backs.

It’s not about seasonal business David, because today, more than ever, business is personal.

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community get-together

We’re all aware of the effect people have on our everyday routines. Whether there’s a smile, offers of help, direction or support of well-being, it’s the people in your life that count.

As human beings, it is said we’re at our best among communities. Most of us tend to engage others of a like mind. We react, some contradict, spar and learn. We’re able to make choices, whom to have around us by being present, living in the moment.

Along the way we’re collecting messages considering, listening in conversation, music may be heard! Humour is often exchanged, appreciated, or maybe not! We all have choices, we can choose to tune in to the messages, turn ’em up, down or off.

Close communities can offer so much more besides. There’s less effort, less grey if we have good relations, trust and have confidence when offering engagement during participation.

It’s when building enterprise we are similarly blessed by observing the benefits of celebrating humankind, the fundamental practice of being present.

Remembering also that our ideas are nothing … unless they serve someone.

The practice of being there, making the best of time together in the community brings affinity closer. Being that familiar, reliable, go-to person within your community, being ready for business, offering the same consistent messages that have made your business worthwhile to you become much clearer also to prospective partners.

Consistency in expectation is what makes communities successful, we align with the reliable that offers confirmation we’re on track, we feel comfortable in an environment encouraging growth.

Do as you say you shall, be with your preferred prospective community and engage, support better engagement and be ready for business with specific messages.

People are the key to getting us where we wish to be. It pays to get together.

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Serendipity?

Brian D. Powell was born in York in 1932. and as a young boy, he frequently accompanied his grandfather down by the River Ouse.

With Britains involvement in WW2 Brian spent many a day ‘sculling’ the (mostly) servicemen/women back and forth across the river. It was during 1944 that Brian Powell, budding artist, spent a day sketching the ‘traffic’ upon the water at the Leeman Road Ferry. There’s a copy of that very scene, opposite.

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Leaving school, Brian completed an electrical apprenticeship, then national service before joining the Fire Service for a career that was to last 30 years. It wasn’t long before Brian rediscovered his passion for art and in 1965 he produced a watercolour depiction of the aforementioned original. This watercolour was presented to a cousin who kept it in the family for over fifty years, until his passing. The painting, along with the contents of his house then went to charity …

At around the time of the house clearance, Pauline Sturchfield and her husband were looking for something that little bit different and found Brian’s watercolour. The condition of the canvas was ‘a little worse for wear’ although they immediately fell in love with the depiction of life by the river, an ideal addition to their home collection as it reminded them of their time ‘sailing’ on the River Ouse. It was only recently that Pauline decided to find out a little more about the artist and the painting.

Brian Powell, today aged 87, lives and paints in Northumberland. He is an active member of his local art community and regularly exhibits his work … never did he think he would have someone contact him, asking for verification of a painting produced – in 1965 … but to his surprise and to Pauline’s credit, this was exactly what Pauline Sturchfield did.

Although, little did Pauline know, that Brian also had a surprise for her! He was still in possession of that original sketch from where the watercolour was painted. Dated 1944.

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I know what you are thinking dear reader, a good ‘yarn’ perhaps? Simply another example of coincidence, serendipity?

I prefer to think of this as a wonderful example of friendships forged by simply reaching out, or how art has that ability to bind a community together. Don’t you think?

FOOTNOTE … Brian D. Powell is not only an accomplished artist. During his time in the Cumbria Fire Service, he was responsible for some of the more profound innovations in health and safety. Brian is recognised as the inventor of today’s portable life raft, the fire safety door, decontamination chamber, HGV anti-spillage valve and much more. He is credited with saving dozens of lives, appeared on BBC television’s Tomorrow’s World and inducted as a fellow of the National Geographic Society. He has published his story, widely available, “Thoughts Of A Watercolour Artist.”
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The lessons of the past

Britain’s tribal inhabitants first arrived sometime during the 2nd century. A time of identity, belonging and ownership. There were unseen lines of territory leading to tribal disputes, warfare and wholesale cultural disposition.

Sound familiar?

Here’s an excerpt from a book by a brand new writer…

= starts =

The Selgovae were among the first of Britains tribes, occupying the chalk hills of the North East of England, the Cheviot.

One Roman writer described the Selgovae warrior in this way, saying:

‘Each warrior dons on his head the face mask of a wolf as he wears the pelt like a cloak on his back. Warriors colour their body to match that pelt, chest, arms, legs. He even goes to the extent that the sturdy hill pony he rides is coloured the same, making the ‘warrior wolf ‘ and pony appear as one large, almost mystical, fearsome opponent. Before battle the Selgovae holy man would call to their God when the mists would descend their Chalk mountain, shrouding the lands in that Kingdom of Calchfynydd, where Selgovae enemies were soon terrified by their own imagining of what was before them, the Selgovae lands presented a frightening, inhospitable landscape, for in these mists supernatural things would happen.’

. . .

Tea had finished, everything washed up and put away. All those staying at the shepherd’s cottage that evening settled down in front of the remnants of a still flickering fire and listened, as the Selgovae storyteller continued:

. . .

Today’s glorious spring day was waning as the couple paused by their destination, the imposing entrance to a magnificent Norman cathedral. They had arrived but were unsure. Beyond the threshold was the same comfort and shelter offered to all over the centuries and as they stepped within, the last rays of sunshine filtered through the rose windows, illuminating their entrance toward the pulpit of this Great House of God.

‘Take my hand, our instincts shall guide us, she whispered, we’ve been invited here and whoever sent for us knows that we have arrived.’

= ends =

—– the above is an excerpt from soon to be published series of factually based work supporting the work of Alzheimers Research (UK) —-

Have faith, learn from our past. We shall know when we have arrived!

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When our bird has flown

Growing up in Australia, I’ve known Diane Merrick’s family since I was a youngster, she and her brothers were always sharing our apple tree, the mischief.

Here’s part of the story when catching up with Diane, some 15 years later:

‘So Charlie, picture this, February 1971, I’m 20 years and 3 months old, six weeks into my senior year of nursing as I find myself deep in the Vietnamese jungle – the so-called ‘wrong’ jungle. Our ‘ride’ had flown and left the two of us.

Cradled in my arms is a US Marine (a Grunt) not much older than myself but with a hole through his stomach the diameter of the ‘bud’ can, he was clutching. The wound is clean, I’m able to see my left boot curled below us where we sit. 

Nothing is heard above the cacophony of exploding shells, cartridges whirring about our heads. I don’t see anything but the pleading, blood-shot blue of my ‘patient’s’ eyes, an expression of disbelief as he uttered ‘they got me, the b—–ds shot me.’

I held him … don’t give up, please don’t give up.’

I can still see those eyes today, mine was the last face he saw, I was caring for that man as he died …

Silence. I had nothing to say.

I was sat beside Diane Merrick’s hospital bed, forty-one years on, she presents a slight figure with eyes that burn with determination, she is almost enveloped amongst the tubes, the ‘lifelines’ that monitor and maintain her position, propped-up amongst the linen.

Sitting almost adjacent me, on the other side of the bed, is Paul, her husband, a slightly older, equally determined-looking, weather-worn fellow

Charlie, I’m almost 63 years of age, I’m ill and told I’m dying, said Diane. Turning toward her husband she added, I want our story put down, I want you to write my story because I’m not ready for giving up.

Diane Merrick, an independent young woman, a nurse who took to the armed forces for economic reasons during the Vietnam War wants her story told,  ‘before I forget.’ 

“Where’s our bird?” is the story of Diane Merrick, published Spring 2020.

Never give up.

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I remember you!

Networking works, yet for some, it simply does not.

Reputations, integrity through your business community greatly influences your opportunity for success, so there is a little work to do once we decide we’re going to give this networking thing a go … most of us wish to be seen in the best light.

I wonder if he’s here either to develop the audience or simply the quick fix?

Sure you can have both, we’re all sales-people of one kind or another, right? Here’s where the engagement matters.

For the real benefits of business networking to become more apparent we simply need to be working on the fundamentals.

Today’s networking is full of those looking for instant success, it’s to be expected, the D.I.Y marketing opportunity is at everyone’s fingertips, the multitude of social platforms and more, we’re all driven to sign up, show and tell, the selly-sell.

Personally? I make my most important business decisions with those I know best, those whom I can engage, discuss in person over a decent coffee. OK, the cake also …

It’s choices, we all have choices.

Attending the network meeting day we choose to either ‘wing it’ for the instance order or ‘go with the flow.’  We’ve received the invitation to attend the appointment, meet with new people, potential colleagues, we choose whether to accept that appointment, we either embrace the structured environment for the long term plan of relationships and trust or simply take the meeting as a given opportunity (it’s that word again, opportunity) for a little incidental business.

It’s through our choosing how we engage, choices who we work with, how we treat others, the time that we give or do not, the follow-up and so much more, all of this contributes to how we are perceived.

Networking works for those who give time working on the opportunity. The opportunity to define the reputation.

Think about how you may be perceived? Hunter or farmer?

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The conjurer

My offer? My business?  It’s simple.

Help others put more wins on the board. When people become more successful as a by-product of something I’ve provided, that’s a win for me. When they are not so successful? I’ll try to think of other ways to help those in need.

There is no trickery, it’s pretty straightforward stuff.

There is though, something that will always upset ‘the apple cart’ here.

If people don’t know me well enough, they are not going to believe my offer.

That is the problem. It’s everyone else’s problem in life also, isn’t it? We’re worried that people don’t have our best interests at heart, we worry that someone who acts with kindness, maybe isn’t that kind. They can’t be can they??

It’s the same in business, given that we’re worried about trust in all avenues of life, there is no easy answer. There is though, a word that conjures up hope.

Faith.

I’m one of those guys that believe people are all inherently good people. I act as if everyone has my best interest at heart the way I have theirs. I act as if what people tell me is the absolute truth, no question, no hesitation. This helps me with lots of situations.

Faith.

But there are other things that people conjure:

They will cheat on you.

People will lie!

There are people around who take glee in doing stuff behind your back that isn’t so good …

I accept that it is going to happen, we know it, it’s part of ‘the deal.’

My response to this? I have faith that people will treat me the way I treat them.

I have faith that by doing enough – if not, more than enough and by going out of my way to help people then I’m going to be conjuring up the positive that will come my way over time.

Naive perhaps?

Faith. Our thoughts create reality, make sure you conjure really fabulous thoughts!

 

Image.  Tony Rabbit. Courtesy Joe Scarano (US)
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Make it special …

 

 

I really don’t know how to pitch the room today, Charlie. 

Do as you usually do Tom, continue the education, enlightenment.

Should I tell them about the new business I’m thinking about, after all the presentation is only a couple of minutes and I’ve plenty of main business just now, should I drop in something new?

That depends on how you wish to be seen, how you would like to be remembered Tom.

This is just a side-line Charlie, it’s something that might prove interesting to one or two, a different angle to my presentation.

Does this new side-line complement the existing core business Tom? If so, I’m sure your audience would find value in learning more about you, you’ve been informing the room for a few months now, most of us are familiar with your professional offer and should now be in a position to refer you.

Although, if this new offer is completely different, then personally I’d be careful you don’t spoil all that ground work laid down during recent engagement.

Let’s try not cloud the water Tom.

Whaa?

If it were down to me I’d be inclined to concentrate on the core business and save the new introduction until the one to one meeting. In fact, here’s a great opportunity to enlighten your referral partners with company news, diversity perhaps. Invite them to sit down with you after the meeting.

Ask their opinion.

So you think I should stick to the regular intro., incorporating a hint of new company developments within the presentation, generating interest that way?

If it’s important, why not Tom. I’d continue to deliver the specialist that is you, what we’ve come to expect and then invite the one to one ‘selected colleagues’ to meet and to learn more about the broader offer, new developments. Make it special.

Maintain the expertise in your offer Tom, most of us are able to offer much more than the core business Tom … think about who we prefer to work with. It’s the expert in their given field right?

There are plenty of part-time, handy-man offers out there Tom and personally I’d be wary of asking the handy-man plumber to tend my electrics, wouldn’t you?

Be the expert, make it special.

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What then?

 

‘What’s so good about networking Charlie?’

It’s been a few years since I started my blog and most of you have been extremely tolerant of my persistent business focus, thanks for that.

I’m very happy that some of what I’ve shared has been useful as well and in answer to that question – ‘what’s so good about networking?’

I’ll try.

If – and there are a lot of ‘if’s’

If you can be generous with your time

If you are reliable (referable?)

If the people in your network are encouraging, if they reflect your own enthusiasm, if they care

If those that you meet understand it’s treating each other as we ourselves would like to be treated

If you have diversity … if you can dance!

If the timing is right, costs are acceptable etc, etc … like I said, lot’s of the if’s.

Another one …

If you give networking time, it can profoundly impact your business and therefore your future prospects. Networking is NOT just for the start-up either, if you are established, share your failures as well as your success.

Build the relationships and you shall succeed.

Succeed like this … (in my view)

Try networking with friendship in mind. Don’t be shy, there is always someone else less comfortable than yourself in the room. Find the like-minded individuals, make time for the information exchange and share ideas.

Referral business is a great by-product to networking, learning from your new-found friends, understanding their strengths enables you to pass referral while receiving the same, some of which can lead to great long-term partnerships.

Networking is great for the confidence. Being able to share your news and views in a room full of friends offers great scope for personal development through added confidence.

Developing your reputation, raising your profile with regular networking and engagement is great for the visibility. Engagement and visibility = the ‘bizability.’

It’s great doing business with friends, hugely satisfying, just show your new colleagues how they can help you, to help them.

If, (it’s that word again) you don’t ask, you don’t learn, you gain nought.

Business is personal.

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Fail sometimes. It’s ok.

 

So how about a salesperson Sally? Who looks after sales within your organisation??

Employ someone? Where am I going to get a salesperson that understands my business, Charlie?

Fair comment I thought to myself, we’ve all asked the same question.

I knew that Sally was a sole trader and the question from me was an honest one. Sally had her bookkeeper, relied on some freelance and just now was worrying about the struggle for new business.  Social media brought the odd enquiry although nothing substantial.

Besides Charlie, I don’t think I could burden the business with the cost of an extra person, even if it were part-time. I would worry about their messages, fear for their rejection, the critique acquired through competitor comparison … if that makes sense.

It does. So, you’re going to come along and find out how networking may help?

Yes, next week. It’s early, which is good as just now, it’s the only time I have Charlie and I feel I need to be more accountable for new business, for sales.

Fear of transparency, failure as a consequence of taking the opportunity, stepping out of the comfort zone is commonplace Sally. The very thought of turning up and engaging a room of expectant strangers is enough to undermine any thoughts of a great first impression … but … the positive to networking can be profound.

So when should I expect results?

I’m just as impatient Sally, although when I started networking I soon found out that not everyone is in the marketplace for my services at the same time. Networking ‘works’ with calculated patience.

You already know and understand that you are the best qualified to offer your business services. The ‘selly-sell’ is not required.

Be prepared to fail sometimes, show your vulnerable side … (develop empathy.)

If you can keep your eye on the ‘why am I doing this?’  Clearly explaining this to your audience, by being concise you will soon find support.

Benchmark your efforts Sarah. Deliver consistent messages over a given period of time and adjust your presentation accordingly, for ‘the room’ or seasonally to suit your business, create the trust among your audience to realise the opportunity, the ‘bizability.’

Something else, don’t forget to have fun Sarah, smile.

At 7 am?

People buy from people Sally.

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So, what’s plan B?

Terry and I used to work alongside, together with a small army on the press-room floor. The job was proof-reading and press make-ready. The daily broadsheet didn’t wait for anyone, going to press in the small hours and straight out for distribution.

We worked together a couple of generations ago and although the news industry has drastically altered through technology, the importance of pre-press quality control still matters, maintaining quality levels and protecting advertising revenue remaining all important.

We had a depth to the quality assurance in days gone by, if we were light on personnel there was always someone else on hand, willing (and qualified) to check the proof and ‘press pass.’

Contingency is still very much a priority in business today, having a plan if the plan does not go to plan … you never know when we’ll need a plan B!

Yet I find it surprising that around 78% of today’s start-up business has no plan for success in contingency, whether that be planning for downtime or ultimately business succession.

Take networking for instance. We have around 40 business owners attending our local meetings on a regular basis, the goal being simple, to engage and educate like-minded individuals to the advantages of working together in the hope of that eventually, our colleagues will have the confidence of being able to introduce us to our next best client.

Yet when it comes down to contingency safeguarding the new business proposition, there is a scant idea of the purposes of a plan B.

Put yourself in those shoes …

Wouldn’t you feel better working together with a new supplier who has a thorough understanding of your needs demonstrably walks the walk and knows the depth of commitment you have together? Isn’t it comforting to be the client who is happily secure in the knowledge that if it all goes up in smoke … plan B is in place …

Earning the new business is more than having the right product at the right price, your prospects need to know that if they are going to risk new business and reputation with you, then the risk needs to be minimal while being covered by the shared contingent plan B.

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dude, bust those moves


It’s funny, I never imagined that I’d enjoy meeting so many new people, so when I found out that there were those in the room, similar to myself it soon put me at ease. It was great there are those willing to reach out and engage, offering to help my business, I have to say I wish I’d made the decision to join you earlier.”

Sally and I were having a conversation after one or the morning sessions of the regular Weekly Business, taking the time to reflect on the first-time visit.

I’d opted for the carrot cake and although I knew the answer to my own forthcoming question, I asked anyway … So why had you not come to see us earlier Sally?

Family,

Faith in my offer,

My own self-confidence,

Commitment and of course,

Failure …”

Sally’s kids had started school and although she’d been working on the ideas of the home business for some time, it was the professional isolation that came with the responsibilities of home-maker tended to hold her back.

I’d sent Sally an introduction and it had arrived at the right time for her.

‘I just needed the inspiration and the guts to make the date, plus I have a real fear of failure, always in the back of my mind are the ‘what if’s, or I’m not good enough’s and what happens now??’

We can be our own biggest enemy, so congratulations Sally, taking the first step, showing your value while meeting a room full of people this morning is a great start.

Sally reached for my carrot cake … ‘but, what if I fail?’

Fail? (ask Will Smith)

We meet on a regular basis Sally, accept the dance ticket and commit to attending regularly and take the offer of a personal meeting, take up the challenge to listen and learn from your peers.

After all, you wouldn’t go to the dance without learning a few new moves first, would you?

Fail? Perhaps. But don’t be afraid to fail Sally, that’s where we learn … and, please do help yourself to the rest of my cake …

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Eat that cake!

It’s not that I didn’t see January coming, I do have a calendar, I try to keep my eyes on the path, although the festive distractions somehow find me ‘contending’ with those best-laid plans.

Like most I have a routine, I try to stick to what works, to what helps me excel, to do a better job. This year though I have resolved to losing some of the ‘stuff’ that has not worked.

There is plenty to lose as well… such as the deliberation.

Do I listen to that best advice from my own self? 

‘Stick to the plan, keep the goal in mind and you shall achieve.’

Honestly? Well, most times I do listen to me although I tend to deliberate a little …

2019 for me is starting with fewer distractions, losing the time thieves and putting into practice more decisive direction.

How about you? I’ve heard similar from closest colleagues these past few months about there being ‘not enough hours in the day’ or ‘understanding who to trust’ or the old gem … ‘I’m concentrating on core business, I’ve no time.’

No time to deliver a better you?

Making time is surprisingly easy when we’re more decisive. 

Trust? This starts with natural attraction of like minds and the risk acceptance. Each of us is aware of how to find more time so just now we won’t dwell (deliberate) … Steve Shapiro can help us there. Allocating time for the more important stuff, that which matters to you, with action(s) you can do now for your clients and for your own business is simple. (Even I can do it!)

It’s about losing the deliberation. You know, we ‘chew the fat’ put the plan on the shelf, we listen to the social opinion (yikes!) and before we know it, we’ve found more cons than those original pros we had in mind for going forward. Deliberation.

Let’s be decisive folks, go forth in your offer, follow up with your instincts, welcome change, show your real self (people buy from people) and look after all that faith you have invested in you and stand in wonder as he (or she) returns to support you.

It’s often said:

‘more business is lost through indecision than by making the wrong decision.’

What say you? 

Just don’t take too long thinking about it.

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WLTM … ROFL

Hear that? I’d been summoned, that familiar contraption by my side hails me.

Pinged’ again.

I’d just been ‘messaged,’ ‘alerted,’ ‘distracted,’ with an enquiry through social media.

The diversion had come from Murray, he was wanting to know a little more of what ‘it’ was all about. How he might share in this referral network I was part of, the regular weekly business I and others look forward to each week.

The initial “conversation” went like this:

From Murray … HMU What’s it about?

Me … Who would you like to meet Murray?

Murray … WLTM? Certainly Prof. Alice Roberts.

Me … [?] Then, perhaps someone I know someone who may be able to introduce you. Would you like to work with Prof. Alice?

Murray … ROFL

Me … Sorry, don’t understand, just advise your intentions when you may be coming along Murray.

Murray … More ROFL

Murray … HMU L8R

Me … OK, thanks for the enquiry.

Me … ???

Pleased to say, Murray did eventually turn up for our midday meeting. A thoroughly likeable guy (with a sense of humour) who, apart from having great expertise on social media happened to be a professional from within the health industry. Murray is with us because he in business and looking to share, connect.

He also harboured ‘ambitions’ of meeting Prof. Alice Roberts of UK television fame and by the looks of the lively conversation during and after the meeting, he may be, just maybe, that lucky guy.

Isn’t it marvellous I thought, looking down at my ‘phone?

Wonderful what magic happens when we engage through ‘conversation …’

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Hey you, Mr Referrable!

Referrable? No such word.

More ‘business-speak/jargon’ from Charlie I hear you say. Although, if you’re in business then being referrable is absolutely essential. Let’s look at what makes you so while understanding why the fundamentals are so vital for success …

Beginning with treating people as you may expect to be treated …

not to mention:

Are you visible?

What? It’s true, there are those out there that expect the business, that new best client to simply come ‘a knock-in’ on the door, out of the blue … just because you’re you … Nope, we need to work on the bizability (more jargon!) After all, there is any number of ways to be seen, some simply DIY in the world of ‘social.’

Do you know your p’s from your q’s? Yes, remember them? Those mirror images, the p and the q. We get what we give right? So let’s understand that there is mileage in good old fashioned manners, respect and etiquette. Let’s just call it p and q.

Thinking of others. Of course, it’s second nature to you, right? If we’re looking for referrals, think of those with like-minded ambitions, offer help and support and you will soon find that it’s reciprocal. Think business underdog. That was you once, right?

Doing as you say you shall? Following up. Well, that’s a no-brainer … innit? We do though, still hear of those given the opportunity who simply don’t follow-up. Isn’t it true that more business is lost through procrastination than by making the wrong decision? We know this, but still, the lack of follow-up by those who say they shall remain one of the largest obstacles to ambition.

Are you communicating? Some don’t. It’s true, they don’t call you because they assume that you are a mind reader … We’re supposed to know that there is a delay or that they’ve cancelled the meeting or the one to one. Lack of communication does not help the bizability, the reputation.

So, how is your reliability? Ask yourself this. Can we count on you?

This is the nugget, friends, your reliability is what makes you referrable. If you are not readily visible and you don’t have the courtesy of thinking of others when the business opportunity arises … if you don’t follow up on the enquiries by communicating, then you are simply not reliable.

Unreliable = unreferrable.

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The USP. Don’t be fooled

I was perched atop a pallet of paper, a glass of tea in hand, just outside the works where Dan plied his trade when I was surprised with a question from my usually content 23 yr old friend.

Charlie, I’m supposed to be identifying my USP. Why does being in business have to be so tough? I mean, I’ve no idea where to start. What is this stuff? Any ideas?”

After further gentle prodding, I found that the marketing plan had called for answers to pertinent questions. Dan, we’re all very different and each business reflects the people within. There are those who are natural allies, some who are just not on the same page, there’s no good spending time engaging those who can’t give you some of their own time. Here’s a good place to start with your … Unique Selling Person. Be confident in your offer Dan, comfortable in your shoes. Offer a smile to whomever you meet, an outstretched hand and a warm welcome always creates a good impression. “But, this is surely not my USP Charlie?” Work on your networking and presentation skills Dan, refine your message. This is when your offer, your USP will become clear, heard through familiarity over time. “How do you mean?” People naturally gravitate to those who they have an affinity Dan. Sharing time in the company of good friends and relations develops the trust … “I still don ‘t get it Charlie.” Dan, YOU are the USP (unique sales person) and if you wish to reach key new clients, your next best customer, then the conduit to achieving this through word of mouth are those who know you, those who understand your business, your offer, your USP. “OK, but doesn’t USP stand for something else?” People buy from people Dan.
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The gift, share it.

Life is too short! 

Heard that one before? At some point in your career, there will come a morning when you’ll awake and ask yourself, “What am I really doing?” It’s at this point that earning money by making/selling ‘stuff’ will no longer be motivation enough. However, if your answer to that question reflects a specific, greater purpose, you’ll have the energy and inspiration to continue, it’s your purpose.

How about your employees? Those you work with, or your co-workers, are really no different than you. They also want to feel that they are contributing to a greater good, something more meaningful than putting in the hours and earning the money. What’s different with colleagues, though, is that unlike you, the business owner, they may not have that innate sense of what the business’s purpose is. It needs to be articulated, so the whole of the company is of one mind, moving in the same direction for the same reason. Driven by purpose.

Your customers, what’s it mean to them? Will people buy your products just because your business serves a greater purpose? Generally not. Most people need to realise some kind of specific, tangible benefit from their purchases. So given you are providing benefits, many customers, especially new customers, the millennials are keen to look beyond their bottom line to support organisations that are cause/purpose driven …

Purpose. It has impact. Your community may be the rural outpost or the large city in which your business operates. Increasingly, our communities, our local surroundings are our world, all of which needs a variety of help. In many ways, business represents the best way to bring about significant change to communities. Bringing value through change is where the purpose driven organisation can benefit, a purpose-driven business generates an influence that in many ways are profound, much more far-reaching and impactful.

Your own Purpose? You know your compelling reason. Whether faith, community, legacy or your own personal goals. Either way, purpose is a work in progress. Share your gift.

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you, me, collaboratively …

Collaboration is a much anticipated and at the same time, such an overlooked benefit to networking.

What happens though, when things don’t quite go to plan?

Been there? You know it don’t you? Initially, there is the excitement of working with and learning all about a potential collaborative partner, someone who can contribute to your projects and perhaps one day refer you to greener fields, like-minded organisations and those well-connected individuals of influence.

Then, for a whole host of reasons we find that ‘things’ just aren’t going to happen as our best intentions had hoped. There may be a language that is initially all too familiar, an enthusiasm that instils confidence in our new found partner. Then … it’s pear-shaped …

There could be a multitude of reasons for the failure of progress. The brief, the ability to perform to expectation, a lack understanding of processes, of delivery. There may be pricing issues, style and interpretation may be lacking. (Or non-existent.) There are many reasons why our mutual hopes for growth may be shattered.

Solutions?

Start in a way that you mean to go on. Sure, on the outside there may be a fit to change the world although if you don’t offer to sit down and spend time discussing the brief – in detail – then sadly disappointment is the only outcome.

Solutions? The one to one.

Spending time together with potential partners is important if meaningful collaboration is to work and take your business forward.

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The process, al fresco

I enjoy times in the garden. Family, a cool drink, good food. It’s several years living where I am now in Northumberland and during that time I’ve had the use of three cookers, three BBQ’s.

One of those was a store-bought item, the usual piece of soft metal and Allen keys, combined with plastic and a gas bottle. Turn it on and yer good to go. The second was a custom self-build venture which did not last long. Not so stable(!) It did have a great little grill though!

The latest al-fresco project, undertaken last weekend and I was just putting the finishing bricks and mortar in place when the sister-in-law suggested …

‘Why didn’t you say you were after another BBQ? We have several at home and you are welcome to take one …’

Whilst I was (and almost always I am) grateful for the offer of help, I had to explain to Kath that it’s was not about the having, more the process of finding what fits best. Introduce anything new to me and you need to give me time, time for me to find what works.

In this case, the ritual build of my new baby BBQ, the ceremony of providing the wood (Beech does it for me) and the first fire-up to season and temper the plate, choosing what’s on the menu for different tastes, the gathering of friends, all witness to the spectacle …

I mentioned to Kath, it’s not an instant fix for me, my business networking is the same.

Sure, I could visit any function or gathering that would have me, arriving with thoughts of what to expect. You know, ‘is this really for me?’ 

As it happens, I don’t do so many alternative dates these days. I’ve found where I’m comfortable. It did take a while though, I had to fight my reservations of what would work, I listened to who was sharing and watched for who was there to simply harvest the enquiries. I observed the process.

To sister-in-law Kath, the BBQ is a functional thing. It cooks. There’s often a change of menu, there’s a change of routine, the comfort zone challenged as dare I say, there’s a different chef!

A little like our networking don’t you think?

Observe the process, find what works and challenge the comfort zone.

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Why finding referrals is like a game of tennis. (Almost.)

Some of us find it easy to generate meaningful referrals. Others? Well, they find this not quite so easy.

Take your game of tennis. It’s booked well in advance, you know your opponent and so in the interests of a good competitive match you study the form, watch his/her game and assess your chances come match day.

What happens though, when your scheduled opponent is replaced with someone completely different? When that someone has a game plan equal (if not better) than your own … you really need to work that little bit harder don’t you think?

So where am I going?

Some of us make it easy to generate the referrals, the wins. With just a little planning.

I attend a referral group on a regular basis, I hear the presentations and truly believe that if I were given their presentation, I could offer a pretty decent representation of their needs and wants as they declare themselves. I’ve spent time in their company, know their market, their specialisation and dare I say … the USP.

I’ve studied the form.

I consider myself a proactive referral giver, I know what to look out for when I’m not at the meeting, I’m giving myself every chance of uncovering some valuable business for colleagues, because I fully understand what they’re looking for.

Others are not so industrious. They’re more reactive. Visiting the Forum for the opportunity our occasional visitor may hear what sounds like a referral request, maybe even gets it right by listening out for those immediate needs from those in the room. ‘Not a bad thing.’ Some might say. ‘The same result.’ Others might add?

‘Almost a good thing’ is what I’m saying. Could our friends refer you once they’ve left the meeting?

Offering reactive support to those who ask for it is great for the meeting of course, although isn’t it missing the benefit of what regular contact brings?

Don’t the best referrals come from those who spend time with you, people who are proactive, informed and know you well? Informed enough to trust you, proactive enough to refer you outside the network, providing you with more wins on your board?

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It’s on the nose!

I’ve had a great morning, just cleaned the wheely ‘garbo,’ the bin. Treated her to a …

disinfectant and hose, she’s a little on the nose.’

Working at home is like that, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the flexibility …. we get things done when we want, we schedule stuff in like a walk with the dog, a leisurely breakfast perhaps or a visit to the beach before the day even starts.

Routines are good although being accountable, working alone and the routine for self-preservation, planning to make a crust can take some doing. A little balance is needed so I tend to work well in advance and ensure my diary is up to date. How about you?

Mulling over forward plans the night before is good for me. I do have a tendency to revise my ‘stuff,’ including the plan for the following day and it’s just as I’m falling asleep, evening peace and clarity brings some surprisingly good results.

Holes in the net?

The regular meeting I was due to attend this morning had been planned months in advance. A dozen or more like-minded souls from the Weekly Business Network are looking to put down roots for new referral forum. It has shown great promise.

Today though I awoke early to find that a half of the regulars had other ‘things’ planned. One was a family welfare call (fair play) always family first! Another couldn’t face the walk(!) someone else had taken a last minute order she needed to fulfil while another suggested it was going to be impossible to stop the car between regular appointments.

Couldn’t stop the car? For our appointment?

So with a net that had so many holes it was a no-brainer that any messages I’d planned during introduction were going to be lost this time ’round, and so I made decided to contact our featured speaker, advising him of our postponement to his presentation, did the same with the caterer, the venue and followed-up with our intended guests …

It’s great to get up early’ I thought to myself.

Networking. The regular contact with like-minded business owners is a great way to show your colours, your intention … a great opportunity to enhance the reputation, don’t you think?

It’s our choice. We can come up smelling roses or if you’re not careful the scent may be a little more repugnant. Think wheely bin … you may need a spring clean.

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Reputable, reliable, referable

Is he reliable Charlie? Ben asks.

Do you know him well enough to refer him??

Fair questions. I thought for a single moment and realised that this time, I just wasn’t sure of my answer…

All in business have had times of dilemma, finding the reliable trading partners, co-workers and suppliers are part of that conundrum. Yes, there is an abundance of reputable offerings … but are they reliable?

I consider myself lucky that I have made some fantastic, trusted long-time connections through networking. We seem to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet.’

Similar to what was being asked of me now, think yourself, what characteristics would a potential business partner or supplier need to possess? There’s a good chance you’ll come up with a list of attributes (nearly) similar to the following …

Is there evidence of:

Like-mindedness

Product knowledge

Empathy

Not forgetting, a reputable name?

Connections

Reliability

What makes them so referable, to you?

Personal recommendation. Reputations are built on them.

You may be given an introduction to a wholly reputable business, someone who fits the bill, an organisation that tick’s all the boxes, even drinks your brand of coffee, but if that connection is more a ‘maybe’ instead of a clear yes/no kind of outfit then chances are, you’re going to hesitate in referring them.

There are many reasons we buy into our professional network and each of us has our own prerequisite when choosing to work with someone.

Personally? It’s reliable. If we’re unable to count on our supporters to be with you when it matters, then they’re certainly not referable.

So in answer to Ben? Sit down, take a minute, share cake and get to know what works for you both.

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Our fair weather friend(s)

 

“Hey, c’mon we’ll be late for kick-off!”

It’s Saturday morning and I’d called by to collect one or two lads for the local rugby meet, the regular transport being unable to support us this time around …

As the boys clamoured into the back of the wagon, there was the usual hubbub, high spirits and lots of chatter with plenty of wise-cracks. It was just what you’d expect from a bunch of ten year old’s out with mates, on the way to ‘rugger.’

The exception amongst the car load being Joe, our ‘perennial sub.’

“So what happened to transport this morning Joe?” I asked.

‘Oh dad said he had a few things to do around the house, he said he’d be back to see us when we start winning again …’

“Whaa … ??”

Joe explained … ‘Dad said he liked to watch the team although didn’t like the coach so once we start winning he might come along.’

The response from our clearly deflated chum was profound enough to hang in the air for a minute, a full minute before the usual in-car banter recommenced.

Nice encouragement Dad! I thought to myself.

Sure the boy’s team were on an unlucky run just now and morale may be low but hey, how to inspire belief, eh?’

As it happens our opponents didn’t play so well that morning, whilst we, the home team managed to excel and win the game by a good stretch, even Joe being amongst the scorers. Much reason to cheer!

Sure enough, our coach had come good and this particular win was a prelude to a welcome run of good fortune which brought the ‘part-time support’ back to the fold, even Joe’s fair-weather supporter managed to be with us toward the end of the season …

With friends like that, I hear you say?

Attitudes. We all know the importance of a positive mental outlook if we are to be competitive on the sports field and it’s certainly the same in business. We learn from our peers, we listen for inspiration … but what lessons are we passing on when all we have is apathy?

Fair weather friends, can you afford to have them in your network?

Moving forward?

Join us as we move forward in conversation this week, working with the confidence we have in our business, the offer while highlighting the skills and ability to drive on, with purpose …

Like to join us this Wednesday, 29th  (12.30 until 13.45?)

Perhaps the morning suits you?  Thursday, 30th  (8 – 9 am)

Simply follow the link herewith, or get in touch with the next step:

https://mailchi.mp/3adc9b78dc17/whats-happening-5123062

‘people buy from people’

 

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