Just slow it down …

I’ve been asked many times whether it was possible to ‘accelerate the magic’ that determines success when networking.

Success, in this case, meaning more business.

‘Accelerating the magic?’ It’s not an easy question to answer given ‘people buy from people,’ You see, we’re all very different individuals with various reasons for stepping out of the comfort zone for networking. Expectation varies greatly.

I’ve seen colleagues leave the meeting surprised that they haven’t generated any enquiries … thinking no-one was interested.  Let’s face it, not everyone is in the market for your product or services all of the time.

My answer to the above mentioned query … ‘accelerating the magic’ is, on most occasions, the same.

To be more approachable to others, make yourself available. Work on the ‘familiar’ to become referrable.

Any networking event usually takes the form of a structured, scheduled agenda running for a specific time. So, my point being, rarely is any important buying decision made on a chance meeting … at a business breakfast or dinner! 

What’s to keep you from arriving half an hour early and staying an extra half an hour after the event?

Time! I hear you say.

Give more time. Freely. After all, business is personal for many. Schedule an appointment before the meeting – or after proceedings. Set up the date! Some I know attending events even ask for the attendee list from the organiser.

Spend more of your valuable time by being available for conversation before and after the meeting. By slowing the process down, you have a much better chance of accelerating the realisation of positive results from your networking.

PS.  If you would like to ‘accelerate the magic’ via ZOOM (it’s free) please reply to this note and request a link. I’d be happy, if I can, to help through conversation. 


Am I worthy?

Hey Charlie, ‘what’s in it for you?’

Once more I was asked why I manage to operate a not-for-profit social enterprise and not get paid for it. What did I … get out of it?

My answer is the same every time. I’m networking for the same reason as anyone else – to consolidate my business interests through reputation management.

I usually go on to explain … because, I can’t help myself …

During the early part of my career, I was always on the lookout for new business. My networking complimented my canvassing, marketing, and appointment-making. I would go to great lengths to make sure my company was visible. Yes, I even advertised! I was a hungry guy twenty years ago, I loved my business (still do) and I was in a hurry for my new business to sustain my lifestyle.

The great dilemma. Does my business serve a particular marketplace? Is it ready for me? Am I worthy?

I ask myself this same question most days.

As I became more established, once the business was known, ‘bizable’ I began to care about how others were contending with their passion to do well, to make ends meet. I could relate to the tough stuff.

We can be our own worst-best friends. The old catchphrase “Trust in yourself and your abilities, your choices, products, and services,” comes to mind. We are tested when in reality, during tough times, (yes, it can be tough) … we should remember to take a breath, step back and realise that as we flex our business muscle, we’re growing, galvanising our emotional capital each time we’re challenged or begin to question ourselves.

So by ‘hanging in there’ and continuing to extol the virtues of our offer, over time others in our network are witnessing our progress. The empathy develops and with familiarity and longevity, our reputation is enhanced.

My social enterprise, the not-for-profit network I provide on my side of town has introduced me to hundreds of people over the years. Many of these being start-ups (or solopreneurs), much the same as I was at some point. I’ve been lucky enough to witness many transformations from star-up to entrepreneur and with that I am introduced to new connections, new passion, each with their own story and plans for success.

I’m lucky.

By showing consistency and resilience, being ready to share my experiences and seek out advice, by helping others I now find I no longer need to be in such a hurry to find new business. New business comes to me, through referral.

People buy from people.


My busy season?

For the start-up looking to establish itself in a rural community such as ours, business can be tough.

The ‘busy season’ for most market towns with a short summer is the tourist footfall. Many traders have grown by relying on this, there’s only a short time of bounty for the seasonal business to become established.

I used to ask myself … ‘What happens for the rest of the year?’ 

Some start-ups follow the popular trends by spending their time cultivating new opportunities through social media. Hoping for a ‘win’ by eaching out during ‘conversation,’ or by joining popular posts. Many simply display images for the ‘offer of the day,’ a discount here or there during juxtaposition with the ‘traffic.’

Social media? It’s a lottery for professional business looking to meet their next best customer. Me? I prefer personal engagement. I’m busy all year ’round.

Sure, we’re all different. I do understand that some are more comfortable with the online business experience. I also understand that those with important plans for the future need the qualification that face to face brings.

New connections have always been key to my business. This is why networking remains the essential routine for me. It’s my … ‘Support Network.’

We’re lucky with a coming together of independent business people meeting regularly over breakfast, the conversation often carries a common topic … how can I help you? The new connections offer so much more than business. Because business is yet another by-product of networking.

The regular meetings bring conversation alongside a whole new confidence in ‘what’s possible.’ The trusted network – or local community helps realise opportunity through broader vision. The familiar face is a ‘sounding board’ for choices, the investment of your time – and referral.

We welcome all kinds of attendees. From established SME to the seasonal business looking to become that all year-round supportive enterprise. Most importantly we seek ‘people persons.’ The opportunity for the win-win is very real when we converse and it helps(?) we have a 7.30 – 9 am meeting – business before the ‘phones start.

As a social enterprise there are no fees, apart from your choice of breakfast. No subscription or mandatory individual requirements to think of either. It’s a less complicated way of developing the greater marketplace, a kinder landscape.

The Weeklybiz structured meetings encourage great prospects over a decent breakfast. For all types of kind people, in business all year round.


The magic of lucky

Charlie, I’m suffering a famous ‘lack of confidence’ vote in myself … I don’t seem to be picking up any business through networking. I’m lucky with the introduction here and there, but … what am I doing wrong?

Ian, there’s nothing wrong. You are practicing the art of networking. You, like all who practice ‘the magic,’ are sharpening your pencil for when the opportunity arises.

Practice the magic?

The feeling of unlucky and unloved? It’s more common than you think. Understand that we enjoy a network community with much to offer. Each attendee is a specialist in their art.

Now Ian, until you give time to introduce yourself to each (everyone) in your network … through the one to one, you truly understand why it’s called ‘networking.’  It is here, when colleagues see you’ve committed to the long-haul … it is now, you will begin to benefit through networking.

How long is the long haul, Charlie?

It’s tough early-on, even more so when we see the immediate results others seem to enjoy. It may be a paradox? We ask ourselves, ‘why don’t I have this instant success?’

More likely the results you witness early are a misunderstanding. Think, economy to scale.  We sometimes feel under-appreciated – but guess what? It’s all part of the experience. Don’t confuse networking with the quick-fix. Depending on the skills we have, we’re all blessed with the odd referral here and there. 

Good, meaningful business Ian? It may not be the single photograph of the family I discussed with our photographer recently. The real referral is the opportunity to record an event or special occasion. That single photograph being a great initial introduction of skills leading to referral.

We all know that it takes time for recommended business to come our way. So, the most effective way of building your reputation …’your lucky?’ 

Be where your customers are. Have patience and practice your story. Inform your audience of your strengths. Who do you work with? Where do you work from, how far do you travel? Tell your story Ian, in technicolour!

Your ‘lucky,’ arrives when you find yourself comfortable ‘in the room,’ happy being where your listeners are. Lucky is when your reputation has somehow preceded you. Realising that word-of-mouth has worked her magic.

Your ‘lucky’ is a result of your presentations Ian. At some point you realise your team have heard your story away from the regular meeting. Your details passed on to the third party.

‘So how long does it take, Charlie?’

OK Ian, reflect on what we’ve talked about. Once that meaningful practice of patience brings the magic, then lucky, let me know. You will have your answer and I can learn some more. 

People buy from people they know and trust.


The BIG day

It was a Sunday evening when I made my way, beverage in tow, to my favourite chair. The occasion was to witness the televised UK Darts final. Like other ill-informed fans, I was anticipating a walk-over. The world’s current best player, Michael Van Gerwen expected to be too good for Andrew Gilding.

Again, I hear you say: “what does he know!”

What transpired of course was a reverse result as Andrew Gilding (world ranked 42,) won 11 games to 10. It was a real surprise. After all, Andrew Gilding himself had hardly figured ‘on the circuit’ in recent years.

Prior his tournament win … the 52 year-old Englishman remarked he had ‘all but given up hope of being successful.’ He thought his opportunity to be a winner had passed. 

When asked what he credited to the dramatic change in fortune he said simply … ‘I’ve been lazy.’

‘For years I’d set practice aside, until I was lucky when an offer came of a start in the UK Darts Open. It was then I ‘knuckled down’ and began to work on my game. Even so, it was beyond my wildest dreams that I’d end up winning the title!’

Andrew Gilding’s story is one that transcends the game of Darts. With every new attendee to The Weeklybiz network there’s an assumption of success. It’s natural of course, bringing your skills to a room of like-minded business colleagues and declaring the virtues of working alongside each other, we expect results to come our way … after all, we’ve turned up! Not everyone is successful.

Not every new business has the vision for the long-haul. I’ve met many who visit the Weeklybiz to see what they can achieve in the shortest time possible. When I explain that ‘not everyone is – in the market for their kind of business – all of the time’ and that the best kind of referral comes through great understanding and trust … some don’t ‘get it.’ We don’t see them again.

Results take time. As in any business, we revise our presentation skills, our offer, to meet the needs of the market.  

On his ‘big day’ Andrew Gilding had faith in his skills, he worked on his game, practiced regularly and won the prize … and now … Andrew believes that he ‘can win everything.’

Networking is about spending the time building your reputation.

Reliable = referable.


Back to basics

Car phones. Remember those?

Back in the day I spent much of my time in the car, back and forth supporting customers. The arrival of the telephone in the vehicle was good for business.

Today we’re seeing mobile as one of the mainstays, an essential ‘accessory.’

We all have our opinions of the ‘pro’s and con’s’ when relying on the digital message, and there are those of us who spent time working without such technology who could offer a tale or two …

There was a time, way before mobile phones(!) when I was ‘working from the office.’ The landlines were a little quiet and I was thinking of taking a break when I picked up a note requesting I call back.

It was a new prospect wishing to seem me for new business. I returned the call.

‘Yes, thanks Bruce, see you within the hour …’

Within minutes I found myself ‘back out on the road’ for the appointment. It was forty minutes to my central London appointment so I needed to allow plenty of time. Pretty soon I joined the traffic on the M4 when I realised that in my haste, I’d left the handset to my car ‘phone at the office.

‘Not a good start,’ I thought.

An hour later I left the traffic of the motorway. ‘Five minutes to my destination, I shouldn’t be too late.’

Arriving outside my destination, I found a handful of coins and fed the parking meter, went to the trunk of the car and found I’d left my presentation notes behind as well as the ‘phone …

‘OK, let’s do this.’

I approached the plush offices, complete with Barrier Reef style fish tank in the window. Stumbling in haste up the stairs I entered via a large revolving door and paused for breath. In the distance I noticed the ‘glitz’ of reception waiting for me … at the end of what seemed an endless red carpet.

Left and right of this red pathway was plush seating. Most appeared occupied by ‘lunch-time’ breakers engaged in animated conversation.

I made my way as I considered an excuse for my late arrival.

‘Hello, I’m here to see Bruce, Charlie Kenny is my name. He is expecting me.’

‘Won’t be a minute Charlie, please take a seat.’ Replied the lovely lady behind the desk.

It was then I noticed an unpleasant odour … glancing around me, I noticed the conversation from the lunch crowd had become more animated.

Then I looked down at my right shoe …

There, wrapped and rising (was it alive?) around my foot was the most unpleasant looking – what I can only describe here – as ‘doggy-do.’  

I looked behind me toward the only revolving door exit … down the plush red carpet was the trail of ‘doggy-do …’ testimony to the attachment to my shoe.

Not waiting to hear from my lovely receptionist, I was now thinking of nothing but escape. I first of all cleaned my shoe, (both sides, back and forth) using the carpet beneath me. With great haste I made my way past the now reeling onlookers, through the revolving door and toward the car.

What a disaster! ‘Failed!’ I thought to myself, how could I face Bruce after this. ‘What messages would be waiting for me back at the office?’

I wasn’t in the brightest frame of mind.

I needn’t of worried.

After another hour of self-depreciation I arrived to ‘face the music.’

It was my receptionist who was waiting … ‘here we go’ I said to myself …

“Charlie, you left behind your presentation folder – and your ‘phone handset!!’  

Er, yes, sorry, I was in such a hurry to make the appointment …’

‘Well if you’d waited a few minutes you could have saved yourself a wasted journey. As your car pulled away, Bruce’s office called to cancel the appointment!

Bruce had left the building for a minute, slipped on the steps and hurt himself. Apparently the problem was dog-mess … anyway, he’s now at the hospital.

The said is there any chance you could reschedule the meeting for a couple of weeks?’

And, why are you smiling?’

Needless to say, like almost all everyone else I now have a mobile ‘phone attached to my person. BUT I still much prefer the in-person meeting wherever possible.

It’s where the ‘life (sh–t) happens.’


Lasting impressions

Gavin and I caught up after a few years being busy when he asked me:

“Are you still networking?”

I confirmed I was and that I was enjoying it, before he answered ‘why?’ … 

How about you, Gavin, how’s business?

Charlie, I’ve plenty to keep me busy, most of the new projects don’t come through networking, either.

‘Very pleased to hear that,’ I replied.

Do you remember, it was a few short years ago, when you came to me looking for answers? Wondering when the next new client was coming your way?

I introduced you to the Network.

Yeah Charlie, I do remember, thanks for that. Nowadays I seem to be attracting business without the regular networking. Lucky eh?

Gavin, you know the network you frequented for that 2/3 years may have something to do with the ‘busyness’ you now enjoy?

With that ‘constant core’ of regular friends in the room listening to your declaration of skill … the call for support and description of the type of business you were looking? The people listened and during that time your name was the only one they referred.

Your company was the one that the friends of old were recommending to other contacts, their own friends and family whenever the need arose. It was because they heard you as you supported them.

It’s great that you are now benefitting from the work you put in during those early years Gavin. Networking is about the leverage that lasts, reputation building, and you have found that.

Yes, I never forget those who helped me out – and you know? I seem to refer those same people without even thinking. 

The most important part of the work is the beginning, eh Gavin? 

Business is personal, first impressions count.


Going my way?

I don’t know Charlie, I seem to be standing still. Whatever I try to do fails to change my luck, any ideas where I’m going wrong?

We’re all vulnerable to negative influences Chris, especially when the market is flat. If you’re asking for my opinion though, I need to know where you wish to go?

First thing is to understand that by doing nothing, we are in fact standing still. By doing nothing we’re not creating any opportunity to improving our prospects.

Yes, I hear you Charlie, and like I said, I’m meeting with the network often. I’m following up my leads with enhanced updates to products and services as well. Nothing seems to be working at the minute.

Chris, how long since your last enquiry? Remember, not everyone is in the market for your kind of business all of the time… think seasonal. The market is forever changing and so the opportunity is, over time, available to all.

If we are consistent with the messages, patient, our time will come.

So, when was that last business enquiry? Or your last testimonial? Mark it in the diary, follow-up with the next one and the next. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time. Say, 12 months. Visualise the pattern of activity in the market you are addressing now so that in the future you might visualise what’s coming …

Twelve months Charlie? I can’t wait that long for my luck to change.

Ok, try quarterly market analysis, or monthly, weekly. The key to success … is to move by planning, doing. Keep up the message of consistency with your network. Change ‘your luck’ Chris, by planning ahead.

Show your prospects the benefits of working alongside you.

Chris, we mustn’t stand still, our prospects don’t. Be bold, be heard (not brash,) think aloud amongst friends, visualise (in technicolour) what success means to you, because …

… yeah I know Charlie … ‘people buy from people.’

Correct. Success Chris, is not about your next enquiry or job, it’s about how you inspire others to change … let’s tell the people where you are going and inspire those future customers to go with you! 


Who’s driving?

So Charlie, can you remember why you decided to work for yourself?

Mark, I remind myself of that same question whenever the going gets tough. 

Why work for myself?  The personal rewards of course and (this may sound tedious) because I wanted control of my destiny. 

What about you, Mark, do you enjoy your work? 

Well yes and no … tech is ever-changing, so the pace is fast, ‘though I’m well rewarded for what I do. Heard about ChatGPT?”

The GPwhaa..??  You seem to be enjoying the world of ‘tech,’ Mark?

Ok, Charlie, I’m in it for the money. In fact, I need it, so I enjoy the tangible rewards for what I do. Yeah, I enjoy the job for the money.

Mark, I was in a similar position to you earlier in my career. Then the money evaporated with the trade. This gave me an ‘opportunity’ to pursue something I enjoyed. Yet, I didn’t see change as a benefit right away. It took a while to find out exactly what kind of ‘opportunity’ came with the new direction. I made mistakes along the way. There was a period when I ‘experimented’ with promises & ‘lucrative’ roles. It wasn’t happening for me, all the while … I was looking for something else. 

We all ‘work for ourselves,’ right Charlie?

Correct Mark. I know now, during that transitional time for me the catalyst was the turmoil. I became driven to succeed through focus and fear of failure … the need to excel. I had the choice to step back or embrace the time. Even though ill judgment and wrong choices came along to ‘derail me,’ I survived, carried on and I have succeeded.

I didn’t realise it at the time Mark … these small (though not insignificant) episodes in life were the magic to forging who I was to become. I learned to understand that I didn’t need to chase the big money to be happy. When I became content with who I was, I developed a business that could work without me. 

So you’re planning on finishing up?

Steady. Not yet Mark. I came to work for myself because I was free to pursue my passion. That passion continues as the development of life skills. I’m doing this by engaging the people that matter, my colleagues.

The value of strong relationships as the foundation for happiness. This same strategy remains and will hold the business in good stead once I do ‘leave the room.’ 

People buy people Mark, now who or what is ChatGPT?


The Take Away

This was the question, recently:

What was my biggest takeaway from ‘living away from the old country’ these past twenty years?”

‘It’s the holidays! Come on …’ These weird questions come to disarm us at the time we’re most vulnerable don’t you think?

I couldn’t respond without giving this particular question a little thought, ‘so much water …’ I uttered. There were too many considerations in delivering the correct answer, of course.

If there was one thing it must be the gratitude for my partnerships that have prevailed, my family in particular. These partnerships wouldn’t have been possible without me living where I am now. Something else though …

Being self-employed for much of the past two and a half decades I’ve learned the lessons offered by showing courage. By taking ‘the bad with the good,’ and understanding that there will be tough times … (even though I didn’t realise how many) … courage can take us some way.

Being brave comes at a price. We should understand who we are, why we have the yearning of where we wish to be, and have the courage to take risks along the path that leads to fulfillment. 

Again, something else. Being brave can be taxing and so, today, more than ever, we definitely need to recognise strong relationships and … humour.

Living ‘away from home’ has allowed me to lean a little more on my internal instincts and reserves. I’ve learned to offer transparency. Good relationships share vision, business thrives on trust and so vision, and transparency are prerequisites.

So, what was ANOTHER takeaway, apart from the lasting relationships of the family? For me, it’s been the opportunity to observe how others live and thrive. Then being able to see how I might be brave enough to adapt and bring my own, independent expertise to the business of today.

What do you see as the greatest ‘takeaway’ your business offers the customer in 2023?

People buy from people because business is personal.


Meet, Harsha Moore

Here’s (another) date for the Diary … 28th December … 16- 18.30pm (BST)
Clear the way through … Kundalini Yoga Workshop
hosted by my friend Harsha Moore …

“Have a mat (or throw) and cushion to sit on the floor – ideal if possible, otherwise a chair to sit on

A blanket or jumper to cover yourself during deep relaxation

Please do not eat a heavy meal prior two hours before the session

and please bring yourselves with a willingness to share”

ZOOM I.D. No … 476 566 6166

We are supporting Thomas Pocklington Trust (the charity for those with partial or permanent sight loss.)

#SightLoss #kundaliniyoga #newyou


The apprentice

‘Tough’ is not a trait some of us are born with. Working for yourself, one of the advantages of joining the solopreneur society is we soon harden up when honing our instincts. 

The business landscape? It’s tough out there. You know it, we’ve about survived the worst of a pandemic by drawing on our own resilience and that of the national reserves.

We’re bound to feel a little battle-weary, some of us have become impervious to the ongoing challenges of the daily grind. Most of are still ‘working it out.’ 

If we’re working alone we’re contending daily as we hear the ‘news broadcasts.’ We’re badgered into considering the negative messages of worldly woes and as we learn to disconnect from the madness of the opinionated, trend-hungry society … we focus on a living.

At some stage during the days of ‘working for ourselves …’ (isn’t everyone working for themselves?) We find ourselves passing through yet another apprenticeship as we navigate …  solopreneurship.

We are the decision-makers. Accountability? The buck stops with us. So, when we’re fortunate enough to be able to confer with friends the instincts kick in as we hear something more valuable than the raft of fake news. We smile as we reconnect with friends, it’s comfortable. We’re grounded once more. 

I’ve spent the past (many) years developing my depth of reliable contacts. The support I glean has helped me on many occasions. For me, it’s been ten years of apprenticeship!

Due to experience, it’s easy for me to be able to turn to someone for advice or to qualify my path or judgment. It’s because I’m a nosey type I have the confidence to ask questions and so seek answers.

What’s my apprenticeship taught me? I now understand that success is not about the BIG wins but a series of small gains as we develop a reputation for trust and reliability.

For those not so outgoing, or even introverted?

It’s tough for some to ask for help although there comes a time when we must. We need to understand the world of solopreneurship. The keyword is solo and it need not be so.

By developing trusted contacts (it’s that word again, trust.)

These special people bring supportive opinions, often with a skill set that isn’t within your own remit.

New connections will bring their own world of contacts over time, their own trusted diary. It is especially satisfying when we’re able to draw on their skills to help another or even a family member.

Those of us who do have that depth of reliable contacts? We soon understand how fortunate we are to have followed the apprenticeship of time in business to now work for ourselves.

The learned ability to turn to others for conversation and opinion can be invaluable, in so many ways.

Business does not have to be tough, let’s learn to reach out, and talk to others about your challenges. Surround ourselves with like-minded people.

Because people buy from people.

#community #remoteworking #conversations #networking


Goodbye stranger

Accountability is less important to strangers.” I like this, it highlights one of the many reasons we’re meeting on a regular basis at Weeklybiz.

Accountability, acting as you say you will. Being responsible. Strong personal relationships form a great platform for business, and it’s often rewarding to spend time with those you know well. There’s less pain, we’re at ease and the conversation flows.

I’m more likely to introduce new business to someone whose business values align with my own. How about you?

I recall days working in a sales environment that was very much target oriented. If I’d been having a rough week and business was slow? I was always grateful to those who I could count on to help me out. A recommendation here and there, or even an introduction to one of their own close contacts. Someone who is now a new contact and who might help. Not now, perhaps … let’s think of the future.

Some great business happens through 3rd/4th or 5th, even 6th-degree connections.  How often DO YOU ask for help from others? What’s your answer when asked … ‘who would you recommend?’

Is it, ‘No, we don’t do that.’

Or “We can’t help, although I know someone who can.”

Are you missing an opportunity for someone else? Some who share the network still don’t have the habit of reaching out. Making themselves accountable. I know, I keep saying it ‘business is personal,’ and family does come first…. although … Some even think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help.

To become an effective networker and trusted contact, it is important to develop the ability to look past our own needs.

To realise the true benefits of networking we need to be thinking of recommending our contacts. Sharing, asking for help on behalf of another outside of the net. Why? Because it’s called networking. 

For me, after years of developing my diary, the connections with whom I’m still in contact, would without fail, help each other out when asked. Even in today’s fractured business environment, there is a solution.

Yet there are many who believe that simply ‘being in business’ signifies success. Congratulations! It is indeed a brave first step, but for anyone starting their own enterprise …

The engine may be running in these early days, and that’s great. Although, if you haven’t a sales strategy and you overlook the importance of personal leverage … your business of today may be struggling tomorrow.

My advice after such a rant? Join a network, yes, because business is personal. Then value your contacts, to become accountable. Your fellow networkers (and your business) will thank you for it. 

‘people buy from people they know, and trust’ 


calling on the mantra

If there’s one question I ask as I approach my work, it’s “how can I make this easier?” Not that I’m afraid of hard work. It’s just … nothing frustrates me more than working hard, unnecessarily.

How do I ease the frustration of avoiding hard work? It’s tied directly to (one) of my core principles. ‘If you don’t do, you don’t get.’

If I find myself struggling to sustain motivation for a new habit, combating the ‘lazy’ option, and not bothering … I immediately look at what the cause for apathy may be. What is making the decision unnecessarily difficult? I know how to remedy the dilemma, I just need to stop ‘lazy’ winning. It often boils down to a few key areas.

Decisions (or, is it important?)

If I have to make too many decisions to start an action, I am less likely to do it. So, I need to address the steps holding back my actions. Here’s a good example …

I own a set of golf clubs that I don’t use often. One reason for this is that I have yet to decide to pick them up.

Always I have questions for myself …

Do I have time?

What’s the weather like?

Who do I call for a game?

Am I up to it? Fit enough?? And on it goes.

Here’s what I know to be true.

If I can arrive at the course, I will play. I will do the hard work of ‘playing the game.’ (Sounds contradictory, I know.)

It’s all the stuff beforehand that trips me up. That’s when I choose lazy instead of recalling ‘If you don’t do, you don’t get,’ … making it simple to pick up the clubs.

Willpower (It’s my mind thing)

Do I enjoy golf? Yes. Does it keep me fit? Yes. Is it hard work?? Yes.

Why then should I exert willpower before the event? My willpower should come to the ‘fore’ (excuse the pun) during the actual game. You see, I want to keep enough of the willpower in the tank for the full eighteen holes. Not to burn-out after nine.

So my routine? I like to prepare the night before …

This is how willpower overcomes the lazy … being ready, (ahead of the game,) preparing ahead of time helps me ‘be lazy’ and still do what I want to do.

Why not let me know what’s getting in the way of your efforts? What’s making your work unnecessarily hard? How do you overcome ‘the lazy?’

Apart from blaming the weather? 🙂


Life’s a playground

I was visiting friends recently when the conversation turned to the fact that Sarah, (aged 8,) wasn’t enjoying school so much. Sarah had only recently moved to her next ‘big’ school after living with mum and dad in a rural community.  

Sarah declares, ‘It’s not the same. My friends are all different and we don’t play so much …’   

Agreed. Friendships change when we start new schools. During career changes, most of us manage to hang on to strong connections. We move house and take those close friendships with us. Moving schools can be a ‘big deal’ and I loved that Sarah says ‘we don’t play so much.’    

‘My new friends are always grumpy.’   

Once mum and dad convinced her that the new friends will play more in time once they see her best ‘sparkly smile.’ We all agreed that the wrench for youngsters moving communities can be profound.  

Not just the kids, I believe most of us would benefit profoundly by reaching out more often, offering more time to developing those all-important relationships … these days particularly, in our insular world, there’s always someone ‘out there’ who may be in need …

We can help …  

New acquaintances often bring challenges for the more introverted, and friendships often take a little while to develop, especially (as Sarah described) through mum and dad’s house move, and that new job might mean anxious times for some … as for the self-employed opting for ‘remote working..?’   

Life is all about those moments, I call them opportunities. There are times when I stop for clarity, seeking definition in my role as a friend and I’m often asking myself ‘am I giving enough?’ Be it time for engagement, advice, or help and support.

Even today, when 8 yr old Sarah reminded me that we’re so busy working ‘in the moment’ that we forget to smile. We should be setting examples, by making time to share those light-hearted moments, our playtime…  

Lessons from our younger selves are within us all. Let’s take time to realise that more than ever, business is personal,  ‘people buy from people.’    


What’s in it for me?

  “Hi Charlie, I’d like to come along and meet you at the networking forum next week, the cost being £10 per head right? If you don’t mind me asking … what do I get for the money?” 

 ‘Fair comment Ben,’ I replied. ‘A choice of breakfast, certainly, the venue also offers delegates exclusive use of its premises.’

OK, that’s fine. We don’t mind paying for the breakfast, although I thought you mentioned on the telephone that the networking was free?” 

 ‘Correct. The only thing you are paying for is what you consume. By coming along to the meeting you’ll find that in reality, you are absorbing much more than the great breakfast of choice.    

Ben, you will be meeting a variety of like-minded business owners, each with their own circle of contacts. You will also be the only specialist of your skills in the room and you will have an opportunity to introduce your own business.’

  “OK, Charlie, so there’s the possibility I could come away with some business?” 

‘Once your new contacts get to know you, there’s a great chance your message is discussed outside of your circle, perhaps in conversation with your next ideal client …

New business is always a possibility, it depends on who’s listening (or in the market at the time of your offer.)’

‘What else do you get for your £10?

Think about your message Ben, think … who can YOU help? It just may be reciprocal.

Networking offers an introduction to new contacts in a variety of industries over information exchange. Your allies. There’s your business’s well-being to think about. Self-esteem, confidence through the presentation, new friends also … networking is more than new business, more than a good breakfast. 

Where would you like to take your business, Ben?’

People buy from people.


Only people can

Does anyone care to imagine how the new business ‘entrepreneur’ grew the businesses prior to the advent of the internet? Before digital?

Give me just a minute …

With the consolidation of in-person networking during the mid 80’s ‘word of mouth’ established itself as the preferred tactic of obtaining new business introductions.

People recognised the value of the professional, informed connection and face-to-face interaction.

Prior to 1990 the business start-up had the choice of advertising through a very different media landscape to today … there were market-focussed magazines, local newspapers, and community ‘rags’ were abundant. 

Specialist sales-people, those who had people skills, the experts in their field who were engaging the prospects and (potential) new customer were a valuable asset to any company.

No doubt, word of mouth, and business by recommendation are still recognised as the best form of business.

Although today, the use of digital media has brought about the spectre of the ‘redundant salesperson.’ The soft skills that were so important thirty years ago are often lost on the potential impresarios of today. 

What value is the educated connection? The business landscape continues to change alongside an ever-evolving digital influence and it is proven that those who don’t adapt, are lost.

Ambitious individuals can evolve in step within the forward-thinking company. Although, the one thing that cannot be overlooked is that people buy from people. You may have the best product in the market although if you cannot personally relate to the prospective customer you may be lost.

There will always be a special place in business for those individuals who are able to develop meaningful relationships, and trust.

In-person networking continues to support the organisation that values the soft-skills, those personal experiences that only people bring to ‘the room.’


Be surprised.

Looks can be deceiving, life tests us each day, dares us to raise a smile and still, I often never see it happening.

I’d like to share a short story with you. Not particularly linked to business, with only the merest reference to the practice of networking … although … well, you’ll see.

Our son moved out recently, taking his cat with him. Since then, I’d been looking out for a ‘mouser’ to join the remaining family menagerie of four chickens and one black and white dawg …

So, when a friend coincidentally called to ask whether I’d be interested in adopting her young male cat named Dave I was listening.

Christine explained that she had been recently diagnosed with a long-term illness and with a ‘needy pet’ in the house, she was finding life tough. Dave though was fully vaccinated and in good health … without hesitating I agreed, “Yes, of course. No problem and thank you!” 

I put the ‘phone down. “You’ll need to have him sterilised you know?” Came a shout from a learned, listening ear.

It wasn’t long before I was on the way with ‘our Dave’ to the local veterinarian.

“Pop him up on the examination table please.”

The next few minutes saw me grappling with Dave’s ‘front end,’ as my lovely assistant qualified the rear area for the possible procedure.

 “Excuse me, she said, I’ll need to collect a torch. Would you take hold of him for a minute?” 

Returning quickly with another assistant and the required illumination, a further investigation ensured my assistant was finally satisfied.

You can put the pet back in the carrier please, there’s nothing we can do for you today.” 

I could see Dave was happy as I looked quizzically at my nurse …  “Your cat is female.”

Dave … is Davinia?

Needless to say … my quarter-hour journey home with Dave/Davinia provided reason to be happy for the little beast – he/she wasn’t to face ‘the knife after all.’ I’d also saved some cash and decided to maintain the boy-blue collar and the name Dave.

All in the name of the unexpected and of course a gentle nod of affirmation to the local profile of LGBTQ+ awareness.

Dave had done ‘her bit.’    


Go tell …

During the course of these past ten years, I am constantly reminding myself that I could be better. I’m happy ‘where I am’ with the business, sure, although these days I’m driven to consider how I could improve. 

Business is good. Recommendations are coming my way and while I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels, the stories I’m asked to develop on behalf of my clients are qualification enough for what I provide as a service. 

Stories have a wonderful way of reminding me there is so much more around us than what is in front of our own eyes. Stories for me, enable me to dive deep, dismissing my own needs and focus on … how I’m able to make the experience better for my client?

We all have a unique level of experience. Successes, challenges, and of course, the odd failure and I’m not saying treat these milestones as a ‘badge of honour’ but if we don’t go out and try, we won’t experience the highs and lows, right?

My own life experiences combine to form a melting pot of stories that I’ve learned to bring together. Great things happen when we take time to encourage our stories, reflecting perhaps … on life experiences. I’m not talking solely about ‘my job’ either, the production of a memoir or novel, sometimes takes years to complete. 

Tell the tale, inspire the imagination …

By engaging in-person, through groups such as the Weeklybiz, connecting through stories based on personal experiences, we’re creating opportunities. We’re also offering insights into the possibility of further collaboration.

Unbeknownst as we deliver the tale, we conjure pictures to go with the story. We’re encouraging comparisons, the possibility of solutions emerge, something that may not have been possible prior to conversation.

We’re developing a far richer association via stories. Each time I’m reminded to do better I now look at how I could make it better for my customer, I reflect on my own journey and how far I’ve come through collaboration.

Today’s business is not so much about what we know, it’s how we relate that set’s us apart from the competition. Go and build, tell your story, because ultimately, reputations matter.


Who’s that?

We make plans, and we picture the goal and the path to success as dictated by the plan. There is a preparation for action within our ability and that is complementary to our skills which will see us benefit from that plan.

Then we step forward … 

Alan is a new acquaintance I met recently. He’d had heard that networking was, amongst many other things, a great sounding board.

He was looking to introduce his ideas to the Weekly Business forum and of course, he was welcome to join us for breakfast.

“So, Alan thanks for joining us, what is it we can help you with?”

Sadly, for the most part that day Alan was invisible amongst us and continued to be so for the next couple of weeks until I decided to sit down and see if he might benefit from a conversation.

Like many who step into a new environment for the first time, there can be a sense of unease – even dread. The ‘what if’ … or ‘what if they don’t?’

We may have the best-laid plans (Robert Burns) but if we cannot see the way to communicate ‘the plan’ we can become lost. Even with the confidence of knowing precisely what it is we need and with the steps toward success being obvious there is still one thing that is overlooked.

Learning to trust.

Do we have the faith in our own ability?  Am I able to recognise genuine support, will I be able to keep up the pace … and how do I trust??  

Alan was coming across as a little uncertain, he was worried, nervous, and lacking in faith in the plan he himself had laid down. He wasn’t able to relate and so went unseen, unheard.

Alan soon realised that running a business is a leap of faith. There is rarely an end game, the spirit of reason and enterprise that led us to start in the first place is not necessarily going to be with us after the early years of success. Learning to trust in the influences and changes as our business grows is important as we adapt and initiate the change within ourselves.

Such as the change we face today, Alan.

You have a plan, you know the route to success and now, stepping out – here before you, here is a room of people following similar paths with stories that may inspire, influence you, or at the very least keep you from becoming the invisible man. 

People buy from people because business is personal.


Time away from the job

How do I spend my leisure time?

If the weather isn’t good and I’m all caught up with the business follow-up, then I have a garage with long-term projects to keep me busy. Otherwise, I like to stay occupied with any tasks that need attention, and I’m never sitting for long.

When the sun is out I’m likely found in the garden. I enjoy the open space and exercise. It’s a diversion that comes through caring. Planting, supporting, watching for growth, pruning, growing on.

I’m no professional gardener or arborist, my patch is small, but it ‘does for me.’ There’s no fuss, I’m seeing what develops and I find the garden is definitely cathartic. Whatever may be on my mind at the time, I’m able to ‘think things through. It’s time away from the day job. 


I can’t help thinking how much alike gardening and networking are. I use the comparison often when asked ‘what’s so good about the morning meeting?’

It’s a regular happening seeing new people visit The Weekly Business. It’s where everyone ‘wins.’ We learn from each other. Affinity develops, opinions are sought and insights are found through different stories. Enlightenment … conjured up during the conversation.

Away from the regular meeting, we look to share with the wider circle what we learn from one another and by doing so we find out how where we’re able to help.

 We’re sharing those new stories, looking out for one another.

It’s gardening! We’re helping each other grow, cultivating relationships through trust as we thrive.

Business is personal because people buy from people.


Catch of the day!

Not all are successful when it comes to networking.

An open mind helps, and the willingness to engage in good conversation also.

Craig was the type of fellow who was only with us to pick up the business (aren’t we all.) He wasn’t interested in the benefits of any long-term mutual collaboration. Craig was hunting for the business, ‘the catch of the day.’

“I’ll give this meeting a couple of weeks Charlie, see how we go. If it doesn’t produce, then I’ll move on …”

My response?

I’ll tell you a little later, first though, let me describe what happened when I agreed to share my time.

This was long ago, in the days when I was the owner-manager of a busy design and print company. 

We saw our suppliers daily, there was a regular need for expertise in ink, chemistry, other press consumables, plus of course … paper!

One particularly busy time I opened the door to Terry (our paper merchant) who was in full flow, announcing:

“Charlie! Would you be able to attend a paper ‘mill visit’ at the end of the month?

We have a new line of eco-friendly papers produced in Switzerland. You’ll (only) be away Thursday, returning Friday evening. Charlie, if you can do this, it would help me, the boss is looking to impress the new producer, I’m sure you’ll also make some good contacts?”

Impossible I thought, before responding that he’d best ask another, someone with a little more free time … “I couldn’t afford time off from the business Terry.”

Terry was persistent. He explained that, apart from my time away from the office, here was an opportunity. Fights, transfers, food, and accommodation were all ‘taken care of.’

Before long I ‘saw sense’ and surrendered to Terry’s persistence. With the necessary delegations in place, a few weeks later I boarded my mid-week flight. I and a healthy delegation were on our way to Zurich.

As I made my way toward my seat I couldn’t help but notice a rather large gent., sporting a mop of dark hair and a beard. He (Geoff) greeted me with a cheery ‘hello there’ as I took the seat beside him, just in time, as we were on our way …

Geoff, I learned was Creative Services Director with Glaxo Pharmaceuticals …

 ‘So, what do you do, Charlie?’ he asked.

Geoff and I learned a lot over the next few days. Not least the benefits of a good Bavarian lager and of course, non-chlorine bleached print materials! In fact, we were both so content being away from the routine, we rarely ‘talked business.’ We did though, returning to London, exchange contact details, while thanking Terry, our host before continuing our separate ways …

I dropped both Geoff and Terry handwritten notes in the post over the following days, thinking no more.

It was several months later I received a telephone call from Geoff. He wanted to know whether we could use a little more business?

In fact, it was the beginning of several good years of trading with Geoff. He was someone who understood the importance of common ground, strong relationships, and trust.

So, returning to Craig, I suggested to him that it was unlikely there would be any takeaway business in the room today. If he wasn’t prepared to sacrifice time networking in support of better relationships … he’d likely find himself forever looking for the incidental business, the ‘order book fillers.’

You may have the best products and services in your sector …  but if you aren’t prepared to engage your prospects, and learn from them, you’ll be disappointed.

Business is personal because people buy from people.


It’s cash in hand!

It was at the regular Weeklybiz network morning session I’d been introduced to Thomas … 

Thomas had left Uni a few months beforehand with a decent degree in Engineering and was now finding it tough to find work. His ‘careers adviser’ suggested he talk with Sara Eke ** and join The Weeklybiz for conversation.

Leaving Uni., like most young students, Thomas was hopeful of finding a position in his favoured sector, but so far he’d had no luck. Four months on, he was wondering when he might see the fabled green ‘shoots of opportunity.’

‘It’s tough for everyone now Charlie, I understand that. The trouble is, I’m not sure how to go about applying for ‘a regular job’ … I’ve never spent any significant time in employment.’ 

I understood his predicament. More than 50% of graduates fail to find their preferred posting right after leaving school. Post-Brexit/Covid pandemic, the job market still finds itself in shock.

Employers are wary. There are more opportunities prior to lock-down, although generally, this is a result of those taking early retirement and the booming home-working economy.

Thomas looked to enjoy our meeting. He made a few decent contacts and I left him deep in conversation with those who knew the jobs market along with my friend Sara Eke. **

As I made my way home to the ‘office’ I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I was when leaving school aged sixteen.

I found myself ‘graduating’ from the ‘paper-round,’ to stacking shelves at the local supermarket during evenings. I washed cars and began cutting grass at the weekend for an elderly neighbour as well …

The extra cash was useful, (spent before I received it!) I wasn’t aware of the magic ingredient – life experience – that was unfolding. I had no idea there may be a ‘career path’ to follow. “What’s a career path, anyway? This is it, isn’t it?”

I had cash in my hand but had no idea.

Until …my ’employer’ (the elderly neighbour) suggested I consider starting an apprenticeship … I was oblivious of course, but with a nod of affirmation, I accepted the handful of coins offered for the grass well cut and made my way … thinking nothing more. 

That is, until a few days later I found myself at my first-ever ‘interview!’ The result was a four-year assignment with a national newspaper, it was the beginning.

For me, nothing beats the word-of-mouth life experience. I never underestimate the people we engage and interact with along ‘life’s journey.’  

Thomas would take a little while to find his own ‘magic referral.’ Although by sharing a smile during conversation and acting on qualified advice … it was clear he had taken the important first steps toward improving his current situation.

Thomas had reached out through a friend.  

** Sara Eke, produces marvellous Aromatherapy remedies. Check her ingenious ‘roller-balls’ here.


Being there

‘You know Charlie, it’s tough for me to take time off work to attend these breakfast meetings.’

I used to hear the above phrase a lot during the early days of the Weeklybiz. 

Taking time off work?

Another popular version was:

‘I can’t afford to spend time away from the job for the sake of an early breakfast.’

An early breakfast away from the job?

This was commonplace as well … once upon a time:

‘I have a presentation I need to complete by the morning …’ 

Casting my mind back, there was a time when this type of response was commonplace whenever I extended a genuine invitation to develop new business. ‘Nowadays the response is more like … 

‘It’s difficult for me to commit.’

Too busy for more business? Is this the message we wish to deliver?

Time is valuable, I get it. That’s why we schedule the morning meetings – to be less onerous, 7.15-8.45 am – engagement before the day starts. 

I consider my preferred networking date offers the perfect time to engage as we listen out for business. Because, networking is not only about you. Networking is about how we inform and educate colleagues, this starts by being there.

Being there for the conversation, opinion, and observation. Being reliable.

By being there for others we’re showing empathy while enhancing our own reputation. By working on our reputation we’re making a real difference to the possibility of new, meaningful referral business. Being recommended by others is a wonderful thing …

… the stronger the relationship, the more suitable the referrals.

Not forgetting, for more sensitive referrals, (those including family,) we’re a little more discerning about where to place our business. The same principles apply to our colleagues. We all ask, ‘who do we trust?

Time spent networking is not taking time away from the business – it is the act of developing your business. through the introduction, by referral.


Being lucky

‘It was only a matter of time, David.’

We were discussing the referral my friend had collected during this morning’s meeting. 

David had spent the past twelve months working on his presence, his persona, and the business. His input was now rewarding him with some important work for his company. David of course was happy, we all shared his delight.

It’s so good to see someone enjoy their work and reap the rewards. One of the many benefits of networking is sharing in the success of friends.

I’m sharing the joy with you here because not everyone is able to experience the success that David has worked so hard to achieve.

There are lots of people who cannot commit to regular networking, for a whole host of reasons.

` life commitments

` no time

` no patience

` or they’re too busy for more business.

David has attended our meetings on a regular basis for twelve months. He’s worked hard to achieve clarity during his presentations and the ‘after meeting’ one-to-one meetings have also helped others understand his business.

Importantly, through these developed relationships, David has gone out of his way to help and support his colleagues.

By doing so he’s found out – first hand, that it’s not about what you have, it’s about who you know.

By ‘being there,’ on a regular basis for your fellow networkers … when the opportunity arises, we make ourselves … irresistible.

This is why networking has worked for David because David has worked on his networking!

‘people buy from people’


to ‘have a go’

I was having a conversation with an esteemed friend recently.

At 84yrs of age he’s the senior ‘kid on the block,’ someone who is quite ‘well-off.’ His family estate being considerable, he wants for nothing. Although today, I found him in a reflective mood.

He considers himself lacking’ in certain areas of his life.

At times, don’t we all?

As a former investment banker, he had spent only a short while in the role until the death of his father decreed that he was ‘the one’ to control and manage several thousand acres, including farms, numerous dwellings, and … a mine … not forgetting the mine …

Yes, I’m in a lucky position I suppose Charlie. Although. For the past 200 years, my family has existed to maintain the well-being of tenants residing on the estate. As responsible custodians, we also safeguard the rich legacy that surrounds and supports us.

So, why so wistful?

I would have liked to have ‘tried my hand’ at developing a business from ‘the off’, Charlie. That would have been for me, a challenge no doubt, but to build from nothing would be a dream come true.

One’s own destiny defined by your own hand?

“In part, yes Charlie, correct. The excitement of launching, from scratch, a new enterprise? Something to be sought out by others … a business sampled and enjoyed. That appeals to me, it always has. It must be deeply satisfying for you.

On occasion, yes. Like everything else, it’s great when things are going well. Although remembering the ‘early days?’ The unwary may find being a ‘solopreneur’ a minefield, full of highs and lows.

Wonderful stuff, Charlie, but you have your network to support you, have you not? To be in charge of your own enterprise, you answer to no one…

Our customers. Yes, my own network often points the way forward but it’s down to each of us to steer the course. Ultimately we answer to no one but our customers and ourselves.

I left my friend with a distinct feeling he would have enjoyed, and, most likely, made a great job of the challenge of life as a self-employed proprietor. Entrepreneur.

Not to be …

I also gave quiet thanks for our conversation as it confirmed my own ambitions are part way now fulfilled.

Because I had faith and took the first steps … I ‘had a go.’


Gone fishing …

“You may call it networking Charlie, I call it fishing.”

My wife was highlighting how much time I spent networking (6-8 hours per week.) Sue compared it to being a ‘golf widow’ or ‘fisherman’s wife.’

She had a point. I do enjoy the opportunity of meeting up with my regular group. We share so much, there’s plenty of common ground, being together now for more than ten years and I’m not the only one to enjoy the occasional enquiry. 

“Fishing. Put it this way, Charlie … You prepare the night before. Checking the ‘tools of the trade,’ you leave the house as dawn approaches to be at the preferred destination for an informal chat and pre-meeting coffee.

But …

In quick time you set up prior to the arrival of friends and guests, the same as you would when fishing. Preparing the scene, ‘the burley,’ assembling the lures, you’re in preparation.” 

It’s what I do Susan, this is how the flag for my business is flown.

There’s more. You offer encouragement to attendees, as you do when fishing, you vary the lures and, depending on the conditions … there’s every chance that you aren’t going to catch anything anyway – it’s right isn’t it?” 

Correct. I’m never expecting to come away with business each time we meet up.

“Yes, so you say. I’m witness to your optimism, I see long stretches without any interest in what you do. Just like the riverbank, time goes by and there’s not a bite … correct?” 

Yes, (she’s right again.) That’s true, although once you do experience episodes of success …’

“They’re few and far between, aren’t they? You’re not always catching the fish that is going to feed the cause, are you? I get that …” 

Susan, once you experience the validation of your skills and are rewarded … you learn a skill for life. You understand that not everyone is in the market for your business at the same time. Like fishing, there are many different contributing factors to the time for success.

If we do something right enough times we start to influence the marketplace (or the fishing hole) and people (or fish!) take notice …  our skill is rewarded as our reputation is enhanced. 

“So, what you are trying to say is …

What I’m saying is the many rewards of networking, like anything else of real value, are realised over time.

“And along the way?” 

Along the way, long term, helping others for a couple of hours per week can be very satisfying.

“O.K., I’ve learned a little more about networking and about fishing. Tonight we’ll stick with the pizza.”

Marvellous. Fish and chips next week!


What’s your excuse?

Hi Charlie. “Sorry, I’ve had a call from a client who needs to see me tomorrow morning, so I can’t make the meeting.”

For as long as I’ve been networking, this is the ‘stand out’ explanation I’m offered when someone calls to opt-out. They’re faced with choosing to replace one appointment with another.

They choose to be elsewhere.

Of course, I’ve heard many different stories, some that merit mentioning here:

* A flat tyre on the ‘spare car.’ (Don’t ask what happened to ‘the original car!’)

* Sorry, I slept through the alarm. (I do get it!)

* The kids were giving me trouble. (Hey, who’s the boss here?)

My all-time favourite ‘bestest’ excuse for missing out?

* Mosquitos kept me awake all night, I was exhausted by the morning … (it’s true!)

All good, valid (creative) reasons for not ‘being there.’

So I may sound terse when I say that ‘my client needs to see me tomorrow morning’  … is not a ‘valid reason’ to miss your networking.

After all, we schedule meetings, don’t we? Diaries are commonplace (even customers have them!) That’s why the networking breakfast meeting is an early start, so to avoid impacting the daily routine.

It’s a routine that works for most.

More importantly … in my view, as we reflect on the messages we’re sending to our fraternity, whether we like it or not, we’re suggesting ‘something or somebody is more of a priority just now.

I like to keep my appointments. The regular routine is not only good for my own well-being, it’s great for the continuity of the business engagement also. If I do have a request to be with someone early, I’ll make sure we reschedule to avoid a clash.

Make sense?

Call me unreasonable if you wish, it’s plain diary management. To me, the routine of Networking is exactly as it sounds. We’re working on a network of contacts. We’re practiced at being there for the opportunity,  to offer help and advice. We’re working on becoming dependable, for reliable makes you referrable.

Word of mouth travels. It’s the best form of advertising and no one can afford to let their reputation slip by disappointing their close network.

People buy from those who they know, like, and trust.



Accountability is such an important quality. There’s not a lot to maintain, we start by respecting the value of time while doing as we say we shall. 

I help clients write the story of their lives. Sometimes the project lasts only a short time, other works take a little longer. The business network forum I host also witnesses similar timelines.

Some of those attendees are blessed with quick returns on their investment in engagement. For other friends, those with particular niche skills, success sometimes takes a little time.

It depends on how often we’re heard.

However it is we gauge our success, I’m a believer in the time which we ‘put in,’ the conversation, together with the attention to detail.

To see any change in business prospects, we should understand that our intentions should be clear. Developing trust, to enable the fulfilment of our goals. 

Here’s an example of how not to ‘work a room.’

I’d met Harry first time this morning when he asked me what my current spend on PPE was?  I suggested was quite a minimal figure.

I’m working from home Harry, so the public presence is minimal.’

‘Oh, ok.’ Do you know anyone else who has a need to buy these items regularly? I thought for a minute and suggested he seek out conversations with the rest of our forum contingent. “Meanwhile, I’ll have a think about your question, thanks, Harry.”

Harry was gone in quick-time. During the thirty minutes he was with us I noticed he’d be dutifully handing out cards, seeking the opportunity.

At least Harry was ‘working on it.’ I did wonder though … whether he would be following up?

It takes all types of people to make an effective network. From the variety of organisations present, the personalities, and products. All sorts of people bringing plenty of ‘possibility’ to the room.

Some are, of course, hunting for the quick-fix, others content on working at educating the room on the aforesaid ‘niche skills’ they may bring.  Accountability is all about clarity and ownership, going the distance.

Rarely is credibility displayed with a quick introduction and an exchange of business cards … unless you are following up, to become referrable.


The world keeps turning

Who do we believe? We’re delivered ‘news’ daily – hourly – or by the minute(!) if, like the majority, we’re ‘geared up.’ Fake news or otherwise – who do we trust?

Nothing is certain unless it’s personal, or seen.

Is it me, or does it seem that as business owners we’ve been navigating these past few years far too gingerly? As barefoot navigates broken glass? Just when C-19 seems to fade we’re confronted by another global threat … yet the world keeps turning.

It’s tough enough concentrating on setting up, planning, and running a business, let alone earning a living. Everywhere we turn there are calls for help. Some at a very personal level, we’re distracted each time we see/hear the ‘latest news.’

So how do we keep the focus to stay the course?

We act as we always have done, don’t we?

‘So, we don’t listen?’ I hear you say.

Listening is good. ‘Turn the dreaded machines off?’ Yes, that’s a good idea.

Better still … we go and seek the opinion of trusted others …

Personally, I’ve found reaching out and talking with other like-minded businesses continues to help me. Especially during these past few years of ‘fakedom & scaremongery.’ Conversation is good for clarification.

By listening I hear support and solutions that I’ve known would be useful at some point. Perhaps not right away … it’s a top-up of the storage tank, my mind-map …

Within the right network there develops a kind of symbiotic relationship. Over time each person (each business) within the network grows, and we mature through regular conversation.

By engaging we learn to know what it is that may be useful to others in times of need and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Other often-overlooked benefits? An underlying feeling of being on the right side of the tracks. A sense of solidarity that you don’t have to be on your own – even though you ‘work for yourself.’

Not least. Over time, what becomes crystal-clear is that as a business owner you gain the testimony of peers. That, to me, is a wonderful asset.

Networking is so much more than a quick-fix breakfast or order-book management. Networking is about helping others grow, as you prosper yourself.


Make them smile

George and I had been friends for over 30 years.

I heard he wasn’t well so I made the call and you know, we picked up the conversation as if we were still in the same room. It was good to speak with him.

I even had the chance of telling George how much I missed him, his conversation, the common ground, his dubious sense of humour and the general ‘craic.’ 

I came away from the call feeling grateful for the time we’d spent together. I also realised that it was the only occasion I’d told him how much I appreciated our friendship.

It’s important to show our appreciation don’t you think? Even for the smallest of things. How often do we make a point of appreciating the companionship, advice, and guidance of our peers?

We share the bulk of our time with friends and family, we spend a good deal of time with business colleagues also and gratitude is an important part of any organisation, any network of like-minded people you care to mention …

After all, business is built on word-of-mouth, isn’t it?

You know, as much as we all persevere, putting in the work, sharing stories, the challenges, and successes … it’s important to understand that none of us are self-made. We meet many people along the path, supporting us in many unseen and different ways.

We also learn a lot as we’re influenced by the actions of others.

George? He made me smile. More though, his legacy resonates as I am now aware of the need to show a little more appreciation to those who help me along the path.

I’m grateful I was able to speak with George before it was too late.  


What’s your experience?

There was a time of course when I wasn’t considered an ‘expert’ in anything – least of all publishing. Sure, today the thirty+ years in the industry offer a kind of qualification, reassurance to potential clients. Although I’d never agree to be deemed an expert. Why? Because we’re always learning … and being an expert may be misconstrued as meaning, ‘one who knows all.’ 

Not me, no, I do not know all.

My industry (yours?) is subject to daily developments in technique and process. No matter how much knowledge or experience I gain developing skills, there will always be another. Someone who is better versed in a particular niche or style, program, or application.

The difference? Each of us has different strengths developed through experience and you could say I am very experienced although … no, never the expert.

I prefer to be the eternal student of life.

What about you?

Look at this another way. I’m pretty good at attempting jobs around the home. Basic tasks, maintenance is something I’ll tackle. I wouldn’t attempt any tricky electrical tasks though. The risk is too great. I’d call in an electrician.

In the past, I’ve been useful at predicting a useful investment opportunity. Although I’d consult ‘those who know’ before parting with any of my hard-won cash. (I wish!)

Likewise, if the car needed a wiper blade or bulb – I’m your man!  Anything major to attend to under the hood? I’m be calling the garage, that’s their action zone.

Life experience gives us all kinds of peripheral skills don’t you think? We get by, ‘we have a go’ because we’ve learned by doing already. 


When the big decisions need addressing and the risk of making the wrong choice has worrying implications … wouldn’t we be better off calling in a qualified professional?

Professional. It’s a better word than expert, don’t you think?

Besides. Like me, I’m sure you find that quality time has become increasingly scarce. Do you have the time? Time to spend on the distraction that takes you away from your core business? Or even the precious home time??

No? Me neither.

I’m a professional at making my clients happy by developing their messages. What’s your professional calling?



‘How many will be there, Charlie?’ Mari asked.

‘A good mix of men and women no doubt,’ I replied.

‘Oh great, I much prefer lots of people, it makes for better value‘I’ll see if I can make it.’ Came the reply.

Contrary to the claims of the paid-for member-driven organisations … networking is not about how many cards you collect, followers gained, or even, who ‘likes’ you.

Results come from authenticity, how we engage and deliver the message.

The reality is, most people attending events spend time with only a small number of people. These usually are the contacts they already know and feel comfortable with. Know why? Because the most important buying decisions come from multiple meetings.

Multiple meetings. Yet, networking is not a numbers game.

My focus has always been on the business of building relationships. The process is affinity, association.

So, unless I’m lucky enough to be invited along as a key speaker(!) I see no real point in ‘being the butterfly,’ from one to another, attempting to inform a delegation, en masse.

Who wants to be known as the frantic networker?

Those in a hurry (though perhaps not frantic) may be like Mari. HR is her business and it’s all about hitting targets. She is accountable to the corporation for results and, being hungry, Mari works hard.

Yes, it’s true that we create our own luck … we can find new business by turning up and simply ‘bumping into’ our next client. Someone new, who may be looking for specifically whatever it is you offer. This is how Mari, and many in the field of sales see networking.

If you don’t do, you don’t …

The opportunity that is networking, the anticipated ‘full room’ creates expectancy, even excitement, joy! Although, it can also be disappointing if the sole purpose of being there is for the new business alone. Hence we don’t find many ‘purely salespeople’ visiting the Weekly Business.

My advice to anyone heading along to a networking event … of any kind, whatever size? Spend time and expect nothing more in return other than an exchange in conversation.

Prepare your ‘story,’ listen and be ready to declare what you may be looking for. People love to help others, even more so if they see that you are comfortable in your own shoes …


Sitting comfortably?

According to those who know …
Airline passengers who prefer the aisle seat are business travellers, who like to sit at the front of the plane and get off quickly. The people who prefer the window seat are leisure travellers, and so generally less valuable to airlines.

I do understand the above statement. People who hop on and off aircraft at different intervals are adding £’s (value) to the seats. New patrons arrive and so …

Less valuable? More or less valuable??

So, do you tend to haunt the window seat, gazing out toward the horizon? Choosing when to lay the head back against the bulkhead to be … [reasonably] assured of a little peace?

Perhaps, there’s less interference in the window seat, you choose to work or read when you want?

Or when travelling, perhaps you’re more like me? Perched on an aisle seat, I find it more convenient, to get up & stretch the legs. The aisle is also useful to the ‘nosey’ person like me, too busy looking. I tend not to log on when flying, I like to see what’s happening around me. People watching, savouring the moment and when our host might be back with a refreshment or a chat …

I wonder if the window-seat is more often than not occupied by the introvert?

When networking I find it fascinating to hear how others contend with the business journey. Whether I’m in conversation with an owner-manager at a point when the business is running itself. Or a chat with another friend who is content on stoking the marketing machine, looking for the plateau. The vision, the way forward.

I find the new business owner, the start-up to be a great sounding board also. As is meeting someone who is looking to leave a well-established business and move on. Pastures new always inspire.

Each time we meet another in business we’re comparing notes, don’t you think? Where are they are in this journey, or perhaps where was I at that same juncture? It’s the opportunity to learn and share knowledge through conversation.  

We all have different preferences for our business and each of us leaves an impression, of differing value to someone else … however we fly, wherever we choose to sit.


Now, that’s an ice-breaker!

I am often asked what it takes to ‘successfully network.’

My answer is usually:
‘It depends on how you interpret successfully?’

Networking is not about transactions. It’s about reaching out to people as you offer your views, opinions, and support.

Each of us has different life experiences and we’re all able to contribute to the conversation in different ways. We should never underestimate the value of conversation.

Wondering where to start? Here’s a (relatively) easy way to start the conversation, I call it the ‘Form Guide:’

When meeting someone new, try and keep the following questions at the back of the mind:

“How far have you come, where are you FROM?’
“Are you part of an ORGANISATION?’
“Is networking part of your RECREATION or are you here on business?”
“So, what MOTIVATES you?”

Chances are the conversation will lead a natural course after the opening line(!)

If you remember that different people are networking for a whole bunch of different reasons … quite apart from the transaction, then an easy conversation is assured.

Give relationships time and success (in whatever drives you) will be just a little closer.  If all else fails … a smile is a great ice-breaker!


cultivating opportunity

Hope you like the Byron Katie quote here, it’s only remotely connected to this post but I like it, there’s so much we miss out on if we don’t keep our eyes open …

I’ve had plenty of time recently to think about what’s important to me/my business.

One routine that’s important to me is networking. It’s become the cornerstone for new enquiries, amongst a lot of other things.

‘Sorry, not for me.’ I hear some say. ‘I’m fine right here!’ Say others. Agreed, it’s not for everybody, there are those where networking is unable to help. 

For me, networking brings more than business. Think, for a minute about the relationships we develop. With like-minded people in conversation, business is easier. The engagement brings an understanding of what makes a difference. Shared thinking helps cultivate and create opportunities.

Networking cultivates opportunity. 

My ‘day job?’ People seek me out to write and publish their memoirs, stories of life experiences. It’s a great learning curve for both of us. We stop and converse. A lot.

How else do we get to know the important stuff?
Not via the blog, (not even this one) not through a website, or even ‘social’ media. To develop the greatest understanding it’s the in-person meeting that makes a difference.

Through collaborative conversation, my client delivers a legacy for the family. For me, the collaborative process of detailing one’s memoir is also fulfilling. My business offers all-around fulfillment. It’s a huge bonus and I love what I do.

It’s worth asking yourself. ‘What does my business cultivate?’ The culture of any business, what is it? I know it’s tough working for yourself, I’m with you there.

The thing is, defining the route ahead when working in smaller, more focused teams is great but sometimes … we need conversation. My business cultivates conversation, relationships.

Another oft-overlooked benefit of networking is “engagement on purpose”. It’s essential for relationships. Take the money and run?  No, not the best practice in enhancing referral, reputations. Engagement is an essential part of marketing and it’s often underappreciated. How we engage, how we ‘follow up’ with our clients has a great impact on … how our customers feel.

If our clients feel valued, there’s a good reason to return … engagement. It’s worth considering, isn’t it?

The aftermath. Greater engagement brings developed relationships. It helps understand not only client expectations but what your business also cultivates.
Are you leaving your client feeling underwhelmed, or wanting more?  

This is the key to moving forward. Think aftermath.


Rewind, retune, repeat

Holiday time is a wonderful opportunity to revisit what matters most. It’s during the quiet times, away from the business, we find space to reflect, reset.

I guess that’s why it’s termed a recharge, we change our gaze, we find clarity, by seeing the next step, we confidently move forward.

Another New Year is with us and we know now what to expect … don’t we? The past year was a tough one, like the year before that, and we’ve come through it, we’ve learned, we’re wiser, tougher. 

A routine I’ve found myself practicing is the regular fine-tune. I keep a diary and find it helpful to compare notes, see where I was successful in the past and what I may not need this time. A simple bookkeeping habit for my small business. It keeps me lean, spontaneous, and more able to adapt than say, any larger organisation.

New connections are key to my business. So regular conversations and shared experiences are important. Conversations bring enlightenment and while it’s true that not every piece of dialogue brings new business … we’re better placed to find out what’s possible through engagement.

We’re making ourselves available for business. Rewind, fine-tune and keep going.

Rewound? Press play and go, show, and tell!  Engage peers and show your intentions. Along the way, enlighten those willing to listen so that they then inform their own circle.

What’s important to word of mouth? Conversation.

Rewind, adjust, fine-tune and repeat.

By allowing ourselves time on the plan, putting in place some simple routines, we fine-tune. We’ve more to engage our colleagues through practiced conversation.

Once we’re done, we go again. Rewind, retune, and repeat. Make yourself available for referrals. When you’re available and reliable, you become referrable.



It’s not unusual to reflect, given the season … I find it helpful to take some time to the positives. Particularly those ‘small things’ that sometimes get lost in all the “busyness.”

Generally, 2021 was a good year. Of course, there are many reasons things went well, not all being related to something I did or any action I took and I do need to thank Rob Hatch for the following advice …

One thing I did consistently this year, having the most significant impact was that … I left room. Essentially, I gave myself more time between my work.

One simple example was scheduling time on either side of a meeting. Instead of a one-hour meeting or 121, I blocked off an hour and a half on my calendar.

This wasn’t because I expected I would run over. It was simply that I wanted to make time beforehand to arrive in the right frame of mind. I gave myself time afterward to process or take notes before jumping into the next thing.

The same was applied at the beginning and end of my day and also how I looked at projects as well. I allowed time for the unexpected … or family …

A luxury? Perhaps, although I came to realize how much more focused and effective I was when it mattered.

Enjoy the season, and don’t forget to leave a little room during 2022.


so the saying goes …

The village where I live is pretty small, in total around 60 men, women and children. The nearest ‘facilities’ are a couple of miles in any direction and so, reliable transport is useful,  especially during the winter.

Today, our household of four is still warming up after ten days without power. No electricity, heating, lights, I.T., nothing except for an essential landline telephone service. It’s been tough.

The positive? There were one or two moments. The four of us here were able to keep spirits up by ‘sharing the wear,’ so to speak. We were all kept busy with the fundamentals … most of all we have companionship. 

It couldn’t have been so easy for others, those with small children, or living alone, in darkness without any means of reaching out for support.

I/we’ve been lucky that the local public house had a fire going. The food was good and for those with smartphones, ‘information’ came beaming in.

As it happens, the emergency services here eventually ‘pulled the finger’ and set to reinstating power. Before long they reached our patch and even offered to pay the costs each household incurred. There was even a fish and chip van on-site to feed the community, warm the bellies. 

Oddly, following the restoration of services, I discovered the legacy these past few days offered me … a different kind of challenge. 

I endured one of those ‘duhhh’ moments, a lightbulb realisation … that these past 24 months have been just so extraordinary.

The trials of a recent blackout (during the pandemic) have tested everyone here in Northumberland, combined with the sheer volume of negative reporting, it’s made me sit up and reflect.

What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger … 

The tough times have made me think of values. The positive stuff that is so important. Qualification, clarification. Simple support. That’s most of us, right?

We need that stuff. 

Any size organisation thrives on positivity. From ground level to rooftops and everyone in-between, feel good is appreciated …

The past few years will go down as a marker, a benchmarking exercise for the levels of resilience shown within our global community. 

That’s why I consider myself extremely lucky to regularly access a diverse network of like-minded business owners, those I know well, who I trust.  It’s during the tough times when we reach out to our community, we find out who our real allies are. 


Many hands …

Having been self-employed for over two decades, I’ve always had great faith in my own ability to succeed. I find optimism to be far more productive than the alternative.

While bags of resilience are a must, more importantly, is a well-developed plan to help to routinely ‘put the work in.’ That said, these past few years have been particularly challenging for every business, even for the optimist.

Particularly challenging when taking your eye off the prize for a minute and that distant horizon seems to disappear completely.

The prize? I hear you ask.

At the end of the day, the prize for all our endeavours is something personal to each one of us. It could be (in my case) a new business affiliation where a like-minded soul and I could work together, sharing ideas, supporting those who need to be served. 

For Emma Thackara, pivoting a brand new business, Emma is looking to support SME’s by demonstrating her own 20+ years of marketing experience. My good friend (and Yoga teacher) Harsha Moore provides individuals with ad-hoc, qualified employment guidance – it’s her great skill.

Like myself, Harsha and Emma dedicate their business to helping those in need. Like many, we’re bringing specialist support to the table so that the prize is visible and attainable.

OK, so the prize may be ultimately more business, more receipts in exchange for skilled support. Maybe … although, I’ve often thought there is more to ‘it’ than cash in the pocket and revenues.

When times are tough, like now. When most everyone is struggling to keep at least one eye on the horizon, I’ve found a strong reputation mixed with a depth of reliable friends and associates is invaluable.

You could say that the ‘prize’ is something intangible. Affiliation takes time, as does trust. Just two of those overlooked ‘invisible prizes,’ earned through networking. 

Being ‘in business’ can be challenging, but through trusted connections, you have trusted, qualified support able to help, conjuring echoes of that age-old proverb:

‘Many hands make light work.’
John Heywood.


Closer to home

I stepped out of the house and closed the door behind me, just as Andrew left the bus. It’d been a while since I’d seen him, he looked perplexed.

Good morning Andrew, Good to see you, how are you? I called out.

Andrew offered a smile and an outstretched hand as I approached. “Well, that’s a greeting, good to see you also Charlie …” 

We stood for a few minutes, chatting together before we began the short walk toward the local store. Andrew had a lot on his mind, not least neighbours who were thinking of sub-dividing land adjacent to his home. He was a little flustered because no one was listening to his protests, a feeling that his opinion was not important.

I wished I could have been able to help my friend. His situation looked to be unsettling him. I suggested that apart from approaching local authorities, perhaps having a further conversation with his neighbour may help … 

We’ve all experienced similar situations, haven’t we?  Do we push to have our voices heard, or accept the status quo? 

Andrew and I parted ways as we reached the store. I picked up what I needed and went to pay the cashier. With my receipt, came a leaflet into the palm of my hand. 

‘Thank you for the business Charlie, don’t forget to vote, your participation matters.

It seems the local ‘convenience’ was under threat of closure and the leaflet was asking for my views.

Suddenly, I found myself standing in Andrew’s shoes. The actions of others were threatening to significantly change my own lifestyle.

Of couse I did as asked and voted to uphold our community hub, the only one of its kind for several miles. I also viewed plans for the proposed redevelopment, I even called the local authority.

It wasn’t long when I soon realised what I was doing wasn’t going to be enough. My protests weren’t be heard through my voice alone. Not until I rallied friends, neighbours, community groups, local businesses … 

Leverage. We’re able to achieve much more when we share our stories. We lighten the load just by asking and it also show’s that we mean business. Seeking support can be empowering.

Just now though, outside of my own personal concerns, there are plenty of issues the greater global community is looking to achieve. Each of us can do so much more through accountability and cooperation.

If we only ask.


Chicken soup day

So it promised to be a busy day, Saturday. I may even clear my desk!
Usually, I try not to spend too much time on stuff I’m usually doing during normal office hours … but hey, what are normal office hours? Today, I may even clear my desk!

Besides, if I managed to finish the edits to a short story collection, I’d make headway into a manuscript I’d recently accepted. Normal office hours? Flexibility is very important to my business and using my time to best effect is something I enjoy.

Today I thought I was doing ok until an impromptu visit from my not-so-happy wife had me ‘downing tools.’

I need to go to the dentist. Now, please. I could see by the look on Sue’s face that she was not having a good time. I was aware there was a ‘niggling’ issue although neither of us knew how severe it had now become.

Do you have painkillers/drugs? I asked.

‘Some.’  Came the reply

OK, I thought, yes, let’s do this … prioritise. The dentist …
So I picked up the telephone and dialled, only to met with a voicemail declaring “We’re now closed for the weekend, please call back Monday. Do not leave a message, do not turn up at the surgery unless invited.” 

The news didn’t go down well with Sue. 
‘What are we going to do?’

Of course, there is always something we could try next, but right now? Knowing how debilitating a severe toothache can be, I needed to make plans for the next 36hrs.  
More painkillers, mouth wash, cold packs … wine!
What about food?

‘Can we call the NHS emergency?’

Good idea. I called NHS out of hours No. 111, left details, and waited … within minutes the nurse was on the ‘phone.
‘Sounds like it’s an abscess Sue, nothing we can do until Monday. Don’t take any more Ibroprufen, Paracetamol instead, pick up some Benzocaine, apply cold packs … stick to a liquid diet, but stay off the alcohol …’ 

So I had my shopping list. I left Sue in charge of ‘dear dawg’ and set off. After an hour I had found most of what we required. The ‘liquid diet’ needed work though.

Soup. Of course. Let’s choose, either canned or homemade? No contest, decision made, it was to be homemade, chicken soup … 

In good time I was home, (the last painkiller swallowed by Sue hours ago.) The prescribed paracetamol was set to work. and I made my way to work in the kitchen. 

Where am I going with this? I hear you say.
Saturday it turned out, was not to be the day for catching up with the outstanding business. When it comes to looking after family, there’s no contest. Besides, I found the distraction helped with the clarity once I did return to the ‘tools’ of business.

Life has a way of reminding us that there is more to life than business … just in case we’d forgotten.
Business is personal.


Cricket, Rugby & networking

I was enjoying a conversation with Sam. He’s excited by the prospects of winning new business through his new-discovered network.

 I want to be an achiever Charlie. If we’re achieving through sales then we’re contributing to the success of the business, right?

Admirable Sam, but to achieve, we first need to understand the process. 
A tenuous example may be the game of cricket, Sam.

No, that’s not for me, what’s that about Charlie?

OK, one team scores as many runs as they can with the bat, while the opposite team tries to stop them by hitting their stumps with the ball, catching them out, or at least restrict the run rate. At ‘half time’ they swap roles and go again. At the end of the allotted time frame, the team with the highest amount of runs goes on and wins the game. Simple, eh?

If I could be bothered to understand it Charlie … runs?

Exactly, O.K. Sam, Let’s try Rugby.

I know you appreciate a good game and so you understand that for each different opponent we have a plan.

The aim is to be victorious, get a result by following a game plan. The entire team understands that the result is important, BUT there needs to be a plan. In Rugby, if you keep the ball long enough through team skills, you infiltrate your opponent’s territory. Keeping possession of the ball and utilising skills that enable your team to move the ball beyond the final defender, you score points. If we repeat this more than the opposition, we win.

By thinking process, we win the game, we get the result.

I’ve got that Charlie … but what’s it got to do with networking? Or business?

Sam, if we understand the game and the process by which we can achieve a win, then we can make an impression.

Networking is much maligned at times. We see people come and go because they don’t spend time understanding the process. They’re after a quick fix.

As in any team environment, networking is about developing an understanding. People gravitate to those of a like mind, they connect, then the relationships begin to flourish as trust develops.

Good partnerships take time, results come when everyone in your network has an understanding of the process, just like Cricket, or Rugby …


It’s a start.

If I had one piece of advice to offer anyone starting out in business today, it would be to value the people in your network.

Network = your contacts. Grow the network, to encourage the opportunity.
If I lost all my money today and my assets were gone, if my customers walked away I know that I’d be OK. I’d survive, start again and flourish because I have good relationships with those who I know well, share similar interests, trust.

You see, it’s been my experience that people will get us to where we wish to be. If we only take the time to engage, converse and take part in the exchange of information.

We have today, after all, a huge choice of media options at our disposal. We’re able to like, comment, join or share … 

‘It’s a start Charlie.’  I hear what you say, sure, it’s a start.

But, how many starts have failed through the lack of following up? 

It’s my belief that if you wish to develop any meaningful business, there is only one avenue worth pursuing and that is to seek regular engagement.

So, on finding your potential business partner or customer, (even if it is via the like/share/comment, etc) why not show your intentions and ask for a meeting?
Even if that meeting is via the miracle of ZOOM.

Choose the opportunity that presented to you. Don’t wait, take the first step.

Nothing is more enabling, with the ability to deliver the results required than to be the one to instigate the meeting. To be in the company of someone who is in the market for your product or services and … who is interested in listening can be empowering … and isn’t that just one of the reasons we’re in business?

Seeking new markets, allies, and sales, there are occasions when we need to be the one taking the initiative.

It’s a simple fact that the potential new customer won’t know about you, learn of the opportunity from you, unless you ask for their time.

Social media is a great source of leads, but why stop there? Let’s show AND tell.

Turn the possible business into probable referral. Be bold enough and have the faith and confidence in your product or services to reach out for the conversation. 

The worst that could happen?  The prospect responds with “no, thank you.” 
“Although, I may know someone else who may be interested …”

Take the first step, join the conversation and develop the relationship, because people buy from people who they know, like and trust.


Rate your chances

I’m regularly asked why I continue to visit my network, meet with friends and their colleagues when I have stated on numerous occasions that I’m not looking to attract ‘just any, or all, kind of business.’

Not for me the ‘stacking them high to sell ’em cheap‘ kind of working.

The type of potential client I’m interested in meeting? 

He/she would aspire to offer the same profound benefit to their audience (their readers) as I aim to provide myself. 

You see, my work is to encourage the story from my customer, and of course, this takes time. Not everyone is ready to draw back the curtains, discuss life in detail and so work together with ANother to paint a picture, construct a story.

My type of customer is quite rare.

The person I’d like to meet would already understand that compiling an accurate depiction of their story takes, well, a good story starts with good relationships.  The exchange of information between both parties should be offered freely, the frequency of meetings should be regular.

On occasion, completing a story may take months, sometimes the book may take years to compile.  So why do I meet with my network on a regular basis?

Business is personal. It’s only by spending time together we have the opportunity to really understand each other …

Alternatively, I could trawl social media channels and ‘hoist a flag’ declaring something like … ‘cheap stories told here(!?),’ I’m sure that, eventually I’d be messaged by those attracted to my lure … but … chances are, I’d never get to put the kettle on, share a cup or shake the hand & break the ice in time-honoured fashion? 

Why do I reach out to my network? Because people buy from people.


People, not devices

Like me, I thought some of you might find the following tale of interest. It came from a friend of mine, Mike Salter:

The story went like this …

I spent an hour in the bank with my elderly dad, as he had to transfer some money. I couldn’t resist myself and asked …

”Dad, why don’t we activate your internet banking?’

”Why would I do that?” He asked… ‘

Well, then you wont have to spend an hour here for things like transfer. You can even do your shopping online. Everything will be so easy!’

I was excited about initiating him into the world of Net banking.

He asked ”If I do that, I wont have to step out of the house?

”Yes, yes”! I said. I told him how even grocery can be delivered at door now and how Amazon delivers everything!

His answer left me tongue-tied.

He said ”Since I entered this bank today, I have met four of my friends, I have chatted a while with the staff who know me very well by now. You know I am alone … this is the company that I need. I like to get ready and come to the bank. I have enough time, it is the personal touch that I crave.

Two years back I got sick. The store owner from whom I buy fruits, came to see me and sat by my bedside and cried. When your Mom fell down a few days back while on her morning walk, our local grocer saw her and immediately got his car to rush her home as he knows where I live.

Would I have that ‘human’ touch if everything became online? Why would I want everything delivered to me, forcing me to interact with just my computer?

I like to know the person that I’m dealing with and not only the ‘seller’. It creates bonds of relationships. Does Amazon deliver all this as well? Technology is useful, but it isn’t life..

Spend time with people .. Not with devices.”


Thank you, Mike. Please let dad know that we’re not quite ready to resume in-person networking just yet, although we’re still engaging the person, making the connections that matter, regularly via ZOOM.


If you’d like to join the business conversation, you can do so by going to Eventbrite for further details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northumberland-weeklybiz-tickets-165537028709


Comes a time …

A question during conversation …
Know anyone Charlie?

I offered Jenny the details of a local business funding program she was looking for. Why not contact them Jenny, this could help you, a grant that offers 20% of the investment planned. 

I’m not sure Charlie, I mean, I’ve enough business ticking over just now … 

But ‘just now’ is not enough, right? 

Correct.  Trouble is, I’m frightened that by investing in more staff and services means that I’m going to expand my market. 

So, is that so bad Jenny? 

That’s the trouble, Charlie. I’m not entirely sure that expansion, growth, is something I’m ready for. 

I’d known Jenny for a little while. During the past twelve months, she’d seen a strong surge in demand in her craft and tutelage, all driven by the current tendency for home working.

Jenny’s concern was that the supplementary services she had planned might be premature. Especially now, given the likelihood that ‘normal’ business practice, being back at the office, may resume sometime soon.

Jenny, you are the business. It’s a big step considering expansion, although if you want my advice? 

Go on, Charlie, what’s your plan? 

Think about why you started in the first place. Where do you see your current situation in your original plans?  You’ve found that life presents you now with an opportunity to take the next step in the process.

So, my advice? Find out what your customers want and give it to them. Repay their existing faith in you, and show them your intention of offering more. Trust your choices and your ability to fulfill your own and your client’s ambition.

Jenny then took some time to consider my view. She consulted and listened to her customers, seeing whether they would support her plans. She also talked to both her employees, who were more than excited by the news. Positive news all-round.

New sales? Seeking is the driver of new business. It’s through conversation, communication, by reaching out, that we’re putting more lines in the water.

At the same time:
“More business is lost through indecision than is lost through making the wrong decision.”


Keep seeking

The above photograph is one of Captain James Cook’s monument.

It stands in memory of a man who, along with many others travelling with him, circled the globe pushing boundaries.

Even with the modern tools of today, sailing the world once is no mean feat. But casting off three times, in the 18th century!?


Because seeking is a driver …

Cook was looking for what was new. What he discovered was already there. He and his crew came across wondrous new lands, rich cultures that had existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Yet the way us, as species and individuals look at boundaries … both inward and external, means we’re driven by the need to push further and explore.

This is no difference in the realm of our faith. What we believe often leaves us with more questions than answers. This is what pushes us forwards to explore further. The validation of what we seek.

Questions are tools. They offer clarity.

My experience tells me, just as I reach what I think I’ve have been looking for, a new horizon opens up. Choices materialise, possibilities then become many.

Whether in the business of discovery like Cook or reaching out to new friends, life is a journey of faith we are all embarked upon. By using the tool of conversation, seeking dialogue, we’re seeing past barriers, where there are no boundaries.

There’s no turning back when our faith tells us there are always open doors. Keep the faith, keep seeking.


Hey, Mr Referrable!

Referrable?  No such word.
It’s more ‘business jargon’ from Charlie, I hear you say.
Although, if you’re in business then being referrable is essential. So, 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?
It’s true, there are those out there that expect the business, the new ‘best client’ to simply come knocking on the door, out of the blue … just because you’re … you …
Nope, we need to work on that bizability (more jargon!) After all, there is a number of ways of becoming noticed. Take for example the DIY world of ‘social.’
OK … do you know your p’s from your q’s? Remember them? Those annoying 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 call it p and q.
Thinking of others? Of course, it’s second nature to most of us, right?
When looking for referrals, think of those with like-minded ambitions. I’ve found that if you offer help and support, you will soon find it’s reciprocal. Trying reach out to the underdog.
That was you once, right?  Me too.
Doing as you say you must? Following up. Well, that’s a no-brainer … innit? 
We still hear of those given the opportunity who don’t follow up. Isn’t it true that more business is lost through procrastination than by making the wrong decision? We know it, but still, the lack of follow-up remains the largest obstacle to ambition.
I’m nearly done …
Are you communicating? Some don’t.  We’re supposed to know that there may a delay, that they won’t be available next meeting … or cannot make the arranged one to one. Lack of communication does not help the bizability, credibility or reputation.
So, ask yourself, how is your reliability?’ Ask often.
Can we count on you?  If not, how could we recommend you to those closest to us?
This is the nugget friends, your reliability is what makes you referrable. If you are not readily visible and reluctant to follow up when the business opportunity arises … ​then you are simply not reliable.
Business is personal.

Reputable, reliable = referrable

Is he reliable Charlie? Ben asks.

Do you know our new connection 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:


Product knowledge


Not forgetting, a reputable name?



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.

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

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

Loving the world more.

Here’s a great observation from our friends at:

The Marginalian by Maria Popova

“In a world full of people who seem to know everything, passionately, based on little (often slanted) information, where certainty is often mistaken for power, what a relief it is to be in the company of someone confident enough to stay unsure (that is, perpetually curious).”

How to Love the World More: George Saunders on the Courage of Uncertainty

Nothing, not one thing, hurts us more — or causes us to hurt others more — than our certainties. The stories we tell ourselves about the world and the foregone conclusions with which we cork the fount of possibility are the supreme downfall of our consciousness. They are also the inevitable cost of survival, of navigating a vast and complex reality most of which remains forever beyond our control and comprehension. And yet in our effort to parse the world, we sever ourselves from the full range of its beauty, tensing against the tenderness of life.

How to love the world more by negotiating our hunger for certainty and our gift for story is what George Saunders explores in some lovely passages from A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life (public library) — the boundlessly wonderful and layered book in which he reckoned with the key to great storytelling and the way to unbreak our hearts.

Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being

In consonance with neurologist Oliver Sacks’s insight into narrative as the pillar of personal identity, Saunders examines the elemental impulse for storytelling as the basic organizing principle by which we govern our lives:

The instant we wake the story begins: “Here I am. In my bed. Hard worker, good dad, decent husband, a guy who always tries his best. Jeez, my back hurts. Probably from the stupid gym.”

And just like that, with our thoughts, the world gets made.

Or, anyway, a world gets made.

This world-making via thinking is natural, sane, Darwinian: we do it to survive. Is there harm in it? Well, yes, because we think in the same way that we hear or see: within a narrow, survival-enhancing range. We don’t see or hear all that might be seen or heard but only that which is helpful for us to see and hear. Our thoughts are similarly restricted and have a similarly narrow purpose: to help the thinker thrive.

All of this limited thinking has an unfortunate by-product: ego. Who is trying to survive? “I” am. The mind takes a vast unitary wholeness (the universe), selects one tiny segment of it (me), and starts narrating from that point of view. Just like that, that entity (George!) becomes real, and he is (surprise, surprise) located at the exact center of the universe, and everything is happening in his movie, so to speak; it is all, somehow, both for and about him. In this way, moral judgment arises: what is good for George is… good. What is bad for him is bad. (The bear is neither good nor bad until, looking hungry, it starts walking toward George.)

So, in every instant, a delusional gulf gets created between things as we think they are and things as they actually are. Off we go, mistaking the world we’ve made with our thoughts for the real world. Evil and dysfunction (or at least obnoxiousness) occur in proportion to how solidly a person believes that his projections are correct and energetically acts upon them.

Art by Kay Nielsen from East of the Sun and West of the Moon. (Available as a print and as stationery cards.)

Over time, our stories harden into certainties that collide with each other every time we engage with another person, who is another story — another embodiment of the unreliable first-person narration known as skaz that permeates classic Russian literature. With an eye to the inescapable fact that “there is no world save the one we make with our minds, and the mind’s predisposition determines the type of world we see,” Saunders contours the commonplace tragicomedy of colliding in the mind-made world of skaz:

I think, therefore I am wrong, after which I speak, and my wrongness falls on someone also thinking wrongly, and then there are two of us thinking wrongly, and, being human, we can’t bear to think without taking action, which, having been taken, makes things worse.


The entire drama of life on earth is: Skaz-Headed Person #1 steps outside, where he encounters Skaz-Headed Person #2. Both, seeing themselves as the center of the universe, thinking highly of themselves, immediately slightly misunderstand everything.

Trying to communicate across this fissure of understanding yields results sometimes comical and sometimes tragic, always affirming that reality is not singular but plural, not a point of view but a plane of possible vantages. With an eye to Chekhov — who was a physician by training and an excellent one, but an even better writer because a diagnosis is a forced conclusion of curiosity but art is the eternal sandbox of doubt — Saunders writes:

In a world full of people who seem to know everything, passionately, based on little (often slanted) information, where certainty is often mistaken for power, what a relief it is to be in the company of someone confident enough to stay unsure (that is, perpetually curious).

One of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s original watercolors for The Little Prince.

After a close reading of Chekhov’s short story “Gooseberries,” he reflects:

It’s hard to be alive. The anxiety of living makes us want to judge, be sure, have a stance, definitively decide. Having a fixed, rigid system of belief can be a great relief.


As long as we don’t decide, we allow further information to keep coming in. Reading a story like “Gooseberries” might be seen as a way of practicing this. It reminds us that any question in the form “Is X right or wrong?” could benefit from another round of clarifying questions. Question: “Is X good or bad?” Story: “For whom? On what day, under what conditions? Might there be some unintended consequences associated with X? Some good hidden in the bad that is X? Some bad hidden in the good that is X? Tell me more.”

Art by Paloma Valdivia from Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions

This openness to more — to truth beyond story, to beauty beyond certainty — is precisely what teaches us how to love the world more. With a deep bow to Chekhov as the master of this existential art, Saunders writes:

This feeling of fondness for the world takes the form, in his stories, of a constant state of reexamination. (“Am I sure? Is it really so? Is my preexisting opinion causing me to omit anything?”) He has a gift for reconsideration. Reconsideration is hard; it takes courage. We have to deny ourselves the comfort of always being the same person, one who arrived at an answer some time ago and has never had any reason to doubt it. In other words, we have to stay open (easy to say, in that confident, New Age way, but so hard to actually do, in the face of actual, grinding, terrifying life). As we watch Chekhov continually, ritually doubt all conclusions, we’re comforted. It’s all right to reconsider. It’s noble — holy, even. It can be done. We can do it. We know this because of the example he leaves in his stories, which are, we might say, splendid, brief reconsideration machines.

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