Mar 19

Networking success

By Yvette Ankrah | Marketing , Networking

Five tips to help you succeed in networking

A handshake

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay 

One sure fire way to ramp up business for SME’s is through networking. Networking provides a great opportunity to meet several prospects in one hit.

If it is not part of your marketing strategy it should be.

A good network will:

  • Provide support and access to advice
  • Enable you to develop skills
  • Provide opportunities to develop trusting relationships with others

You may meet potential business partners and you might also meet a connector. They may not use your service/product but impress them and they will recommend you to others. You can also get a feel what is happening locally or get updates in your area of expertise.

Not everyone is a fan of networking but by taking yourself out of your comfort zone you can reap the rewards. If you are new to networking try and find a local group and get meeting other businesses in your area. You can learn from other networkers and in a good group the manager will introduce you to others, so you are not standing at the back on your own!

How to ace face-to-face networking:

  1. Craft your pitch

You will have between 30 seconds and a minute to present yourself and your product or service.  Use your time wisely! How can you say in a memorable way? For example, I’m an accountant versus I help small businesses manage their money or I make magic numbers!

  • Come prepared

Know your intention for attending the event – ultimately it will be to get more customers, but some events will be designed to enable you to meet potential collaborators or people that can help your own business in other ways e.g. accountant, VA etc,. What you want to achieve when you walk out the door?

Bring your pitch, diary, business cards, brochures, samples, special offers and a smile! Take notes of who is there so you can make sure to speak to key people. Have them available to give to prospective clients/ business partners but only hand out information if they have asked for it. 

  • Listen and give

The idea is to get to know people and build relationships. Be curious and interested in what they have to say and help if you can. By adopting this approach you’re more likely to feel relaxed and have more engaging conversations.

  • Follow-up

See each business card as being a £50 note.  You wouldn’t shove it at the bottom of your bag and forget about!  Send an email or call each person who gave you their business card. Whilst they may not be your ideal client/customer they may connect you to others. You can make the follow-up easier by preparing a follow-up email in advance. Ask to connect on social media or if relevant arrange a follow-up call or meeting.

  • Review

Like any other part of your marketing you need to review the effectiveness of networking. Networking is a slow burn it can take time to build up these relationships. Consistently attending, following up and supporting your network will reap you rewards.

If you haven’t already crafted a pitch take some time to create one. Then find three networking events you can attend in the next month, so you can try it out and move your goals forward.

Aug 28

Consultant receives MBE for supporting women in business

By Yvette Ankrah | Uncategorized

Yvette Ankrah, former winner of the O2/Microsoft small business prize and consultant at Lightcliffe Consulting, has been awarded with an MBE for her work supporting women in business in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Yvette has been campaigning for more support for women in business and co-wrote the Manifesto for Women in Business in 2015. She has supported hundreds women in business over the last four years as a former host of a network and through her Harlow-based practice.

She said:

I have been humbled and honoured to receive an award as part of the Queen’s birthday honours. As a coach to women in business, I am passionate about what I do but also campaign nationally and locally for women to get support in business. I do believe that even one person can make a difference.

Yvette has worked in marketing and business development for over 20 years. She trained as a journalist before moving into public relations and then worked in marketing and business development across the arts, voluntary sector and education sectors.  She trained in coaching and mentoring whilst in employment. She found that she was using coaching and mentoring skills with colleagues and also with marketing consultancy clients and decided to focus more on that area.

She switched from working with organisations to women in business because of the women she was meeting at mother and baby groups.  Yvette met women with business ideas or who actually had a business but needed support so decided to use her skills to support them.

Yvette recently become an accredited Bird Table coach – an organisation dedicated to developing more women in business – and is launching group sessions for locally based female SME owners starting in September.

 

Aug 28

Running your own small business and overwhelmed? Here are 5 tips for coping.

By Chris Osei | Uncategorized

When you run a small business particularly if that business is run from home or you have few colleagues or staff, you will spend most of your time fulfilling client orders or trying to get new clients, fixing the computer, router, website and dozens of other things it takes to keep your business running.  Quite right too.  That’s what you get paid for!  But as a business owner how do you make a difference to your business?  How do you take it to the next level when its all down to you?  Actually how do you keep the band together?

So what creates or contributes to overwhelm (which if you hadn’t guessed it is code for stress).  Well, basically, its down to the Job Description and it can suck!

  1. Unpredictable hours. Long work days and weekends add up to countless hours of overtime that you won’t be paid for up front –at least not in the beginning, anyway.
  2. Your job involves wearing multiple hats at any given time–book-keeper, IT support, office manager, marketer, psychologist/motivator, logistics expert and time-traveller, and learning how not to allow your client add to the brief without paying you for it.

If this is sounding like you then don’t worry you are not alone.  Here are two few simple tips that should help you losing your sanity.

  1. Make time for you.  Your health and sanity is important and a little distance can help you attack problems with renewed vigour.  Solution: keep strict office hours rather than keeping at it all night.  All nighters only work for a short time before they affect your ability to function.  You cannot live sustainably and healthily like that.  Block out your diary out.  Enter “No Meetings” and stick to it.
  2. Create some distance from the problem.  This is related to Make Time For You.  Your sustained health is critical to your success so get away from the table/desk/office and actually eat something nutritious during the day.  Snack healthily.  Go for a walk at midday.  Drive less.  Drink more water.  Get more fresh air.  Go to the gym.  The distance from work and any exercise will help with building clarity by giving you a different perspective. Problems will often be solved far more quickly by creating some distance with the problem.
  3. Dream Big.  Ambitious goals can get you up in the morning.  Ambitious for you might be that Florida holiday or a new car.  If so, get a magazine. Cut out a picture and put it somewhere you can see it every day.  This simple act will help you own your dreams and gives your something to aim for. We all need something to get us up in the morning and it helps if you can see it and make it real.
  4. Get help.  Running a business involves a mix of highly-skilled tasks: marketing, strategy, bookkeeping and contract law.  There are tools, apps and templates to take the fear and danger out of this.  Recognise that no-one is an expert in everything so look for help.  that might be a virtual assistant, a reliable contract template, help with a marketing plan, a solid business plan, or even a tidy email inbox.  It is important to recognise your limitations, and all of that stuff can distract from the job of getting and fulfilling new orders which is, at the end of the day, the thing that will grow your business. So focus on what your are expert at and get help wherever you are not.
  5. Make time to plan.  The objective of any good business is to create value over the long term.  Believing in yourself is incredible important but belief alone won’t cut it.  You need to plan to be successful in a sustainable way.  the only way to do that is to create a plan is stick to it.  Planning and revisiting plans is a critical task for any business.  Do this every month for two hours and it will help you figure out how you will smash your market.  Write down the plan.  Revisit it in 3, 6, or 12 months.  But revisit it and keep questioning why some things work and why some things didn’t work.

So basically: stay healthy, dream big, get help and plan in a structured way.  Each is equally important.  These two tips will help keep you physically and mentally healthy. If you are not healthy you cannot run your business effectively so look after yourself.  The second tip get your to focus you on growing your business in a structured way.  With hope and a plan you can be unbeatable.  With no clear plan you basically have no clue!

In the next post we will home in on the basics of good planning.

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