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Top Tips For Networking

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Networking Works! 6 steps to growing your business through networking

“I’m too busy to network”
“It’s a waste of time”
“I don’t meet the right people”
“It’s costly; when will I see a return on my investment?”

Networking works, but you have to work at it! When I attended my first networking meeting I was terrified. I worried that nobody would talk to me or that the room would be full of high-flyers who would look down their nose at a training consultant.

I actually had a really positive experience and have been successfully networking ever since. Everyone knows that you get a more positive response from people who you meet face to face yet we still shy away from networking or don’t use it to its full potential.

My 6 top tips for growing your business through networking are:

1. Don’t talk about yourself too much
Aim for an 80:20 ratio with you asking the other person plenty of questions about their business, this is the best way to determine if they would have any use for your service or product. It also gives the other person that “warm fuzzy” feeling if you seem genuinely interested in their business and, after all, most people love to talk about themselves!

2. Practice your 60 second commercial
Most networking events allow the attendees to give a 60 second commercial so make sure yours is memorable but professional…don’t get the other networkers to stand on one leg while humming the National Anthem, you’ll just make them feel ridiculous and alienate people.
Your 60 second commercial can also be used in answer to “So what do you do?” and is especially useful if you provide a service or manufacture a product that wouldn’t be instantly recognised by a lay person.

3. Talk to as many people as possible
Without being rude or cutting conversations short, try to speak to as many people as possible. Don’t ever dismiss somebody if they don’t seem like the kind of person you would do business with as they may be very well-connected and may refer you to a contact.

4. Take plenty of business cards
Give your card to everyone that you talk to, or why not give them two or three and ask them to pass the extra ones on to a contact whom you may be able to help?
Some networking groups may email a delegate list out before the event with each person’s contact details on……keep this.

5. Follow up
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF NETWORKING!!! If you don’t do this then you might as well not bother with networking. Call everyone who attended the networking event a few days later, don’t worry if you didn’t speak to them at the event. Why not try the following approach;
“Hi, we were at the same networking event yesterday and I really wanted to come and have a chat with you but didn’t seem to get the opportunity. Would I be able to just take a minute or so of your time now to see if it would be worthwhile for us to meet for a coffee and find out more about each other’s businesses?”

Don’t feel cheeky doing this, ultimately everyone goes to networking events to win more business or to find solutions to their business headaches. If you promised to send some information or introduce a contact then make sure you do this within the next couple of days. Use LinkedIn to connect with people you have met also.

6. Give to Get
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay, “Compensation,” wrote that each person is compensated in a like manner for that which he or she has contributed. The same applies to networking; if you can introduce two people who might be able to work with each other, then they are more likely to reciprocate. Whether it’s an introduction, expert advice or information, it all helps.

Networking isn’t a quick fix to solve your business problems; it’s a slower but more sustainable method for growing your revenue as long as you make the most of it.

Author: Helen Jones, Sandler Training and Cherchez Member
www.southmanchester.sandler.com

New Year Resolution: How to Make Your Business Greener

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

A greener business offers a number of benefits. It saves you money. It helps improve the environment. Additionally, you can use your “green” status to help market your business. In fact, greening your business is a great New Year’s resolution.

Here’s how to make your business greener in the coming year.

Step One: Identify your existing habits and practices

Spend a week or two analyzing your current habits and practices. What habits need to be changed to become more “green”? For example, do you commonly print all agreements or receipts? Do you leave your computer and electronics on at night when you’re not using them?

Keep a journal of the habits you can or want to change to support your resolution.

Step Two: Research how far you can take it

How green do you want to go? For example, do you want to simply modify your existing habits? Or do you want to consider becoming a business that runs solely on natural energy? Decide exactly how green you want to go.

Step Three: Start laying out your plan

You’ve identified the habits you want to change to support a greener business. You have also made a decision about how green you want to be. Now it’s time to plan for success. To achieve success you’re going to need to change your habits, or better still, replace them with completely new ones.

For example, if you have realized that you often leave your electronics on when you’re not using them, you can modify this habit by plugging everything into a power strip. Then you simply turn off the strip when you’re not using these items.

If you’re making major changes like converting to 100% solar power you’re going to want to investigate how to make it happen. This will require not only a change of habit but also a complete overhaul of many of your systems.

Achieving success takes a commitment. Consider motivating yourself with a reward when you achieve success. For example, if you’re converting your office to 100% solar energy you might throw a party to celebrate your accomplishment. This is also a great way to generate some press and publicity. You could speak at your local Small Business Association, at various Networking Groups, or at Chamber of Commerce local events about how you made your business greener.

Going green is a noble goal. You’ll not only save money for your business, you’ll improve the world around you. Identify where you can make changes in your business - and then create a plan to make it happen.

Start Planning Now - Green is Good!

Top 10 Affirmations For Healthy Body And Mind

Friday, November 26th, 2010

When you have “convenience” food bombarding you from every direction, it can be difficult to choose options that give your body and mind the nourishment they need. However, if you have daily reminders and effective tools at your disposal, you just may find that eating the right foods and feeding your body and mind the best fuels becomes a lot easier.

Of course, there will always be temptation, but when you equip yourself with anti-temptation tools, you will be able to quickly re-focus your mind on your greater goal of getting healthy!

Using Affirmations to Make Healthy Food and Nutrition Choices

When everyone around you at the office is indulging in burgers, fries, and sugary drinks, it’s awfully tempting to join in, isn’t it? But what if you could stop that temptation in its tracks and actually choose to make a healthy choice? You don’t need me to tell you that fatty and sugary choices are not the kinds of food that your body needs - you need to tell yourself!

It can be hard in moments of temptation to make the right choice, but with the help of positive affirmations, you can re-train your brain to replace the desire for junk food with healthy choices.

Affirmations can help you stick to your diet, say no to temptation, and eat nourishing and satisfying foods. How? By replacing the negative spiral of thoughts in your mind with powerful, positive ones. But first you have to believe that it is possible to gain control over your thirsts, desires, and cravings. The first step in making a lasting change in your life is to make the commitment to success. Are you committed? Do you believe that you can overcome your cravings?

Once you’ve set your commitment in stone, you’re ready to learn the top 10 affirmations to get you through moments of weakness.

Top 10 Food and Nutrition Affirmations

Before reading the list below, you should know that affirmations are most successful when you internalize the saying and repeat it frequently. Whether you’re having a good or bad day, you need to be constantly repeating these positive statements in your mind. Temptation will strike when you least expect it, so it’s better to be prepared!

1. I can neutralize bad habits with good food, exercise, and healthy living.

2. I am proud to reach out to my support network instead of leaning on bad habits for comfort.

3. I am improving my lifestyle for me because I love me.

4. I set aside time just for me.

5. My good health and productivity are the rewards for the nourishing foods I eat.

6. Weight gain happens over time, so weight loss equally requires time, patience, and lifestyle changes.

7. I use self-care, not self-control.

8. The more I take care of myself, the better I feel.

9. I am firmly committed to staying active and healthy.

10. I deserve a healthy body and mind.

When you look at these food and nutrition affirmations, they may seem like ideals - behaviors and thoughts that you only wish you could have - but each time you reaffirm them by saying them aloud, you’re slowly changing your mindset. Over time, these ideals will become a reality through your thoughts and actions.

But remember, you must first believe you can change. Once you make the commitment to your success, you will change your attitudes about food and you’ll be thankful you did!

Five Steps to Finding a Great Virtual Assistant

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

A good virtual assistant can be the answer to many business owner’s prayers. However, finding a good virtual assistant isn’t always easy. You want to find someone who can handle your tasks competently and professionally, who is easy to communicate with and, more importantly, charges rates you can afford. Here’s how to find a great virtual assistant.

Step One: Define what you need. Before you go on a hunt for someone to help you, determine exactly what you need help with. Each virtual assistant is going to have their own strengths. Some might offer a variety of services ranging from basic to quite technical and complicated whilst others may specialise in a specific industry or a specific type of service.

For example, one virtual assistant may specialise in editing, proofreading and transcription. Another may specialise in forum management or WordPress installation and general website maintenance. In order to determine who to hire, you need to first determine what you need them to do.

Step Two: Begin the search. In addition to perhaps posting the job on classified job sites, social networking sites and your own website, start searching. Ask associates who they recommend. Use a search engine to find service providers. Start gathering candidates for the position.

Step Three: Narrow the field. Once you have a list of candidates, start narrowing the field. Use references and recommendations to shorten the list. Consider speaking with the top candidates on the phone to find out how they work, what their policies are and to see how they communicate. Half of an effective relationship is communication. You must be able to clearly and effectively communicate with each other.

Step Four: Test the waters. Ask the top two or three candidates to manage a small project for you. The purpose of this is to essentially test how you work together, how the virtual assistant manages the project and their professionalism. If you end up with two or three perfect virtual assistants, that’s okay. You can then choose the one that offers the best rates or the one that you most connect with personally.

Step Five: Keep your new VA busy. Once you’ve found a great virtual assistant, or two, then keeping them busy is a great way to keep them loyal. Service providers need to keep their schedules full to keep their business alive. If they can count on you for a certain amount of work each week or month, they’ll make a consistent place in their schedule for you. This means you’ll be able to receive your projects on a timely, and consistent, basis.

PA-as-you-go.com can provide a wide range of professional and affordable services for your business. A small network of associates can cover services from basic typing and transcription work, book-keeping and accountancy tasks, translations between most world languages, and website design, development and marketing.

Great virtual assistants can be difficult to find, so why not take a look at PA-as-you-go.com to start your very own search for that additional and affordable support your business needs.

Women Making Money Online

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

The Internet offers many money-making opportunities. We can get some extra spending money by selling unused items, blogging part-time or doing affiliate marketing, or we can start a fully-fledged business online. It seems that new ways to make money online are cropping up every day.

Women are especially attracted to the possibilities the Internet offers. Some are true entrepreneurs who recognise the benefits on offer from doing business online, whilst others are mums who want to work but need a flexible schedule, or those with health issues that make it difficult or impossible to get a “traditional” job. Whatever the reason, more women are making money online than ever before.

There are numerous ways to earn money online and here are some of the many options available today:

* Ecommerce - Whether you sell at online auction sites or set up your own ecommerce store, selling online provides great income potential. With proper promotion of your site and/or products, you can sell almost anything online. Everyone with an Internet connection and a credit or debit card is a potential customer, so if you get the word out, you’re bound to find someone who needs or wants what you have to offer.

* Blogging - Many Internet users maintain blogs as a hobby, but did you know that you can make money blogging? You can sell advertising or promote affiliate products on your blog, and if you have a substantial amount of traffic, you can make good money.

* Internet marketing - Selling ebooks, software, and other downloadable products online is a great way to make money. It doesn’t require a large investment or much overhead, and you can get paid over and over again for one piece of work. Delivery can be completely automated, leaving you to handle little more than marketing and creating new products.

* Services - Selling services online has become a popular way for talented women to make money. Those with secretarial backgrounds often excel in virtual assistance. Cherchez owner, Helen Byrne, operates her own online business as a Virtual PA. See more details at PA-as-you-go.com. Other talents that could make you money online include graphic design, proof-reading, photography and writing.

* Domaining - Buying and selling domains can be a very lucrative online business. The best domains have sold for millions. This is a rather tricky business these days, but if you can master it, the income potential is tremendous.

Starting a business online has proven to be an effective way for a woman to be her own boss and make a steady income. With all of the opportunities that are available today, almost any woman can find something to do online that she enjoys.

There’s no time like the present to jump on the Internet’s money-making bandwagon.

Women Mentoring Women in Business

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Starting up in business is exciting, but it can also be a bit scary. You’re sailing out into uncharted waters, and even if you’ve taken all the courses and read all the books, some things are best learned by experience. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave these things completely to trial and error.

Seeking feedback and advice from fellow businesswomen can be a huge help to entrepreneurs who are just starting out. By finding yourself a mentor, you give yourself the opportunity to learn from someone who has been there, done that. You can benefit from her experience, avoiding common mistakes and learning the tricks and tips to running a successful business.

Why a Woman Mentor?

It’s a known fact that women do business differently from men. The sexes tend to have different strengths and weaknesses from each other, as well as a different overall approach. That’s not to say that men and women in business have nothing in common, just that they don’t necessarily run their businesses in the same way.

Working with a female mentor offers several advantages. These include:

• Women have historically experienced the hurdles associated with becoming a successful female in business. Although women now make up a significant portion of business owners, it hasn’t always been that way. Society once frowned upon women who chose to work - never mind set up their own business - when they should have been at home tending to the needs of the family. As a result they faced obstacles that were not an issue for men.

• A female mentor can be a great source of inspiration. We’re all aware of the “big guys” who have built successful business empires, but women who have made it to the top are in relatively short supply. When the going gets tough, your mentor will serve as a living, breathing example that you can succeed.

• Women may be more likely to help you with the basic needs of a budding entrepreneur. For example, tips for a low-cost business wardrobe and accessories, help with sourcing childcare to suit your own needs, recommending a Virtual Assistant to help with your business systems set-up. So-called “little things” such as this are more likely to seem alien to a businessman.

Where to Find a Mentor

Many entrepreneurial women like the idea of having a mentor but don’t know how to go about finding one. They don’t just fall out of the sky, after all. But finding someone to help you along on your own journey is easier than you might think.

One of the most effective ways to find a mentor is through networking and if it’s a female mentor you’re looking for, then clearly a Womens Networking Group would be the best place to start. Cherchez Networking is a growing community in the North West of Enland offering regular, informal networking sessions for women in business. Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a good place to seek out the right contacts. You can also meet fellow businesswomen at trade shows, and you can connect with them via online networking groups. Give it a go and find someone you click with, then you will hopefully feel comfortable enough to ask if she would be willing to give you some support and advice.

A mentor can be a major boost to your business efforts. By exploring the benefits of Networking with other women, you may well find a fellow female business woman who is willing to help you for very little - or more often, no cost to yourself.

Find our more about Cherchez Networking’s forthcoming events HERE.

Mum-preneurs on the increase

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Motherhood is certainly a life-changing event. Our children become the centre of our lives, and we must make adjustments to make sure they’re cared for. Instead of arranging childcare in order to go out to work, more and more mums are choosing to start their own businesses so they can be there for the children and still contribute to the family income.

Self-employment offers a certain amount of flexibility, but in most businesses, a certain amount of time outside the home is required. Alternatively, you might need to meet with clients in your own home, and this can be rather inconvenient especially when there are small children around.

So what’s the answer? Well, more and more mums are looking for opportunities to make money online.

Starting an online business has a number of advantages for mums. These include:

• Start-up costs for an online business are often low. So even if you are not currently working outside the home, starting an online business is usually within reach. Setting up a website and buying some software is often all that’s needed to get started, and that can cost as little as a few hundred pounds, of even less.

• Doing business online doesn’t require you to keep regular hours. You can work early in the morning before the kids get up, during the baby’s nap, or late at night when everyone is in bed. And with the technology that the Internet has to offer, orders can be processed and virtual products delivered while you’re sleeping or taking care of the kids.

• You can get some work done with the kids right by your side. Older children may even be able to help you with simple tasks. For more information on this visit www.worksmart.org.uk.

There are all sorts of online businesses that are great for mums. You could sell your own crafts on eBay, start your own ecommerce website or you could create and sell information products. You could become a Virtual Assistant offering services such as writing, copy or audio-typing, web design and marketing to clients around the world. (Visit PA-as-you-go.com to see a good example). Register your details with online Survey companies such as IPSOS or the UK Survey Panel and earn cash or incentives helping the big corporates with market research activities. Even blogging offers impressive money-making potential.

The possibilities are endless, and there’s sure to be something out there for everyone that fits the bill.

Mums make up a large portion of the people who are making money online. This allows them to take a hands-on approach to raising their children while still making money to support the household. They don’t have to count on a sitter to take care of their children’s needs, and they don’t have to make a commute part of their daily routine.

It’s really no wonder that the number of mums starting online businesses is growing in leaps and bounds.

Ten Ways to Balance Work and Family

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Balancing a work life and a home life can be difficult, but with a little knowledge and planning, you can make it work for you. Here are ten tips that will help you balance your work life and home life.

1. Set realistic goals. It’s pretty much a given fact that if you want to achieve something big, you have to make some sacrifices. While the select few can manage, most people can’t become a CEO and run a successful household. When setting your goals, be realistic and don’t stretch yourself too thin.

2. Make schedules. Keeping track of work and your family can be difficult to plan. Try to keep a set schedule from day to day and week to week if you can. Always remember to make a written schedule and give everyone a copy.

3. Take time for yourself. It’s a natural instinct of mothers to sacrifice themselves for the good of their family. However, it’s important to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Try to schedule in at least a few minutes of “you time”, whether it be going for a run, watching your favorite TV show, or just sitting in a room by yourself to relax for a few minutes.

4. Work from home. If you can do your work over the Internet or phone, you may be able to swing working at least part of the time from home, giving you more time to spend with your family. Just remember that there are a lot more things at home to distract you from getting your work done.

5. Get some exercise. Working out is not only a great way to stay healthy and gain energy, it’s also a great way to spend time with your kids. Instead of hitting the gym, go play ball in the park or take them for a walk.

6. Take advantage of leave. Most jobs allow you a certain amount of leave, but a lot of us end up not using it. Make sure you know how much time you have and take it, whether you go on a vacation with your family or just use it to take a well-deserved rest day every so often.

7. Prioritize. When making your to-do lists, figure out the things that are most important for you to do and get them done first. If there isn’t enough time to do everything, you won’t feel as bad about what you have to cut.

8. Take classes. As many people will tell you, there’s no manual on how to be a good parent and have a successful career. But if you search around your community, you can find classes and seminars from people that have been where you are and managed to do well. They can give you inspiration along with helpful tips and tidbits to get through your day.

9. Watch for burn out. Even if you schedule everything, take breaks, and do everything else above, what you’re doing may just be too much for you. Watch yourself for changes in mood or physical problems. They could be a sign that you’re burnt out and need to make some changes to your plans. Remember, your health is important too.

10. Learn to say no. If you want to have a successful career and family life, you will have to learn to say no occasionally. If you try to do everything, you’re going to burn yourself out and not be able to take care of anyone. Being a good employee and a good parent doesn’t mean you need to do everything you’re asked.

Don’t Cut Back on Marketing - Develop Your Business Network

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Research has shown that businesses that invest in marketing during an economic downturn can outperform those that decrease their marketing efforts by a large margin.

The current slowdown in the economy creates a perfect opportunity for you to increase your presence and competitive edge as other businesses may be cutting back on their marketing. By continuing to market your goods and services you will be at the forefront of your customers’ minds when the markets recover and your clients are more likely to spend again. You can also increase the return on your marketing activity through improved customer data, segmentation and knowing your customers’ needs even better.

But it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune - all of this can be achieved by Networking.

There are different types of Networking Groups throughout the UK - some very structured and some less formal. All of them provide useful routes to building strong business and personal relationships with like-minded business people. Even those with a more expensive annual membership of a few hundred pounds can prove to be a very cost-effective marketing tool when compared with commercial advertising rates.

Try a few different Network Groups out and see which is right for you, then make sure you keep up the momentum of attending regular meetings to get the best out of the marketing opportunities that Networking can provide.

Office Politics: Rights for Part-Time Workers

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Do you know what your rights are if you work part-time or on a fixed-term contract? Philip Landau, solicitor and partner at London law firm Landau Zeffertt Weir, reveals all.

If you are employed on a fixed-term or part-time contract, the law provides you with specific protection to ensure you are not treated less favourably than a full-time permanent employee. (more…)