Are you lost for words at your Networking events?

And now, maybe worse, as networking events that are getting going again, after a long break.

Most of us have been there: a room full of people in front of us, prospects everywhere, and we can’t think of a word to say.

And, more often than not, refuge is found with a glass of wine. We might in the course of the event collect a few business cards. But usually, once we have finished our complimentary glass of wine, we find an excuse to leave.

We may even be spotted by a friendly fellow networker who introduces themselves. But after asking a couple of easy opening questions and getting just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for answers they decide that there are more interesting things going on almost anywhere else in the room.

Well, if this picture is even a little like you, it doesn’t have to be.  A few ready made questions and answers will soon have you networking just like everyone else seems to be in the room.  But, first of all let me assure you that you are not the only person feeling as you do. Many will be, it’s just that you are all circulating the room and smiling at all that pass you by!

So, how about that first easy question?  Everyone asks it.  ‘How’s business?’  Your answer might be, ‘Fine’ or maybe, ‘Oh, we are really busy’.  The trouble with those answers is that it doesn’t really leave you anywhere to progress to. The answer may as well be, ‘That’s great!’

But, how about, if instead, you answered, ‘Really great! We have just finished a large project for our biggest client. We had to turn it around in record time, and I’m now looking for a similar job.’  The next comment is likely to be, ‘Tell me more’.

The secret is to have a few answers planned in advance: answers that are not only interesting in themselves but that invite another question.  Then once the conversation starts and you begin to relax you never know where things might lead.  You may just find your next big customer and don’t forget you can use that same great answer for more than one person.

However, sometimes you have to make the first move and again this is easy if you have a few ready prepared questions up your sleeve.  Start by scanning the room and finding someone much like you on their own, looking a little lost.  Go up to them and introduce yourself using just your first name and ask them theirs.  Then follow up with one of your prepared questions.

Why not try one of the following or make up your own with similar ideas?

1)      How did they hear about the event and do they know the host?

2)      Did they come to the event for a special reason?

3)      What is it that they do?

4)      How long have they been doing that?

5)      What made them choose that line of work?

6)      What’s the best thing about what they do?

7)      What kind of business are they looking for?

8)      Is there anyone that you might know that they would like to be introduced to (this person might even be at the event)?

9)      Who is their biggest competitor?

10)  How many people work with them?

All these questions need more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and also the answers will tell you something about the person, their company, and if you want to start a relationship with them.

Remember, the objective at a networking event is the start of a relationship, your next meeting, not a quick sale.

So, never be lost for words at a networking event again and you will see that there is no need to feel on your own, as instead you may be starting lasting and worthwhile connections with the people that you meet.

Guitar Village

I was at Guitar Village, in Farnham, today looking at the Ukuleles; they are beautiful and my birthday is soon!

However, I’m finding it almost impossible to choose one, as I like so many; not just because of their sound but also their looks and the way they are made. Such lovely woods are used, such as mahogany, koa, maple, rosewood, cedar and spruce. Then there are the different makes and types: soprano, concert, tenor, etc. (plus they are all different sizes).

I asked Richard in the shop for help and he advised that, as a beginner, it would be best to decide on how much I would be willing to spend and then buy the one I liked the look and feel of best. He then added that after six months, if I’d become a keen player, that I can look again, as I’ll have a much better idea of what would work best for me.

His advice was perfect and is just the same in business. In business there are numerous things to do and often because of that nothing much gets done. So, think about it, what one thing could you do this week that would be good for your business? Then just ‘park’ everything else and do it. I’m pretty sure that you will see the difference it makes.

Richard also added something else, which I agree with, and in fact am doing. Having a ukulele and spending some time strumming is a great way to relax and get away from the pressure of your work. I’ve got to agree that it’s fun. So, if things are tough at the moment why not get a ukulele and try it?!

Guitar Village – let Richard know that I suggested you came to see him.

Farnham, Surrey, Business Networking – 19th August

No hair cut!

A friend of mine owns a hairdressing salon which is closed and has been for a great deal in the last year due to the lockdowns.

And because of this, people are trying all sorts of things: cutting, hair colours, new styles, with some being done by themselves and others by close contacts (in their bubble), who are prepared to take the chance for them. Some are successful and others are…well, not so good. Other people are just waiting for a haircut; I’m one of those!

Anyway, back to my friend and others like him; those who have no business at the moment. Week by week it’s getting harder for them and it’s not just about the lack of business now, as for some of them it is the damage that less business will do in the future when lockdown is lifted. I don’t know about you, but I know that things won’t suddenly go back to how they were. A great deal of business just won’t return; some things are changed permanently or, at the very least, long-term.

However, for some, like my friend, things are far better than they might have been. Why? Because he has spent a number of years building himself a residual income just like me. I build my residual income business for two reasons: one, to have extra holidays each year, and two, to add to my pension when I retire. But, the thing I like best about my residual income, is that it pops into my bank account every month, whether I’ve done any work or not, and will do long into the future.

What it’s doing for my friend at the moment is taking lots of earning pressure and worry off him.

Residual income is not a get-rich-scheme, although you can earn nicely pretty quickly, it’s more about thinking five, even ten, years into the future. The great thing is that there’s nothing to lose by trying it, but maybe something wonderful to gain. My friend has really discovered this.

So, if this interests you, have a look, as I say, there’s nothing to lose and now might just be an appropriate time to find out how good it could be. There are many options available. Two, connected services, which I find are very workable together are Full Power (commercial) and Utility Warehouse (domestic) energy. Just click on their names if you would like to know more, or give me a call.

The pen is mightier than the email!

Email is now one of the key ways in which we communicate.

It’s the same with the phone: texting has taken over: and that’s without WhatsApp (and more).  Although I often think that by the fifth text exchange it would have been easier and faster to have actually used the phone.

But email, that’s the thing.  We receive hundreds every day and, if not careful, we can lose whole days just sending and answering emails.  We feel we must; we are drawn to them.  They control our lives.  Well, they can do.

We also get spam; so much spam.  I even know people that just delete all of their emails, working on the assumption that if important enough the person sending the message will, having not had a reply, make contact again.

Writing a letter is almost a forgotten art.  Invoices arrive as pdfs.  All sorts of things can be downloaded or done online.  We live in the age of the computer and of the internet.

And this is why the pen can achieve such incredible results!

I’m sure that you must have received a ‘Thank you’ card from someone after they have been round for dinner.  Didn’t you feel great?  And, what about Christmas cards this year. Well, just imagine what your customers would feel like if you sent them a personal card.  How wonderful would they feel?  How would they feel about you?  You took the time to write them a card, which included buying a card, writing a message, putting the card in an envelope, affixing a stamp, and posting it.  What exactly does that say about how much they mean to you?

Fire off a quick email that may never be read, or send a lovely, personal, card.

You only have to ask: which would I like to receive?

So, if you want to make your clients feel really valued don’t always send that email. Send them a beautiful card instead and see your business grow!

I was Kicked!

A few months ago, I talked about my son promoting his comic book with Kickstarter. Well he had success and over 200 people now have a copy of the comic. And, it’s good.

In my blog I talked about doing things differently in our current situation; not getting bitter but getting better.

I’ve written for many years and really enjoy doing so, mainly stories for children, about ponies and horses, and due to my son’s success with Kickstarter, I am now giving it a go myself.

You see, due to the effect of the current state of affairs, I’ve had time to write fully and find a great artist to paint the drawings I needed.

So, now I have a possible book being promoted with Kickstarter. I have to say it’s exciting, but also scary. What if I fail?

If you have a moment, love ponies and horses, are interested in a possible Christmas present, or are willing to help me, please do have a look at my book and help me succeed.

Here it is: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/davidwimblett/bonzo-and-her-grace-a-very-special-pony-rescue?ref=user_menu

Thank you

Down at the local pub!

I was speaking at the same event as Penny Power and as I was on stage directly after her decided to sit in on her session.  She was talking about social media and how so many people get it wrong, as they just broadcast rather than take part in a conversation.  She likened it to moving in to a new village, popping down to the local pub, opening the door and announcing “I’m an architect” rather than going in and sitting at the bar, buying a drink, getting to know the locals, and then them finding out, in time, that you were an architect.  And, it got me thinking.

So many people do just the same when networking.  You meet some, in fact lots, at every networking event there is, they just introduce themselves and then say, “I’m an architect; here’s my card.” And that’s about it!  You can obviously replace architect with: accountant, solicitor, printer, web designer, business coach, mobile phone supplier.  Need I go on?

Well networking is just like social media; it’s about starting a conversation.  It’s about building a relationship.  It’s certainly not about a quick ‘hit’ and moving on.

If you are going to be a really successful networker, to really benefit from networking, you have to be prepared to make an effort, to really get to know the people you meet, and that takes time.

So, please don’t rush in with “I’m an architect”. Instead ask about the other person, have an interesting question or two to ask, and never ‘push’ your business card.  And when they do ask what you do, because they will (it’s the polite thing to do), please don’t say, “I’m an architect”.  That’s just so boring!  Have something interesting to say, like “I help people to live in the home of their dreams!”.

Start a conversation, agree to meet again, contact each other by email, and build a long term relationship, that if mutually beneficial, will bring far greater rewards than anything a quick ‘hit’ will ever bring.

Earn more just by dressing up!

Making a good profit can be a hard thing to achieve, In fact, at times, any profit is hard to make, but so many business owners make this more difficult than it need be.  There are so many ways to make more profit and one of those is to simply charge more for what you do.  Again there are many reasons for charging more for your service but one of the best is just dressing up!

I will assume that you are very good at what you do and that you give an incredible service.  But now I will give you two examples of how the same business might be sold.  For each I will just concentrate on three areas, but I’m sure that you will get the picture.

Method one:  The owner drives up in a dirty three-year old car, his business card is flimsy and has a number crossed out on it, and, to be honest, he looks like he has been away camping for the last few days.

Method two:  The owner drives up in a beautifully clean three-year old car, his business card is branded and printed on a heavy board, and he looks as if he is going somewhere special.

Now remember they are providing exactly the same service.  Which would you more likely give your business to?  But, more importantly, most people would pay more money for the service provided by the second method.

There is another point to my example: you knew the service was the same in both cases, but what if you didn’t?  Who would you have chosen to buy from?

‘Designer’ goods are all about dressing up: charging more and making more profit.  Okay the quality of a £4 pair of jeans from the supermarket is not the same as that of a ‘designer’ pair, but a great deal of the price paid is for the ‘look’ and not totally the product.

So, if you want to increase your profits, why not just try ‘dressing up’ a little? Believe it or not – it does make a difference.

Kick Started

Everyone I know received a bit, or a great deal, of a kick start when they first got their business going; and in fact still do today. It may have been their mum and dad, brother or sister, a friend, another business owner, someone famous on TV, someone in history, or at a live business event. The possibilities are endless but it can make a large difference to someone’s success.

The same is true when things get hard; finding a person that will give you a ‘kick’. The trouble with many business owners is that when their business is running they don’t like to ask others for help when things are tough as it seems weak. Many also think that they know more than most others so they can’t in fact be helped. Often that is a big mistake because often a ‘kick’ makes you think differently – it’s not an obvious answer.

Kickstarter exists to help bring creative projects to life and it can make an enormous difference to how you start a project; a new business.

During the lockdown my son has written a comic book. He has been planning it for years but being ‘locked down’ he was given the time to work on it and Kickstarter gave him the ‘kick’ and the knowledge to launch his comic. I have to say that it has been great and I’m really looking forward to getting my printed copy.

So, now maybe the time that you need a ‘kick’, from a friend, or a mentor, the important thing is to improve the way your business operates, adapt the current situation, and make sure that your business is successful going forward.

If you like adventure have a look at my son’s comic book; it might just give you a little kick (in more ways than one). You can see it here.

Your 3 a-day

No I’m not talking about your fruit or vegetable intake or, in fact, your health. However, I am talking about the health of your business.

We hear a great deal about setting goals. Your five-year plan, your three-year plan, one-year, and I myself really promote the one-month plan. Of course you need a long -term plan, something big in the future, but the reason that most long-term plans fail is because there are no one-month plans made in order to reach the bigger plan.

But even if you have your one-month plans in place, they won’t work unless you take some action; actions that will make your plan possible.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you want to double your turnover in the next two years. Not a bad plan – just imagine what that would do to your business.

Now at a very simple level, you would know how much business you would need in order to double your turnover. But, assuming you didn’t get any extra business from your existing customers, do you know how many new customers you would need?

Assuming you know that number, how would you go about getting that number of new customers?

How many new customers per month would you need?

Depending on your conversion rate how many customer meetings would you need?

And how many leads do you need to get to a customer meeting?

So far we haven’t even thought about extra staff, resources, cash-flow and a whole host of other things.

But even when you have done all of this work, at the moment it’s still all just theory. And this is when the action comes in. What actions will you need to take in order to make your plan, your goal, a reality? Because without any actions you will never achieve your goal.

So, work out what actions you need to take for your goal to succeed. There will be many of them; and then take three of those actions each and every day. As they say, actions speak louder than words, and in goal achievement this has never been truer.