networking

The Value of Networking

When we start-up our businesses often the idea of networking is last on our to-do list. This decision, I would argue is a major mistake. Once I took the decisive leap to move on from a full-time job and do something different working for myself I started to network. Straight away.

I took a look at Eventbrite to see what type of networking events were happening locally. Once I took a deep breath, signed up for some events and started to talk about what I wanted to do – it was enlightening. It was scary. Very scary at first. However, I met some very friendly people. Often people in the same position as I was. For me getting out and about and networking was one of the best business decision I have made.

Through this initial networking  I discovered a great networking group for me called 4Networking.  I can highly recommended it. In fact, I like it so much I am now on a local team for Stockport, Manchester. Now it’s not everyone’s cup of team but for me the friendly, fun atmosphere and welcome was just the boost  I needed. Everyone is supportive and welcoming. Having a friendly bunch of people is great to connect with if you are working on your own or freelancing.

Below though are some key reasons you should not dismiss networking to develop your business.

1. Advice & support 

Networking helps you connect with others. Often you are networking with people in the same position as you with loads of business experience. A successful network is one that encourages an environment to share advice and support. Consultants, Freelancers and successful business people are normally generous with advice particularly with people who are starting up. For me this is the number one reason you should network. It can be lonely and frustrating starting up on your own.

2. Word-Of-Mouth 

The main reason people network is to access business leads. It is the essential reason for networking. The reality is the more people you know who know what you do the more leads you will get. Networking grows your people network and raises your profile.

2. Advice & support 

Networking helps you connect with others. Often you are networking with people in the same position as you with loads of business experience. A successful network is one that encourages an environment to share advice and support. Consultants, Freelancers and successful business people are normally generous with advice particularly with people who are starting up. You will be inspired by the people you meet who can share their experiences.

3. Suppliers

You need a website? Or perhaps help with designing your business cards? Being part of a network is a simple effective way to identify reliable suppliers. It’s back to the word of mouth theory, people will work with people they know or are recommended to.

4. Opportunities

Networking is a super way to change your thinking and your mindset. You can tap into new ideas or meet new potential clients, often in areas when you least expect it. I find people with all types of businesses want social media advice including accountants, electricians, therapists or coaches. Everyone wants an online profile or wants to review their social media.

networking

People you meet networking often can help you to identify new market opportunities you might not have thought of. Similarly network with people in your sector, often background, experience and expertise varies and you can share work and contacts. Be positive.

5. Learn

Meeting other business people and talking about what they do, how they work is a simple way to improve yourself. Everyone takes a different approach, or has a fresh an idea you can use or adapt.  Talking to other people from different sectors can stimulate new ideas and innovative thinking.

6. Communication

Putting yourself out there and promoting your business is the scary bit. But its so worth it.  Introducing yourself and your business succinctly to strangers teaches you very quickly the best way to get your message across. It is daunting at first, but you know the old saying practice makes perfect.

7. New Friends 

I never expected this but one of the major benefits of networking is I am making new friends. I am bonding with people and sharing my pitfalls, my successes. You will meet goodwill, enthusiasm and build strong friendships. It’s all about building your network.

 

Failure Vivs Long-Ferguson

Shall we talk about Business Failure?

My hubby, and business partner Jim believes that three big reasons that anyone fails in business, or any other aspect of their life:

Firstly, procrastination. If you don’t get started then are are simply not going to go anywhere.
Secondly, not treating it as a real business. If you treat it as a hobby that produces some pin money, that’s what it will remain.
Thirdly, giving up.

Take it seriously

Today I’ll assume , like me, you’ve got started and  you’re taking it seriously.  You’re putting in all the time and effort you can, but maybe you’re not seeing the results you expected.  If that’s the case then my simple advice is that once you have a clear goal and have got yourself started towards it, don’t give up , ever.

I know first hand this business can seem frustrating at times. Lots of options out there. Makes you want to throw the towel in sometimes. Simply overwhelming.

But think about this for a moment. If you want to build muscle, as you’re at the gym lifting weights, you’re actually tearing your muscles down. It can be a painful process.

Yet, that’s the building blocks of becoming stronger and healthier. And isn’t it true that after you finish the workout, after you push through the resistance, you’re incredibly happy and fulfilled?

A big key to this business is to NOT throw in the towel. Keep going.  Don’t give up.  It is all part of the process.

It really is that important.

Keep experimenting

A big help may be to look at your failures and setbacks. Put them in context and see that for what the are, simply lessons learned on the road to success.

A big part of this business is having fun and testing. Figuring out if something works or not, and moving forward from there. Think of each step as investment in yourself, self-education.

So, rather than trying something and thinking, “I’m a failure.” or, “I’m no good at this.” or, “This doesn’t work”

View everything as a wonderful little experiment. In a way we’re mad scientists, testing, trying things out to better our income, lifestyles, and families futures, a bit more, day by day.

And I say it’s worth the “experimenting” isn’t it?

Finally, when you need support we’ve got Facebook groups you can join and be a part of.

And if you need  to latch onto a surefire system to follow, there are lots of options out there.

LinkedIn

Is your LinkedIn profile LinkedIn?

I like LinkedIn but I am never sure what to do with this specific social network? Is it a social network? Perhaps its a business resource? Somewhere you use to find a new job? Seriously what is its overall purpose?

Professional Networks

It is the place to be found. If you are looking to network, make sure you have a profile. Looking to grow your business? It is your number one resource.  Make sure your profile describes your services and expertise simply, clearly. A job title is not enough.

What is it exactly that you do? Are your potential clients likely to search for to find you? Do you know what they are they looking for?

When you meet someone make sure you connect with them LinkedIn. Always, without fail. Follow-up post event is essential and not enough people do it.

Considered a professional network. This perception is changing, perhaps it’s moving towards Facebook (people sharing jokes, comments and posting ideas). There is much debate about how you use it to connect, should you include a note (yes, maybe) but if you don’t feel comfortable then that’s fine.

LinkedIn

As with all social media networks make it work for you. Don’t do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you are looking to grow your network and connect with people who interest you and you don’t know at all. Do it.  Some may consider this is inappropriate, personally if it works for you carry on. You are focused on growing your network. People who are similar to you, like me, respect this. Just be mindful that others may have a different view. They prefer to only connect with people they really know. That’s okay, respect this approach to.

Why use LinkedIn?

Used wisely this platform can be a huge resource

  • develop your brand, keep tweaking that profile, be explicit about what you want
  • search for potential clients through sector, expertise or location
  • join groups and comment
  • research, before you meet people and post-meeting
  • recruit, obvious to most of us but you know lots of people don’t use it
  • be seen, be active, comment and share activity – work on your profile.
  • link your accounts so that your blog commentary is automatically shared
  • check your inbox, messages regularly – don’t ignore this B2B space
  • connect, connect and connect

Connections

Don’t expect too much from LinkedIn. Use it to grow your personal connections and to ensure people can see what you are doing. Use it wisely and it will help you. Get to know how it works.

Are you posting articles? Are you sharing stories plus contributing to groups. Do you make sure that all your content is automatically being posted on your LinkedIn profile?

Ignore it and you are potentially missing a big conversation.

 

 

4-hour workweek

the 4-hour workweek

Have you heard of the 4-hour work week? Its a book, film, video, musical, website and probably a t-shirt. I tried to read it but failed. However, my other half was recently sharing a useful bit of advice from the author Tim Ferris. He uses the acronym DEAL within the 4-Hour work week philosophy. This I thought was useful advice for small businesses. Let us start with D. 

D= Definition

Define your goals. What do you want to achieve. How much will you need to earn monthly? For example, I would like to ear $10,000 per month. I can quit my job at $5,000.

I want to spend more time with my family. Travel to Costa Rica or Italy. Surprise my parents with a luxury vacation to Switzerland, this is somewhere they want to go to.  These goals might not work for you.  You need to write out the definition of what you need and want. Remember to make sure your goals are specific.

4-hour workweek

E= Elimination

What can you eliminate in your job or life right now . Can you identify what may be holding you back? What are you wasting your time on.  Stressing and working you to burnout? Is it time to rethink your priorities.

On an episode of Tim’s show he runs on iTunes he was helping a woman who wanted to develop her yoga studio.  A big “why” for her was she wanted to be able to afford to send her parents to their home country.  To achieve this she needed around $5,500 per month. The Yoga entrepreneur also wanted to create a business lifestyle that was idea for her.  In her marketing, they looked at what was bringing her sales in.  Facebook, sending messages, emails were not working.  Calling her customers on phone worked. They happily paid and showed up for the class.

The lesson is. Eliminate all the other work. Just focus on making the phone calls. Focus on what achieves a return on investment. Which brings us to the next point. Now sing it loudly A

A= Automation

This is likely one reason you’re drawn to an internet based type of business. The automation possibilities are endless. There are lots of tools you can use. For the yoga woman, she could hire others to make these phone calls. That would be the first step to automating her business. Later, she could have others run the yoga classes. She could develop her business into a franchise, the sky’s the limit.

And that brings us to number L.

L= Liberation

The end goal. Your ideal income is coming in. All non-essentials are eliminated. Most things are automated. You are doing the things you want. This could be travel. Spending more time with your family, spoiling the people you care about. Not having income worries any more or coping with stress. This is the aim of the exercise.

I find this simple acroynm works for me. It could definitely help you. A simple word to remember. Looking to set up your own online business that’s built around the D.E.A.L. formula try this out.

Isn’t this breakdown from the 4-hour Workweek was a useful excercise we can all adopt?

 

Busy Vivs Long-Ferguson

Being busy is not the answer

We often hear people saying how busy they are. It feels as though it’s something that they like to brag about.  Perhaps a mistaken belief that being busy makes them important or successful. The perception is that the busier they are, the more important they are. The more they are getting done. Is this true? I don’t think so.

Probably, they are also the people who probably achieve the least. Arrange a one to one meeting with them and they will arrive late or text you at the last minute to re-arrange because they’re suddenly too busy to meet up today. You might find they are unfocused in the meeting, distracted.  I find this hard to relate too, I don’t understand why anyone would believe  that being overwhelmed and inefficient is something to boast about.

Josh Billings

Josh Billings is not a well known name today, but in the late 19th century he was a well known humorist. His advice on this is simply

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing till you get there.”

It’s so true. Results and impact are directly determined by how narrow you and I can make our focus. Always remember to spend your valuable time on what will have a result, think return on investment. You are a resource.

Busy Vivs Long-Ferguson

Sticking to one simple task, not trying to juggle fifty things at once. Most people think just the opposite. They think big success has to be time consuming and extremely complicated. They have full calendars and overloaded with to-dos.

Most to-do lists are more of a justification list or survival list. Their real intention is to help us achieve our goals.  Save yourself the hassle and stress of trying to tackle too much at once.

Take it slow

Take it slow and steady, tackle one job at a time. Finish each one, before moving on to the next.

If you’re thinking about  building your own business, then you must focus. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing every new gadget or product that comes onto the market.

Get yourself a proven system and stick with it.

 

Summer Autumn Reboot

the Post-Summer Social Media Reboot

It’s time for a reboot. It’s September and across the world a very wet September for most of us. This post-Summer, almost-Autumn period always feels very new term, fresh stationary and sharpen your pencils time. So why not a social media reboot?

I personally quite like it. You come back from holiday, refreshed, restored and ready to get busy. For me the plan is to focus on my networking, developing my business further and continue working with my current clients.

Begin Today

This is going to be a busy period in the run up to the end of the year and Christmas celebrations. I want to be in a good place for 2018.

Mastering social media schedulers, knowing which ones are good value and work well across multiple platforms (trust me there are too many options for schedulers out there) will be the priority. I want to improve my expertise in certain social media areas where I know I can do better.

So lets also use this time to take stock and make changes with our social media, do our Instaram images need editing? Does our twitter account look active? Has our SEO been slipping? Should we put more effort in our Tumblr?

Many of the dailies and magazines are suggesting this was a time to review activity and focus. This Saturday the Telegraph advised me September can be all about fresh starts. This has got me thinking about relevance to social media reboots.

Summer Autumn Reboot

Holiday

I have just come back from a week off in Scotland. It was great, a bit of a digital detox (still keeping an eye on some of my client accounts) but a good time to re-assess what social media tools to use and how effective are they.

Consequently its time for some reinvention, a social media reboot thinking about where we should put our online energies into

  • Developing our business
  • Tidying up our stakeholder list
  • When was the last time we sent an email newsletter to our contacts?
  • Networking, networking, networking what’s happening locally?
  • Audit and analyse current online activity? What’s working and what needs to improve?
  • Check in with clients, what is outstanding or keeps slipping?
  • Should we change a platform are we missing an audience channel?
  • Review our social media accounts; are they up to date, are they consistent? Is anything missing?

reboot

As the weather starts to get gloomier and we start to transition from long days with light evenings to those grey days and darker nights now is the time to review, plan and reboot. If you need help you know where I am.

Facebook Vivs Long-Ferguson

Everybody has a view about Facebook and it still Matters

Everybody has a view about Facebook. Even people who don’t currently use it have heard of it. Why? Because Facebook has continued to evolve from a niche social site for college students to the largest and widely used social media platform. As a platform that appeals both to regular people and to businesses. It has something in store for everybody and steady growth will continue.

Social

Facebook is a social media network designed specifically for interaction through connection. It appeals to everyone, whatever our age or interest. It remains and continues to grow as the most popular social media platform with the highest engagement levels.

Facebook VIvs Long-Ferguson

People create online profiles complete with personal photos and pictures. You can list their interests and preferences, as well as post their contact information, so others can get in touch with them easily.

The site’s popularity, with all its user-friendly features, has made it the perfect platform to locate long-lost friendships and create new ones. Similarly it’s now growing as entertainment engagement platform. You can play games, live stream, chat and share your content.

Some of the most popular social features offered by the platform include photo albums that can be shared with family, friends and colleagues. You can comment, be added on other people’s profiles, and  “groups” which are often used by networks as hubs to share content privately. Want to see what the grand kids are up to? Then you need to be on Facebook.

Business

For business its attractive platform offering companies, organizations and businesses of all types reach an audience of over 2 billion people in any given month. This is good for revenue, but also for building brand awareness. This is a crowded area for business, however its audience levels specifically around engagement are hard to beat.

The high rates of user engagement makes it stand out for me. Groups, Pages and communities tools all provide a social platform designed for interaction rather than have a static business website. You want to receive comments and feedback from your customers? Create a page on Facebook where they are likely to be checking regularly two or three times per day.

Businesses can have their own Facebook page designed to provide an interactive shop window. You can upload content to the platform the same way that any regular user would, with the added benefit of allowing businesses to promote and market their products and services using Facebook’s advertising platform.

Facebook Vivs Long-Ferguson

Community

What next for Facebook. Expect further developments in adverts but also shaping communities, bringing groups and networks together . This next stage of the Facebook mission announced earlier this year. Facebook has made a major pledge and plans to work towards a future goal of “bring the world closer together.”

Will they achieve it? You bet they will.