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My Herbalife Journey – Week 2: I Think I’ve Been Cloned

Well, I survived the first week! Life threw some (very pleasant) curveballs and challenges my way during Week 1 but I managed to stick to the plan, not fall off the wagon, stay focused and do what needed to be done. Yes, I’m as surprised by that as you, dear reader …….  

This morning was my first official weigh-in, admittedly not ideal after a networking breakfast, but I braved those magical digital scales and lo and behold I’ve lost 1.5lbs.  To some, that may not sound a lot but if you think that there are 8 sausages to the pound, in effect I’ve lost 12 of the porky buggers!

And let’s not even mention that right up until midnight on 8th September I was enjoying a veritable selection of cheeses, pork scratchings, beer and confectionery!

Five things I’ve discovered this week:

  • homemade hummus is the best thing ever!
  • Frozen fish (not the chip shop variety) – who knew?!
  • It is possible to stay on plan when I visit my fab mum
  • Herbalife Café Latte Shakes are genuinely delicious!
  • Wholemeal rice and pasta are not the Devil’s work

At the time of writing, it’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m seriously beginning to think that I’ve been cloned.  I’ve already planned the weekend menus and ordered my shopping online (no giving in to those Jaffa Cakes on offer if I’m not walking round the supermarket!)

I think the main difference “this time round” is that unlike the regimes of Weight Watchers and Slimming World, I’m not one of many in a room, waiting to be weighed, spoken to and sent on my way.  Working with Simply Nutrition, I’m receiving continual personal coaching and support from Andy and the Simply Nutrition WhatsApp Group – not just waiting for that one meeting a week and feeling a bit like a deflated sheep at the end of it. 

A real first for me is that when I got home from this morning’s weigh-in, I didn’t head to McDonalds or the biscuit tin for a “treat”.   It was business as usual and straight back on the plan.

It was a Summer Berries kind of day today!

So, I’ll leave you with 5 top tips to help you, if you feel inspired to get healthier and change your eating habits for the better:

  • Keep a food diary and be VERY Honest with what you’re consuming
  • Weigh out your rice and pasta. I’ve been cooking (and eating) enough for a family of 6 …… when I’m only a one!
  • Plan ahead when it comes to your meals
  • Make a shopping list – and stick to it
  • Don’t skip breakfast, but choose wisely

To find out more about Simply Nutrition Lichfield head to
https://www.simplynutrition.online/ . They are also on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll update again towards the end of the week. Thanks for reading and please feel free to add your comments, tips and observations below. 

My Herbalife Journey – Week 1: Four Days In

From Samuel Pepys to Bridget Jones, we all seem to love reading other people’s diaries.  So, I sincerely hope you’ll follow my journey over the next three weeks as I undertake a 21 Day Herbalife weight loss plan.  I’ll be updating this blog with my highs and lows (although hopefully not too many of those!), with a new blog appearing for Weeks 2 and 3.

My Why

Over the years I’ve tried every diet going.  I even have a diploma in nutrition.  My problem is me.  I am my own worst enemy, hence taking a very public approach to this adventure.  There’s also the fact that Simply Nutrition is one of my clients and I want to understand their ethos behind weight loss, in order to give them a better service with their social media. 

What’s A Gal To Do?

Quite simply, I am replacing one meal a day (usually lunch) for a Herbalife Protein Shake.  I will eat breakfasts and evening meals, with healthy snacking in between.   It’ll take planning and willpower so please feel free to offer tips and encouragement along the way!

The Story So Far

At my initial consultation with the fab Andy at Simply Nutrition, we talked about my lifestyle, my eating habits and goals.  I was then asked to step onto a set of scales which passed a tiny electrical current through my body and took measurements for my hydration levels, body fat percentage and visceral fat percentage – we now have a starting point!  Andy then talked me through the range of Herbalife products to incorporate into my day:  an Aloe drink for first thing in the morning, two different flavours of their F1 drink, protein powder to add to the F1 formula, and a raspberry protein tea, which can be taken hot or cold. 

I’m back in Lichfield tomorrow, where I will have my measurements taken (eeeek!) and my food diary and menu plans assessed.  WhatsApp will also be working overtime as I have been asked to send pictures of all meals to Andy so he can gain an insight into my portion sizes and nutritional balance. 

Today’s biggest achievement has been mastering my new Nutribullet without flooding my kitchen worktop with a Summer Berries shake!

Huzzah!! I mastered the art of the Nutribullet – there’s no stopping me now!

Yes, it’s only Day 1 but I’m feeling good! 

Four Days In – And I’m Still Going!

I have absolutely no idea where this week has gone, nor how I’ve managed to stay 100% focused when I’ve had networking breakfasts, 121s in lovely cafes and just generally been rushing round like the proverbial blue arsed fly!

It’s safe to say that I’ve got my head well and truly round the terrifying gadget known as the Nutribullet. I’m now like a dervish when mixing up my lunchtime meal replacement of a Herbalife Protein Shake. I have three flavours to choose from: Summer Berries, Chocolate and (my fave) Cafe Latte.

I’ve sussed out that the aloe drink improves the flavour of cranberry juice so that’s another Herbalife box well and truly ticked!

I’ve planned ahead for networking breakfasts and haven’t fallen off the wagon yet, and I’ve been cooking from scratch all week, with no evening naughty nibbles – just fruit, nuts and yogurt.

My one area that I really need to improve on is exercise. I’m determined to get back into the swimming pool but at the mo, Tao is keeping me so busy that the days are just passing me by.

There was an element of relief when Andy of Simply Nutrition Lichfield only needed the one tape measure to take my digits, and my hydration levels are heading in the right direction – even if my loo roll bill has gone up!

This week’s new discovery is that hummus is really easy to make, and tastes so much better that the shop-bought stuff. Who knew!? Spread over a couple of crispbreads or a rice cracker, it’s filling and very very tasty.

I’ll leave you with a #TopTip – nuts are full of protein, but aim to buy the shell-on varieties such as monkey nuts and pistachio nuts. De-shelling them take such a long time that you eat less – true!

Well, I think that’s about all for now. The weekend is looming and there’s social stuff on the calendar. Wish me luck and I’ll update you all in a few days’ time!

Keep smiling ……. x

Chances Are, You Hate It When This Happens To You …..

Picture the scene.  It’s a busy evening at Casa You.  You’ve been on your feet all day, the kids are tired and hungry, the household chores need doing, you’ve got a million things to do tomorrow and to top it all, with a loud bang and a puff of smoke your microwave has just pinged its final ping. 

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  You pile into the car, en famille, and head to the nearest retail park.  Once you’ve found your parking space you head to the metropolis that is the electrical superstore to buy a new microwave. 

You know you want a microwave.

You know where you’re going to buy it from.

You know your budget.  Or thereabouts. 

But here goes.  The inevitable begins as soon as you step over the threshold.

“Can I help you”

“No thank you” and, as you walk another five yards into the shop ……

“Hi, how can I help you today”

“We’re good thanks”.  You carry on, heads down, focusing on the microwaves.

Another one jumps out from behind the vacuum cleaners “Can we interest you in …..”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  STOP IT.  PLEASE!!!!

Now pop this tale into the context of your social media content.  Is every single post about you? Are you constantly flogging your wares to your social audience?  Are you needy, asking them to click here, or book this or download my …….

If so, you’re doing exactly the same as those annoying sales assistants at the electrical store, only you’re doing it online.  Your audience need to have a reason to keep coming back to your Page or to follow your profile.  They want to get to know the person behind the business, so don’t be afraid to show your personality.  Think about building a relationship with your potential customers, and sales are more likely to follow.   If they want anonymous, they’ll go to Amazon or fiverr!

The more value you can add to your audience via your social media posts, the more your audience will grow. 

5 Top Tips To Increase Productivity


“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” 

Let me guess – you’re busy, right?  You have a To Do list that you never seem to get to the bottom of.  You have unfinished projects, people to phone and ideas for your business pinging around your head.

Sit back, relax with a cuppa and enjoy a 5 minute read – let’s see if there’s a way we can get more stuff done and be more productive with these 5 tips:-

When are you at your most productive?

We’re all different.  The trick is to identify when you are at your best in terms of productivity.  Personally, I’m a morning person so it makes sense for me to “give it my all” first thing in the morning.  I’d opt for a breakfast meeting over an after-work event any day of the week and on non-networking days I’m usually at my desk by 7.30 am as that’s my best time.  Maybe you’re a night owl, or get more done during the middle of the day – identify what time of day works for you and work it.  It’s pointless saving all the heavy-duty tasks for the time of day your heart isn’t in it.

Schedule A Series Of Power Hours

Once you’ve identified when you’re at your most productive, grab your diary and schedule some Power Hours.  A Power Hour is that golden 60 minutes where you focus on one thing – it could be a blog you keep meaning to write, it could be getting your bookkeeping done or scheduling all of your weekly social media posts – but you really need to stay focused.  Switch off all other distractions such as your emails, social media and news alerts and just knuckle down to that one task you’ve scheduled for your Power Hour.  Stick to the Power Hour appointments, treat them like client meetings – no cancelling them for something more important or you’ll never move forward.

Batch Similar Tasks Together

Jumping from one thing to the next and back again can be a massive time waster. Allot time slots to common tasks such as phone calls, email replies, filing – so that your headspace is in one place for all of those types of tasks and not failing as it tries to keep up with you jumping from one thing to another. 

Automate

Don’t be afraid to utilise your Out Of Office – even when you’re in the office, and apply auto responders on your Facebook Page.  You really don’t have to reply to everything the second it hits your Inbox, or during the evening or at the weekend. We all need to rest and sleep occasionally!

Stop Striving For Perfection

We all want to deliver perfection, but perfection can take time.  Put yourself in your clients’ shoes – will they know the difference between perfect and OK when they receive that email from you, or read that blog you’ve just spent 6 weeks putting together?  Sometimes we can be too close to our businesses to see when good is good enough.   For those of you who know me well enough, my mantra is JFDI – it’s a lot more productive than sit on it for weeks and never get it finished! 

So there you have it – 5 simple ways to get more stuff done! I’d love to hear your productivity tips – feel free to comment below.

Workshops: which type of delegate are you?

For any of you reading this who deliver training workshops, have you noticed that most groups of people can usually be broken down into type.  I hope you enjoy my (very) tongue in cheek romp through a few of the common traits I’ve come across over the years. 

The Monopoliser

Generally, Mr (or Mrs) Monopoliser is quiet and attentive, taking everything in, making notes.  When the trainer asks if there are any questions, our Monopoliser remains silent.  As soon as you announce a comfort break (this usually indicates that the trainer is gagging for a coffee and a wee) The Monopoliser is there – with eleventy hundred questions they’ve made a note of over the last two hours.  A true Monopoliser will also hang on to the bitter end, with another batch of questions.  I have been walked to my car AFTER a workshop by a Monopoliser. 

Please people – trainers need a comfort break too! 

The Know-All

Know-alls usually state in their introduction that they’re on the workshop because they’ve been sent there by their boss and can’t really see why it’s necessary to waste a day when they could be at work, doing something far more valuable.  Know-alls tend to pull the trainer up at every possible opportunity.  They will openly question the trainer and may even take to the encyclopaedic knowledge of Google to prove the trainer wrong.   Know-alls are also renowned for over-sharing their own experiences, whether the group want to hear them or not!

To all the know-alls out there – just let us trainers know if you’d like to swap places.  It would be lovely to have a sit down and let you do all the work!

The Comedian

There’s always one:  whether it’s down the pub, in the office (remember David Brent?!) or, unfortunately for you, on one of your workshops.    Sadly, our born entertainer is no Rhod Gilbert and your workshop is not an open-mic night down the local.  Sometimes it’s good to just let the Comedian get on with it and watch the tumbleweed as it metaphorically rolls across the training room.  His fellow delegates will soon let him (or her!) know that their humour is, at best, grating. 

Note to Comedians:  there’s a time and a place for everything.  Maybe your energy levels are better suited to Britain’s Got Talent? 

The Intimidator

For many people, workshops can be a stressful situation – asking questions on a subject when you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the only one in the room who doesn’t “get it” can really take guts.  Enter our Intimidator – the one whose eyes roll up to the heavens, the shoulders shrug and there may even be an audible outpouring of tutting.   Or worse – laughter. 

A workshop should be a safe environment where attendees can ask questions without fear of being singled out as a bit of a womble.  Not everyone gets everything first time round:  we all have different styles and speeds of learning.   The beauty of workshops is that the delegates can help each other, so come on Intimidators – put your knowledge to good use and help others rather than criticize. 

The Back-Tracker

OK, so as a trainer we invite questions, and allow time for our delegates to “get it” but most workshops need to keep to a rigid timetable, within reason.  Back-trackers are the ones who, after the lunch recess, ask you a question related to what you covered several hours ago in the first session, long after everyone’s thought processes have moved on from that particular element. 

Be honest with the trainer: if you don’t get something, speak up at the time so that the issue can be explained to you before moving on.   Not understanding a certain item on the agenda could hinder your progress through the remainder of the day – and you won’t benefit from the training.

The High-Expectation Delegate

On a personal note, I endeavour to fit as much into a workshop as time allows – always mindful of what pace my learners may be able to learn at, and not overloading them with too much information in one session. 

My subject (social media) is vast:  I could quite easily write and deliver at least a dozen workshops on the different platforms, time management, content, etiquette, personal vs business use, and then there’s the different levels of Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced.  Trust me, it’s a bloody big umbrella to fit everything and everyone’s needs under in 3 hours!

The only tip I can offer our High-Expectation Delegates is to read the workshop description BEFORE you book.  If you have any queries about the course content, or duration, contact the trainer and ask beforehand.  That way, your expectations will be met and you won’t feel cheated out of a day in a workshop which holds little value to you.

But enough of that …….  What makes for the PERFECT delegate? 

They turn up on time:  ten minutes before the start of the workshop, with a laptop (not a mobile phone or tablet for training purposes).  They set themselves up, log in to the WiFi of the venue, open up their social media channels and they’re sociable to other delegates as they arrive (there’s nothing worse than a room full of people who don’t communicate). 

Once the workshop is underway, the perfect delegate will ask relevant questions at the relevant times.  If they are up to speed with the subject matter, they will help their fellow delegates who may be struggling. 

They will have their mobile phones on silent, and only check them at break times so as not to distract others on the course. 

Having said all of the above, some of the best workshops I’ve delivered have had their fair share of all of those characters, and more!  The key thing is to never stop learning and make the most of everything the trainer shares with you. 

A to Z of Networking: Part 4 – S to Z

Well, the wait is over!  Here’s the fourth and final instalment of my A to Z of networking where we’ll look at the letters S through to Z.  Grab a cuppa, pop your phone on silent and enjoy the read.

S is for Sixty Seconds

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been networking: you may be a seasoned pro or you may be a complete new beginner but most of us, at some time or other, have dreaded the Sixty Second Elevator Pitch. 

Let’s assume you attend a weekly breakfast meeting.  Every week, you get the opportunity to make an impact in 60 seconds.  Over the course of the year (give or take holidays) this adds up to approx. 48 minutes to talk about your business.  So why do so many of us get it wrong, week after week?

Plan ahead.  What messages do you want to convey to your audience week on week?  Concentrate on the elements of your business you enjoy doing (or what generates more income).  Rehearse what you plan to say.  If it helps, write it down and read it – there’s absolutely no shame in that.  And please, please don’t waste time by peppering your 60 seconds with umms, arrs and errs. 

Finally – 60 seconds is a target, not a challenge to exceed.  Which brings us nicely on to ……

T is for Timekeeping

Apart from the obvious (turn up on time!) one sure-fire way to lose your audience is to keep delivering your elevator pitch long after the timer has indicated it’s time for you to sit down.  As soon as you hear the timer, wind down what you’re saying and sit down – it’s someone else’s turn now.   Everyone gets the same amount of time.  What makes you so special to think that the timer doesn’t apply to you and is free reign to just carry on talking.  And talking.  And talking. 

At best, it’s just arrogant.  Please be respectful and stick to the allotted time. 

U is for Understand

Are you conveying the right messages to your audience?  Over the years, I’ve met dozens of fellow business owners who have quite literally scared me off using their services.  Week after week, I’ve sat through their 60 seconds listening to how they’ve been training household (sometimes global) brands, or how their clients include rock stars, glamourous locations and contracts worth multi-thousands of pounds.  It all sounds fabulous, doesn’t it – but as a solo business owner my brain immediately tells me that I’ll never be able to afford these guys, so I switch off.   

If your audience is a room full of micro-business owners, tailor your message to their needs.  The whole idea of your elevator pitch is to make your business/service desirable and problem solving for your potential customers.  Dropping household names, endless transatlantic flights and high-end contracts into your pitch could have your audience questioning (a) whether they could ever afford you, and (b) what on earth are you doing in the room if you have a tranche of global household names on your client list. 

Moving on ……

V is for Voice

Room sizes, like audiences, vary.  Larger groups will have background noise, several clusters of people all having different conversations, and you can guarantee that there will be some who insist on whispering (at best) to the person next to them during the 60 second section of the meeting. 

Try to speak clearly and project.  You may need to raise your voice and talk over distractions and interruptions.  It’s not easy so don’t be afraid to practice: in the bathroom, in the car.  If it helps, you may want to use your smartphone to record yourself and listen back to how you sound.   

Remember to leave pauses every so often for impact.  Silence can be a great way to get your audience listening. 

W is for Welcoming

One of the most terrifying things for many when it comes to networking is that first visit.  That first time of walking over the threshold and saying hello to a room of entire strangers. 

Don’t leave newbies lurking in the doorway, looking like they want to be invisible.  Welcome them, introduce them, show them where the coffee is, explain the format of the next couple of hours.  Some groups even have designated ambassadors for visitors and new members.

When it comes to sitting down for the business of the meeting, make sure any newbies or visitors are sat with experienced, established members of the group and that they get the opportunity to feel part of the group.

There’s nothing worse than feedback from visitors saying that they found the group cliquey or that nobody spoke to them for ten minutes after their arrival.

We were all newbies once – be mindful, be kind, be welcoming.

X is for eXtrovert

Every group has its extroverts – maybe you’re one of them?  Can you use that trait to stand out from the crowd – in a good way?  Are you brave enough to deliver your 60 seconds in verse, or even sing it to the room?  Would you turn up in fancy dress to get your point across or reinforce your brand message? 

I’ll leave that one with you ….. but feel free to share your results and reactions!

Y is for Your Business

Your business is the reason you are doing all of this damned networking in the first place, so please don’t waste the opportunity to talk about it, and promote what you do.  With balance!

As we’ve already learned, you can gain a lot from listening.  Listen to how others in the room could potentially benefit your business, not just as a client but maybe there’s affiliations and associations to be formed. 

Look after your business, and your business will look after you. 

Z is for Zoning Out

There’s nothing more off-putting than having someone in the room who is so disengaged they may as well not be there at all.

A good presenter can spot a stifled yawn from a mile away.  Show some respect, pay attention, engage and enlighten – it sure beats slumping in your chair, checking your phone, clock watching and zoning out.

Well, that brings us to the end of our A to Z of Networking.  I’d love to hear what points you’ve taken away from this series of blogs that you can now put into practice with your own networking. 

Finally, I’d like to give a big heads-up to the networking groups I’m involved in:-

Burntwood inBusiness Networking

Business B4 Work (Tamworth area)

WiRE – Women in Rural Enterprise (National organisation)

Love Ladies Business Group (Midlands)

Thanks for reading – now go forth and network! 

A to Z of Networking Part 1

A to Z of Networking Part 2

A to Z of Networking Part 3

A to Z of Networking: Part 3 – M to R

As we reach the midway point of our A to Z (unless your alphabet of choice is Khmer – Google it!) we take a leisurely look at M to R.  If you’re sitting comfortably, let’s begin ……..

M is for Making Notes

At every meeting, attendees will be given the opportunity to deliver their killer “elevator” pitch:  the golden 60 seconds to inform the group what they do, and what types of referrals and introductions they’re after.  With the best will in the world, there is no way that your brain will remember everything – make notes if something piques your interest as you never know –  someone in your business circle could be the ideal introduction for someone in the room. 

N is for Networker

I’m guessing you’re now asking yourself “What is she going on about? I AM a networker!” 

But ARE You?  Really?

Being a true networker isn’t just about turning up to meetings.  It’s about introducing person A to person B if you can see synergy between the two, it’s about recommending your fellow networkers to anyone you come into contact with who may need their services, it’s about giving testimonials to businesses in the room you’ve used yourself.   Being a true networker also beings us neatly onto our O …..

O is for One To Ones

Getting to know your fellow group members is an integral part of networking.  The meetings themselves can be busy and many stick to an agenda, leaving little time to get round to talking to everyone in the room – especially if it’s a large group with lots of members. 

There are several ways to manage the one to ones:  yes, they do take time, and can easily get in the way of running your business.  Make a note of these tips – you can thank me later!

The traffic light system – when you first join a networking group, listen to what others have to say and make a note of how much synergy there is between you and each member.  Then, introduce a traffic light system to “grade” how soon you need to arrange a one to one, according to the time you have available:  a red light indicates that there is very little potential for your businesses to work together/refer.  An amber light means that it’s definitely worth arranging a meeting as there’s a fair bit of commonality and interest, and a green light – get that diary out and pick up the phone now!

A good time-saver is to arrange the one to one session immediately after a networking meeting.  This ensures that you will both be in the same place, at the same time, wearing your “networking” hats. 

Set a time limit on the meeting:  an ideal one to one should allow around 20 minutes for you to both speak freely about your own business, and a further 20 minutes for questions an potential for working together and referrals.  

A one to one should NOT be one party pumping free information out of the other party to help their own business – this is called a paid-for service!

P is for Plan Ahead

If it’s your first visit to a networking group:  where is the meeting? Is there parking on site?  What time does the meeting begin – and end?  Who else is in the group? Does the group have any social media presence, or a website?  Is there an annual fee?  What’s the monthly/ongoing fee should you decide to join?

Nuff said!

Q is for Questions

A room of networkers is an invaluable source of knowledge and experience.  If you have an issue within your business (or life in general!), or if you’re looking for something specific – ASK! 

If you don’t quite understand what someone does for a living (let’s face it – we’ve all been left a little baffled after some 60 second pitches!) – ASK!

If someone puts out a plea and it strikes a chord within you – ASK if you can help them!

Simples.

R is for Respect

Picture the scene:  it’s your turn to stand up for 60 seconds and tell the room what you do.  As you begin to talk, several members reach for their phones to check their emails, others start their own little micro meetings a few seats away …… random text message beeps are an old favourite too!

Respect doesn’t cost anything, and everyone deserves it.  Switch your phone off, save the micro meetings for an appropriate break in proceedings and pay attention. 

It’s not rocket science – it’s courtesy!

Well that brings us to the end of Part 3.  Feel free to add your own comments or observations:  have you ever had a mis-placed one to one, or struggled to talk over others at a meeting? 

Previous

Going the extra mile is a great way to showcase what you can do for your fellow networkers

A to Z of Networking: Part 2 – G to L

In Part 1 we looked at the importance of business cards and how to be a farmer when it comes to networking for your business. Part 2 covers G to L.

Ready? Let’s go …..

G is for Go The Extra Mile

Once you’ve settled into a networking group, does your business lend itself to helping the group in any way? Yes, you probably won’t get paid for volunteering to print the attendee sheets or post social media posts on behalf of the group, but it can be a really effective way to showcase (subconsciously) what you and your business are capable of.

H is for Hunter

To quote George Orwell, “Four legs good, two legs bad” – the same can be applied in networking circles when it comes to hunters: “Farmers good, hunters bad”.

You'll only see a Hunter in the room when they have something to sell
You can spot a Hunter a mile off.

You never hear from hunters until they have something to sell: it may be a new product, tickets to an event, perhaps they want you to sponsor them. Hunters tend to do the rounds but will never commit: they will have a timetable of networking meetings to target (maybe one or two a day over a two week period).

As soon as they arrive, they are telling anyone who will listen what they want you to hear. Hunters can be aggressive salespeople (remember our D – Do Not Oversell?!). Hunters will hand out their flyers regardless of whether you want one or not. And guess what – you’ll not hear from them until the next product / event they want to push your way. After the meeting a hunter may even bombard you on social media, trying to over-tag you into submission.

Please don’t be a hunter. Its just nasty and won’t win you any fans.

I is for Introvert

Let’s face it, we’re not all natural social butterflies. For some, the thought of walking into a room full of strangers, conversing, eating …. It’s all just too much!

Maybe ask your existing circle where they network: could you go to your first meeting with someone you already know, perhaps as a guest of an existing member?

Try to break down what it is that you’re most anxious about. Breaking down the problem can help to lead towards a solution: is it the initial walking over the threshold? Perhaps the thought of standing up and delivering a 60 second pitch is keeping you away?

With a little bit of work, research and forward- thinking, even the most introverted business owners can generate success from networking.

Introverts, look away now as we move on to J …….

J is for JFDI!

I have to confess, I am more of a JFDI type than an introverted flower. So what does JFDI stand for?

Just F*****g Do It – that’s what!

JFDI people don't dwell - they just do it!
Are you a JFDI type?

Once a decision has been made, or a seed of an idea sown, your average JFDI person doesn’t tend to over-think, or break down their options. As it says on the tin, we just JFDI.

A new hobby? We’ll go out and buy all the kit before we change our mind. A new networking opportunity? Let’s go, and let’s go now.

Not all JFDI people are screaming extroverts but reaching beyond the comfort zone can be a good thing (unless you’re talking about sky-diving, in which case you can jog on, sunshine!)

Whether you’re an introverted I, or more of a JFDI, you will need to focus on your K ……

K is for Know Your Audience

You may be in a very fortunate position to have household names amongst your client base. Yes, this is excellent for your business: a testimonial on your website from a renowned company could win you business from other household names. However, stop and think.

Is the room you are networking in full of multi-national household brand names, or is it full of solo business owners and local businesses?

By constantly talking about the “big boys” you’ve done business with, are you potentially scaring away new business opportunities that are right under your nose? Similarly, someone whose business is more gender-specific (let’s say, for example, a nail technician) may find more potential in a female only networking group.

Every audience will be different, so again, shop around until you find the audience that fits your business.

L is for Listening

It’s always far too easy to talk too much. We all like to have our say, and perhaps when out and about networking, nerves can play a part in how much we gabble on. And on. And on.

Stop!

Let someone else talk. Ask them questions and let them answer. Yes, the art of listening is fairly easy to master.

Listening means being respectful too. How would you feel if, when you stand up to deliver your 60 seconds, everyone picked up their phones and started scrolling through their emails. Give your vocal chords a rest, pin back your lugs and listen – you never know, you might even learn something!

Well that’s taken us (more or less) halfway through the alphabet of networking. Part 3 will be along soon, so make sure you’re around to read M – R.

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Business cards are an important tool in your networking kit bag.

A to Z of Networking: Part 1 – A to F


Since starting Tao Business Solutions in 2012, I’ve done an awful lot of networking – and yes, some of it has been truly awful!  Over my next four blog posts, I will be sharing my A to Z of Networking with you – the good, the bad and the downright ugly!

Are you sitting comfortably, with a mug of something hot and steamy in hand?  Then let us begin.

A is for Attendance

It might come as a bit of a shock to some, but turning up in the first place is a real biggie when it comes to networking success.  I’ve lost count of the number of business owners I’ve encountered who look down-trodden at the mention of networking:

“I went networking once but it never got me any work”. 

No shit!  Being in the room works.  Joining a group and not turning up, or sending a sub on your behalf won’t work.  Really people – it’s not rocket science.

Once you’ve turned up and started to talk to people, chances are it will soon become second nature to you.

Let us move swiftly on to B:

B is for Business Cards

Yes, we live in the digital age, connecting with new people on LinkedIn, following them on Twitter but there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned business card when you first meet someone new at an event.

Does your business card have all the information needed?  Is the information current?  Is your colour scheme easy to read?  Is the font size readable or will the recipient need a magnifying glass to read it?

Business cards are an important tool in your networking kit bag.
Do your business cards reflect your business and personality?

Don’t be afraid to tweak your card between print runs – there’s nothing worse than a card with crossings out and scribbles all over it where a mobile number has changed or an email address was omitted in error. 

One thing I’ve learned over the years is always be prepared and carry business cards on you at all times – you never know who you might bump into,  and when!

So, we’ve turned up to a networking event, we have business cards – now it’s time for our C …..

C is for Commitment

You’ve mastered the attendance bit, you have a pocket full of business cards and you seem to get on with pretty much everyone in the room.  Now all you need to do is commit! 

Becoming a member of a networking group shows that you are serious about your commitment to the group and its members. It also comes with other benefits such as your business profile being included on the group website, mentions over their social media channels and an immediate circle of professionals to turn to when you need advice.

Some groups can be an expensive financial outlay, so visit several groups and find one that suits your budget and your availability.  We’re not all bright as a button at 7 am but some of us don’t want to be networking at 8 pm either.

As the adage goes, you reap what you sow – and with networking its all about commitment.

When it comes to networking, you reap what you sow.
Sow the seeds, nurture the seeds and the seeds will grow.

D is for Don’t Oversell!

I’ll be brief on this one.  When someone asks you what you do, give them a brief overview.  Don’t go spouting prices, availability, tech specifications and waving your diary in their face.  And always remember to reciprocate – and listen! 

Two ears, one mouth.  Nuff said!

E is for Expectations

Newbies to networking.  Please don’t walk in a room, expect everyone in there to drop their existing supplier and switch to you.  Lower those expectations, take time to get to know new introductions.  Book a 121 with anyone you feel there is genuine synergy with (we’ll come on to 121s in Part 3) and maybe over time, they will engage your services.

Barnstorming a meeting once and expecting the room to fall at your feet will lead to disappointment.  It won’t do your professional reputation much good either.

Finally in Part 1, let’s take a look at the letter F.

F is for Farmers

We all like a good farmer when it comes to networking.  Farmers commit to the cause.  They are in it for the long-haul.  They sow seeds, they nurture relationships and over time, those seeds flourish into crops – or in the case of networking, trusted sources to refer to, new clients, friends.

Being a farmer is all about the principle of know, like, trust.  Grow your farm wisely and you can’t go wrong.

In Part 2 we’ll cover G to L. Find out what’s the opposite to a Farmer – and then don’t become one!

Thanks for reading Part 1. Feel free to add your comments – it’s always good to talk.

Next

All Hail The Power Hour!

We’ve all been there, done it and laundered the t-shirt a million times over.

“I’ll do that later today”

“I really need to write a blog / schedule some social media / clean my desk”

And on a Friday evening ……. “Where did the week go, I never did get round to ……..”

Time is our most valuable asset and also the thing that most of us are depleted of, which is why we end up working in our businesses, looking after our clients and taking care of the day-to-day tasks when in reality we should put some time aside to work ON our businesses.

Something I use on a regular basis is the “Power Hour”.  Ask yourself when are you at your most productive?  For me, its first thing in the morning.  Once you have identified your “golden time”, set an appointment of 60 minutes in your diary – with yourself – and stick to it.

This is your Power Hour!

If your mission, for example, is to write a blog, don’t open your email programme, close all of your social media feeds, switch your phone off and put it out of sight.  Once you’ve banished the distractions, apply yourself to writing that blog.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in 60 minutes once you’ve removed all the distractions – the pings, dings, bells and whistles that constantly distract you and take your thought path down yet another dark alley.

Sticking to the 60 minute appointment is the key to success.  Yes, its easy to answer the phone to a client, reply to that email or make an excuse for the sake of making an excuse but none of these will get your blog written, your social media scheduled or your desk cleaned!

Give it a try – I think you’ll surprise yourself and after a few times, your business (or environment!) will begin to benefit and the Power Hour will become a regular habit.

Good luck!

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