Monday, 30 July 2007

Mondays can be interesting

Today has been a very different sort of Monday. I visited my holistic therapy client today and have really got her thinking about how she can make more money by working less hours. She treated me to a very relaxing Reflexology session, I was so glad I didn't have any heavy coaching to do in the afternoon, it was bad enough having to drive home!

Got back to the office around 4.30 - and delighted to see another booking for my Win More Sales workshop in September!

Had word that last Monday's small business workshop was well received and they're thinking of holding another one - great news.

Tomorrow I'm having coffee with a colleague I haven't got together with for ages in the morning, meeting with a potential new business coaching client in the afternoon and coaching a very long-standing client in the evening. Should be quite a packed day.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Where did last week go?

I had meant to post on Friday - but last week seems to have hurtled past at double speed! I don't make a habit of working on a Sunday but writing for this blog can't really be classified as work!

Last Monday evening saw the first delivery of a specially commissioned workshop and it was OK and the evaluation forms positive. I always think of things to improve on or do differently next time. I'd definitely order better weather - the rain was relentless - again!

Now I'm gearing up the marketing for my next 'open' workshop called 'Win More Sales' in September (details at and hoping for a good number of delegates as I probably won't run it again in its current format.

I don't understand when I hear business owners say 'things go quiet over the summer'. For the last 3 years at least, I've actually got busier with new coaching clients over July and August! That said, a lot of the networking groups take a break during August so I'm hoping to get some much needed business development projects finished and ready to launch in September.

Tomorrow I'm off to visit a good friend and client with a thriving holistic therapy business. She's now reached the point where she's ready to take her business to the next level - working less hours for more profit. I'm looking forward to planning that with her.

But for now, I'm going to log off and enjoy the sunshine that's making a rare appearance!

Friday, 20 July 2007

A very mixed week

Well, I've made it to another Friday! It's been quite a mixed week. Lots of coaching, a bit of networking (see yesterday's post!), and putting the finishing touches on the new workshop I'm presenting on Monday to a group of small business owners. I'll let you know how it goes!

One of the reasons I love what I do is that there is so much variety. Each business coaching client presents different challenges and situations. The newsletters and articles I write, and this blog, allow me to express myself and my opinions (!). The workshops and new products and services give free rein to my creative side. I get to meet lots of lovely people when I want to be sociable, or I can be quiet in my own company when I don't. Every week is very different. I wonder what next week will bring?....

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Networking Fatigue Alert!

Yesterday I went to the second breakfast meeting of a small networking group who are just trying to get established. (This is the same group where the venue had cooked all the eggs two weeks ago (see post from 13 July) and were unable to provide me with scrambled instead of fried, of which, more later!)

At the first meeting, there were 18 people present, this time - just 11. I do hope the group survives but I have some doubts. From my own experience of setting up and running a group (4 years ago), I know how difficult it is to build and maintain a viable number of members.

On Monday, I was invited to yet another networking group's first meeting to be held at the end of this month - hence the Networking Fatigue Alert! (see post from 6 July)

How can all these breakfast groups survive? There are only so many breakfasts a person can eat.

Today I heard about a well established (over 6 years) group who are sadly losing long established members and struggling to attract new ones.

Could it be that all the 'new' groups are creating a different breed of networker? I know that I'm in danger of becoming a 'Networking Tart"! (definition: a networker who visits every new group just to see what it's like and who's there.) I know that when I was a regular member of a group, my loyalty was to my fellow members. Now, because I can do all the networking I want, without the commitment of joining a group, there isn't any group loyalty and business referrals are more hit and miss.

Could it be that, with all these new groups starting up, the more established groups are suffering as members defect to find out what else is out there? Could these satellite groups actually be damaging the amount of referred business?

Sadly, what also struck me, as I listened to the proposed goals of this new group yesterday, is that their goals are almost the same as most of the other groups I've visited, although they may be worded differently. I had to keep my mouth well and truly buttoned!

Please forgive me if I start to rant at this point. The main purpose of networking is to build relationships. But, you cannot build relationships based on meeting someone just once or twice. You choose the people you want to get to know better (perhaps on the basis that you have similar interests, similar target markets - or you just like them!) and you spend time developing that relationship.

Visiting different groups once or twice is not enough to build relationships. Joining a group and attending regularly is. I'm not going to risk my reputation referring business to someone I hardly know. On the other hand, if I've been meeting them once a week over a period of time, I will feel much more comfortable introducing them to my other contacts.

Rant over.

Just to let you know that, despite ordering "just scrambled eggs and mushrooms" for my breakfast, on my plate were - scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomato, the hated baked beans, hash brown and toast. I have to say that the eggs and mushrooms were delicious - but I'm still wondering what part of the word 'just' was so hard to understand!

Friday, 13 July 2007

A tale of two breakfasts

I’ve spent most of this week working on a brand new workshop I’ve been asked to present later this month to a group of business owners. It always seems to take me longer than I think to put them together, probably because I keep adding things!

On Wednesday I made a delightful early morning country drive to Alton, where I was due to speak to a breakfast group about Networking. As I hadn’t made that particular journey before, I set off in good time and arrived far too early, just after 7 am – with the meeting due to start at 7.30. Unsurprisingly, no-one else from the group was there yet.

The hotel staff were so friendly and helpful – especially considering the early hour. They made sure I had everything I needed while I waited for the rest of the group to turn up. I spoke to the duty manager, and two of the housekeepers and they were all so cheerful!

After the talk (and a very tasty breakfast - cooked to order!) I went back to reception, someone else was on duty by then but she was just as friendly. I said that I had enjoyed my visit to their hotel because the staff were so nice. She looked a bit surprised, but very pleased. Sometimes we don't praise when things go well.

Contrast that experience to the week before. I was invited to a breakfast meeting being held at a local golf club. When the breakfast was served, it was already 'plated' - with fried egg, bacon, sausage, hash brown, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and two pieces of fried bread! Now, while I'll agree that this is good value for money, I don't like baked beans and, to be honest, there's no way I could manage more than half of what was on the plate.

When I asked if it was possible to just have some scrambled eggs and mushrooms I was told that 'all the eggs had been cooked'! As a compromise they gave me another plate - just without the baked beans.

What a contrast in service and willingness to please. I know few people like being on 'breakfast duty' but it makes such a difference to have a cheerful start to the day.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Should Networking Carry a Health Warning?

Ever since I first started in business, nearly 10 years ago, I’ve always networked to spread the word about what I do. It’s great fun and I’ve met lots of very nice business owners (some of whom have even become clients!)

Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting and getting to know people but unfortunately I think I’m coming down with ‘Networking Fatigue’ – a relatively new and little-understood syndrome whose primary symptom is a sinking feeling when you check the diary and find you’re booked to go to yet another networking meeting (it seemed like a good idea at the time).

Other symptoms of ‘Networking Fatigue Syndrome’ include: Repetitive 60-seconditus (a compulsion to repeat your 60 second introduction every time you meet someone new); An inability to find any pressing businesses issues that need to be resolved by group therapy (leading to feelings of total inadequacy because your business is running smoothly); and a sore throat as the result of having to shout during speed networking (this is accompanied by a ringing in the ears because everyone’s shouting so much).

When I heard this week about 3 new networking groups starting up in my area, I almost had to resort to lying down in a darkened room until my heart stopped pounding.

Fortunately, there is some relief in sight and possible cures to the ‘Networking Fatigue Syndrome’ are imminent as the result of painstaking research by some dedicated individuals. Although these cures have yet to be proved in clinical trials, a sneak preview of the papers revealed the following suggested remedies:

- Avoid copycat groups – you don’t want to forget where you are, it’s embarrassing.
- Balance your meetings – too many full English breakfasts slow down your productivity and increase your waistline.
- Pin your 60 second introduction to your jacket – that way you don’t need to keep repeating yourself.

And, in order to minimise your symptoms (should you believe you may have contracted this syndrome), ensure that you heed the following important health warning:

DO NOT, under any circumstances, stop going to Networking events or the ‘Networking Fatigue Syndrome’ may mutate into the far more virulent ‘Networking Withdrawal Paralysis’ – which will have a devastating effect on your business.

Keep watching this blog for the latest business breakthroughs!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Is there a 'Secret' to Business Success?

Over the years, I've heard this question asked many times. Some people are quite firmly in the 'no' camp, and are of the opinion that success is the result of hard work, luck, who you know, etc. Other people really do believe that a 'secret' exists and that they will be successful, just as soon as they find it!

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing) is sometimes called the study of excellence. It teaches us that, if we want to do something, anything, really well, we need to find someone who is already doing it very well, study what they do and then do the same. It's a bit more involved than that but, to me, it's the nearest thing I've found to the 'secret' of success.

I think that when people are looking for a 'secret' to business success (or success in anything), what they're really looking for is a short cut. They want a way of going from zero to millions without too much effort. (Why else would so many people buy lottery tickets at such outrageous odds?).

The funny thing is that, the people I observe who are convinced that a 'secret' exists, spend an awful lot of time and effort looking for it. If they had spent that time and effort working on becoming excellent at what they do, they'd probably be successful by now! But of course, that might be too much hard work ......