Some networking groups use slips of paper to note down business connections and referrals to new contacts for members. At CBC it’s certainly not compulsory, however it does make a difference.
The reason it makes a difference is threefold.
Firstly, it helps the person making the referral remember what they have promised to do, and we all know that it’s so easy to simply forget these things when we get back out into our day to day business, so having a slip of paper with the details to hand does help the brain to stay focused.
Secondly, the person who receives the referral knows what to expect and can make preliminary preparations such as researching the contact’s website or social presence to get a feel for their brand. It also means they are prepared for the contact and it’s far more engaging to show recognition and interest when the referee makes contacts, which they usually do fairly soon after the recommendation.
Thirdly, it gives a fairly informal means of the group keeping an eye on how they are doing, a kind of taking the temperature of business in general, and raising concerns if any particular member doesn’t appear to be getting relevant introductions. It’s a great way of learning too; for instance, if one or two members are making a lot of validated, quality referrals, other members can gain inspiration from looking at how they do that, and overall the group can develop and hone their listening and connecting skills to ensure everyone is getting value from their membership.
Jay Blake, Take One TV, is an experienced networker; he would say it’s pretty much a part of his life blood and certainly something that he enjoys; nonetheless, it is something that needs effort and dedication to build the trust that ultimately leads to business referrals. Jay finds business networking an inspiring and engaging activity, he treats every meeting as a business meeting and his top tips for a succcessful networking are:
Always check out the venue the day before and ensure you are there on time, or even a little early. Often the most productive part of a meeting is that first free networking session where you can catch up with people, make appointments and sound out on ideas. Secondly, listen as much as you talk, actually listen more than you talk! If you can practice actively listening you’ll find it much easier to connect with people, and thirdly, be there regularly and be patient because it is only through regular and reliable attendance, active listening and the willingness to give before you get, that you’ll build the trust and rapport that leads to quality business referals.
Adding a bit of variety to networking can bring some interesting results. CBC members were asked to bring a prop to the networking meeting which would help the rest of the group remember them more easily in the coming week.
We were treated to a box of chocolates from Paul Beck of Applied Legal Services who explained that he likes to leave a ‘sweet’ flavour with his clients, after they have completed their Wills and Powers of Attorneys with him. Jason Chapman of Rare Design showed the group his trusty sketch pad, together with awesome hand drawn illustration, highlighting his love of actually picking up real pens and paints to create fantastic images. Faisal of FM First Aid Training brought a portable defibrillator and reminded CBC members of the value of ensuring their first aid training was up to date. Ian Horler of Excel Office Supplies brought one of his original Day Books from way back when he first started in business running – a dairy and milk round, emphasizing how times have indeed changed. And, Jay Blake from TakeOne TV emphasized the value of a steady shot on video with the use of a tripod, giving a steady message to a potential audience!
Two guests at the networking meeting included the Chair of Wycombe Youth Action who told the group about the growing need for support of vulnerable youngsters in the Wycombe area and the need for collaborative funding sources. Tony Churchill, founder of OK Our Kids and newest member of CBC, brought the good news that as a newly formed Community Interest Company OK Our Kids would potentially be able to help Wycombe Youth Action going forward, perhaps starting with the OK Our Kids Gala Dinner on 29th September at the Crowne Plaza, Marlow, where the new edition of the Watch Out book will be official made available.
So all in all, a grand start to the day with some great local businesses! If you’d like to get in on the action with CBC give us a call or drop us a line. We love to meet new people and are particularly looking for someone in HR, a general solicitor or a bank representative to join the group in the future.
CBC member Tracy Reader of Marketing Mechanics treated the group to an insight into the essentials of developing a marketing strategy for businesses that delivers positives results.
Tracy specialises in delivering high impact marketing communications campaigns, using sharp, consistent messaging and design to increase brand recognition, customer loyalty and sales. With strong written, visual and social skills, she is determined, decisive and has great team spirit. As a result she has a track record of delivering maximum results from challenging briefs.
Prior to setting up Marketing Mechanics, Tracy worked in two central London PR consultancies, then at the BBC – first as a publicist and then a marketing communications manager. After leaving the BBC, Tracy set up The Publicity Network to help small businesses to cost effectively manage their marketing projects. Tracy has developed a vast knowledge of print, broadcast and new media communications, devising and delivering many innovative campaigns to reach a diverse range of audiences.
Where marketing is concerned, Tracy knows what to do, how to do it and who to call upon along the way.
Sharing her insider knowledge with the CBC members she talked through a handy acronym for good marketing planning:
M – get your messages clear and consiste
A – Check your activities are co-ordinated and relevant
R -Build relationships, this is where the real benefits begin
K – Keep at it, consistency is key
E – Always evaluate what you’ve done and check against expectations
T – Think, refine from the results you get, be open to new ideas
Skills and experience
Marketing isn’t rocket science, however it does need to be planned and it does take time, so if you want help to get your business moving forward why not give Tracy a call, or arrange to meet her at CBC with the other group members? You’ll find it well worth your while, she has helped CBC with their marketing strategy plan so we can give her a first hand recommendation!
Many thanks to Chris Nisbet from the Fish Partnership for agreeing to take part in CBC’s new video marketing content being produced by Take One Business Communications.
Chris is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is now a Director at Fish Partnership, having originally trained and qualified with the firm.
His friendly and supportive approach has allowed him to build strong relationships with his clients based around his experience within the SME market; on video, Chris shares his views on the value of CBC membership to the Fish Partnership, who were indeed founder members of the group over 10 years ago. “Attending the business networking meetings really helped me to develop both personally and professionally. I still remember the first time I had to enter a room of strangers and stand to do a 60 second pitch; I had nothing to worry about as the group was so welcoming and supportive – it really helped me to understand the best ways of promoting the Fish Partnership and to discover the value of building trusted relationships for future business.”
Chris has an audit background and has particular interests in the field of Internal Audit, working with and advising councils, academies and charities.
Chris is an avid sports fan with a particular interest in a red, North London based football team.
The video will be ready soon so watch this space. If you’d like to find out more about how business networking can help your business, get in touch and we’ll arrange for you to visit.
I must admit that technology doesn’t come easy to me but today’s session at CBC threw a lot of light on the ways of making better use of our website – being able to make contributions from time to time.
Our chair – soon to be past chair – did a great job of training. He will be missed as chair!!
Following on from our recent internal briefings on GDPR at Chiltern Business Connections, I have found that the ICO (https://ico.org.uk) has released an advisory document entitled “Getting ready for the new UK data protection law – Eight practical steps for micro business owners and sole traders”. Follow this link to download and read ICO – GDPR for Micro Business
It has some good basic information on what us Micro Businesses and Sole Traders need to do to comply in fairly easy to understand language.
The ICO also has some good automated question/answer checklists to help you see where you are and are not compliant. Go on, have a look – it’s really not that onerous – Click here