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Networking: The business resource that keeps on giving

Networking - you are not alone

I’ve been thinking about the resources I use in my business a lot recently, trying to work out what’s working and what isn’t. I keep coming back to networking, mainly because business is often about who you know and partly because there are so many options. As I mentioned in this blog I’ve found that paid networking events have given me more solid relationships than free ones. But then I talk to other business owners and realise that not all networking is created equal. It got me wondering about the kind of networking I do and why it works for me.


There are so many networking event that you could feasibly spend all your time going to them, but you wouldn’t get much work done. The demands of family life rule out both breakfast and evening networking events for me which helps me narrow them down.

It means that I only go to daytime events, which has a massive impact on the kind of people I meet. They’re often senior employees of larger businesses, which usually means they have money to spend. (Yes, I’m totally capable of being mercenary.) I’ve also met people who’ve built up their side hustle or who threw themselves in at the deep end like me.

Connecting with people

Building a business is about creating relationships. Some of the people I’ve met networking have become customers, but others have become my unofficial ambassadors in their own networks.

My main networking group is women only and hugely supportive in lots of different ways. There’s always a listening ear and great advice. While approaches differ between business owners and employees, there’s still one common thread. We all promote each other, even though that’s not a requirement of membership. My network has widened because we mention each other on social media and attend each other’s events.

Follow up

My favourite networking groups have become my favourites because they make it easy to build relationships. I’ve no problem with making the time to follow up with new contacts individually, but it’s easy for your email (or theirs) to get lost in the midst of a heaving inbox.

While social media can be equally busy, the memberships with Facebook groups have brought more lasting relationships. Other members ask questions or share their content and the hive mind gets to work. People don’t just learn what you’re about in a chat over lunch, they see reminders all the time.

Other networking groups

I often turn down events because they don’t fit with my schedule or my budget. But I’ve also said no without really understanding why. I look at some of the people I’ve met over the years and marvel at the connections they have and the events they’re invited to. Often the only difference between us is that they’ve been in business for longer and have more contacts.

Yet sometimes I think I hold myself back through fear. What if they’re just better than me? Maybe they’re ‘proper’ business owners and I’m just someone who’s going to be found out one day? I think it’s something I need to address.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s to look at the events you’re going to (or not going to). Are they the right ones for you? Is avoiding some holding you back? The reason I tell you this story is not because I have a networking event to sell (I don’t), but because I hope it’ll help. It’s also because being honest and sharing my story has helped me to build my business and meet some amazing people along the way.

If you want some help sharing your story in the right way, just get in touch.

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What marketing training do you need for your team?

marketing training teamIf you’re a larger organisation it can be easy to think of marketing as part of someone else’s job description. It’s easy to understand why. If your business has invested in employing marketing professionals why not rely on them to do the heavy lifting? Leave the marketing training sessions to small business, sole traders and network marketing companies. The truth is that even when marketing isn’t your primary responsibility it doesn’t mean that you can’t play your part. After all, as far as your customers are concerned, every employee represents your brand. The question is, what do you need your team to do and what marketing training do they need?

Social media

You might justifiably think that this is one to leave to the marketing team. When it comes to posting to official business accounts, you’d be right. However, you’d still be wise to consider what your team are doing on their own social media. If your employee is making offensive comments or acting in a way that could reflect badly on your business, it’s best to know about it sooner rather than later. Of course, some people make it easy. The annals of internet history are littered with stories of people who were sacked because they forgot they were Facebook friends with their boss.

The kind of training you’ll need to provide here is probably best lead by HR as it’ll need to be in line with company policies. It’s also a fine balancing act between protecting your business reputation and preventing your employees from posting anything vaguely interesting.


Personally, I love business expos. I get to wander round chatting to people and they’re also an excellent source of free stationery. However, I say this as someone who has never had to spend an entire day standing at a stall. Engaging with potentially hundreds of people to create the right first impression over the course of a day takes stamina.

You might think that it’s just a matter of sending the right people. However, even your most loquacious employees might need help. An expo is no different from any other marketing platform in that your message needs to focus on your customer. A monologue about your services isn’t going to help anyone. I’d suggest that a workshop style briefing session would be the ideal pre-expo training. Firstly, the team develop questions to get visitors talking. Then they think about potential answers and how your services would be of benefit. Your staff sound knowledgeable and visitors get to hear about stuff they’re actually interested in.


Depending on your business you might already have members of your team writing articles for various platforms. This may have lead you to believe that you don’t need to blog. The truth is that they’re not exactly the same thing. (For more on why, read this.)

Blogging is one of the most effective ways of humanising your business. People often see corporate businesses as remote and think that you might blind them with science. A business blog can, on one level, demonstrate your expertise if you let the marketing team do it. However, if you delegate some of the blogging to employees you get a unique perspective each time. It shows your customers that you’re approachable and not just a corporate stone edifice.

If your teams (even your marketing team) have never blogged before, there are some great workshops available that will take you through the basics from choosing topics to editing. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I offer one and will bring it to you – sign up using the form below to find out more.

However you market your business it’s always worth getting your employees involved by offering them the right training support.

Further reading

Even your marketing team might need training – these social media horrors were created by professionals.

A more comprehensive expo survival guide

Finally, for details of my training sessions, sign up to my mailing list here.

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How you can find blog topics at networking events

Blog topics networkingThere are three questions I always hear when I talk about blogging. One of them sometimes isn’t a question at all, just a statement. “I would write a blog but I don’t know what to write about.” (The other two questions are ‘how long does my blog need to be?’ and ‘how often should I be blogging?’ – we’ll get to those another time.) When it comes to finding topics for your blog, there are hundreds of different ways to go about it. I’ve written about a few in this blog, but this time I’m going to be focusing on how to find new blog topics when you’re networking.

Ah yes, networking. It can strike fear into the heart of a business owner who just wants to be left along to do the work. We’ve all heard the horror stories and probably experienced some as well. In a nutshell, the right networking group with events that suit you is a truly wonderful thing. You’ll meet people like you and get great support, as well as business and referrals along the way. It will also help you to come up with new blog topics. Here’s how.

Getting to know your customer

Networking lets you meet lots of other business owners and find out what makes them tick. If you’ve already identified the kinds of businesses you want to work with you can seek them out. You can find out what their challenges are but also learn more about their life in general. That helps you to get your marketing message where they’ll see it.  You can also find out who would be a nightmare to work with so you can avoid them.

Knowing who you’re talking to helps you to choose more relevant blog topics.

Talking about what you do

I know that standing up in front of other people can be scary. It’s worth doing because you get to tell people what you do and how you can help them. I’ve stood up and talked about writing blogs for businesses in front of people who had no idea you could pay someone to do it for you. Equally, you’ll never get any business if people don’t know you exist.

Finding out what surprises people about your business means you can write a blog to educate them.

Hearing about challenges

Alongside the bits where everyone stands up and introduces themselves, there’s the more general chat. That’s where you get to find out what people are struggling with and what’s going well. It could be an opportunity for you to pitch your services, but there’s more to it than that. Your blog doesn’t just have to be about your services. If they’re struggling with something that you’ve experienced too, write about it. It helps you to build a relationship with your audience as they can see that you understand their lives.

Social media

I’m a member of a couple of face to face networking groups that also have active Facebook groups. Of course, I’m also part of quite a few Facebook only groups. They’re a really useful source of blog topics because people can ask for advice outside the regular meetings. Answering questions is a great way to show your expertise, but you can also answer the question in a blog post.

It’s worth remembering that if people are asking a question in person (or in a Facebook group) there are probably others who are typing it into Google. If you’ve written a blog post with the answer they could be finding their way to your website.

Do you need some help and inspiration for your blogs and social media posts? When you sign up to my mailing list you’ll receive a free copy of my eBook ‘Stop hiding your business! 5 ways to be seen online’. You can unsubscribe whenever you like and I won’t share your information with anyone else.

Further resources

If you want to take a more technical approach to topics and improve your SEO, Ubersuggest is a fab free tool.

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Do you need blogging training that’s designed for you?

blogging training designedI suppose the question should really be – are you bored of going to workshops that all blend into one? Or are you the person who’s responsible for organising them? It can be tough to find new ways to make learning more interesting. That applies whether you’re a sole trader looking for some good quality training or part of an organisation where there’s a set pattern to your sessions. When it comes to blogging training, it is possible to find workshops that work for you.  I can design a session to include whatever works for you. In the meantime, here are some ideas for things to look out for at your next workshop.

Discussion groups

If you want to get good results from any kind of training, it helps if you have something in common with your fellow attendees. You might all be from the same industry or at a similar level in business. One of the reasons it works is because you can access a variety of potential solutions for any issues you’re having. Of course, I’d love to be the font of all wisdom (who wouldn’t?). But sometimes you get more interesting suggestions by being able to talk about a topic with other people who understand your business. Everyone learns something and it’s great for networking.

The other advantage is when it comes to asking questions. If you’re a brand new business owner it can be intimidating to be surrounded by people with years of experience. If that prevents you from asking a question for fear of looking stupid the only person who loses out is you. Being with people you feel comfortable with means you’re more likely to speak up. Then you’ll get more out of your session.

Walk and talk

Did you know that walking can improve your memory? It’s true. Any type of exercise increases the blood flow to your brain so you remember more. Take someone along for a chat and you can improve your mood and overall mental health. I confess that I haven’t heard of any training sessions that are carried out entirely on the hoof. It might make note taking tricky. However, there are a few walk and talk networking groups out there if you like the sound of that.

I’m currently putting together a group of people to meet up and learn about blogging. It’s going to be a full day with time to write as well as learn. One of the reasons I decided to host it on a farm is not just because it’s one of my favourite venues. It also has the advantage of masses of open space. That means you can go for a walk while you think or brainstorm with someone else.

Blogging training to take away

Have you ever been on a training session, taken loads of notes then never looked at them again? Or even been told that you don’t need to take notes, it’s all on the handouts? The last time I heard that I looked at the notes and couldn’t understand how they related to what I’d just listened to.

I’m a firm believer that you need to go away with a plan, if not a finished piece of work. If you’re looking for good training ask about the notes in advance. Are you going to have work sheets where you can record your own ideas before implementing them? What materials will be available to make sure you won’t forget what you’ve learned?

If you want to get a group of people together for some blogging training, I can help with workshops that are tailored to you. Alternatively, if the idea of getting together with other business owners on a farm sounds good to you, just complete the form below to sign up to my mailing list and hear about my newest workshop group.

Further reading

Discover how walking improves your memory in this article from Psychology Today

My favourite training venue

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Getting together to build business

getting togetherAs some of you will already know, I run workshops and training to help business owners start writing their own blog.  Things don’t always go to plan but that’s OK.  Getting together with other business owners is generally a good thing in my book. I wanted to share a story (because that’s what I do) about how a workshop went a little bit wrong and still worked out brilliantly.

Making plans

Before the one that went wrong, I’d delivered two workshops that had gone pretty well.  They’d both been hosted by other people. One was a lovely lady called Clare Farthing that I’d met networking online.  She specialises in mentoring women and acting as an accountability partner to help them set goals and stretch themselves to get there.  (If you’d like to find out more about her Facebook group for women in business go here.)  The other workshop was arranged by one of my networking groups, who offer regular training to members.

Both workshops had been well received so I decided to strike out on my own.  I booked the room, set up an account on Eventbrite to start selling tickets and began sharing my event online.


Before I chose my date I contacted some of the people who’d expressed an interest to see what dates would suit them.  I sent messages out to let them know about the event and kept on sharing it on social media.  The early signs were good.  I got a booking almost straight away.  Then it all went quiet.

A week before the workshop date I still only had one booking.  I considered cancelling. I knew the lady who’d booked had done it to invest in herself and I didn’t want to let her down.  So I adapted.  I cancelled the room and we met in a local restaurant instead.

Getting together

You know what? I went from feeling a bit despondent at my one person to having a fantastic time.  I woke up on the morning of the workshop feeling excited.  My morning was going to be spent talking to someone that I enjoyed spending time with.

We talked about blogging and I saw lightbulbs go off in her eyes.  Best of all, I was able to tailor everything I was talking about to suit her.  I realised that I didn’t need to talk to a room full of people. It’s enough to inspire one person.

What now?

I’ve realised that you can turn things around when they go a bit wrong, but I still found myself hesitating about booking more workshops.  What was stopping me? I took my question to the place I take all of my business questions – my coaching group.  I already knew what had gone wrong the first time. Ultimately, I’ve realised that I want to take a different approach.  I still want to talk to people about blogging and teach them, but I’m not really into putting the big events out there.

All of this means that I’m changing my approach.  I’m still going to put workshop groups together, just in a different way (sign up to my mailing list using the form below if you’d like to know more about that).  Other than that I’m going to go out and talk to more people about blogging.  That could be a talk at a networking group meeting or a workshop for your team.

If you’d like to invite me along to speak to your group or deliver training to your team, send me an email at

To find out about my workshop groups, complete the form below to sign up for my mailing list.  I promise it’s a spam free zone!