Tag Archives: Business Professional

Does business networking work? – A Message from Richard Cooper

 

It’s currently an amazing time here at Hold everything.   I have had some amazing encounters from suppliers and customers, and also learnt a couple of good lessons along the way, especially recently.  

If I asked a room full business people whether they used word of mouth to grow their business, most of them would say yes.  

We all use this phrase “word of mouth” but how do we make it profitable?   Business Networking is an excellent way to do this.  If you Google the term “Business Networking” followed by your locality however, you will often find that there are hundreds of different groups to choose from and beware, not ALL networks are the same!

So how do you choose a networking group and how can you tell if it’s any good?   Here are my top five tips!

1)      Have you visited ? The number of people I speak to who won’t visit  “XYZA” networking  because they were told it was no good/too regimented/ not serious enough or any other reason,  is ridiculous!   Make your OWN choices and decide for yourself. Good groups will have many members often nationwide and worldwide and will know through experience about what makes networking work!  The newer groups are not to be sniffed at either?  If there is a buzz on the grapevine that they are good – GET THERE and give it a go!

2)      Is there a structure?  In my experience the strong, ethical, networking groups have some form of structure or agenda which they STICK to.  I love meeting new people but for networking to work for me, it’s got to be about business and not just a cuppa and a gossip. My time is valuable

3)      Can you MEASURE it?   No matter how complicated or frightening it may be, if you are serious about making your business successful then you need to measure it.  Measuring just the money is a good start, but remember the contacts and the support too.  Have you met with a professional in the group who gave you advice?  Would you have ordinarily paid for it?   Then measure the savings and support too. 

4)     Will they support you when things go wrong? Will they miss you?  Many new networkers assume that companies and networking groups will be sympathetic if something happens that is exceptional or unexpected.  I have seen just how AMAZING companies can be.  I have also seen how unhelpful and hard some can be too.    It isn’t unreasonable for any networking group to ask you to commit for 3 months, a year or maybe two, however CHECK carefully and ASK what would happen if you couldn’t meet your commitments in an emergency either short OR long term.   A good networking group will do everything in their power to help regardless of the circumstances.   Most groups are set up to support small businesses, sadly they don’t always act in this manner so DO ask the question and satisfy yourself that the owners and leaders of the group reflect YOUR’s and YOUR COMPANY’s culture.

5)      Are YOU ready to make an effort to make it happen?  Networking and just “turning up” won’t make it happen for you.  You have GOT to be prepared to do some work too.    Great groups have a structure again to show you how from additional workshops, to 121 support.  When you join your group, don’t gripe about it, GRAB IT and take the opportunities available. 

Go with what works for you and where you feel right.  Measure it and LEARN from some of the best in the business… but DO please watch out for the snakes …….

Until next week

Richard Cooper – Virtual Office Visionary
follow me @holdeverything1

 

 

Who you gonna call? A message from Richard Cooper

Who you gonna call?

No not Ghostbusters, but seriously, who do you, call when you need support?

In business there is a perception that you need to be tough, and persevere alone in order to be successful.  Just reading autobiographies from successful business owners who have made it big, (think Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne etc.) there are times when they went out on a limb and took a risk to make it big.

To an extent, owning and operating any business takes risk, determination and many leaps of faith. However you don’t have to do this alone.  In the course of my businesses I meet many start-up businesses who believe that if they aren’t alone and “doing it for themselves”, that they won’t be successful.

Over time this belief starts to evolve and some business owners will take on the services of a business coach, or attend networking events, or business “clubs”.   Many of my clients have told me very excitedly about what they are doing.

My answer to this question is simple.  You know WHAT you are doing, but who are you doing it with?  What I mean by this is, that it’s all fine and well to be attending certain events and business activities, but it means nothing if you don’t have quality people around you.

I strongly believe that every business owner should have at least two business mentors.  Who do you aspire to be like?  Who do you currently go to when you need advice on finance, business dilemmas, people issues and so on?

Put the right people around you.  One of my clients has a “life board”.  She hasn’t had an official conversation with these people – but has identified seven or eight business people who she knows and trusts.  Each person has invaluable support and information that she can draw upon.  Whatever the issue, be it people, finance – she goes to the person who she knows has the most experience in this area.

So my question to you this week is, who do you go to when you need advice?  Who CAN you go to and how can they help you to accelerate your business growth?

You don’t have to be alone in business and you most certainly don’t have to know it all.  You just need the right people around you.  Network and build your activity around this goal.    And in the words of Will Smith, people can’t expect to be part of your success if they can’t be there during your struggles.

Until next week

Richard Cooper – virtual office visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

A message from richard Cooper – Treat me how I want to be treated, right?

Virtual Office - Customer Service Image

Treat your  customers how you would like to be treated.  That’s right isn’t it?  After all we all want to be treated well when we buy products and services from others.

I have always lived by this philosophy and found that I have been extremely successful in business as a result.   In my last blog I spoke about my Honeymoon in Thailand and the difference in the culture and approach that I experienced.

I began to think about their concept of customer service.  It was somehow different.  They treated my new wife and I exceptionally well but I wondered if they were treating us how THEY would like to be treated themselves.   From my observations, their culture and lifestyle wasn’t based on the same materialism that we take so seriously here.  So what was it that made their service different?

Then it dawned on me.  Some of the best companies I know all over the world DON’T treat their customers how they would like to be treated themselves.  They treat their clients how the CLIENT would like to be treated.   I felt special because I was treated in accordance with MY expectations not the perceptions of the person I was buying from.

I remember a long time ago – at least five years – at a conference hearing a speaker talk of this and to be honest, it went in one ear and out of the other.   After all I was providing great service and it was working.

What I now realise is that whilst my service was and is still one of the best in the virtual office industry, there are no limits to the way in which we can take our business to the next level by adopting the principle of treating the customer how THEY would like to be treated.

In your business, it’s likely that you will want to grow and build a company.  This will mean adding to your team of employees or, indeed, taking on your first member of staff.  How much simpler will it be to coach them to listen, empathise and treat the client how the client wants to be treated.

We are all different and the way that my team want to be treated as customers will often be very different to mine as will the expectations of our clients.  Therefore one of our company goals this year is to treat our clients just how THEY would like to be treated.

If you “get “this, then I know it’s something that you will see as amazing value to your business.  If you don’t it’s OK.  Sometimes these concepts take time.  Come back to this particular blog in around three months, it may be the right time for you then.   Remember I first heard this concept over five years ago.  That’s how long it’s taken me to understand the true value in this concept, and it was at a time when I least expected it.

As always if I can ever be of any help in relation to anything you read on my blogs then just contact me through this site.  I am happy to help you achieve your goals.

Have a great week.

Richard Cooper -Virtual Office Visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

Happy New Year from Richard Cooper….

I hope you had an amazing festive season.

As we begin a new year I am pleased to announce (for anyone who doesn’t know) that I married in December.   A day I will remember for the rest of my life.

It’s fair to say that in the run up to the big day, there was a huge amount to plan and it was a very stressful time for both of us and even our families.   But the day went perfectly, and we enjoyed an amazing honeymoon in Thailand.  For anyone who hasn’t visited Thailand, I highly recommend it.

The thing about being on a break is that I usually have my best business ideas when I finally stop to relax.  This break was no different, but that isn’t what I want to share today.

What I found in Thailand was an extremely service orientated culture.   Nothing was too much trouble. There wasn’t one person I met who didn’t go out of their way to make sure my break was the very best it can be.    The people I met weren’t cash rich or money orientated which surprised me even more.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how they do this, because it looked so effortless.      I really wondered how they managed this balance, and genuinely meant their kindness.

I met  with one of my suppliers on my return and was explaining this to her.  I asked her if she had any ideas as to how such a calm outlook on life, and business could be achieved, even when it was clear that in some areas, they lead a life that some of us would look at and consider very simple, possibly even underprivileged.    She looked at me and said “Maybe they don’t sweat the small stuff – and you know, it’s ALL small stuff”.

Asking where on earth she got this phrase from, she shared that she had read a book entitled exactly that.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff”. By Richard Carlson. I have now started to read this book.

It’s based on simple ways to stop the little things taking over your life.  My supplier was right.  The people I was privileged to meet didn’t sweat the small stuff!  They didn’t “sweat” anything!  They seemed to have this understanding that life is more than profit, money, and stress. Ironically they had a profitable life as a result.  The culture, the relaxed atmosphere and the impeccable service was perfectly balanced.

My goal for 2013 is to learn from the Thai culture and build this into my business. I truly believe that business can profit and also be laid back.  If you had told me this before I went on honeymoon I would never have believed you.  Now I can see the vision.   How about you?

 

Read this book, enjoy and make your business better for it.

Happy New Year

 

From Richard Cooper – virtual office visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

 

EXCLUSIVITY !

Christmas Lights on Oxford Street

As London begins its Christmas lights switch on this week – Monday saw the switch on of Oxford Street lights.  What was different this year was that it was a ticket only event.  The organisers have taken a public street, sealed it off and issued tickets.   Now before you all comment about profiteering, money making and the like, these tickets are free!

So why bother with all of the hassle?   Well, think about it.  They are creating an exclusive event.   Anyone can attend but only if they have a ticket.    It doesn’t have a monetary value, but yet it has created a desirable event and by the looks of the forums practically begging for tickets… its worked!

Similarly someone I know has recently had a break at Center Parcs.   They have taken the concept of creating value and exclusivity and applied it to their business fantastically.   The prices for their accommodation are not budget but one thing that is practically guaranteed is exclusivity.  I had a really good look at their website and through networking also know a client who has worked with them.

You can’t just walk onto a Center Parcs village and you can’t even visit for a day (unless you pay and you are visiting someone who is on holiday there).  They don’t hold public open days and even their fireworks display is strictly for their customers on site only.   They have themes such as “winter wonderland” and events to tie in with the time of year such as Halloween, Bonfire Night and so on.

That’s why they can charge what they do and why people return year after year because they have the exclusivity and have created a product of value.

So, think about your business.  Do you have a product launch or an event?   Are you networking like crazy to get people through the door to buy your service or product?

My advice this week is to create exclusivity in your business.  What do you do that you can make exclusive.   I have a client who has completely changed one of her business models that she will only take on recommended clients and if you aren’t recommended directly by another client, then she won’t take your business.   Sound crazy?   That business is the most profitable it has been in five years!  It’s also Financial Services, which is extremely competitive.

It may take some thinking.  Many business mentors and coaches can support you with this, but if you are looking to grow your business, maybe its time to think “exclusive”.

Until next week

Richard Cooper and the team at Hold Everything

Follow us @holdeverything1