Tips for effective business networking

These are my key tips learnt from my networking tourism. 

1.  “May I join you?” It can be daunting entering a room full of strangers.  Do you stand in the corner trying to catch someone’s eye?  I find that walking up to any group and politely asking “may I join you?” works.  Everyone is there for the same reason.  I have also heard that looking for a group that is “open” i.e. not in a circle is a sign that they are looking for joiners.

2.  Be specific.  Many network groups give anything from 20 to 60 seconds to introduce yourself.  So, mention the benefits and then ask directly for what you want.  “I am looking for introductions to……”  It helps if you can be as specific as possible.  Marketing Directors of cleaning companies for example.  It is even better if you  can name your target companies.  “I would like an introduction to AXX ltd”.  A specific request helps the audience focus on your needs.  There is no harm changing the request to something else in the future.  “This week, I would like introductions to….”.

3.  What do you do with those business cards you collect?  Put them in a drawer?  File them away?  I invite the person to join me on LinkedIn within a couple of days of meeting them.  After all, they gave you their card.  So the third tip is to follow-up.

This Week:   With only one month to go to the launch of the Highflyingdivas Forum, I have spent the week printing off leaflets and inviting more inspiring professional women.  So, date for the diary – Monday 27th September at Severalls Business Park, Colchester.  Register at  Whether you work in an organsiation or have your own business, be part of this mentoring forum and receive fresh ideas and new recommendations to support you reaching your goals.  

For various reasons I only attended one networking event this week, namely Colchester Connected held at The Rose & Crown in Colchester.  A very large turnout again and a number of worthwhile charity events were announced.  This network seems to attract a large and diverse group which is refreshing as some networks can become more like clubs with the same members every time.  No membership fee, £15 to attend which includes a cooked breakfast if you are so inclined.,

Reading for the week:  Ever felt like writing a book?  So many people have this desire.  Mindy Gibbins-Klein is known as The Book Midwife and she, with Bert Verdonck, has written “Your Book in 100 Days”.  Practical, friendly and short, it provides guidance on bringing your dream of writing to fruition.

Lighter Reflections

With the holiday season in full swing, I recently had the pleasure of a ferry crossing.  I entertained myself by writing this small piece.

All At SeaLeading

The 8 hour cross-channel ferry creates a mini-civilisation of diverse cultures, languages and backgrounds.  Representatives from all ages and walks of life are thrown together, with no escape, on a floating moving island.  It begins with the mad rush of passengers, all eager to stake their claims on window-seats, bar stools and, for some weary parents, outside the children’s play area.  First to secure seats are the young bloods from the coach party.  Noisy and exuberant, they challenge each other to down pints of lager from 9.00 a.m.  Parties of male adolescents soon start out in hunting packs, patrolling the corridors, trying to outdo each other as they strut and swagger in front of any young female.  They pass the tired young couples holding the fingertips of their toddlers, who will not be quiet unless they are wobbling round in a perpetual circuit of the ship’s gangways.    Leather romper suits lay about like discarded snakeskins signalling the presence of bikers on board. 

The first two hours are spent with books, papers and Nintendos, interspersed with tramps to the Restaurant to eat overpriced food which isn’t needed but at least interrupts the boredom.  That, or a trip to the cinema to view films at the end of their showing cycle.  Of course, not everyone has the money to spend on board.  From 11.00 a.m old married couples can be seen opening their flasks of tea and unwrapping their sandwiches.  This will follow their ritual review of the Restaurant to tut tut over prices and confirm their suspicions that they were right to bring their own sustenance. They are dressed in Sunday best and, following lunch, can be seen lurching from side to side like drunken sailors as they also totter along the gangways, stopping to peer in the shop window. Inside the shop are more groups of trapped passengers trying to kill time by feigning interest in the over-priced plastic rubbish on sale.  Staff try to cover up their boredom via adopting patient, welcoming, smiles as they take the money from parents trying to appease their child’s increasing rebellion, with yet another plastic ship, car or doll.   

But class is not entirely eradicated.  There is always the Business Lounge.  Passengers with access to this haven, march up, punching in the unique code with a superior look.  They enter, extinguishing the din outside for peace within.  Not all is calm however, as the ambience is soon ruined by the smells.  Chips brought in by the American and home-made curry proudly presented by the young Indian wife to her new husband.

Disembarking is a similar trauma to onboarding.  All gather like sheep, peering at the signs trying to remember which deck and coloured stairs they need.  All except those who are ably assisting elderly relatives who, 5 minutes before docking, decide that perhaps they should go to the bathroom.   Again, there is a race to cars, bikes and coaches, even though no-one is going anywhere until the vehicle in front moves.  They will wait for some time.  Because, of course, the elderly relative is a passenger in the car at the head of the line.

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Tips This Week – 4 Key Questions To Keep Your Customers Loyal

Rather than different business tips, I am focusing on customer requirements and loyalty this week.  In these times it is just as vital to keep your current customers as it is to find new ones.  This approach gives you some insights into how to understand what your customers want, and thereby ensure you deliver it to a) keep them b) sell more/deliver more value to them and c) use the information to find more customers with similar needs.  It is also a way to manage your competition who are always on the lookout to spot a gap.  So, 4 key questions.

1.  What is most important to you?  Ask them to tell you the top 3 which can include both product/service quality and/or support.

2.  How do we perform? (useful to have a scale here – e.g. 1-5 where 1 is most important). 

3.  Who is really good at this?  Even if they don’t use another supplier, they will have an opinion.

4.  What is it that makes them so good?

To test your understanding you may wish to put yourself in their shoes and think how they would answer.  Then, check to see if you were right. 

So on to this week. Well actually it is two weeks ago as I have not been well this week.  ~The sad news is that 1) I managed to not publish this blog a couple of weeks ago and….. no-one noticed!  So, cheer me up.  Let me know if you did notice!!

 On Monday I attended an excellent event run by Enterprising Women and Womenta focusing on how winning business awards can help your business.  Tuesday and Wednesday were “service development days”.  The evidence is in the form of additional pages added to my website.  Thursday was an amazing day.  I went to London and attended the HR Business Network’s “HR Transformation in the Public Sector” at the Tower of London.  Followed this with lunch at Mossimans (my friend has a membership), then on to the House of Lords for a political debate on Women and Political Reform, followed by a networking reception at Westminster Abbey Gardens.  The last two events were organised by The Pink Shoe Club-a business women’s network in London.  Apologies to my male readers – sometimes women do have all the fun!  Today, I interviewed Bev Hurley the Founder of Enterprising Women for my article on Women in Leadership Roles.

Reading for the week:  “When I Loved Myself Enough” by Kim  McMillen.  A thoughtful list of personal notes that remind us that we should not expect more from ourselves than from others, and to be less concerned with our “failings” than our strengths.  Amazon has 16 reviews of 5 stars.

Lighter Reflections

About three months after launching my business,  my new online accountant asked me a question.  “When are you going to start full-time?”  She was referring to my invoices not quite totalling up to my expenditure!  Her latest question is “you do realise that business expenditure should not cover personal entertainment?”  This related to my expenses for attending The Pink Shoe Club.  Obviously she thought this was some sort of sizzling, private, adult club.  Whilst I appreciate my accountant’s diligence in scrutinising and guiding my steps in the tangled  and confusing pathways of tax  claims, disbursements and allowances, I am somewhat perturbed at her lack of trust in my honest endeavours to build my empire.  Perhaps she reads my blog and harbours a concern that my style is a little irreverent and flippant?  My revenge is to share the following with you.  “How do you recognise an extrovert accountant?”.  ….”They look at your shoes when they are talking to you”.  I do realise that I have now “cooked my goose” and deserve all that will surely follow.  I can only hope that she realises that I do, in fact, honestly appreciate her skills and attention.  I feel far safer having received her final summary “that’s fine” email than undergoing no spotlight interrogation at all.  So, all  you accountants out there – you do a fantastic job and at least you don’t borrow our watches to tell us the time! 

Remember the hallway ceiling disaster?  I shouldn’t have mentioned it.  We now have the bath upended in the hallway, accompanied by its new friend, the bathroom door, resting against the wall.  The bathroom is now open-plan, necessitating a great deal of off-key singing when in use.  As James has completed his third set of commercial pilot’s exams, I can only hope that he can navigate his way to the toolbox and replace the door soon.  I would not dare to expect the bath to actually be sited in the bathroom anytime soon.  

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My blog has moved!

Please note that my blog has now moved to my website at and you can find it under News.  Do please subscribe to my blog from that place as I am not regularly monitoring this site any more.

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How to move your website up the google rankings

1[7]Here is a short blog I recently posted in LinkedIn which many have found useful so I am sharing it again.    I attended one of the CDN meetings the other week at which Ashleigh Auld from AuldDigital was presenting and I learnt an interesting and easy tip to check if your website is mobile friendly.  Did you know that Google takes into account how mobile-friendly your website is when they give your website its ranking?  Also, did you then know that you can check this for free?  The website looks at your URL to report if it has a mobile-friendly design.  There is also a blog on how to improve it too.


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7 Levers to Business Growth

PROCESS logo A blog I recently posted in LinkedIn. received great comments, some of which asked me about the all important “Why?” that should first be answered before any business development can successfully start.  This “why” is included in my PROCESS growth model as the first P which stands for Purpose.  Here are the other levers to high business growth.

During my 25 years+ of business coaching and consulting, I have deepened my understanding of the key levers of business growth. It started with my time at PIMS (Profit Impact of Market Strategy) who developed the largest database of proven business performance drivers. I have now created a model and diagnostic tool that I use to undertake business healthchecks and identify the “vital few” areas for growth. PROCESS is the acronym, whereby the first P stands for Purpose – the big why that underpins your personal, teams’ and business vision. The full list is

This tool is used to get business ready for exit, prepare for investor relations/funding applications and develop roadmaps to growth. To find out more, see my webinar at

Hope you find it useful and look forward to your thoughts.  If you would like to trial the diagnostic, then contact me and I can set this up for you.





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Three steps to great leadership

whowhatHere is a blog I recently posted in LinkedIn.  I received great comments, some of which asked me about the all important “Why?” that should first be answered before any of the steps can be fully effective.  This is included in my PROCESS growth model as the first P which stands for Purpose.  So, this blog starts from first having understood the Why.

Great leaders all have two things in common – passion and focus. To achieve the highest impact from these key success drivers requires a successful leader to attend to three things.

Step 1. Look at what you are doing. This means focusing on the right target. Using your strengths and finding others to support those areas which do not come naturally to you.

Step 2. Look at how you are delivering. This refers to your skills and the behaviours you use every day. How well do you listen? Do you reflect back what you hear and check that you have the right meaning? Do you ask more than you tell? Do you look to motivate and influence those you lead by including their goals in what you are saying?

Step 3. Look at who you are being. How natural and close to your “real” self are you being? Do you put on that “leadership suit” when you walk in the door or do people see more of the real you. Do you share your beliefs and values? Do you “walk the walk”? Most people use the term authentic.

The reason for your three steps to leadership will show in the results you achieve. Authenticity builds trust. Understanding, listening and planning your communications builds relationships. Harnessing relationships and trust to clear focused goals delivers high performance results.


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How to spot and deal with a Passive-Agressive Manager



I recently contributed to an article on the Institute of Leadership & Management’s website on this subject.  Here is my complete piece on this particular challenge.

In Performance Management, you frequently hear the term “no surprises” meaning that Managers should give constructive feedback as and when it happens. In reality, the way many of us learn that something isn’t right is by your Manager’s passive-aggressive behaviour. This can be recognised by their avoiding you or a sudden coolness in attitude without any explanation. Often you hear comments they have made about you to someone else. Unfortunately, this behaviour can be seen in women leaders who have been brought up being told expressing emotion was bad behaviour. More generally it relates to the Manager’s own sense of insecurity and lack of confidence in the role. There can be more extreme examples. I have heard of one Manager who downgraded the performance potential of someone in their team without mentioning it to them and, when challenged, denied they had done so, re-confirming their belief in their potential.

How can you spot if your Manager is a passive-aggressive type? Here are some passive-aggressive behaviours:-

  • Taking away responsibilities without telling you. You find out by learning someone else has been asked to do the same task.
  • Ignoring your suggestions in meetings and then congratulating someone else for the comment or idea.
  • The Manager takes full credit for the work and presents it themselves, not allowing the person to be recognised for their contribution or introduced to senior leaders.
  • Doesn’t share information or knowledge believing “knowledge is power”
  • Makes fun of someone or criticises them in front of others

How can you deal with a Passive-Aggressive Manager?

  1. First check that it doesn’t relate to your performance. If you don’t trust your Manager to give honest feedback or any feedback, ask your peers and other Managers for their opinions.
  2. Have a meeting to set clear expectations and goals with your Manager. Ask them for their view of “what good looks like” for someone in your role. Then confirm by saying “So, if I do this…… this time……” you will agree that I am successful? Then follow up in writing (putting read receipt on the email if at all possible).
  3. Remain professional, ask yourself what is the outcome I want from this and how can I go about getting it? This may mean facing up to challenging their behaviour rather than trying to work around them.
  4. Seek supporters and champions. Keep the conversation rational pointing out that the Manager is not being “the Manager they could be” and refer to the impact they are having.   Ask others for their experiences, views and suggestions. If you don’t raise the issue, you may find you are penalised if it comes to a future rift. At the least, it allows you to share your concerns so that you don’t feel alone. It could also provide allies.

 Pros and Cons

If your passive-aggressive Manager behaves this way due to feelings of insecurity, having a frank and open discussion could start to build trust and develop the relationship. Again, addressing the issue will demonstrate your professionalism, integrity and courage, highlighting your strengths within the organisation.

The negative aspects are that if you don’t address this behaviour, it could lead to unmanageable stress for you. Your future prospects may be hindered or damaged by their actions and you may need to seek another Manager to progress further.

 What have your experiences been?  How did you manage?  What were the results?  What have you learnt?


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How to start by stopping

One of my clients is keen to focus on time management.  He works an average of 65 hours a week and tells me he has over 50 emails a day which he needs to address.  Add to this, his customer service activities, team management, admin and marketing and the question that rises in my mind is whether he is running his business or whether it is running him.  He tells me that he has read the appropriate books and now sets his tasks in order of priority.  So, he asks me – what more can I do?  I replied “What could you stop doing?”.  We are always so focused on what more we should do and what further actions we must take.  We run our lives by lists but would not it be a relief to just stop doing something?  I asked him to look at his To Do list – look at the costs and benefits of each one.  Was there at least one thing he could stop doing?  I referred him to another great book “What got you here won’t get you there” by Marshall Goldsmith, in which Marshall refers to the 10 years he spent on the Peter Drucker Foundation Board.  He cites Drucker’s words of “We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  ……Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do.  They need to learn what to stop”. The next challenge that we often find when we do clear some space, is our tendency to rush ahead and fill it up again by saying yes to the next request, planning new development or something similar.  This then gets us back into the cycle of too much to do in too little time.  If you look at your time and how much you can sensibly achieve in that time, then the equation should be – nothing gets added unless something else gets stopped.  Recognising and breaking our own bad habits is the only way to also break the cycle and meet the challenge of managing time effectively. Future Forum Events The next event will be in December The Leadership Forum, 10th December, Essex, hosted by The Write Impression – topic “Making the write impression for your business” Join Highflyingdivas Join  The leadership Forum Lighter Reflections IMG_0602As the weather has dutifully sunk into the lower numbers at the latter end of the year, I have got progressively colder.  My body strongly resembles the needs of a tropical plant thriving only in hot-house conditions.  Its shivering reaction to the cold is, however, exacerbated by my husband’s habit of leaving our kitchen stable-door open “in case the cat wants to come in or go out”.  My view is that the cat could wait in the little cubbyhole of a pine dresser outside the kitchen until we open the door but no, we wouldn’t want her delicate little frame to shiver outside for longer than necessary.  It’s ok for me to shiver inside instead.  So, imagine my delight when James put in a cat-flap in the interior door to the kitchen.  As he was building it, the cat repeatedly walked through it showing that she knew it was for her.  So why, when he put the plastic frame into it, did she refuse to use it and sit and “yell” at us to open the door? YingYang_Logo2Rosemary

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From Fledgling to Soaring in the clouds of social media

Social media can appear far too complicated, with its acronyms such as SEO, terms such as Google Rankings, keywords and  backlinks and tools including bing, hootsuite, Pinit and so on. You quickly reach a conclusion that it’s best left to the experts. In starting and running your own business, becoming knowledgeable and proficient at social media can seem like one challenge too far. As, after all, where is the proof that it works? Surely it’s a great deal of effort with unknown results? Doesn’t it take valuable time and resource needed elsewhere?  These were all questions I asked myself when I first set up my own leadership development business. These, and other, persuasive arguments were what I used to persuade myself that it wasn’t worth it. Honestly though, it was more my fear of technology and the unknown that was at the bottom of the blustering.

First, I ignored social media

I left Shell after 10 years, and in an organization of 83,000 people across 153 countries, there is very little need for you to look outside to make connections. I didn’t use Facebook, hadn’t heard of LinkedIn and didn’t have the time for Twitter. Then, in 2010, I returned to the UK from The Netherlands and decided to set up my leadership coaching and consulting business. I had very few contacts outside of Shell and returned to a country at the start of a recession. So, I ignored all of the messages from the Internet, email marketing, conference presentations and so on about the value of social media. Instead, I concentrated on the basics of setting up my business.

Getting the message

I attended every free workshop I could about setting up a business and every presenter urged us attendees to use social media as a “vital” marketing channel. “You have to get known…..raise your profile……announce your presence and services” to have any hope of attracting sufficient interest to find those elusive clients. These pearls of wisdom formed part of every delivery.

According to these experts, I had a pressing need to “gain some presence in the market” and everyone was saying that writing a blog was a powerful way to get a message across. It was also a way  to provide some content for my social media activities.  At first I couldn’t think of what to put into a blog and then I hit upon the idea of sharing my experiences of starting my business. What I had done during the week, what worked for me and what didn’t and what resources and support I had come across that readers might find useful. It also reminded me what I’d done during the week and allowed me to reflect on my progress.

Once I had my first blog, I needed to share it with someone. So, I set up a Twitter account and used the publicise links on  the WordPress website, following their instructions. I then looked for other social media channels and selected LinkedIn, as it appeared more business-focused than Facebook. People started to comment on my social media presence and ask me how I got started. I would like to say it was the recognised best practice approach of starting by creating a social media strategy. First identifying my target audience, then my ‘unique’ message and finally the channels that I would use to deliver my message. In reality, I started small with something I could learn and practice, that was free, and let it grow from there.

Trying it out

What worked for me was not to spend time considering the right and best approach to use social media. Just have a little go, learn a little, refine a little and then look at how I could develop that. If you make it a “professional challenge”, it can put you under too much pressure, at a time when your focus is, arguably,  better placed elsewhere. There is time to refine and develop what is most effective for you and your business over time. In the meantime, you can always call it market testing!

Being ‘everywhere’

Does it work for me? Yes.  I see social media as a means to raise my profile. It has led to new clients, however it is a long process of relationship building until this happens. I use it to make connections and follow-up by forwarding items of interest to current and prospective clients. My measure of success is the number of times I am complimented on my social media activities. Even if it’s a statement of “my goodness, you are everywhere!”

My tips are:

  1. If writing a blog seems daunting, then start by retweeting what you think others would find useful.
  2. Set up a twitter account, follow people who tweet on subjects close to your areas of expertise and retweet them.
  3. Set up a free wordpress blog site  and have a go at writing something.  You don’t have to hit the “publish” button until you are ready and you can always get some associates to proofread and advise before releasing it.
  4. Think about how much time you want to spend on social media activities and set aside a little time each week to do it.  It may be 5 mins at the end of each day or when you are on the train or 30 mins on a Saturday morning.  Book the time in your diary so that it happens.
  5. Just have a go!
Previously posted in Prowess.2 and at

Future Forum Events

The next events will be in November and December

Highflyingdivas, 26th November, London hosted by Penna – topic Leadership Archetypes

The Leadership Forum, 10th December, Essex, hosted by The Write Impression – topic “Making the write impression for your business”

Join Highflyingdivas

Join  The leadership Forum

Lighter Reflections

coachingMy son Guy has signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.  He set off during the winds and rain to walk in the Peak District, leaving early on a Friday morning and telling us he would be back, ready for collection, on the following Tuesday.  James checked online to confirm the details and found that he was, in fact, due to return on the Sunday.  Needless to say, no contact from Guy to tell us he would be back early and we finally had a voicemail on Sunday saying he was “on the coach and should be back in a couple of hours”.  No record of the time of call or what ‘2 hours’ meant!  Presumably he is learning navigation but not organisation!  Unfortunately for him, his backpack was much larger than anyone else’s having 2 extra days of clothes and rations.  His clothes were C C Consulting Ltdreturned but his extra rations seem to have disappeared!


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