My tips this week consist of website design, e-mail tools and a tip to focus and get most value from your efforts.
1. Everyone wants their website to have the best design and be as attractive as possible. I came across this useful free Web-site grader when I linked to Gregg Murray’s Blueprint website. A free useful business start-up site. My first grading was a mere 2 out of 100 but this rating significantly improved once I downloaded and followed the advice that the tool gives you. I still have room for improvement but it’s getting there. http://www.websiteblueprint.com/website-grader/
2. Have you ever had your emails sent to your recipients’ spam folder? Apparently, there are various blacklists out there that will hold your IP address and automatically send your emails to spam. You can find out if you are on those lists and remove your details by using this link. If you are on a blacklist, the site will tell you what to do, with the first thing being to switch off your modem for 5 minutes. http://whatismyipaddress.com/
3. I can still remember having the luxury of people around me who would handle the admin, finances, IT etc. Now, it is down to the wonderful team of me, myself and I. So, how do you get everything done that you need to do, and still have a life? My tip is to only produce material or take an action that has at least three uses. For example, this week I have been very lucky to be asked to write a proposal. The first use is writing the proposal for my potential client. The second is that this material will form a template for that particular service offering and the third use is that I will include a “benefits” section which I can use for marketing. So next time you sit in front of your pc or pick up the phone, or agree to go to a meeting – think – what are the three values I shall get from this one activity? Let me know if it works for you as well.
Now, on to my week.
On Tuesday I went to a new networking group at the Ramada Hotel in Ardleigh, near Ipswich, called Business For Breakfast. A rather early start at 6.45 a.m. was soon forgotten in the easygoing atmosphere of the group. We had an Agenda to keep us on track and after our individual 1 minute introductions, there followed a “Business Spotlight” and a networking break to book appointments and make referrals. We then had a 2 minute learning session in which we received an excellent insight into the world of printing. Some 10 or so business people attended. Membership costs ae £498 p.a + VAT. The group meets every week, once on a Tuesday and then on a Wednesday and it is £10 for the breakfast. Current members come from businesses such as a bank, accountancy, coaching, printers, and website developers. www.Business4Breakfast.com
On Thursday I went to the Chelmsford 4Networking event. About 25 people attended and I recognised some from my previous guest appearance at the Braintree event. 40 second intros, 10 minute presentation and 3 face-to-face meetings with contacts you target during the initial intros. Approx £490 + VAT membership which gets you a passport that allows you to attend any other 4Networking breakfast. Again £10 per breakfast. A large network, growing fast. www.4networking.biz
My final networking event of the week was in Ardleigh again, at The Crown Inn, where I attended the launch of the Colchester business group, supported by the Federation of Small Businesses. They meet every Friday, one week in Witham and the other in Ardleigh, nr Colchester. It starts from 4.30 in the afternoon and there are absolutely no fees other than whatever you wish to buy to drink. The pub laid on some food. Again individual introductions of only 10 seconds each but as there were at least 40 people there, it was wise not to go on for too long. After the welcome speech and intros, it was simple networking for as long as you wished to stay. www.colbiz.net. The FSB is a UK organisation with regional geographies promoting local businesses. www.fsb.org.uk.
Onto a couple of less enjoyable experiences. When I first wanted to create an email account, I read that I should avoid the obvious hotmail, yahoo etc. I found a hosting site – mail.com with some interesting email names. The site states that you can link with your mobile phone. This is true, you can receive emails but sending emails requires you to buy a premier account. I now find that one of my email accounts will not send from my pc either! As I have just ordered another 200 business cards, this is very frustrating. Mail.com only respond to questions via email and their immediate first response is to direct you to their online help function. It is now almost a week and no resolution. This is not the first time I have waited almost a week for rectification of a fault. The second experience was with my new membership with Raw Business. I took out a £90 lifetime membership. Extremely good initial marketing. I attended their first network meeting and spoke to the editor of their business magazine. I offered to write a business article and was quoted advertising rates of £400 to “cover” the costs of the printing. Why write?I ask myself. I was assigned a relationship manager. He called me after the networking event and I told him that the event was not for me and when he asked me about advertising in the magazine, recounted my conversation. Six weeks later I had a message on my answering machine. I called him back and had to remind him, who I was, what my business was, which event I attended, what I thought of it and then he asked me if I was interested in advertising in the magazine! hmmm.
Reading This Week – Advertised as the “most important conversation of our times”, “Prosperity Without Growth” by Tim Jackson gives an account of the financial crisis and the state of society in pursuing economic growth for a finite planet. Is there a vision where prosperity does not involve rising consumption on a scale that our ecosystems cannot sustain? A fascinating read.
I am being deserted this week. My son, Guy, has departed on a school trip to N. Wales (yes, he has packed his all-weather gear!) and my husband is about to depart for the delights of Gatwick. He is taking yet more commercial pilot exams on Monday and Tuesday. So, what will I, the dog and cat, be doing? Well, I had it all planned out. Bit of catch-up reading in the garden, some Galaxy chocolate and red wine waiting in the kitchen for the evening. (Chocolate tastes oh so much more delicious when coming chilled from the fridge). Couple of chick flicks recorded. I could hardly wait as each of my lads dashed around the house looking for last-minute essentials. For Guy, Nintendo and games and Nurofen supplies to combat pre-exam stress for James. Then the phone rings. “Hullo love” from my mother. “You’re on your own tonight arn’t you?. Well, don’t worry we have it all arranged and we’ll come over at about 6.00 to keep you company”. “Great” I say, trying to put all the enthusiasm I can muster into my voice. Cannot she remember the years I lived on my own in London? Oh the bliss of a tidy bedroom, long luxurious soaks in an aromatherapy bath with scented-candle lighting and classical background music? Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother – well most of the time, and I know she means well and I know that I will be really pleased to see her and Dad and uplifted by their visit. But……Oh well, there is always Monday night and whatever happens, I’m not sharing my chocolate!
p.s. some of you sharp-eyed eagles out there will have noticed that my script has suddenly gone all italic. No, there is no purpose to it. I have absolutely no idea why and it stubbonly refuses to revert back to plain text. Is this a message from the omnipotent technology monster which has singled me out for its undivided care and attention? Probably but I don’t have time to get the technical earthlings on to it. This is, after all, supposed to be a weekly blog.
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