MayKing Mistakes – Why This Blog?

I remember listening to an inspirational speaker who had made his millions, and was giving the audience some great lessons on being an entrepreneur.  He made us gush when he was telling us that his first business was at the tender age of 7, selling lemonade on the sidewalk.  He made us laugh recalling how he left school at 15, tried several businesses and explained why they failed.  He also gave valuable advice to all the business startups that attended his talk.  He was an awesome and inspirational speaker.

Whilst he was showing off pictures of his boat with his bikini clad girlfriend to demonstrate his success, I remember thinking, that whilst his story was inspirational, I couldn’t see how I, at the start of my entrepreneurial path, could reach his dizzy heights of success (sans bikini clad girlfriend).  I couldn’t see the rungs in the ladder of success.  I could imagine the speaker at the top of the ladder waving down at me and others in the audience who were possibly attempting to climb the first rung, but the rungs leading up to the speaker clearly weren’t visible.  I just didn’t know how I was going to climb that ladder!

I vowed that day that as I start my journey as a business owner, that I would climb the ladder but explain each rung as I climbed, so that others could climb with me.  Before I started my first business (at 35 years old, with a degree in Social Science and a 10+ years IT Training career behind me), I vowed that I would become a speaker and recall stories of my successes and mistakes at every rung in the ladder and to stretch out my hand to those that needed help to join me in climbing the ladder of success.

Now, I haven’t reached the dizzy heights of Anita Roddick, Vera Wang or Jack Ma.  In fact I am nowhere near, but I have started climbing that ladder and I have delivered several talks about the successes and mistakes I have made in my journey so far.  I wanted to share with you how I got to where I am today.

According to Bloomberg 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months.  I hope that with my blog, that we can try and reverse that trend.  I leave you with this great quote from Winston Churchill care of BrainyQuote.

1-winston-churchill-quote

Welcome to MayKing Mistakes and I do hope you enjoy my blog.

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MayKing Mistakes as a Local Business: The Follow Up

In my previous blog post, I outlined the importance of first impressions.  In this blog post, I want to explain about the importance of the follow up.  I will be the first to admit that following up is not my cup of tea and I don’t always follow up with everyone, but I do my very best (if they’re on Twitter, I will definitely give them a shout out to their business).  Back to my preferred local carpet guy and after our initial meeting, he explained my carpet options, agreed on a date of measuring the house for carpets and said that he would call back as soon as he had finished.

I waited eagerly but no call came.  I thought that I would wait a day: perhaps he had several places to measure up, or maybe he had a carpet installation.  He didn’t call the next day either, and so I finally gave him a call two days later.  He explained that he couldn’t get through to me on the number I’d given him, which was rather strange as I had received several calls throughout the day, but I gave him benefit of the doubt.  He explained that for one section of the house, he would have his colleague call me, and he would call me the next day to finalise the rest.  I waited a day for the rest of the quote.  Neither he or his colleague returned my call.

image by hobokengrace

I happened to be in the vicinity of local carpet guy’s showroom a couple of days later so I popped in and I explained that I had been waiting on his and his colleague’s call.  There was no apology or explanation, but he did proceed to give me all of the quote.  I left the place a little dejected.  Maybe he didn’t want my business.  I had expected to be asked when we would like to be booked in, or whether he required a deposit, but I received nothing.  After my experience, I reluctantly went into a big chain just to see what my experience would be there.

The showroom was laid out perfectly.  Big bright lights, free of clutter and easy for wannabe customers to walk around.  It’s kind of what you’d expect from a big corporate.  One of the sales assistants came over and asked my sister and I several questions.  He gave us a bit more advice than the local guy which I was extremely surprised at.  From past experience of going into large department stores and being served by a young college kid who had no experience and didn’t really want to be there, this sales guy’s knowledge, advice and customer service was surprisingly refreshing.  He booked an appointment for one of the guys to measure the place, and after the house was measured, the original sales guy followed up with a phone call a couple of hours later to see how we got on.

Surprisingly, the quote wasn’t very different to the local guy and so it left me with a dilemma.  Do I go corporate or do I shop local?  Do I choose excellent customer service with great follow up or go for the local guy whose customer service wasn’t entirely my cup of tea?  Price wasn’t a consideration because the quotes were both very similar.  Both products were of the same quality, so all I could to differentiate was the level of customer service.  After much deliberation, even though I had given the benefit of the doubt to local carpet guy several times, I reluctantly went with the corporate guy.  Following my decision, the corporate guy followed up my decision with an email confirmation; a text confirmation of date of installation and then a further email asking for customer feedback following the carpet fitting.  I still haven’t heard back from local carpet guy.

writing blog post ideas on my brand new carpet

What are your thoughts?  Was I wrong to go corporate (it certainly felt like it!), or should I have given local carpet guy one more chance?  Do you have any local business stories to share?

MayKing Mistakes as a Local Business: First Impressions

I’m in the middle of buying a house.  A new house requires carpets, right?  So I took myself to a couple of local carpet businesses.  Opposite the street were a couple of large chains, but I resisted the temptation of their large choice and huge discount signs plastered on the front.  I  decided I was going to support the local chap.  The local chap whose shop front wasn’t as flashy and inviting as the corporates but at least they did have some signage on the main road.  I walked into the showroom of the first local chap.

The presentation of the carpets were impressive.  Neatly displayed, plenty of signage to tell the customer where they were made in the UK (a big plus for me); the material of the carpets, cost per square foot and other great details  My parents, sister and I were greeted with a warm hello.  All looking good so far!

Now I’m not a shy wall flower so I walked up to the chap and asked him so basic questions.
“I know nothing about carpets” I declared, “so I was wondering whether you could help me by telling me about the difference between this carpet (points to carpet on my left), and this carpet (points to carpet next to it)?”  It wasn’t an unusual request I thought, I was certain he’d get asked that all the time.  So I await with abated breath with his answer momentarily, frighted for a split second that he may say something way too technical, something that I would’t be able to understand.  He is the expert right?  The conversations went a little like this:

Carpet Chap (CC): Err I don’t know.  I haven’t worked here for very long.
MK: Oh I see (smiles and cocks head to one side to show empathy), so how long have you worked here?
CC:  About 18 months.
MK: Oh. Err. Okay (tries a different tactic).  So can you tell me what your customers like?  What’s your most popular carpet?
CC: Err.  I’m not sure.

This goes on for quite some time, as I try to coax some useful information out of him, but to no avail, unfortunately.  In the end, I asked him to give me a ball park figure on a carpet I randomly chose.  He did manage to give me some calculations without using a calculator which was impressive (mental arithmetic was never my cup of tea) but we walked out of the showroom unsatisfied.

We then drove to the second local carpet business.  His opening hours were clearly marked on his website (he’s got a website – big plus!) but when we got there, there was a handwritten note to say that they were out.  There was no contact details on the note so we left and had to make arrangements for another trip later on in the week (cue sad face emoticon).

We returned later on in the week and this time we got lucky except that as soon as we popped in, the chap bellows “you’ve got 15 minutes before we close”.  What happened to the “hello, how are you today? Just letting you know we’re closing in 15 minutes?”  When I explained to him that we were wanting to carpet a whole house, his demeanour suddenly changed.  He put on a smile, walked towards us as he proceeded with a few pleasantries.  I was almost expecting him to roll the red carpet out and make me a cup of tea!

The show room was a mess though.  It was full of clutter and difficult for wannabe customers to walk around to touch the carpets, but I did forgive him when I asked the owner the same questions, I had asked the first local guy I visited.  The owner of this second local business was full of knowledge and answered my questions in layman’s terms and so I left the place walking on cloud nine compared to the other place.

Knowledge is key and I suspect that the guy from the first shop was obviously not the owner, but that doesn’t excuse him either.  Staff are an extension of your business and your brand, and if you can’t invest in training your staff, this will reflect badly on your business.  It will leave wannabe customers unsatisfied as I was. Before I went into business, I had a fulfilling career in Training and took pride in training my TEAm so that they could deliver training programmes to our clients.

When the first chap said he hadn’t been working in the business for very long, I could’ve forgiven him but 18 months is taking it a little too far.  Training your staff is so important. First impressions of your business is extremely important and lack of knowledge is certainly not going to win you brownie points.  First impressions is extremely important for both bricks and mortar and online businesses but I will be talking about mayking first impressions count online in a later blog post.

The first showroom was neat, product information prominently displayed.  Key features were highlighted on some brands and when you walked into the showroom, it was easy for customers to walk around.  The second showroom was, by contrast, cluttered, customers faced roadblocks throughout the showroom with carpet samples strewn across the floor, mayking it challenging for customers to walk around the place.  The owner was at the shop however, and despite the initial grunt, he was eventually courteous to me when he realised I was serious about buying carpets.  My own demeanour went from narked, to happy and back to being narked because of a lack of a followup but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

Do you have any great experiences or bad experiences of a local business to share?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below, but just leave the name of the local business out. I don’t like to name and shame here.

Networking for Introverts

I am a huge fan of Ted Talks for personal development and one of these Ted Talks changed my perspective on people.  It was Susan Cain’s talk on The Power of Introverts.

Susan Cain - The Power of Introverts care of TED
Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts via TED

Prior to my coming across this video, I couldn’t understand the apprehensions some business owners expressed in taking the stage to deliver a talk.  It didn’t make sense to me why some business owners explained that after going to a networking event, they would go home for the rest of the day in order to recharge.  For me, some of my most productive days might have involved a couple of networking events; a couple of one to one meetings or phonecalls, with maybe a skype chat in the evening to an overseas client.  But then as I watched this video, I finally understood what it meant to be an introvert.  How they are different to extroverts and how it is perfectly okay to be an introvert or extrovert or both.

I mentioned in another post how my branding mistake suddenly led to see images of a template I chose for my first business card everywhere, and I had a similar experience after watching this Ted Talk, as I realised just how many of my friends and my sister as it turned out, were introverts.  With my new found knowledge of  introverts, I did a bit of research, talked to several introverted business owners and from our conversations, I manage to compile the following list of tips introverts could use in order to cope with the daunting prospect of networking.

  1. Find a networking group that works for you.  Try finding a networking event that attracts smaller numbers.  Networking is not about quantity but quality.  Networking should be less about collecting as many business cards as you can, and more about how you can help others.  If you are unsure of what networking groups there are around you, here are a few suggestions that may help.
  2. Review the attendee list.  With many networking events, especially with Facebook Events, and organisations such as Eventbrite and Meetup, it is possible to see who is attending the event beforehand.  It enables business owners to be productive with their time as they can see which business owners are attending prior to the event.  Take a look at their profile, their website and social media credentials and then make a list of who you wish to talk to.
  3. Don’t work the whole crowd.  It’s scary enough having to walk into a room full of strangers without putting undue pressure on oneself to try and talk to everyone.  It just isn’t possible and in fact, us extroverts/ambiverts wouldn’t attempt to talk to everybody either.   Set a realistic goal for yourself to talk to maybe one or two individuals, and spend some time mayking that connection and having a qualiTEA conversation.
  4. Find a mindful extrovert to go with. Extroverts thrive in social situations especially networking events and if you find the right extrovert to go with, the mindful extrovert will introduce you to a circle of business owners, and ensure you get an opportuniTEA to introduce yourself and your business.  A mindful extrovert will ask questions in order to draw out more information from you that you can relay to the group of business owners.  A mindful extrovert may even keep an eye out for you for the duration of the networking event.  We do exist, I promise you 🙂
  5. Don’t change.  You are who you are and you should embrace it!  Introverts have a reputation for being great listeners.  You are thoughtful, you are observant and have a keen eye for detail.  Use this to your advantage when networking.  These are key traits to have if you want to excel in networking to help others which will in turn help you and your business in the long run.  Remember the lessons that Dale Carnegie taught us.

    How to Win Friends and Influence People
    How to Win Friends and Influence People – Infographic by Hubspot
  6. Remember your why.  Remember your goals.  Think about your passion and your business.  When you remember why you are in business and why you are in the room of strangers, it will make it easier to strike up a conversation with someone.  We are all in the same room with the aim to network and find contacts and connections.  The start of the conversation will probably start in the same way: ‘What is your name / What is it that you do’ and if you remember your why, these questions should be easy to answer.   Following the introductions, try asking open ended questions to keep the conversation going.
  7. Find the wallflower in the room.  This is probably the most challenging for introverts but stay with me.  As an ambivert, I tend to walk to the wallflower who looks up nervously from their phone hoping to find the courage to speak to someone.  I hope that by walking to that individual I can learn more about that person and think about ways in which I could help them.  Introverts can do this too. They know that introverts the world over are in the same scary networking predicament. It just takes one introvert to take that brave step.  Take a deep breathe, smile, walk over to an individual and say hello.  Believe me the wallflower in the room will really appreciate what you did and you will find a rewarding conversation will ensue.
  8. Follow Up.  Once you have reached your desired goal and met everybody that you wanted to meet, go home, take that well deserved rest and don’t forget to follow up once you are fully recharged.   If the conversations you held involved offering some assistance to the other person e.g. sending them an article, giving them a contact, or link to a website, whatever it was don’t forget to honour your word and send them the details.  Ask them for a business card and write a little note to yourself to remind yourself why you were going to follow up; and if there was no call of action following the conversation, just a simple thank you email will do wonders to help you build your network.

Now if all of this sounds too daunting, don’t worry.  There are a couple of other steps introverts can do to help them along the way and when the time is right, you could revisit this post and start your relationship building journey.

  1. Find a Toastmasters group.  When I was networking in London, I was asked to accompany one of my friends to a meeting.  My friend knew she would have to network for her business and the thought of networking filled her with dread.  She thought that by going to Toastmasters, it may give her the confidence to speak to others.  I went along to support my friend and when I turned up, the amount of support the organisers and attendees gave to each other filled me with immense joy.  One of the most memorable moments that night was when three friends, announced that they had all had a stammer but they made a pact to come to Toastmasters to increase their confidence, so that one day they could walk into a party and strike up a conversation with a stranger.  The meetings are very well structured and the organisers are extremely welcoming to every attendee.  Their aim is to help you achieve your goal: whether it is to turn up to a party; prepare for that best man speech; networking for business or any other goal you may have.  Everybody in the meeting is in the same boat and everybody wants to reach that goal of having the confidence to speak in public in whatever capacity.  Why not find your local group and find out how they can help you?
  2. Try Networking online.  A great resource for introverts is to use social media to find business owners to talk to and connect with.  I wrote a blog post on how to get the best out of a Facebook Group and this is probably a great place to start, in order to start networking.  Like a post, comment on a post and share useful articles.  These are a great way to start networking in the comfort of your own home (or office).  You can look at member’s Facebook profiles, look at their Facebook pages and their website and social media credentials and when the time is right, you could send them a Facebook message to start a conversation with them.

So that’s my 8 (plus 2 bonus) tips on how introverts can network effectively but I would love to hear from you.  As an introvert, what other tips do you have to help others to network effectively?  I would love to see your comments below.  Thanks for listening.

MayKing Mistakes in Online Networking: Facebook Groups

When I went to my first few networking events in Brisbane, I made arrangements to meet individuals face to face and got to know them a little better and I listened and learned a great deal from the first few business owners I met.  The common topic that was talked about was online networking.  I spoke passionately about Twitter but many business owners I had met talked about Facebook.

The more people I met, the more I realised I really ought to learn more about this Facebook lark so I paid my dollars to attend a course.  During the course, I continued in the networking vein, listening to business owners, and learning from them. I was a bored during the course if truth be known, but then late in the afternoon came the golden nugget.  The trainer talked about something called Facebook groups and I got excited as I began to realise its potential.

I wanted to build relationships with other business owners, and as I didn’t know anybody in Brisbane, I had to work extra hard on networking.  I decide to create a Facebook Group called Queensland Business and start networking online.  Fast forward several years and it is still going strong. 7000+ members strong but now and again I still see several mistakes made by business owners (in this Facebook group and others, not just in Australia), where business owners go straight for the sale.

It kinda reminds me of the BBC TV Licence Ad where business owners want instant results, but my purpose for the group was not for business owners to sell and promote to each other, but because being in business can often feel like a lonely place, it was a place where we could help, share and form collaborations.  Other mistakes I have seen in Facebook groups include:

  1. Disrespect.  With many business groups, there are voluntary administrators who dedicate their time to ensure the smooth running of the group.  I have seen many times where business owners have gone straight to the sale and promoted their latest product or service only to see the post removed by an administrator.  Thinking that there must be some mistake, the business owner decides to put up their salesy post again.  This is not only disrespectful to the founder of the group, but it is disrespectful to the administrators who work hard to ensure to prevent spam and to the members of the group.
  2. Criticism.  I am all for healthy debate in a Facebook group but criticising others because they do not share your view and launching into an argument, attacking people and taking things personally is not a good strategy for networking.  Remember you represent your business and people are likely to remember the antagonists, the serial critic, the bully.  Would you want your business to be remembered for that?
  3. The written word is devoid of emotion.  I remember back in my IT days when I was given feedback from my team, via my Manager.  One of the criticisms bestowed upon me, was that I was curt.  I was devastated but I took the criticism on the chin and tried to put myself in the shoes of my team.  In expressing empathy, I soon realised that my wanting to get straight to the point, inadvertently appeared rude.  Remember that the written word always appears harsher than originally intended, so my advice would be to be verbose and explain your intended emotion behind your words so that the reader can understand your intentions.

To build relationships effectively in Facebook Groups, I recommend the following:

  1. Read the About Section.  All Facebook groups will have an About section that will pinpoint you to the purpose of the group.  As business owners, before you starting posting in the group I recommend that this should be your first port of call.  Find out about the rules of the group and abide by them.  This is respectful to the founder of the group and to its members.
  2. Listen and observe. Before you launch straight into the group.  See how the other members interact in the group.  Spend a bit of time getting to know the culture of the group; how the group behaves; when people are active in the group.
  3. Show some appreciation.  Show some appreciation for the post with a simple like, or a quick thank you.  The more your name is seen by others, the more memorable you become.  The more helpful you are in your comments to others, you increase your chances of people clicking on your name to find out more about you and what you do for business.  You don’t need to like every or comment on every post as that might be construed as annoying, but if you read a post, and really appreciated it, a quick like will go a long way.
  4. Don’t sell, add value instead.  To stand out from the rest of the competition, you need to prove that you are a specialist in your field.  If it’s appropriate and doesn’t contravene the rules of the group, share one of your blog posts or write a comment demonstrating your expertise in response to questions that may arise in the group.
  5. Be helpful. From the groups that I have been a member of, questions will often arise pertaining to recommendations for a given service.  If you have a received a service from a business owner that matches the question, tag that business owner (or add them to the group initially if they’re not a member), and give a short explanation as to why you’re recommending them.  If you are the business owner that was recommended, you can help by expressing gratitude for the recommendation.
  6. Be mindful of time. It is easy to get caught up in helping others and forgetting to focus on your own business and goals.  This was my mistake with Queensland Business although admittedly, because I didn’t know anybody in Brisbane, I felt that I had to work extra hard to get to know people and build relationships.  Set some time aside to visit Facebook Groups and make sure you put that focus back on your business once that hour is up or whatever time you set aside for yourself.

The Featured Image of this blog post was commandeered from a great source for all things social media.  Social Media Examiner has a great article on how to Network with Facebook Groups and I highly recommend you read this post too.

What other tips do you have for people who are new to Facebook Groups for business?  Feel free to add a comment below.  We’d love to hear from you.

Where to find Networking Groups

I was really fortunate to have a friend to take me to my first networking event when I was in London and at my first networking event, I met other networking event organisers who invited me to their meetings and that’s how it snowballed.  When I moved to Australia though, I didn’t know a single person prior to going.  Here’s what I did to try and find networking groups.

  1. I asked.  It was a long shot, but I thought I’d give it a go.  Does anybody know anybody in Brisbane I asked?  Not a sausage, but after going to several networking events, I did eventually receive the name of somebody who had just moved to Sydney.  I was really lucky though because I knew that I would be in Sydney for a week before moving to Brisbane.  Why not give her a holler?  I felt like the luckiest gal on the planet because I was put in touch with the amazing Suzy Jacobs from She Business fame.
  2. Twitter.  I decided to take full advantage of my week in Sydney to try and meet people other than the wonderful Suzy.   I found several business owners on Twitter and struck up a conversation with them, and asked if I could meet them on a certain date/time.  From memory, I think I managed to set up 7 meetings in 5 days with my first meeting on the day of arriving in Sydney from London.  Yes I was jet lagged after a 24 hour flight, but with that meeting came further business opportunities later down the track including a couple of tea speaking gigs, and an opportuniTEA to showcase my tea in front of 50 business owners.
  3. Google.  After my week in Sydney, I did a Google Search to find networking events in Brisbane to see what would come up.  Google led me to some great networking events including Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, BNI groups and other local networking events organised by local business owners.
  4. Word of Mouth.   When I went onto Twitter to find business owners in Brisbane, I was extremely fortunate that I met the lovely Linda from Journey Jottings fame on Twitter and invited her to a cup of tea at the first tea house I found in Brisbane.  We met face to face, had a really pleasant conversation and Linda also gave me suggestions on Brisbane based networking events.
    Linda Fairbairn aka @journeyjottings
    Linda Fairbairn aka @journeyjottings

    At each networking event I attended, other networking event organisers attended to entice business owners to go to their networking events.  I very quickly found myself inundated with several networking events to attend.  Attending the first few networking events, led me to my first interview about Twitter, led me to my first Chinese Gong Fu Tea Ceremony event.  Helped me to find someone to design my business card and led me to a great photographer.  I found opportuniTEAs to talk about tea and to sell my tea and teawares.  Networking for the first few months in a city I didn’t know led me to some amazing prospects and future collaborations.

    My First Gong Fu Tea Ceremonial Event in Brisbane
           My First Brisbane Gong Fu Tea Ceremony
  5. Meetup.com.  Meetup is an online social networking website that encourages people to organise and/or participate in face to face meetings around the world.  I used this website both for business to find networking events and business events to attend.  I also used Meetup for personal use too. Moving to a new city in a new country meant that I had to find a way to meet new friends.  I found a meetup group that loves Karaoke (I LOVE Karaoke), Films (I love films) and Friday Night drinkypoos (I like to gain my daily source of antioxidants by various means other than tea 😉 )
  6. Business Magazines. As I attended networking events, I sometimes found business magazines at venues where networking events were held.  Leafing through the magazines and reading interviews of successful business folk and useful articles about various aspects of business, there were advertisements of local networking groups to attend to.

If you have any other suggestions of where to find networking groups, please share them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from  you.

MayKing Mistakes in Networking

Networking, according to Wikipedia is a socioeconomic business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures.  Networking, or relationship building as I prefer to call it, can take two forms: face to face and online and I thought I would write my experiences of both over the years.

I remember, just after I was made redundant, I had already launched my business but without the comfort of a day job, I had to venture out into the business world and start building relationships.  Fortunately my dear friend, Katrina, from The Marketing Lady fame, took me under her wing and recommended a few places for us to meet with like-minded business folk.   Having read my favourite book for personal development and relationship building, I felt equipped to make a start.

I’d scan the room and look for individuals who were sat on their own, looking at their phones, or sipping their coffee (or even better, a cup of tea 🙂 ).  I’d see plenty of groups of business owners exchanging business cards, having a conversation, having a laugh, but I wanted to connect with an individual.  Why?  I did it, because I have done it all my life.  I can appreciate how nerve wrecking it can be to walk into a room full of strangers.  I have been described as an extrovert which means walking up to a stranger is very easy for me.  As I have gotten older, I actually feel that I am more of an ambivert but I digress.  When I read in my favourite book that listening with empathy is a way of getting people to like you, I knew that I was on the right track.

It sounds cold and calculating doesn’t it?  Be genuinely interested in people so that people like you.  Be a good listener and encourage the other person to talk about themselves.  Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.  The thing is though, to make friends and influence people in business is a skill.  It is imperative for your business and if you’re not a good listener; if you can’t be genuinely inTEArested in others, then networking is going to be a waste of your time.

Networking will end up becoming a business card collecting exercise.  Talking to others about yourself; selling to the other person before they’ve got to know a little bit about you, is likely to turn people off.  Let me ask you this.  Do you like being sold to?  Are you a fan of junk mail appearing in your letterbox or Inbox?  Do you like those pop-up Ads interrupting you when you are in the middle of reading an online article?  Rather annoying isn’t it?  Here are a few of the other #networkingbloopers that I have experienced over the years.  These are all genuine.  Some of you readers may have experienced these already. I am not mayking these up.  (MK is me; NB is short for Networking Blooper).

  1. Hi my name is […] and my business is […].  Here’s my card.’
    [Thrusts business card into hand then walks off to the next victim] :-/
  2. NB: So what’s your name?
    MK: My name’s May King and… [NB interrupts]
    NB: Hi May, so I’m [insert name] and my business is [insert business name] and I [outlines the business]
    MK: [nods / smiles / listens]
    NB: [10 minutes later] so yeah, that’s me, but I better go, here’s my business card.  We should catch up!
    [Walks off to find next victim]
  3. NB: Hi, my name’s [insert name] and you are?
    MK: Well my first name is May King and my business is MayKing Tea.
    NB: What do you do May?  [I should interrupt at this conversation and ask you readers.  Did you notice NB’s blunder?  NB didn’t listen and didn’t call me by my first name.  Yes, I know it’s an easy mistake to make but another great tip from Dale Carnegie if you want to make friends and influence people is: ‘Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language’.  Back to the blooper:
    MK:   [as I explain what I do, NB looks over my shoulder for a better prospect.  NB’s not listening, I don’t really feel like talking anymore and I’m plotting my getaway in my head as I aim to finish the conversation quickly].
  4. NB: So what do you do? [Yep – no hello, no introduction, launches straight in]
    MK: My first name is May King and I have a business called MayKing Tea.  I sell loose leaf tea sourced from around the world.
    NB: That’s not going to make you much money is it?  But I have a business that will make you lots of money! [Proceeds to talk about his/her network marketing proposition]
    MK: [nods / smiles / listens/plots in head for quick getaway]

I have thought about doing a #networkingblooper series to recreate the funniest moments I and other business owners have had experienced in networking.  Kinda like Candid Camera or You’ve Been Framed except that you don’t get £250 for sending your videos in.  Maybe I will one day, but in the meantime here are a few things that you can do when you are at a networking event.

  1. Meet new people. At a networking event, we are all there for the same reason.  Don’t be tempted to stay with the people you came to the event with.  This is known as your comfort zone, and you know what happens in business if we stay in our comfort zone don’t we?
    where-the-magic-happens-your-comfort-zone_daily-inspiration
    image care of girlgoneblind.com

    As we are all in the room with the same agenda, try and find someone on their own, smile and introduce yourself and start a conversation.

  2. Don’t sell.  I mentioned earlier that generally as humans, we don’t like being sold to, so explain what you do, but don’t sell.  If you hand over your business card, and if the person is inTEArested, they will contact you.
  3. Ask questions and listen. There are plenty of great lessons and principles in Dale Carnegie‘s book and this is one of them.  Give the person you’re talking to, the respect that they deserve and be genuine in your questions and listen sincerely.
  4. Don’t interrupt, criticise or argue.  This is common sense but it’s amazing how many people want to be heard and in an attempt to get their point across, they will use one of these negative actions.   Remember you are at the meeting to represent your business, your brand and you want to make a good impression.   Focus on the positives and ditch the negatives.

    twelve-minutes
    image care of twelveminutes.com
  5. Smile. I love this Chinese proverb: ‘A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.’  It’s amazing what can be achieved when you smile.  Sharing what you do, especially if you love what you do, coupled with a smile will create a positive impression to the person you’re talking to, and we all want people to have a positive impression of ourselves and our business don’t we?
  6. Follow Up. This final point, I have to admit, I have made mistakes on and haven’t necessarily followed up with every person I’ve met, but we’re all human.  We all make mistakes, right? If you have a Twitter profile, I’m likely to give you a shout out, as I do love Twitter. If I want to meet with you, I will connect with you, especially if you have all your social media credentials, website and email address up to date (this is extremely important).  To make that first positive impression of you and your business stretch a little further, the follow up is a great habit to form.  It’s the start of building a relationship with another business owner and by following up, you never know where the start of that relationship can lead your business.

There’s probably another 10, 15, 20 networking tips that I could share with you here, but I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a #networkingblooper story you’d like to share?  What’s your best networking tip for networking newbies?  Would love to hear from you.

Branding for Business – The Profile Picture

In a previous post, I talked about mayking mistakes on branding for my business.  In this post I wanted to talk about something that I was complimented for.  The profile picture.  The profile pic is now important than ever given the growth of social media applications that we as business owners cannot fail to ignore, and if you do a Google search, you will be inundated with posts stating what and what not to do when it comes to profile pics.  When starting a business it is important to decide where you are going to spend your pennies (or dollars and cents) and investing some money on your profile pics is really important.  There are other ways of getting that profile pic without spending money if you don’t have the budget for it.

  • Do you have a friend or family member whose hobby is photography?
  • Do you know of colleges nearby where there are photography students who are looking for volunteers to have their head shots taken?
  • Maybe you know of a photographer who is just starting their business and would like to take photographs in return for acknowledgement for their work online?
  • Perhaps you could barter your goods and services in return for a good profile pic?
  • I was once asked if a photographer could take photographs of me whilst I ran one of my tea events, in return for having his branding on the photograph?  I duly obliged.

I have been extremely lucky in that when I started my business in London, I came across two photographers who were just starting their business and wanted their foot in the door.  This was my first profile pic taken care of the beauTEAful Nicole from Blue Drop Photography fame.

May King Tsang - First Profile Pic
May King Tsang –          First Profile Pic

My photo reflected my core values in my branding – note the use of green, brown (ring) and white (cup) again.  Nicole also took some great photographs of my tea as well, which I used for my first website.  She did an amazing job and I was really happy with the results, although if I was going to be picky about my photo, perhaps I should’ve smiled, and, according to this LinkedIn Post, I’m right.

This photograph was taken with Mike’s branding on the bottom of the photograph.  Suck that tummy in, May King and smile!!

Branded Photograph of May King Tsang
Branded Photograph of                                     May King Tsang

When I moved to Brisbane, Australia, I came across an extremely talented artist, photographer and videographer.  I felt that Kerrin’s photographs were a cut above the rest because not only is she looking through the lens as a photographer, she is also looking through the lens as an artist and I felt that she captured something quite unique to other photographers.

May King Tsang Profile Pic
May King Tsang                       Profile Pic

We had a lot of fun on the day of the shoot and when the Beastie Boys blasted out on the radio, Kerrin took this shot.  Well, I do introduce myself as a Tea Rock Star from time to time 🙂

May King Tsang - Tea Rockstar
May King Tsang – Tea Rockstar

I did another Google search and found an inTEAresting post about how the profile pic is more important than the cover page for Social Media, which I hadn’t really put much thought into before reading the post.  It outlines several compelling reasons for putting thoughts into your profile pic rather than your cover page although admittedly, there were a couple of points that I did disagree with, but that’s just my personal opinion.  In fact, going against the grain of some of the points the blog post made, I decided to use the rockstar photo on my Twitter profile.

I shall end this post with this mildy amusing post I found on LinkedIn which talks about 8 types of photos you should never use on your LinkedIn Profile.  Enjoy.

Research on my business idea

In a previous post, I wrote about research on running a business. Going back to the principles of this article, I thought that I would share what research I did for my first business.

  1. Company
    After my friend decided we were better off as friends rather than business partners, I realised that I couldn’t start a tea house on my own.  I therefore had to start off small.  I felt that I needed to sell loose leaf tea.  My mission is to ensure that everyone had a better tea in their cupboard and I was going to source it for them.  Given the cheeky nature of my business name (based on my actual first name), the personaliTEA and language of my company would be reflected in the use of tea puns.  I also wanted tea to become more to accessible people.  By being a friendly, engaging person, I felt that this would be reflected in the approachable nature of the tea I sourced.  Think of your business idea in terms of product and service features.  What benefits does your product or service have for your customers?  What is the personaliTEA of your company, and what key messages will you be relaying to your customers?
  2. Customer
    Some of the questions I thought about for MayKing Tea included:
    – Who is my target market?
    – What did they look like?
    – Where would I find them?
    I envisaged my customers to be busy professionals who were health conscious, predominantly female 30 somethings.  Using my mission and my personaliTEA I decided to look for my customers through a combination of networking; running tea events; finding speaking engagements and selling my tea online.

  3. Competitor
    Looking at competitors was the most enjoyable part of my research because as I had read more books about running a business, I realised that I didn’t really believe in competition but potential collaboration.  Nevertheless, I did see what was out there, compiled an Excel spreadsheet of what I liked, what I didn’t like about each competitor, and that helped me to understand what I could do in order to stand out from the crowd from other tea vendors.
  4. Collaborators
    Scrap my last statement.  THIS was the section that I had most fun with.  Whom could I collaborate with in order to spread my message about better qualiTEA tea?  In the six months that I ran my business in London, I worked with cafés to wholesale tea; I spoke at Networking Events about my startup journey.  I collaborated with another tea company to talk at a Food Festival about the health benefits of tea.  I even launched my business by collaborating with two business startups so that people who came to the event could sample, tea, cakes and lingerie.  Ooh la la!!

Working in business can often feel like the loneliest place on the planet, but if you find the right like-minded business owners to work with, you can create a one-off or ongoing collaboration which will expose your customers to something different; introduce you to a new audience (your collaborator’s customer-base) and most important of all, it’s a lot of fun!

Over the years, I have made some crucial mistakes when collaborating with some business owners, but I will save that for another post.  In the meantime, what research have you done for your business idea?  Did you test your idea before launching your business?  What mistakes did you find from conducting your research?  I would love for you to leave a comment below (or you can tweet me, or send me an email).