Posts

How to make the most of networking

From making sure you’re in the right group to working out your 60 second pitch, Rin Hamburgh looks at what she’s learned about making the most of networking since she first started doing it seven years ago.

Networking is something every business owner or self-employed person is likely to do at some point. And rightly so – it’s a great way to meet people, to get support and generate referrals and new business. But it can also take up a fair amount of time and money. So how do you make sure you’re getting the most value out of it?

 

Pick the right group

I started networking when I set up my first business in 2012. The first group I joined was a very supportive group of women who met monthly for lunch. This was exactly what I needed – non-threatening, encouraging, no suits and lots of self-employed people working as sole traders.

As I gained in confidence I started going to a fortnightly breakfast meeting where there were business owners – both men and women – with staff and budgets who were able to introduce me into bigger companies and help me grow.

When the twins arrived, these groups became either too expensive or difficult to get to. Freelance Mum was – and still is – an absolute godsend and I’ve now added BS5 Business, Babies and Booze to my networking mix because, well, doesn’t that just sound like the best idea?

The key is to choose groups that work for you in terms of cost, location, mix of people and so on. Ask yourself what you want to gain from it. Do you want to get support from other business owners like you? Or are you looking for introductions, in which case you need to check how well connected the other members are.

 

Bring the right marketing materials

A business card is an absolute must for networking (although I have to admit, I frequently forget mine!). This is especially important if you’ve got an unusual name that people might struggle to remember or might spell wrong and therefore not be able to look you up.

But you might also want to invest in flyers, brochures or other printed materials in order to give people you meet an instant insight into what you do. For a product based or visual business like photography, pictures really can be worth a thousand words.

And I love the 121 packs that my friends at Hullo Creative make; little folders containing a flyer, a logo sticker, one of their beautiful greetings cards, and a selection of business cards from other freelancers in their collective.

 

 

 

 

Prepare a pitch

Most networking groups will require you to do some sort of 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ where you tell people who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. Even at Freelance Mum, which has a much more relaxed format, there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself during the Business Exchange segment at the end.

There are lots of different ways to structure a pitch. I’m currently on the Natwest Accelerator Programme and regularly have to pitch during our workshop and other events. The structure we’ve been taught there is Hook, Problem, Solution, Traction, Ask – there’s more about that in our blog post, How to write a 60 second elevator pitch.

But essentially you want to make sure that you summarise not only what you do but what that actually means for your customers or clients. For example, I don’t just say that we do copywriting. Instead I say that we “harness the power of words to drive significant business results.”

Spend time really honing your pitch and get comfortable with delivering it – make your other half listen to you or practice in the mirror. Because, whether you’re at a networking group or not, you never know when someone important is going to ask what you do. The right words might open the door to your next big thing.

 

Remember to ‘sell through the room’

Once you arrive at your chosen networking group, it might be tempting to try and sell your products and services to as many people as possible. But let’s face it, no one likes a pushy salesperson, do they?

Remember that networking is a long game – it’s about building relationships, letting people get to know you and starting to understand what their challenges and needs are too. It may be that your product or service is right for them but let that emerge naturally.

In fact, if you just sold to people within your group you really wouldn’t be making the most of your network. The trick is to ’sell through the room, not to the room’ – in other words, build those networking contacts into advocates who can speak about you to their networks and thereby widen your reach.

As an example, the lovely Zoe Whitman of But The Books, who I met at Freelance Mum, passed my details to her husband, who works at a big marketing agency. We ended up doing huge amounts of work with them, opening up a whole new market for us.

 

Remember to follow up

The majority of the value you’ll get from networking won’t actually happen in the meeting itself but afterwards. That’s why it’s important to follow up. If you’ve taken business cards, connect with those people on LinkedIn, follow their account on Instagram or like their business page on Facebook.

You may have identified people who you think will be a good fit for you, perhaps because you have complimentary businesses with the same target audience. For me as a copywriter this may be a graphic designer, web designer, even photographer. In this case, arrange a 121 so you can get to know each other better.

A lot of networking groups have online groups too, for example Freelance Mum’s Facebook group, The Mothership. Being active on these channels is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, especially if your group only meets monthly or if you struggle to make every meeting.

If you’re going to spend time and money on networking then make sure you get as much out of it as you can. That might take a little bit more time or money – for example to write that pitch or get flyers printed – but the return on your investment will make it well worth the effort.

If you want to brush up on your networking skills in a warm, family friendly environment, why not come along to Freelance Mum? Your first meeting is free! Find out when the next event is here.

Nail your small business marketing with our experts’ top tips

The Freelance Mum family is full of amazingly talented ladies and this month we’ve asked some of our marketing experts to share their top tips for building your business. Enjoy!

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

MARKETING

Karen Norman, Sensible Marketing

1) The answer is in the data. We all have questions about how we should move our businesses forward. The answers are in the data and advances in digital marketing mean that it is more accessible than ever. Use it, analyse it, find the answers and they will take you in the right direction.

 

2) The fundamentals of marketing are still the same. The digital world moves fast and throws up new opportunities but the fundamentals of marketing strategy and planning haven’t changed for decades, only the technology that we use.

 

3) Keep your website updated. Sounds simple? But many businesses build their site then leave it for months, sometimes years. It is important to keep it up-to-date, both technically so it is secure and performing well, and by adding new content and functionality that helps you to grow your business.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kirsty Northover, Kirsty Northover Photography

1) If your clients work with you because they know, like and trust YOU – i.e. you are your brand – step out of the shadows. Don’t hide behind a logo. Use yourself as the face of your brand.

 

2) Brand recognition in a crowded marketplace is hard. Have one killer headshot that epitomises you, your brand and will resonate with your target clients. Use it for everything! Website, social media profiles, byline for publications, media pack, business cards (so helpful for people to remember you from networking events), flyers… you get the drift!

 

3) Have a selection of images that tell your brand story. You can use them alone to highlight one aspect or combine groups of them to tell the story. They should be different enough to be strong as a stand alone but also cohesive so that they look good together. This aids brand identity, recognition and will help you stand out online and cut through the competition.

 

COPYWRITING

Rin Hamburgh, Rin Hamburgh & Co

 

1) If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field you need to be sharing three types of content: original ‘how to’ posts, industry news and trends, and opinion and commentary. The best place to host the first of these is on a blog, where it will also boost your website’s SEO and both your organic and directed traffic.

 

2) Website copy need to stimulate both an emotional and a logical response. That’s why you need a combination of snappy, engaging headers, subheads, pull quotes etc as well as factual and valuable body copy.

 

3) Brand voice needs to take into account both who you are as a brand (your core offering, values and brand personality) and who you audience is (and therefore what they will most engage with). Once you understand the relationship between the two you can start building your messaging and getting specific about things like vocabulary, levels of formality and so on.

 

DESIGN

Emily Jones, Hullo Creative

In all design, less is more. Especially when it comes to things like flyers, which need to capture people’s attention quickly and not go on too much. Keep the number of words and images to a minimum and then direct people elsewhere for more information.

 

Don’t forget to update the design of your marketing materials as your brand evolves. Sometimes it’s ok to just update the dates of a workshop or swap out your old photos for new ones, but there will be times when you actually need a whole new look or things will start feeling a bit dated.

 

Give people enough blank space to digest what you’re saying. If you ram a design with content you risk overwhelming them, which means they’ll lose interest. White space might feel like a waste but it’s an essential element of good design.

Podcast: The Importance Of Putting Your Prices Up

“It’s been four years since Freelance Mum launched. The initial pilot session was free, then we started charging a nominal fee of £5. Over the years there has been a slight increase but nothing that really reflected the level of input that actually goes into running an event. And believe me, quite literally hours go into every one – far more than you could probably imagine.”

Faye Dicker, Founder, Freelance Mum

More podcasts you might like

Podcast: Business Choir

/
The landscape of networking is changing - in a fun and focused way! This year a Business Choir launched attracting business owners across the South West to meet, sing and do business once a week. I caught up with the brains behind the choir, vocal coach, Amy Box.

Podcast: The Importance Of Putting Your Prices Up

/
It’s been four years since Freelance Mum launched. The initial pilot session was free, then we started charging a nominal fee of £5. Over the years there has been a slight increase but nothing that really reflected the level of input that actually goes into running an event.

The Business Surgery - How to capture the right image for your business

/
Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker - takes questions from The Mothership and puts them to our in-house expert. In this month's Business Surgery, we speak to photography expert, Nicola Proctor, taking your questions on 'How to capture the right image for your business’.

How to make the most of networking

From making sure you’re in the right group to working out your 60 second pitch, Rin Hamburgh looks at what she’s learned about making the most of networking since she first started doing it seven years ago.

Networking is something every business owner or self-employed person is likely to do at some point. And rightly so – it’s a great way to meet people, to get support and generate referrals and new business. But it can also take up a fair amount of time and money. So how do you make sure you’re getting the most value out of it?

 

Pick the right group

I started networking when I set up my first business in 2012. The first group I joined was a very supportive group of women who met monthly for lunch. This was exactly what I needed – non-threatening, encouraging, no suits and lots of self-employed people working as sole traders.

As I gained in confidence I started going to a fortnightly breakfast meeting where there were business owners – both men and women – with staff and budgets who were able to introduce me into bigger companies and help me grow.

When the twins arrived, these groups became either too expensive or difficult to get to. Freelance Mum was – and still is – an absolute godsend and I’ve now added BS5 Business, Babies and Booze to my networking mix because, well, doesn’t that just sound like the best idea?

The key is to choose groups that work for you in terms of cost, location, mix of people and so on. Ask yourself what you want to gain from it. Do you want to get support from other business owners like you? Or are you looking for introductions, in which case you need to check how well connected the other members are.

 

Bring the right marketing materials

A business card is an absolute must for networking (although I have to admit, I frequently forget mine!). This is especially important if you’ve got an unusual name that people might struggle to remember or might spell wrong and therefore not be able to look you up.

But you might also want to invest in flyers, brochures or other printed materials in order to give people you meet an instant insight into what you do. For a product based or visual business like photography, pictures really can be worth a thousand words.

And I love the 121 packs that my friends at Hullo Creative make; little folders containing a flyer, a logo sticker, one of their beautiful greetings cards, and a selection of business cards from other freelancers in their collective.

 

 

 

 

Prepare a pitch

Most networking groups will require you to do some sort of 60 second ‘elevator pitch’ where you tell people who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. Even at Freelance Mum, which has a much more relaxed format, there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself during the Business Exchange segment at the end.

There are lots of different ways to structure a pitch. I’m currently on the Natwest Accelerator Programme and regularly have to pitch during our workshop and other events. The structure we’ve been taught there is Hook, Problem, Solution, Traction, Ask – there’s more about that in our blog post, How to write a 60 second elevator pitch.

But essentially you want to make sure that you summarise not only what you do but what that actually means for your customers or clients. For example, I don’t just say that we do copywriting. Instead I say that we “harness the power of words to drive significant business results.”

Spend time really honing your pitch and get comfortable with delivering it – make your other half listen to you or practice in the mirror. Because, whether you’re at a networking group or not, you never know when someone important is going to ask what you do. The right words might open the door to your next big thing.

 

Remember to ‘sell through the room’

Once you arrive at your chosen networking group, it might be tempting to try and sell your products and services to as many people as possible. But let’s face it, no one likes a pushy salesperson, do they?

Remember that networking is a long game – it’s about building relationships, letting people get to know you and starting to understand what their challenges and needs are too. It may be that your product or service is right for them but let that emerge naturally.

In fact, if you just sold to people within your group you really wouldn’t be making the most of your network. The trick is to ’sell through the room, not to the room’ – in other words, build those networking contacts into advocates who can speak about you to their networks and thereby widen your reach.

As an example, the lovely Zoe Whitman of But The Books, who I met at Freelance Mum, passed my details to her husband, who works at a big marketing agency. We ended up doing huge amounts of work with them, opening up a whole new market for us.

 

Remember to follow up

The majority of the value you’ll get from networking won’t actually happen in the meeting itself but afterwards. That’s why it’s important to follow up. If you’ve taken business cards, connect with those people on LinkedIn, follow their account on Instagram or like their business page on Facebook.

You may have identified people who you think will be a good fit for you, perhaps because you have complimentary businesses with the same target audience. For me as a copywriter this may be a graphic designer, web designer, even photographer. In this case, arrange a 121 so you can get to know each other better.

A lot of networking groups have online groups too, for example Freelance Mum’s Facebook group, The Mothership. Being active on these channels is an excellent way to keep in touch with people, especially if your group only meets monthly or if you struggle to make every meeting.

If you’re going to spend time and money on networking then make sure you get as much out of it as you can. That might take a little bit more time or money – for example to write that pitch or get flyers printed – but the return on your investment will make it well worth the effort.

If you want to brush up on your networking skills in a warm, family friendly environment, why not come along to Freelance Mum? Your first meeting is free! Find out when the next event is here.

Nail your small business marketing with our experts’ top tips

The Freelance Mum family is full of amazingly talented ladies and this month we’ve asked some of our marketing experts to share their top tips for building your business. Enjoy!

This fab blog was written by writer, sponsor and fellow ‘Freelance Mum’ Rin Hamburgh (who writes from the heart and is a big fan of being freelance). Thank you for your brilliant blog Rin.

MARKETING

Karen Norman, Sensible Marketing

1) The answer is in the data. We all have questions about how we should move our businesses forward. The answers are in the data and advances in digital marketing mean that it is more accessible than ever. Use it, analyse it, find the answers and they will take you in the right direction.

 

2) The fundamentals of marketing are still the same. The digital world moves fast and throws up new opportunities but the fundamentals of marketing strategy and planning haven’t changed for decades, only the technology that we use.

 

3) Keep your website updated. Sounds simple? But many businesses build their site then leave it for months, sometimes years. It is important to keep it up-to-date, both technically so it is secure and performing well, and by adding new content and functionality that helps you to grow your business.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Kirsty Northover, Kirsty Northover Photography

1) If your clients work with you because they know, like and trust YOU – i.e. you are your brand – step out of the shadows. Don’t hide behind a logo. Use yourself as the face of your brand.

 

2) Brand recognition in a crowded marketplace is hard. Have one killer headshot that epitomises you, your brand and will resonate with your target clients. Use it for everything! Website, social media profiles, byline for publications, media pack, business cards (so helpful for people to remember you from networking events), flyers… you get the drift!

 

3) Have a selection of images that tell your brand story. You can use them alone to highlight one aspect or combine groups of them to tell the story. They should be different enough to be strong as a stand alone but also cohesive so that they look good together. This aids brand identity, recognition and will help you stand out online and cut through the competition.

 

COPYWRITING

Rin Hamburgh, Rin Hamburgh & Co

 

1) If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field you need to be sharing three types of content: original ‘how to’ posts, industry news and trends, and opinion and commentary. The best place to host the first of these is on a blog, where it will also boost your website’s SEO and both your organic and directed traffic.

 

2) Website copy need to stimulate both an emotional and a logical response. That’s why you need a combination of snappy, engaging headers, subheads, pull quotes etc as well as factual and valuable body copy.

 

3) Brand voice needs to take into account both who you are as a brand (your core offering, values and brand personality) and who you audience is (and therefore what they will most engage with). Once you understand the relationship between the two you can start building your messaging and getting specific about things like vocabulary, levels of formality and so on.

 

DESIGN

Emily Jones, Hullo Creative

In all design, less is more. Especially when it comes to things like flyers, which need to capture people’s attention quickly and not go on too much. Keep the number of words and images to a minimum and then direct people elsewhere for more information.

 

Don’t forget to update the design of your marketing materials as your brand evolves. Sometimes it’s ok to just update the dates of a workshop or swap out your old photos for new ones, but there will be times when you actually need a whole new look or things will start feeling a bit dated.

 

Give people enough blank space to digest what you’re saying. If you ram a design with content you risk overwhelming them, which means they’ll lose interest. White space might feel like a waste but it’s an essential element of good design.

Podcast: The Importance Of Putting Your Prices Up

“It’s been four years since Freelance Mum launched. The initial pilot session was free, then we started charging a nominal fee of £5. Over the years there has been a slight increase but nothing that really reflected the level of input that actually goes into running an event. And believe me, quite literally hours go into every one – far more than you could probably imagine.”

Faye Dicker, Founder, Freelance Mum

More podcasts you might like

Podcast: Business Choir

/
The landscape of networking is changing - in a fun and focused way! This year a Business Choir launched attracting business owners across the South West to meet, sing and do business once a week. I caught up with the brains behind the choir, vocal coach, Amy Box.

Podcast: The Importance Of Putting Your Prices Up

/
It’s been four years since Freelance Mum launched. The initial pilot session was free, then we started charging a nominal fee of £5. Over the years there has been a slight increase but nothing that really reflected the level of input that actually goes into running an event.

The Business Surgery - How to capture the right image for your business

/
Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker - takes questions from The Mothership and puts them to our in-house expert. In this month's Business Surgery, we speak to photography expert, Nicola Proctor, taking your questions on 'How to capture the right image for your business’.

The quickest and easiest way to stay on track in 2018

Setting your ‘theme’ for 2018 – with love from The Unicorn Factory

Sometimes it feels really difficult and overwhelming to stay on track throughout the year. The unexpected happens. Things take longer than we thought. We have crappy days. And on the flip side we get distracted by new ideas to explore and exciting things to try.

So how can we stay on track through all these ups and downs in a way that doesn’t require hours of planning every week? What can we do that is helpful without being overwhelming? What will fit in with everything else going on so we don’t give up before we’ve even started?

Welcome to the world of THEMES!

For the past three years I’ve chosen a theme. It’s a word that will support me in staying on track with my goals throughout the year. It is something that keeps me headed in the direction of the experiences I really want to have in life.

And it is something I can use in the most crazy moments when I feel like I’m completely off track. It takes no time and requires nothing other than a thought.

In December or early January I set aside a tiny bit of “me” time to reflect on where I want to head this coming year (and let’s face it, half an hour of peace can feel like total bliss in the middle of the festive craziness). During that time I pick a word to keep me on track that I can use in any moment throughout the year.

I first discovered the idea of themes thanks to Jeannine Yoder. Every year she runs a Holiday Challenge for current and aspiring coaches, including a Power of Themes call in January. After that first year I was hooked!

My very first theme was TRUST. And it turned out to be a crazy year where learning how to listen to myself and trust myself meant I just about made it through in one piece. We found out we were pregnant ten days before our wedding, and completed the sale of our first house six days after our daughter was born. In between that I was holding down the day job, working on my fledgling coaching business and completing the Mentor Masterclass programme. There was always too much going on. It was tough.

My year of TRUST was a first step in learning to let go of what others thought of me. Learning to trust myself to know where to push myself, and where I had to say “no” for the sake of my sanity and my health.

One of my favourite things about my first year of having a theme was learning not to beat myself up so much. I didn’t perfectly live my theme. In fact there were plenty of times that if I’d really been in a place of TRUST I would have done things very differently. My theme wasn’t about being perfectly TRUSTING of myself and others, it was more about being aware of when I wasn’t. Seeing the differences between my current situation and where I wanted to be, and seeing it as an opportunity to practice thinking in a different way to help me get there. It was a year of learning how to make different choices.

TRUST was massively challenging but also hugely rewarding. Not that your theme has to be something difficult to overcome. I know people who have chosen themes like BEAUTY, FUN and DELICIOUS… you theme can be all about the good stuff too!

The next year was INTENTION. Setting that theme felt very different to the year before. TRUST felt big and complicated. INTENTION felt straightforward and easy. Being aware of my INTENTIONS in all the different things I would do.

I discovered that INTENTION was another layer on top on TRUST. I set that theme when my little girl was less than two months old and I was having a really tough time. Although I’d spent the best part of the year learning to trust myself as a person, becoming a mother was the biggest challenge of my life. My theme that year was a lot about trusting my intentions, instincts and intuition as a mother, and it did really help me through to the other side of quite a dark time.

Although it shifted my thinking in ways that will support me for the rest of my life, by January 2017 I was ready for some fun!

And that was when BOLD came up for me. I was excited. I imagined it was going to be a big year. Putting myself out there and being visible. Making plenty of noise.

How can BOLD be anything else?

It turns out there’s so much more to BOLD than meets the eye. And I have loved it!!!

BOLD can be quiet. BOLD can be private. BOLD is about not having to explain or justify yourself for not showing up in the way people expect you to. BOLD can be about taking invisible actions and learning that you don’t need the world to validate what is important to you, or approve of your choices and priorities.

BOLD isn’t always loud. BOLD isn’t always visible. BOLD isn’t always about being the centre of attention.

BOLD has taught me how to be unapologetically me.

BOLD has been my best year yet!

Themes can be a rollercoaster ride sometimes, but it’s one I wouldn’t swap for the world. Every one of my themes has brought me closer to living the life I want to live, and achieving my goals in a way that makes that possible. Saying that, none of my themes have quite done it in the way I expected.

What will your THEME be for 2018?

If you like the idea of setting your own theme I’ve shared an audio guide on Soundcloud  to use along with the 2018 Theme Worksheet.

And if you’d like a monthly prompts throughout to explore your theme further you can sign up for those over at http://www.theunicornfactory.co.uk

Once I’ve set my theme for 2018 I’ll be sharing it over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter– I would love to hear about your theme and why you chose it by using the hashtag #shiftyourexperience and tagging me in your post.

I can’t wait to share this experience with you in 2018!

Helen x

Huge thanks to Helen for such a fab guest blog and fellow Freelance Mum friend. Love this piece and can’t wait to get ‘theme setting’. Special thanks to our talented photographer, Nicola Jane, for capturing such lovely photos shared here. Love Freelance Mum X

 

Freelance Mum, The Business Surgery

“You can seek to understand why you procrastinate. Every body does it, I think the thing is to not feel guilty about it, because it’s quite normal…. Often it’s the fear of what you need to do, is worse than actually doing it.”

Linda Davies – Carr, The Master Fixer, Business Coach

The first of a new series of podcast, The Business Surgery is a monthly show, hosted by Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker, with business coach  – Linda Davies-Carr. Every month, we invite three small business owners, to put their business problems to Linda and get some smart results.

In this months podcast we are joined by, Sally Marks – owner of Tots Up Reward Bus. Michelle Abbasipour, from Pretty Horizontal Web Design and Claire Stone, from Claire Stone Nutrition. Three very different businesses, facing different challenges. Linda is put in the hot seat and delivers some straight answers.

More podcasts you might like

How a working with a professional facilitator can help your event

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Freelance Mum, Faye Dicker, goes behind the scenes with professional…
Zoe Whitman profile shot

Podcast: Zoe Whitman, But the Books

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When you've got your dream start up project, or you love running your business and you know how to do everything... but the books. Well, we have just the answer for that!

Freelance Mum Meets Dr Chris

/
Dr Chris and Dr X and are firm favourites in our household, so when I had the chance to speak to Dr Chris when he visited Windmill Hill earlier this year, I jumped at it!

Freelance Mum At The Farm April 2017

Linda Davies Carr

Stop thinking and start DOING in your business, with the Master Fixer – Linda Davies-Carr

For straight talking strategy, Linda is your go-to woman. Committed to excellence and great at bringing people together, Linda has a knack of making things happen. This session is not for the faint hearted – your business will soon start motoring!

So how does it work? Here’s a ‘typical’ meeting.

 

 

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