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Marketing – Our September Session

Our new season of SJPoole Network sessions kicked off on 12 September with some expert advice on marketing, at our usual venue: The View, Linford Lakes.

We were excited to host Robert Willford, a marketing expert with many years’ experience in the field. The focus of his session was finding the Wow Moment for your business – what is it that your customers talk about after using your services, or buying your product? When you’ve realised what that thing is, you can begin to structure the way you present your business (online and in print) to promote it. He then gave us all a three-point action plan for analysing our businesses, and figuring out our own Wow Moments.

We were also lucky to have Carol Wright with us, recently qualified as a Life Coach and with a wealth of experience in physical and mental health, and trauma recovery. She had some more food for thought for us all, with a Healthy Habit Tracker sheet to take away and fill in for a month: four excellent habits for improving physical health, as well as making time for things which feed our minds and emotions as well, such as reading more, and remembering to count our blessings.

SJPoole Network Marketing Carol Wright

In Sam’s introduction, she asked all of us to think about one goal that we’ve been meaning to achieve for our business for this month, and include it in our own 30-second introductions to the group. We were all given an SJPoole Business Blast Tracker, to help focus our minds to achieve them. We’ll all be held accountable at next month’s session!

As usual we had a fantastic mix of small business owners from across the local area, which meant lots of opportunities for new collaborations and connections. This month’s giveaway winner was Emma Germain from the charity Supershoes UK. Afterwards, Sam was delighted to receive this feedback from her about the session:


“Thanks again for the seat this morning. Great group and some good contacts made. Also really enjoyed Rob’s perspectives on marketing. BUT wow Sam – just have to say how impressed I was with what you have created – such an open, supportive and generous of spirit networking group. You were personally very impressive – you must be so proud of yourself. I just wanted to take the time to congratulate you.”


It is fantastic to get such lovely feedback, and to know that our sessions are useful for the fab business owners who attend them!

Thanks to everyone who was there, to both members and non-members. Don’t forget that our special membership rate is still available, but only until 30 September. Head over to the Join Us page to sign up.

Next month’s session is planned for 10th October, at The View; our expert speaker will be Sam and we will also do some group work on ideas and social media planning.

SJPoole Network Marketing Emma feedback

Business Blogging – the Best Bits

On 20 June, I hosted a business blogging workshop, with Milton Keynes’ own resident words expert at the wheel – Suzan St Maur.

Suz has many years’ experience in the world of copywriting and blogging – she’s even published some very successful books on the topic – and her website, howtowritebetter.net, has several thousand hits a day from across the world.

Beginning with our customary introductions, so that everyone makes some new local connections, we then heard Suz’s blogging basics, before moving into breakout groups, where we focussed on each other’s businesses and swapped ideas and suggestions.

These were some of the top tips from the workshop that our networkers took away with them:

Number 1

If you’re not blogging for your business, start now. the “customer journey” begins a long way before deciding to buy, and your blog is a great way to introduce yourself to new visitors, and flesh out your business’s online identity.

Number 2

Think carefully what you’re writing – is this what your audience wants to read? You may be able to write eloquently about a specialist side of your business, but it might not be interesting to your readers. Put yourself in their shoes – as a customer, which bits of your knowledge and experience would they find useful and engaging? What’s going to encourage them to think you are the company to buy from?

This was an exercise we did in breakout groups; looking at each business in turn, we all brainstormed some blog post ideas that we would like to see as potential customers of that business. There were some great ideas, and some that our businesses hadn’t ever thought of!

Number 3

Host it on your own website, and share share share on your social media outlets. Hashtag it and tweet it, post it on LinkedIn, and on your Facebook page. Never underestimate the power of a hashtag – you can end up with shares and mentions all over the world, and the more exposure the better.

 

Feedback from the workshop attendees was so positive, and we are looking at running more sessions about actually writing blog articles, and maximising your SEO – as well as repeating this session later in the year. To find out more about SJPoole Network sessions, check the Monthly Events page.

Our SJPoole Network Twitter Family

This is the place to put your Twitter handle, to make it super easy to find and follow the other members of SJPoole Network. Click and follow!

Sam’s 10 #TopTips at the bottom of this list…

Mum to Mum: @MKmums2015

Samantha Poole: @spoole2013

Relocating2: @Relocating2

The Henry Allen Trust: @Henryallentrust

G & J PT: @gjpersonaltrai1

Samantha Cameron: @samtcameron

Hannah Klewpatinond: @hairhkhair

Sally Guest: @mkosteopath

Helen @ Daisy First Aid: @daisyfirstaidmk

Claire @ @Bodyandmind7

Becca Pountney: @engageweddings

Sarah Sibley: @got2jot

Cheryl Kennedy: @AIWConsultancy

Julie Bean: @businessboxnews

Paula Sampson: @HipHopTots

Jo McClaren: @jomcclaren

Emma Halls: @EH_Wellbeing

Jules White Compassio: @compassiocoach

Suzan St Maur: @SuzanStMaur

Charlotte Howell: @thinkdanceed

Lucy Mackinnon: @ForgetMeNotByLu

Emma Maslin: @MoneyWhisperer_

Rebecca Chamberlain: @rlcwords and @beckychamb

Gemma Millar: @Wrapitandrun and @millingham and @millinghamtech

Louise Robinson: @babywearingmk

Julie Dimmock: @cardoctoruk

Sue Pardy: @suepardyHR

Debbie Lewis: @Salon_Angels

Emma Gilead: @harrysrainbow

Benn Klewpatinond: @inondDesign

John Tomsett: @tmkabroughton

Bron Webster: @BronOwen and @MultipleSuccess

Sam Poole, Money Saving Books: @MoneySavingLtd

Georgina Hodgkinson: @ask_it_online

Catherine Morgan: @themoneypanel

Jon Boyle: @CelebrateMK

Join our Facebook group @ SJPoole Network

Sam’s 10 Top Tips for Twitter:

  1. Get involved with charity campaigns – #RT and why you are supporting…
  2. It is the first place for news – So get on the #RT and share your views…
  3. It has taken me 4 years to get to 2735 followers on my personal account so stick with it!
  4. My work has been shared all over the world, my photos have been on the front page of national papers and I have some amazing followers who gave me a reach of 102k last month…Be you! You never know who is watching you and where it may take you.
  5. Enjoy it! #RT all the things you connect with and feel passionate about.
  6. It is FREE! So do use it. You do not have to tweet your own content 15 times a day, but you can share with #RT 15 times a day on days / hours special to you i.e #WednesdayWisdom #MondayMotivation #CharityTuesday #FollowFriday See: BBC – 10-of-the-most-popular #
  7. Think about what you want to achieve? Find all # relevant to your business and use to the max!
  8. Make real contacts and #Network follow all of us on this list and #Share #RT #Follow
  9. Create a #TwitterHour or campaign and go for it…
  10. Be patient #PracticeMakesPerfect

Samantha Poole #SharingIsCaring.

A New Kind of Networking – by a Petrified Introvert

“OK, let’s go round the room, just stand up and say a bit about yourself .”

Heart sinking, and then beating faster and faster as my turn rapidly approaches; planning what I’m gong to say, and then usually messing it up, rushing through my introduction and fluffing all of the coherent, well-structured information I had planned to say in my head…whatever the situation, this is how I’ve felt about putting myself out there, all my life.

I’m an introvert. It was confirmed with a Myers-Briggs personality analysis that my organisation was willing to pay for in the early 2000s, but I think I’d always known it really. I remember lots of well-meaning adults (including my extrovert mother, who revels in meeting new people) who would describe new situations with beaming positivity: “There’ll be lots of children there for you to meet and play with” – and I could usually imagine little worse than this prospect. In most of these new situations I would feel gripped by a crippling shyness that would result in me clinging to my darling mum, who was always kind, loving and accepting of my failure to integrate, but – I suspect – always a little puzzled by it.

It’s not that I don’t like meeting new people. I love learning about them, what they have achieved, and how they have achieved it in the face of their own adversities. I think there are few things more powerful than human determination, and I love to find out about it in all its forms – it’s part of what makes us unique.

I think in the early decades of my life, my shyness was a matter of self-confidence – something which, I’m happy to say, has grown infinitely through my 30s. I now feel in possession of my own identity, all of the different roles I have in life, and where I see my career path taking me. That, I have found, helps enormously when meeting new people. How can you introduce yourself with confidence, if you’re not really sure who you are?

When I started my own business, I knew that networking was going to be part of the deal. You can’t meet new clients unless you go out and find them – and this was the part which daunted me the most. I imagined “networking events” to be full of corporate types who already had all the professional contacts they needed, thank you, and who were only there to fulfil some sort of personal development quota, going through the motions of meeting you, and then swiftly forgetting you exist immediately afterwards.

Unbelievably, though, I have struck lucky. There is a network in Milton Keynes – SJP Networking – that actually makes this stuff EASY, even for the most committed introvert. Being part of this network of these people, who are all there to grow their own businesses and meet like-minded individuals who want to collaborate to achieve that, is an incredible boost the confidence. I know that not everyone will want or need to buy what I’m selling, but they all show a genuine interest in why I’m there. This isn’t just professional networking – it’s a real community of small businesses, who have all bought into the idea that working together and supporting local businesses is the key to success for all of us.

Coupled with my blossomed self-confidence and belief in my business, today I stood up in front of a group of networkers, introduced myself, and sold what I have to offer. So far, I have gained a new client at every event I’ve been to, and the atmosphere is supportive, collaborative and positive. I’m not sure that groups like this exist everywhere, but it captures a mutually-emboldening and co-operative spirit that I really believe our society needs, in its personal, community and business interactions.

We don’t need to be in competition – there is enough success to go round. Let’s help each other achieve it, together.

Rebecca Chamberlain, RLC Words

(still an introvert, but no longer petrified)