Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Network effectively at business networking events


Today I welcome Janet Torley to my blog. Janet is Chairman of Federation of Small Business - East of Scotland and owner of Events for Business, the event management specialist for business to business. I first encountered Janet at the 2012 Lanarkshire Business Show, one of many business and networking events she has organised across Scotland. With countless hours of networking experience and a bulging contacts book if anyone can give good practical advice on how to network it has to be Janet. So here are Janet's five top tips on how to network effectively at business networking events.


Networking can and should be really simple and really enjoyable and my top tips are very, very simple.

Number 1: Just do it! You might find the idea of walking in to a room full of total strangers daunting but go on, put an event into your diary and just go.

Number 2: Before you go make sure you have enough business cards. Take twice the number of business cards than you think you are going to need. Having too many is not going to do any harm but having too few would be tragic. There’s nothing worse than someone saying “pass me your business card” and you have run out. So always assume that if you need fifty take a hundred.

Number 3: Whilst you are at the networking event make sure you are comfy and travel light. You do not want to be carrying around heavy bags. And ladies, don't wear uncomfortable high heels, you will probably be standing and talking for a long time so keep your footwear comfy and travel light.

Number 4: Once you are at the networking event please, please, please make an effort to listen to the people you meet. You will learn a heck of a lot more by listening, information that will help you in the long run to build relationships. And smile! Really, a smile really goes an awful long way.

Number 5: Keep doing it! Keep doing it time after time, week after week, month after month because it will pay off.

For more excellent advice on networking from several top business experts see this article from on the Guardian's website: http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2012/jun/29/top-tips-mentoring-networking-professional-advice

For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.
The video Network effectively at business networking events can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/J6iqIl-zXI8

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

5 Great Tips To Improve Your Communication Skills


Jill Simpson is a trainer and coach from DEVA Training in Kilmarnock. She helps clients communicate their message to customers, colleagues and others by helping to remove the barriers to communication and improve their verbal communication skills.

GreatCommunication skills are important in every aspect of our daily lives and it is also true for our business lives. So without further ado here are Jill Simpson’s 5 Top Tips for great business communication.

One. This might surprise you but shut up and listen. It has often been pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth for a good reason:  by really listening you start to understand the other person’s point of view, and when you understand you are far better placed to put across your own position. Listening helps you communicate more effectively whether you are selling to customers, managing your staff or negotiating with a supplier.

Two. Asking open questions will help you develop this understanding: open questions begin with How, When, Where, What, Why. Good verbal communication is a two way street so avoid interrupting after asking your question: you might miss a vital piece of information that you will find useful in understanding the real issue, to strengthen your case or to combat an objection.  

Three. Learn to be assertive: be clear about what it is that you want the outcome of the conversation to be; check your own thinking for hidden agendas – are you being honest in your communication? Ask for what you want. If you have really listened to the other person, you can often propose a win-win solution. After all, what is communication if not an opportunity to influence the outcome?

Four. Help people to trust you. If you can build rapport with the person you are talking to you will be more successful in getting your point across. A smile, nodding in agreement and mild praise can go a long way in getting people to like you. Make eye-contact, mirror their body language and emphasis your similarities to help create a bond and build understanding. Learn to do this in a natural way; it shouldn’t be false. As actor George Burns once joked "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made."

Five. Hold back from making instant judgements. It’s all too easy to judge others or their motivation from their appearance, their accent, or even based on our own mood of the moment. Approach every communication with an open mind and you will often be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make a real connection.

Links to further help improve your communication skills.
University of Kent career service: http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/communicating.htm
BBC Skillswise: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/topic/communication-skills

For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.


The video Communication Skills and how to use verbal communication to boost your leadership skills can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/nAMgV1PSVb4

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

5 Great Tips For Your New Business


Tony Couch from isCompliant is a former Business Gateway business advisor who has helped many people who wanted to know how to start a business but needed top notch business advice. Tony knows only too well how many of those small business ideas fail within the first few years of starting so he agreed to share his insights on how individuals starting a business can plan for long term success by putting quality at the heart of their small business ideas.
One. Apply the concept of “excellence and free from defects” to your small business ideas. Gain the customer satisfaction, trust and enhanced reputation that will follow. Enjoy the confidence that repeat business brings, relish recognition for quality and benefit from the rewards. Put simply - Strive to deliver the best product or service for your customer that you can.

Two. Let customer focus drive your small business. Demonstrate regular improvements by using your awareness of your client’s requirements, developments in technology and trends in the market to work out ways, no matter how small, to regularly have something new to say or offer – things like an update to your website, running a competition, boosting security or improving response times.
Three. Involve your customers and staff. Customers today expect your product or service to meet their expectations and will soon let you know when it doesn’t. Your reputation will be gained – and better remembered – not only by your product or service, but more as a result of the actions and behaviours you and your staff use. What you do is important, yes – but the way you do it is what will stand out and be remembered. Build your reputation on this approach and seek feedback for new inspiration.

Four. Achieve Recognition – again not just for your product or service. Try doing something meaningful in your community, achieving an award or being genuinely certified through an approved international quality standard are great ways of demonstrating your professionalism. So many businesses have prospered on the back of such recognition.
Five. Enhance your reputation to aid promotion and sales – Be bold but not brash. Developing your reputation will only generate the rewards you deserve if you do things that remind people of your successes and achievements. Using websites, videos, blogs, networking and social media are great ways to share feedback and testimonials to underpin your professionalism and get your quality message across.

So now you know how to start a business with the aim of long term success.

Here is some good advice from the UK Government on starting a business: https://www.gov.uk/starting-up-a-business/start-with-an-idea

For tips on starting a business see this article by Peter Day on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16595152
For more guides on just about every aspect of how to start a business check out the Business Scotland website: http://business.scotland.gov.uk/topic/starting-up-a-business
For access to free business advice and free business start-up courses near you contact Business Gateway: http://www.bgateway.com/

For useful information on funding for anyone considering starting a business here is some good information from the Scottish Government: http://business.scotland.gov.uk/view/guide/support-for-start-ups#overview

For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.

You can view the video Starting a Business and Want to Know How To Start a Business and launch your Business Ideas? Here: http://youtu.be/tj4_mU7xHHs


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

5 Great Tips To Improve Your Copywriting Communication Skills

Today I welcome Charlotte Fleming to my blog. Charlotte is a copywriter from Great Copy, a business based near Forfar in Scotland that provides copywriting and proof reading services for business websites and brochures. I would echo a lot of Charlotte’s advice, although I mostly write for the spoken word in radio & TV commercials and online video while Charlotte writes for the written page. We got together to help with your written communication skills. So here are our five top tips on copywriting for your website, brochure and online marketing newsletter.

One. Remember it is written English and not spoken English. Spoken English has developed short cuts to allow people to communicate quickly with friends and colleagues. If you write as you speak it will look very odd on the page and potentially put off or annoy some of your readers. Please remember you are writing copy that is to be read.

Two. Remember your audience in your copywriting and that your aim is to communicate effectively. Will your copy be read by specialists who commonly use jargon or is it for a more general readership? If you are writing for a non-specialist audience stick to plain English otherwise you risk not being understood and if the reader does not understand what you are writing he or she will stop reading. Even if you are writing for a niche audience it may be wise to adopt a plain English writing style, especially if it is not your speciality. A liberal sprinkling of buzz words and jargon tends to put-off readers. Remember you are writing to communicate your ideas so write clearly. Do not try to impress by your knowledge of specialist language, impress by conveying your knowledge and ideas. Your audience is reading your copy because they want to learn and learn quickly so use your communication skills to allow them to do that.

Three. As a good copywriter you should aim at using proper punctuation. If you have never been taught it, and a lot of people have not, go and learn. But do not use it badly because again it puts off a huge number of people. Punctuation is for the written word what intonation is for the spoken word. Both help to convey your meaning. Good use of punctuation really ought to be part of your communication skills tool kit. Here are three examples where the meaning of a sentence changes depending on the punctuation.

A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Let’s eat Dad.
Let’s eat, Dad.

A man killed a lion, that attacked him with a knife.
A man killed a lion that attacked him, with a knife.

For more details on comma usage see this page by the University of Sussex: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/comma

Also, beware of an Apostrophe Catastrophe lest the Grammar Police come and get you! If you are unsure as to whether you should use an apostrophe and you are in a hurry the non-use of the apostrophe often looks better than the inappropriate use.
For a little more information on the Apostrophe see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe

Four. This tip relates to quotation marks or inverted commas. There are in fact there are two types: single quotes (‘   ') and double quotes ("   "). Generally, in Britain the single quotes were more common in the past but double quotes are now more common; American usage has always preferred double quotes. So normally use the double quotes and only use quotation marks if you are making a quote. For example: Mrs Thatcher declared “I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning!” Do not put them around individual words because it looks as though you do not actually know whether it is the right word or not, so it looks messy. If your intention is to stress a word or phrase then do so with italics.

Further useful information on quotation marks, and punctuation in general, can be found by following this link: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/informatics/punctuation/quotes/marks

Five. Lastly and perhaps most importantly proof read. Check and re-check what you have written. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar in your marketing material can wreck the image you set out to create. Charlotte and I use three tactics that help to catch errors that have managed to creep in: a) Read the copy out aloud. Hearing what you have written often highlights obvious errors; b) Put the copy aside for an hour or more and do something completely different. When you come back to check what you have written you will spot your errors. If you try proof reading immediately after you finish writing, your brain sees what it expects to be on the page and not what you actually typed; c) Give the copy to someone else to check. Often they will spot mistakes or odd meanings that you have inadvertently let slip through.

Now just as a bit of fun here is the Glove and Boots video called "Fix Your Grammar", enjoy.

For more top tips for small business visit the Tosh Lubek Channel on YouTube, where you can also leave a comment and subscribe.


The video Copywriter and Copywriting Communication Skills - 5 Top Tips for Great Copy can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/IiTozuVtNAk

Monday, 2 February 2015

BT's G.fast technology to deliver 500Mbps ultrafast broadband to most homes


While some of us are still waiting for the arrival of superfast broadband BT’s CEO, Gavin Patterson, has announced plans to introduce ultrafast broadband using G.fast technology. Patterson said The UK is ahead of its major European neighbours when it comes to broadband and we need to stay ahead as customer demands evolve. G.fast will allow us to do that by building on the investment we have made in fibre to date. It will transform the UK broadband landscape from superfast to ultrafast in the quickest possible timeframe.” 

Early tests have shown that G.fast has the potential to deliver significant speed increases from existing and new fibre street cabinets. This means the technology can be deployed more quickly than previously thought.
Two pilots will start this summer in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth, Newcastle. G.fast will help BT deliver ultrafast speeds of up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade. Deployment will start in 2016/17, subject to the pilots being successful. 
BT expects to offer initial speeds of a few hundred megabits per second to millions of homes and businesses by 2020. Speeds will then increase to around 500Mbps with plans to develop a premium service of up to 1Gbps.