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  1. Online training company Sharp End Training is getting ready to host an unusual world record attempt. Following on from their marathon 36 hour webinar in June - they are trying for the world record for the most languages spoken on a webinar.

    The webinar (web based meeting) is set to run on Friday 6th December 2013 starting at 10am with the target being 50 different languages spoken.

    Jonathan Senior – owner of Sharp End Training – who is coordinating the effort said “Following on from the longest webinar - we have done a few shorter test events and this seemed like a good idea to have some fun online."

    "Anyone who speaks another language (apart from english) is welcome to join us - regardless of where they are in the world"

    "The "rules" are very simple" said Jonathan "We want people to introduce themselves in english and in their own language, then to give us three tips for a more successful, peaceful or prosperous 2014. After that they are done and we move on to the next presenter"

    The event will be recorded and uploaded to recordsetters.com. If approved as a world record, participants will be able to add a special logo to their website.

    A webinar allows multiple people to meet up online and speak as if they were in the same room.

    For more details - and to sign up visit http://funkythinkers.com/languages-spoken-webinar/
  2. This article first appeared on the Sharp End Training blog

    A few people we have spoken to recently have stopped, ground to a halt, got their head and hard drive full of “stuff”. We have spoke about this before.

    All that work/life balance material/training courses/books/tapes is missing the point. There is JUST LIFE and EVERYTHING fits into it…
    If you are like us, your computer will contains a mixture of projects you are working on, personal related material – downloads of car insurance, vital documents etc etc.

    Next question what is in your head at the moment ?

    I would guess it is a mixture of work related stuff, emails to reply to – that video you need to watch and a mixture of personal – collect grandma for tea, parents evening next week, home insurance is due.

    See – it’s just life. And EVERYTHING has to fit into it…

    So what’s the logical conclusion of this ?

    Your head (and your hard drive gets full)

    How to solve – How to do the personal detox?

    Here are a few suggestions

    1. Delete ALL your emails/contents of your inbox.
    Your inbox was never designed to be a storage area. Stuff should stay in there ONLY as long as you need to do something with it. You are subconsciously carrying the contents around with you. Because you see it every day…

    2. Make sure you have downloaded/printed off valuable items
    The trend these days is an emailed serial number for software, for an insurance certificate or other valuable documents. Scrambling around looking for a vital phone number is no fun. Have a folder with essential stuff in it.

    3. Delete all those half finished projects from your hard drive
    Give it up. Take the mental step that the project is unlikely to ever be finished. Living in a building site is no fun – that is what you are virtually doing. Delete stuff – no delete a LOT of stuff – BE BRUTAL (or at the very least burn them to a CD/DVD and store it somewhere safe).

    4. Delete/drop/sell any domains you are no longer using
    This is a variation on the part finished project suggestion. Every undeveloped domain is baggage that is something that is undone in your head.

    5. Cut down the number of ways people can contact you
    If you are easily disturbed – you are saying that you put no value on your time. You because a boat – being tossed around on the seas of what other people want and when they want it.

    Is this helpful?
    I explore worklife balance and many other related topics in the second edition of my first book “Confessions of an Interim manager” which has just been published.
    [ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Confessions-interim-manager-Jonathan-Senior/dp/1482342472/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369141475&sr=8-1&keywords=confessions+of+an+interim+manager"]You can get it directly from Amazon.[/ame]
  3. So, this post was a first personal account of social business being taken perhaps too far. My sources reveal that stallholders at the event were/are hyper sensitive of anyone remotely selling (following a few bad experiences) and are hyper tuned to look for this – and press the fire alarm button and cry foul.

    But what causes this?
    We have all met the people pitching “get rich quick”, “Look younger longer” at networking events. And as a rule – we generally try to avoid them.

    (Ironically – the days of the aggressive sales person generally are numbered. The “batter the customer into a sale” people will be extinct in the not too distant future.

    Anyways – back to the main plot..
    What causes this hyper sensitivity to business?

    Maybe we are all used to spending time on “social” networks – TALKING about business, mixed in with this weekend, last weekend, next weekend that we have lost the plot.

    “I don’t like long form sales letters”

    “I don’t like videos that auto start”

    “I don’t like squeeze pages”

    Each of these statements is enough to start the same futile argument and well rehearsed discussion in a linkedin group, a forum etc etc.

    (These guys are in business – they just don’t like marketing and they are thinking like a customer instead of a business owner).

    Tesco’s don’t have long form sales letters, squeeze pages etc and they are a business so I can give them miss also.

    This misses the point completely – tesco’s and the like (and I include large exhibitors at trade fairs in this too – banks – universities etc in this definition. can afford extensive “awareness” advertising campaigns and to spend vast amounts of money on establishing a “presence.”

    They aren’t so reliant on networking as a way to generate business.

    What about you – Do you have to resort to SELLING or do you have a networking that works for you, helps you, supports you?

    (This article first appeared on the networking university blog)
  4. So, it’s back to work.

    A week and a half of sitting on the sofa and eating chocolates, watching repeats of Jason and the Argonauts is now over.

    Catching up online it seemed my LinkedIn inbox was full of “Happy New Year” messages.

    I deleted all of them in under a minute

    Why?

    LinkedIn gives you the power to send a message to a collection or people who have a common group, which is fine but then it goes downhill.

    “Hi/Jonathan/trusted friend/valued colleague or some other cheesy greeting, I’m just writing to say a Happy New Year and remind you of my New years gift to you.”

    The “gift” is not really a “gift” at all. The “gift” was a link to a squeeze page where I could hand over my email address.

    A gift is when you give something to someone – Just for the sake of it. With no expectation of your generosity being returned.

    See this definition from dictionary.com

    something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

    There is no value at all in this message, just a desperate request for some traffic and sign ups.

    I was half tempted to click the ‘report SPAM’ button on my LinkedIn control panel but thought better of it.

    Standard rules of networking apply – Give before you ask.

    Or to put it even more bluntly I don’t know you or care about you – I don’t know/care or want to hear about your ebook so show me something of value, i might want.

    So message, if you are going to waste my time – at least show me some value BEFORE you ask for my email.
    This short article was posted on the Networking University Blog
  5. All the networking gurus say - "for visibility join a committee", "be a servant leader","volunteer for positions where you will be visible". Is this really the 'holy grail' of networking? If you stand as a committee member will people come flooding to your door to buy your service?

    The answer is no and here's why.

    Firstly it is unpaid - and as we have discussed before, Everything have a cost this includes TIME!.

    Your time is actually priceless because you can't buy it. You can buy other people's time (by employing them) but everyday you are effectively giving away your time. If you are OK with that that's fine.

    Secondly (and this is possible worse than the first point) you are probably using your skill (whatever it may be) within the committee for free. YIPPEE!!!

    Thirdly by being on a committee people tent to award you. 'Authority,power' This is the equivalent of putting on a yellow 'visibility jacket'. People assume that you are in charge (even if it's your first night on the committee) and they immediately look to you for answers to all manner of questions - and if you don't know the answers - people think less of you.

    Fourthly, you spend your time organising other people's activities. If you are on a social committee,that's great, but let's remember why you are there. Social activities are not the easiest things to organise and if they fail to impress, who is likely to get the blame - the organising committee of course!

    Fifthly,you may find yourself involved with professional meeting go-ers. If your group gets involved with the local council campaign group or anyone who is paid to be at the meeting, START TO WORRY.

    Why? It is in their vested interest to be AT the meeting rather than being there to help get things done. These are very subtly slightly different things..

    Think about it - put yourself in the shoes of a paid professional official. Would you rush something through and risk getting it wrong (and therefore get the blame) or suggest another meeting "to discuss a few details" (which you will get paid for anyway)?

    This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be unhelpful to people who sit on committees or are in leadership positions. You really should always lend a hand, stack a few chairs, (if you can). hand out leaflets and badges etc. just remember why YOU decided to network in the first place.

    This article originally appeared on the Networking University blog.
  6. There is lots of chatter and possibly confusion about which networking events are best - free or paid events. Here are some of the pros and cons of each.

    Free events - We refer to events that are free to attend - No membership is required, no ritual chanting etc. (Maybe you have to pay a small amount for food or drink).

    At free events, price isn't a barrier to entry - so there is likely to be a much wider range of attendees. And because of this, there is likely to be less "emotional attachment" and a higher turnover of attendees. Reason - people have "little to lose" - They paid nothing and they expect nothing (or little) in return. This is because being free, people will always have something else to do. Free always drops to the bottom of the priority pile - that's human nature.

    These events are likely to be open/social networking and the organiser will have little incentive to push the boat out to organise structured events.

    I am a firm believer that there is a cost associated with everything and free always costs money because it costs time.

    Travel time, time at the event, time speaking to the wrong people etc.

    Possibly the best piece of advice for these events - instead of just turning "hoping" to meet someone interesting is to arrange to meet someone at the event. Maybe an online contact you want to speak to.

    Let's look now at paid events. One thing I am very clear on is that going to paid events is no guarantee of meeting quality people. The only thing guaranteed about going to paid events is that you will meet people who can afford the entry fee.

    That's it. Nothing more. There is no guarantee that they will talk to you, be interested in you etc.

    One major difference though is that people will attend more regularly - because they have paid. Again, people are hard wired to think this way.

    All this is a long way round to come to a short and simple conclusion - Everything - even free - has a cost and paying to go to events is no guarantee of meeting the right people.

    This short article originally appeared on the Networking University blog. The Networking University is brought to you by Sharp End Training.
  7. At this time of year with the Christmas party season almost upon us, many small business owners can take their eyes off the ball. Shutting up shop until January is a VERY risky thing to do. (January is a LONG way off).

    It's helpful to focus on strategy at this time of year. (What my old boss used to call “Head down – bum up” – It may sound rude but I think he meant that you just get on with it with no distractions).

    BUT strategy by yourself is not fun so this is what we were thinking.

    For a nominal charge – we would arrange the online meeting platform and facilitate the discussion – so we all work on each others strategy. A kind of mutual self help group.

    Or put another way – you know how most New Year’s resolutions don’t work – Think of this as five other people asking awkward questions of you and probing to help you succeed. If you just do the same for them…

    We would meet twice before christmas to get up to speed with what we are all doing and then again weekly after the holidays to make sure we do what we said we would.

    After all – The best way to actually do something is to tell someone you are going to. If you fail to do the task – you have to tell someone – and that brings it’s own motivation.

    There is no pressure to reveal the inner workings of your business – (but we will be able to help you more if you do..)

    The meetings aren’t there to make you look silly (trust us – we have done all the silly things you could possibly imagine…) and it doesn’t matter what your industry is – quite often – you will get the biggest insights from someone OUTSIDE your industry.

    To build trust – we would keep groups small (five/six participants) and the price will go up every time we fill a group.

    So – starting out at just £19.99 a month (this is for TWO meetings before Christmas and then weekly in 2013) – we can host FIVE other people working ON your business – If you will just do the same for them.

    (We will sort time zones, meeting times and everything else out when we have the numbers). Leave at ANY time if it doesn’t work for you and obviously NO GUARANTEE of success. YOU are responsible for YOUR actions.

    More details and sign up
  8. Networking with the group leader, owner or manager can be a very useful way to accelerate your network. After all, the networking leader will know most if not all of the delegates and can probably introduce you to anyone you need an introduction to.

    However, you need to tread cautiously if you are looking to leverage these useful contacts and add them to your network. After all organising and running a successful experience is a stressful experience and people pestering are likely to get a short answer.

    So here are a few suggestions.

    Arrive early and help out. The host or owner is likely to appreciate some help. Handing out the coffee/tea or name badges is a small price to pay for a little extended chit-chat.
    Be sure to avoid direct pointed questions – you may come over as pushy. If you want to speak to Richard, the landscape gardener, asking “Who is the best landscape gardener?” is much preferable to asking “I need an introduction to Richard. Please help”

    Next, as people start to arrive, back off, slipping back into the pack for the duration of the event. (Failing to do this will probably get you labelled a “glory seeker” – someone who wants to limelight without necessarily doing all the work).

    Keep an eye on the organiser through out the event. Not a staring eye, just the kind of eye you would keep on a child out playing by themselves. Be on hand to help with a bit of lifting or carrying (if you are able) or helping newcomers find their feet.

    Your next chance for an “in” is to leave late. (You should be doing this anyway). Obviously this is because the organiser will be one of the last to leave.

    At the end of any event, be it a football match, a networking event or a school disco even, the organiser or main participants will always “flop.” That is to mentally unwind by verbally summing up the events – to relieve the tension.

    If appropriate, offer to buy them a drink at the bar. Remember, avoid the hard sell or direct questions.

    Be a nice guy (or gal) and you will easily be able to tap into the network owners inner circle.

    This short article originally appeared on the Networking University blog
  9. Our always popular virtual speed networking returns on 4th December with a special session just for VA's, Virtual Assistants, PA's and any virtual worker.

    The format is very simple - Instead of being muted and listening to someone talking AT you. At these sessions you can join in. Put your "hand up" (virtually of course) and ask to speak. We will un mute you and you can introduce yourself, your business and who you are looking to connect with. We can call up your Linkedin profile, twitter or anything you want us to look at.

    This means - Hey presto - Instant connections. (Of course if you want to stick to random linkedin connections from a spreadsheet of "open networkers" that's fine - feel free).

    This time, we have a guest co-host. Dortha Hise from our latest venture VACOLLABORATION will be on the line to move the discussion along, get to know everyone and tell you how VA Collaboration can help YOUR business. This event is FREE and you must register in advance at www.tuesdayswebinar.com
  10. So there are approx 768,343 networking gurus, consultants, coaches etc who will spend time giving you a good telling off, looking down their noses at you and generally being smug if your business card doesn't come up to scratch.

    Designing a business card is an art and if you don't have a background in design or marketing, the temptation to follow the herd and be generic is crushing. Ditto if you are a startup or have limited funds.

    One thing about the design of a business card which almost everyone misses is that you have a chance to ask the person who receives it to do something.

    Putting Joe Bloggs Accountant Phone 123456 is pretty lame and obviously doomed to attract zero business.

    The first step up is asking someone to visit a website.

    "Visit our website for free tax advice downloads" is a step up from just name and number.

    What else to write on a business card?

    In the second decade of the 21st Century, there are multiple ways to contact people. Do you have your own preferred methods?

    Which do your customers and visitors use or prefer?

    Listing your skype id is all well and good but of limited use if you are speaking to people who work on building sites all day or are out of connection (off the grid...)

    If you work internationally - put the international direct dial code for your country. If you put this on - will it put OFF people who just don't plain understand it?

    So lot's to think about and in the next few days and weeks, we will be featuring a series where we focus on each "candidate" for inclusion on your business card and the pros and cons of including each.

    This short article originally appeared on the networking university. The online dedicated online resource to turn you into a supreme networker
  11. If you are a new manager, conducting job interviews can be almost as stressful for you as for the candidates. What can make it even more nerve wracking is the HR/Personnel people hanging around. Experience tells us they are likely to do one of two things.

    Firstly, they may leave you to it.Showing little interest in the process and just showing up at the interview as a token gesture.

    Secondly, They will insist that everything in the process is done 100% by the book and be a general stickler for the rules.

    Both can be annoying for the manager carrying out a recruitment exercise and this "shadow" will probably cast a shadow over how the interviews are carried out. For a rookie manager, this can be intimidating.

    So the question is, how formal to make your interviews?

    Well, remember, if you are the manager in charge, the successful candidates will be working for YOU. They answer to you.

    You are the boss. Setting the wrong tone at interview can mean candidates get totally the wrong impression for your organisation or team.

    Too informal and they will leave the interview thinking the place is a holiday camp - too strict and you will scare people off.

    I suggest making the interview slightly more formal than the atmosphere in your workplace. Doing this means you remain authoritative and in control.

    As for the guys in the HR/Personnel department, they need to be politely told that it is YOU who run the department.

    This short article originally appeared on the Sharp End Training blog. They are authors of the rookie manager series - training for new managers, supervisors and team leaders.
  12. Almost all networking training tells you how to start a conversation. I even wrote a post about it. But how to END a conversation at a networking event.

    Why would you want to do this ?
    Well it's probably the rudest thing you could possibly do - look over someones shoulder and/or around the room to see if these is someone more interesting to talk to.

    So, here are a few ways to end a conversation (NOT all of these are serious).

    "Please excuse me, I need to go to the ladies/gents"
    "Shall I get us both another drink?" (Don't wait for the answer - just head to the bar).
    "Please excuse me, my friend has just arrived and he/she is new to this group. Can I just go to see if they are OK?"(Note, this assumes you have some friends).
    "Sorry, this conversation is boring. Goodbye" (To be used only in emergencies).
    "Sorry a nice girl/guy has just come in and need to go and be all macho/giggly now"
    "Ok thanks for that, I will give you a ring. I am sure we both need to speak to other people"
    "You are the weakest link. Goodbye"
    Get your phone out and start fiddling with it. (95% of people do this anyway) and pretend you have a call to take.
    (Reading from delegate list)"Do you know Mr Accountant-Jones? I must introduce you"
    "Your business card is boring. Mine is much better"

    Do YOU use any of these?

    This short post was brought to you by the networking university from Sharp End Training.
  13. So thinking about the FIRST things you say to someone.

    Often, these can set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
    Some people I have come across are a “Robbie the Robot” type conversationalists. (Or Robina if you prefer).

    Here is an example.
    You – “Hello – How are you doing”
    Robbie – “Hello I am Robbie, I am a Financial Advisor*”
    You – “OK”
    Robbie – “Do you know any financial advisors? It’s a very interesting occupation.”
    You – “No and is it really?”
    Robbie – “Yes – Here are 101 fascinating facts….”

    And that’s about as far as the conversation goes. It’s almost like Robbie has one fixed record in his repertoire and he plays it.

    After that conversation will tend to dry up. Until you observe Robbie talking to someone else – playing the same record.

    So – if you want to talk to Robbie (not sure why you would given what I have said already) – here are some conversation starters to get you going.

    How did you find out about this group?
    Have you been here before ? How many times?
    Where else do you go compared to this location?
    How do you know [INSERT NAME OF GROUP LEADER]?
    Who would you like to talk to ?
    a)In this group?
    b)Overall
    Who is a good lead for you?
    Do you hang out online ? If so where? Forums, blogs etc
    Do you go to any industry specific networking? How does that compare to this ?
    How long does it take you to get here?
    How did you get here? Where did you park?
    Have you got a busy day ahead?/Have you have a busy day today?

    And if you can’t jump Robbie the Robot networker out of his groove then you really do need to go and listen to his record a few more times.

    *Other professions do this as well as Financial advisors

    This short article was first published on the Networking University blog. You can read more of Jonathan's thoughts on his Head of Training blog
  14. So I have had a facebook problem (well not so much a problem, more a dilemma). Firstly, I should acknowledge that facebook has never pretended to be a business networking platform - for them it's about friends.

    And there is the problem. Like most people I am friends with sisters and brothers in law, cousins and other extended family. This is all fine and at times of family events, births etc photos get shared and that's great.

    It becomes a problem when work and family get mixed. People I have worked with and for have "added me."

    They expect me to "talk shop." (Business). Links are dropped in my timeline, promos etc. I have some difficulty doing the reverse. Exposing family to work stuff on facebook is like passing round business cards at a family birthday party.

    The solution, and I am probably slow at this, is that I am slowly but surely removing all work contacts on facebook.

    I have adopted a simple rule. If I would be happy for you to be round my house while I am shouting at my kids - you can be my friend on facebook.

    For everyone else, there is twitter and linkedin.

    This short blog post was written by Jonathan Senior - Head of Training. Jonathan is the CEO of Sharp End Training
  15. Firstly, what does LION stand for?

    LION stands for LINKEDIN OPEN NETWORKER.

    What does this mean?

    In theory it means that you are open to all connections – just as you would if you talked to people in the street. In practice it means that you accept any and all connection requests without clicking the “I don’t know” or “Spam” buttons.

    Large numbers of groups have sprung up where you can add connections.
    But which are worth joining?

    From my experience, none.

    If you look down the thread of conversation on a typical group, it will consist of 85-95% “add me” messages and 5-15% link dropping and little actual networking.

    If you want to be connected to recruiters (nothing against that) and other people who hang out in lion groups, fine – Join as many as you can.

    Beware though that uploading a list of email addresses to your account via your import function is a good way to get the Linkedin cops to look closely at your account. It is also a good way to burn out your invite limit (currently 2,000?) before you have to contact support to get it reset.

    Jumping over to the other side of the coin

    What about RECEIVING LION requests via a group or from a spreadsheet?

    Firstly, a couple of our team plainly ignore connection requests using just the canned messages that Linkedin provide. The reason is that if you can’t provide a reason to connect – why bother?

    So I tried an experiment
    Every request I received, I sent a manual reply back saying
    “Thanks for the connection, how can we help each other?”

    Out of a weeks worth of connection requests (probably around a 100), I received less than 10, no less than 5 replies.

    Was it worth it – My LION GROUP experiment?
    No

    Waste of time?
    Maybe – sure I got a few canned “Here is my gift for you as a thanks for connecting” (Patronising or what…)

    But no, I will be keeping out of LION GROUPS for a while now.

    This article first appeared on the networking university blog. You can see more of Jonathan's thoughts on his Head of Training blog