Working in August

August can be a strange time to be at work, offices can be rather empty as people take turns to have their family holidays and children may be more evident in and around the work place, providing a different focus.

Train commuters may have to suffer the noise of the family day-out procession, buggies and all, accompanied with children’s squeals and of course reduced seating. But the up shot can be the roads are generally a little quieter during the commute hours – which can be a very welcomed bonus.

In some European cities it is quite acceptable for August to be seen as a time to slow right down, work from home or just take the whole month off for a needed holiday.

However August can be a great time to find thinking space, make time for those work projects that aren’t time critical but require your careful thought, design and planning.

I have decided I like working in August; there is an unspoken relaxed acceptance from clients and myself that we are in August and that defines a more relaxed pace, which I enjoy and seems to befit this holiday month. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about my work but rather I find I welcome the change in tempo, attitude and savour it.

Introducing the Microsite - a smart solution

Introducing the Microsite – a mini website that can deliver a big punch.

“I have often wondered why very rich delicious chocolate fudge cake is sold in such large unmanageable slices, when I only want a small slice for half the price!”

Why small can be pleasing, beautiful and extremely effective.

Lots of pages of text hosted on the Internet aren’t the only answers to having a positive on-line presence. There has been a drive in asking businesses to write and produce multiple pages of information to create their business websites. The task of thinking about what to say and writing it can be both daunting, time consuming and costly.

What we actually want potential customers to be able to do is learn a little more about our business, and then get in contact with us so we can sell / tell them more.

Trying to engage with potential customers and nudge them into an action is definitely helped by having an on-line presence, and it is an expectation and an essential vital marketing tool. We know people browse the internet all day searching for help and answers and we you want to provide a solution to their problem.

But if your business budget is limited, and you don’t have lots to say, why not consider a Microsite.

We have recently been asked to create Microsites that can be used to target specific areas of a business. But for a small business a Microsite can offer an excellent way to be on-line, look professional and at the fraction of the cost.

A thoughtfully designed Microsite can be like viewing an attractive flyer that is hosted on the Internet for all to see, containing contact information and important business details; it might be all you need.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch.

Is technology making our lives easier?

A series of conversations over the weekend has made me think more about technology and how we use it in our lives.

One conversation was about smart phone apps, and if you could invent an app what would you like it to do.

I thought about this idea for a while and decided I would quite like to be to recommended what I should cook for supper each evening. An app that could give me healthy quick ideas, based on my preferences of food likes. Often I am tired at the end of a working day and realize the fridge and cupboards are bare and I now need to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to shop and cook for the family and be imaginative.

Hungry sons await me and their welcoming sentence as the front door closes is “What time is supper!”.

Actually the ideal app would shop, cook and wash-up but I think that is called a robot – and I may have to wait a good few years for that technological development!

Another conversation this weekend over supper with a girlfriend, caught my attention, as we lurched from one subject to another, catching up on six weeks of news, stories and anecdotes. Her story about choosing a clairvoyant for some readings with a group of friends intrigued me. I wanted to know how my friend had chosen this particular clairvoyant. “I went on-line” she replied.

“But how did you know if they were any good?”

This was actually a crucial question as it turned out, the clairvoyant was far from good, and actually it would appear a fraud. However the reason for being chosen in the first place was due to the excellent on-line ratings.

But after four consecutive readings one afternoon, none revealing any past or future references to validate the clairvoyance’s talent, and all being told that in September they would be self-employed, even as one hobbled in using a walking stick and was clearly over 70, my friend and her girlfriends decided they had been duped. And on checking the website and re-reading the ratings again noticed all contained similar spelling mistakes, which led them to believe perhaps they weren’t all original and from different independent sources!

Indeed technology can make our lives easier but it isn’t always what it seems. 

Getting the attention you deserve

An opening statement on Thought for the Day on Radio 4 this morning made me smile.

It went like this.. “On a recent train journey I realised I was in a minority as I was the only person not on my mobile phone because I don’t have one!”

I smiled because I thought how simple life was, but equally frustrating at times too. Only recently friends and I recalled sitting by a phone waiting for ‘that phone call’ and forbidding housemates to use the phone in case they made the line busy at a crucial time meaning the call was delayed!

The one phone at boarding school serviced over 100 pupils in our house, with parents from all over the world trying to reach their children. The phone handset would often been seen dangling from its cord as the helpful person who answered the call had to now locate the child in the labyrinth of rooms and floors that housed everyone. A parent could be left dangling for up to ten minutes, waiting in anticipation to speak to their child. I spoke to my parents a few times a term, hard to imagine in today’s world.

In our search for immediate gratification, society appears to thrive from the increased use of social media but this can be challenging too. It can help feed our constant need for reassurance and immediate response otherwise we may wither. But it can make you wonder what you have to say about yourself or really talk about?

Do we join the conversation or do we risk getting left behind?

Are we sharing, caring or are we boasting?

Can a business that doesn't use social media be successful?

Is a business that excels at social media a good business?

If we see social media as an opportunity to communicate we then have to ask ourselves, what is the value of what we are saying? Does it inform, offer comfort, make others smile or just demand attention.

My favourite posts are those that make me smile and laugh, so if you are able to create those moments I would definitely LIKE you!

To B or not 2B

What is the perceived value of network meetings?

These popular formal or informal meetings of potentially like-minded business people in a room over a breakfast, lunch or coffee are certainly a growing trend, with a large selection to choose from that could keep you out of the office most of the week, if that suited you.

My most recent invitation provoked me to think about this question, as my stomach lurched after I had parked and started my walk towards the venue.

I knew I was going to know no one, but that is the point, isn’t it? You catapult yourself into a room of badged people and introduce yourself, smile and scan their badge for an indication of their business sector, possible value or interest.

Or do you search out someone who you think will just be good company?

It turns out I am not alone in my feelings about entering a room for a business network meeting – I asked others if they felt the same. I inwardly say to myself, I hope it’s going to be worth it, but I do have a measure – I need to take one thing away with me that I have learnt, enjoyed or maybe just potential blog fodder to ensure my time felt worthwhile; recently I managed to achieve all three.

Every year I remind myself that it is essential to step outside of our perceived comfort zone on a regular basis, less we become entrenched in our familiar ways, which neither challenges nor offers us new opportunities. This philosophical approach of course applies to life in general not just work.  It’s a bit like the health advice you read, you feel you know it all but doing it is another thing entirely. At times I feel I could write a bestseller book on ‘ how to eat yourself healthy!” but it hasn’t stopped me reaching for the crisps or chocolate on a regular basis!

What about networking and marketing yourself and business? What do you want from an event, what is your goal? I have mentioned mine, I am always looking for fodder to regurgitate, use and learn from, interesting business links are a bonus but not necessarily an expectation.

The business card has caused me some interest recently, an essential business tool that can be a vital reference point after the initial meeting.

I have met five people in the last week and this is what I received: two business cards with hand-written changes and stickers overlaying old information. One badly made and designed business card for a business that apparently offers business consultancy – I will say no more. And two people who had no business card, as they had been with the business two weeks and these hadn’t been organised yet – both of these people were also business consultants.

Perhaps I attract the unusual and out-of-the ordinary when I attend meetings or B2B events or just maybe no one else thinks it matters. I on the other hand like a business card, I look at the presented information, graphic design layout then check out the business website, social media links, as part of my active research.

One regular B2B attendee was known to review all meetings, possible leads and new business potential over a year, this was done by measuring social media engagements and potential new gained business. This analysis done, network meetings that were deemed unfruitful were no longer attended. Other B2B regulars were apparently critical of this pragmatic approach and were noted as thinking and saying this wasn’t the done thing. However as few meetings offer delectable food, the quality of the event has to be measured in pure business terms of value, and your time has a definitive value and the event costs, you do need to know what the gain has to be to ensure it is deemed worthwhile.

I am aware networking is a vital part of the business world so it is important that you find an event or medium that suits your business, work schedule and needs. After that decide what you want from the opportunity and go for it!

Our advice would be, never under estimate the value of a good business card.

Page 1 of 3