Catherine admits to struggling with her CSE’s at her secondary school in Blackburn. Her favourite subjects – Home Ec and Environmental Science – got her through the school years and onto a catering course at her local Technical College. From here she built a career as a chef, working with reputable establishments like the Gatwick Hilton. She describes herself as someone who learnt practically rather than academically, a style perfectly suited to the catering industry.
One of the joys of regular networking is the opportunity to meet local food and drink businesses who might not otherwise drop onto my radar. The perfect example of this comes in the energetic and knowledgable form of Alan Terry and Rebekah Hilton at Liquid Indulgence: a Wheldrake based company who trade carefully sourced wine and spirits largely – though not exclusively – in the wholesale sector.
At a recent encounter myself and Rebekah began chatting about our regular blogging practice (check out the Liquid Indulgence blog for regular updates on events and special offers) and how, when I can, I like to drop in the odd product review for independent food businesses. This discussion led to an opportunity to try one of their favourite wine choices in exchange for an honest and open review on the blog. How could I refuse?
Brand is a term that we hear a lot as business owners. Marketing experts regularly tell us how important brand building is. As a writer I focus on the way language impacts your ability to attract paying clients. So in this context, the term brand relates to the perception created through the use of language.
Do you know what your brand stands for and how you make your ideal clients feel? Founder of Intuit and expert marketeer Scott Cook insists that it’s no longer as simple as telling people how they should feel. It is what they are telling each other that matters. In other words – show them what you do and why, and they will tell you – and each other – how that makes them feel. That is where the real truth about your brand lies.
A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.
As a relatively new business owner, ( first birthday last month – yay!) I still earn most of my contracts through face to face networking. It is time consuming and sometimes exhausting – extending my time spent ‘at work’ by at least a couple of hours either side of the day. Costs can range from a Pay As You Feel arrangement to hundreds of pounds a quarter.
It’s easy to adopt the scatter gun approach in the early days. This works for some, many successful business owners attend a number of different networking groups on a regular basis. But with some groups requiring a large joining fee and regular monthly payments this can be an expensive marketing plan. I quickly made the decision to join one group where I could invest my time in attending meetings and getting to know other members. This involved a lot of initial research to make sure that my final decision was the correct one, but once I had identified the right group for me I made a clear commitment. I still accept invitations to visit others as a guest and drop in and out of smaller, social networking groups. But I never let these get in the way of my ‘Alpha’ choice. Attending just one main group means that I can stay focused, build strong working relationships and it doesn’t eat into my time for client work.
So how do you know that you have found the right networking group?
Two days ago I committed to a blog writing challenge over at Authors Publish. It felt like a great idea at the time. One page of writing, every day, throughout August. These challenges are a little like the intellectual equivalent of running a marathon. Every time I do one I swear never again – only to find myself signing up when the next one comes along. I love writing. But life gets in the way and – even when my mind is swimming with ideas – sometimes I simply cannot find the time.
As somebody famous once stated in a Facebook meme, “The only thing worse than writing is not writing.” A general nod to the torturous journey many writers put themselves through as they strive to create a piece of work that will never be perfect, only to stop writing and find themselves struggling with the lack of self expression this brings. A short daily writing pledge can be the perfect answer; ensuring that you carve out enough time and stick to the challenge.