6 Ways You Can Improve Your Networking

10-12 Maidenhead networking

6 Ways You Can Improve Your Networking

For some people, networking comes as naturally as breathing. Sadly, most of us aren’t those people, and networking successfully is something we have to work at. Much more than rocking up somewhere to get coffee, networking is a vital part of our marketing efforts, and something we pay a lot of attention to. But if you’re not a natural networking, it can seem a little tough to work out how to change what you’re doing and get the most out of your networking efforts. So today, we have 6 easy and simple ways you can improve your networking this month and see real results. 

Have A Plan

Let’s go back to basics. Why are you going networking? What is it you’re looking for, and how will you find it? Having a strategy for networking might seem a bit rigid, but in reality it’s a vital part of success. For each event you go to, know what kind of person you want to speak to, and how you plan to find and approach them. It might be that you’re asking for introductions to a certain type of person, or you’re going to a networking group of people in only that industry. Planning out your approach will also keep you more focused when you’re in the room, leading to a better quality experience.

Prepare Your Pitch 

In many networking groups, you will be given the chance to stand up and deliver a pitch to the room. It’s usually short – anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute – which means you need to know exactly what you want to say before it’s your turn to stand up. We see too many people fumble over their words and waste their precious time, in what could be a powerful pitch session. But if you prepare your pitch in advance, you will be able to deliver it more confidently and get your point across in the way you want to. Not only that, but you can look up a specific person you want to be introduced to, and ask if anyone knows them in your pitch. Specific requests often lead to people following up on your behalf, or even knowing the person you’re asking for. It’s an incredibly powerful thing to do, so why not take advantage of it? Remember, specific is terrific!

Speak to Everyone

If you’re attending a regular networking event, it can be all too tempting to fall into speaking to the same people over and over again. And while it’s true that networking is all about building those relationships, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of forging new ones. When you go to an event, try and speak to everyone in the room, if only briefly. Getting bogged down with one or two people can mean you don’t network as freely, and you could miss a crucial introduction. So if someone new walks into the room, or even someone who you haven’t spoken with much, make a point of having a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

Arrange 1-2-1’s 

During the meeting, you don’t have much time to get to know each other. Even in our 10-12 meetings, where we give you 2 5 minute 1-2-1’s, it’s still not really enough time to build that relationship up. So it’s important to arrange to meet people outside of the time pressures of a meeting. 1-2-1’s are where the real business is done – where you can discuss the details of your products and services, and find those sparks of interest or collaboration. But so many people don’t make the time to have them. Even if you just set aside an hour after the meeting to chat with someone over a coffee, you will see your networking improve and your success increase. Honestly, we can’t advocate for 1-2-1’s enough. 

Try New Groups 

There’s nothing like a change of scenery, and that goes for networking as well as life. The sad reality is that if you just stick to one group, eventually you will reach saturation point, and you will get nothing more out of it. To really improve your networking reach, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out lots of different groups. Visit different areas, different networks and even groups who meet at different times of day. You’ll meet a lot more people that way, and widen your network even more. This extra exposure will help to grow your business, your network and your skills quicker than anything else. 

Follow Up!

And finally, don’t forget the follow up! This is the thing we wish we could shout from the rooftops at every single networking event throughout the country. Having a great conversation in the room is one thing, but translating that into business outside the room is another. Too many people assume others will follow up with them, when in reality, you’re both thinking the same thing. So many opportunities are wasted because leads aren’t followed up, emails aren’t sent, LinkedIn requests aren’t issued and phone calls aren’t made. So if you take one thing from this blog, let it be to follow up on all of your conversations in the room!

 

At 10-12, we’ve worked hard to build a culture of community, sharing and learning within our groups. That’s why we offer you 1-2-1’s in the meeting and even break out sessions to discuss business topics and exchange tips. In fact, the points above actually came out of a breakout session at our Reading meeting this month – so these are tips from our members, and ways they feel they could all improve their networking skills. If you’d like to join our community, or just see what 10-12 is like, just get in touch with us today, or book your visit here.


Royal Networking

Royal Networking – Making The Most Of Ascot

It’s that time of year! The hats and fascinators come out and the nice dresses come out of retirement to celebrate Ascot races. People flock by the thousands to visit the races and enjoy a day of sunshine, food, betting and racing. But did you know that Ascot is also a fantastic opportunity for business owners just like you? Not just as an excuse for a day out, but as a genuine opportunity to network and grow your business? In honour of the Ascot races being held this month, we have a few suggestions you can use to make the most of it this year.

 Split The Cost Of a Trip With Your Network 

Ascot tickets can be expensive, especially if you want to go on your own. But one of the things we’ve seen members doing in the past is getting together as a group and splitting the cost of the trip. If you go to a regular networking group, this can be a great way to strengthen those connections and maybe even make some new ones. Put out the invitation to your group for an Ascot or Henley races experience, and together you will be able to get better rates than all of you individually. And because it’s a social event, you will end up getting to know everyone much better, improving the chances of doing business together.

Hold An Ascot Party

If you can’t make the actual races, or just don’t fancy being around all the people, you could use the event as an opportunity to host your own Ascot themed event. Plenty of networking groups will hold their own Ascot themed parties as a way of bringing together their members in a more social setting. In fact, we’re holding one ourselves this month on the 19th. Find yourself a venue (even if it’s your own living room), play the races on a screen and serve afternoon tea. Invite your guests to dress up and bet on the races. You could use this as an opportunity to fund- raise for a local charity and invite other local business owners to join in. Holding an Ascot party is a great way to get a group of business owners in a room, enjoying themselves and the races for less expense.

Booking A Box

Of course, if you’re looking to impress some prospects and sweeten up your network, you could always book an executive box or other hospitality experience at the races. At Royal Ascot, there are a lot of options available for you to really spoil your guests. From executive boxes to a seat in the royal enclosure, fine dining experiences and club membership options, Ascot is a perfect way to treat your best customers and suppliers. As well as saying thank you and giving them a great experience, you’re also hosting your own mini-networking event, giving everyone there the chance to meet new people and expand their business. It might cost you a bit to do, but it can ultimately be worth its weight in gold if you’ve got the network to back it up.

 

At the 10-12 business club, we’re celebrating Royal Ascot this year with our very own ‘day at the races. So if you can’t make the races, why not join us for a fun packed afternoon of informal networking. We will all be dressing in our finest Ascot outfits, watching the races on a wide-screen TV and even enjoying a mini-sweepstake on the winner. We’ll also be serving afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco (because it wouldn’t be Ascot without it!). So come and join us at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club on the 19th of June at 12 pm, and enjoy an afternoon growing your business. For more information, or to book your ticket, just click here.


10-to-12-business-club presentations

Preparing A Killer Pitch

A lot of things can happen in 60 seconds:

250 babies are born around the world, 1.8 million ‘likes’ are made on Facebook and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza. But what can you do in 60 seconds?

In networking circles, you have between 40 and 60 seconds to pitch your business to a room full of potential collaborators, sales people and customers. So what you say in that pitch is really important. Which is why it kills us to see people waste their time with something thrown together at the last minute. So this month, we have a few tips to help you put together a killer pitch for your next networking event.

Actually Prepare!

We see this all too often – people will book on to networking weeks in advance, but when they turn up on the day they make up their pitch on the fly. Now, some people are very good at this – just standing up and speaking about their business in a way that both explains what they do and convinces people to talk to them, in the space of 40 seconds. But more often than not, it’s obvious that they haven’t prepared. So our first tip is simply to actually prepare! You only need spend 5 minutes thinking about what you’re going to say and putting it on paper, and the impact on your pitch will be incredible. Some of our members even prepare them in bulk – sitting down for half an hour at the beginning of each month and writing out a range of pitches, so that if they can’t write a new pitch the day before the event, they can just pull out a pre-prepared one instead.

Focus On Value 

Odds are unless you do something truly, spectacularly unique, most people in the room will at least have a vague knowledge of what you do. So instead of reeling off a laundry list of your services, focus on telling them room how you add value to your customers. What do you do that makes you better than your competitors, and keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again? This gives them all the information they need to go out into the world and sell your business on your behalf, and is a great talking point for those who want to find out even more about what you do. In a world full of commodities, everything is about added value – so what’s yours?

Tell Stories

People connect with stories. They do not connect with lists of services, followed by ‘if I can help let me know’. If you’re in a crowded room full of businesses all pitching, you want to make sure you stand out. And you can do that by telling them a story that will make them remember you. It can be a real story of how you helped a customer, your spin on something you read in the news or even a made up scenario to illustrate a point. But the human brain is designed to lap up stories, and some of the best business pitches are ones that don’t sell, but tell.

Be Specific

If you’re a member at a regular networking event, then after a while everyone is going to know what you do. So instead of just repeating yourself every time, you should alter your pitch so that you can see some benefits. Before each meeting, pick one of your current prospects. Someone you’ve been struggling to get hold of, or who you would just love the opportunity to talk to. Then ask for an introduction to that person in your pitch! It’s not always about the people in the room, but about their own networks and connections as well. Specific pitches are much more likely to result in action, and you never know who knows the person you’re looking for. Honestly, if we had a pound for every time a specific pitch had been met with ‘He’s my next door neighbour!’ we’d be rich. In fact, I attended a networking event just last week where a man asked to speak to a specific woman within an organisation by name. In response, another man in the room stood up and said ‘Yeah, I can introduce you to her. She’s my wife!’.

If you would like to get some more advice about pitching to a room, or would like to try out your new pitching skills on a lovely group of supportive women, then we can help you. Just check out our meetings schedule and come along to one that suits you, or get in touch with us today for more information.


Goal setting

The Importance Of Planning And Goal Setting In Networking

It’s January, which means it’s the time of new beginnings, resolutions and generally planning for a better 2018. But as well as deciding what you want in your personal life, and maybe even in your business life, have you looked at your networking strategy? Looking back on 2017, could you have got more out of your networking groups, or given more back in return? Many people who find networking ineffective for them only do so because they don’t have a goal, or a plan for achieving it, when they walk into a meeting. But networking is just like any other business activity – if you don’t have a plan  for it, you won’t get anywhere. In this month’s blog, we want to talk about goal setting and planning in networking

How Do You Plan For Networking?

Before you get into the detailed planning of the day. You need to set yourself a wider strategy. This involves looking at your business plan and your target market, and choosing the right events to go along to. What networks will be right for your business over the next year? Will they help you achieve your business goals, or will they just eat up your time? It may sound harsh, but time is precious, and if your networking isn’t bringing in results, then it might be time to move on. Look back over the previous year and see which groups delivered a good return on your time and monetary investment, and which didn’t. Of the ones that didn’t, did they fail because the room wasn’t right, or because you didn’t work hard enough with it? Did you neglect your follow up’s from referrals and one to ones, or maybe not send hot seaters when you were absent?

Another big part of the planning is in the preparation for each event. The day before your networking meeting, make sure you have everything you’re going to need. That’s business cards, flyers, any props or samples you might want to use or give out. Most groups will ask you to do a short presentation – around 40 seconds to a minute long. Rather than winging it on the day, prepare what you want to say in advance and write it down – even if it’s just bullet points. Also prepare a series of questions you can ask – things to break the ice and help you learn about the other people in the room. We’ve got a list of great ways to break the ice at networking events here, along with our top networking tips here. On the day, make sure you are clean, dressed properly and well groomed, so that you can make the best possible impression on the people there.

So What Are Your Goals?

Of course, it’s easy enough to say, but how do you decide on your goals for networking, and follow through on them? Our resident business coach and member of the Reading group, Jana Green, has this advice:

You cannot reach goals you don’t have. Success = having a goal.

The very first step towards any success, whether business, personal or networking, is to have a goal. People who master the art of goal setting become very successful because then they apply it continuously throughout their lives towards any activity. When you know your goal, you can work out back all the steps you need to take to achieve it. In business goal setting, focus on how much you want to make, what you want your business to look like and work out what you need to improve. There is a very good chance you need to improve your marketing, sales and money beliefs to do that.

In networking, remember that apart from the socialising, meeting new people and listening to other people’s experiences, your main goal is to find more business. Whether that is through people introducing you to connections who could help you achieve that or finding an actual client. So set yourself a goal of never leaving a networking meeting without making a step forward in your business.

You can find out more about what Jana has to say on her website

So take January as a time to look back over the last years networking and reflect. For some people, the success of networking isn’t just measured in revenue, but in partnerships built up or even in friendships. All of these outcomes are good, but only if they align with your business strategy. At 10-12, we are dedicated to bringing our members not only a chance to connect and network, but to learn and grow in a supportive, all female environment. To find out more about how we can help you grow your business in 2018, get in touch with us or book in as a visitor to one of our meetings.


5 ways to grow your business Organically

5 Ways To Grow Your Business Organically

As an entrepreneur, starting up your new business it can be incredibly exciting. But getting it off the ground can also be equally as difficult. When profits start to appear and you get used to the demands of your business, expansion could be the last thing on your mind. But while it’s important to enjoy your new found success, you may also want to look at growing your business.
When it comes to business growth, it’s important not to do too much too soon. Instead, focusing on growing your business organically will help ensure steady growth and profit, instead of making a huge and uncertain leap into paid growth and falling short. But how can you successfully grow your business organically?

Invest Some Time In Your Online Presence

In the words of Bill Gates, ‘there will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.’ We are living on the internet of things, so it’s important to make sure you’re online. People turn to the internet for all kinds of information, and you want to be there to provide it.  Even if you’re running a one-man business, it’s worth investing some time in your online presence. Get yourself a website and make sure it is optimised properly so that people can find you online easily. Use social media to regularly interact with customers, prospects and other businesses.

Network Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the things that helps many businesses stride from start-up into small and even medium sized businesses is networking. Getting your face out there, meeting local business owners and building relationships is crucial for any successful growing business. There are a lot of different options for networking out there, and the best way to find one that’s right for you is to try some out! For example, if you want a very laid back and casual approach to nurture ongoing relationships gently, you could try Business Biscotti. If you’re looking for something structured, aimed at accelerating growth quickly with structure, and are prepared to commit to an early morning weekly meeting there’s BNI. Or if you’re looking for a supportive group of women who can help you and your business grow at a pace that suits you, there are groups like 10-12 Business Club. The trick to getting networking to effectively grow your business is finding a group you like, that works for you and your business type. So try out every group you can find, then dedicate yourselves to the ones that work.

Keep An Eye On Your Cash Flow

The saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ might hold some weight, but small businesses still need to keep a close watch on their spending. Businesses will typically calculate their cash flow based on what’s left over after all of their essential expenses are paid and non-cash items are adjusted on the net income. When you start to think about business decisions from a free cash flow perspective, new growth opportunities become more apparent. But if you start to lose sight of your cash flow, you may find yourself making big capital investments with large depreciation costs that provide little long-term value, and you can get into trouble.

Build Key Relationships

Relationships are one of the most important things to any growing business, and spending some time building and nurturing them can be worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s with your suppliers or with new customers, those relationships are critical. You should also look at making connections with other businesses in the area that could grow into partnerships. So, for example, if you provide a marketing service, you might want to build some key relationships with specialist service providers, such as social media gurus, bloggers or SEO specialists. Make sure you are spending time helping the relationships you do have, and the return will be huge.

At 10-12, we are all about helping business owners connect and build their businesses together. All of our members are dedicated to not only making connections but building giving as much help and support as they can to other business owners on the road to growth. If you are interested in trying out a new networking group and joining a network of supportive, successful business owners focussed on growth, just get in touch with us today, or arrange to visit one of our groups.


evolution for women

Dreams for your future

What are your dreams for your future?

Unlike me at her age, my daughter is not really a dreamer for the future if I ask her. She is very much about the here and now and even though a part of me wants to hear her talk about her dream job (knowing that it will change), I actually like the independence that she shows in not being under pressure to talk about growing up.

As a child, one of my dreams was to work in Africa saving animals, partly influenced by watching the Diane Fossey story in Gorillas in the Mist and others like it. Back then, before the days of social media, if you wanted to help a cause, you went out and got involved, you couldn’t make a difference in the world via facebook and perhaps you still can’t. I still hold on to that dream a little, perhaps one day I might go to Africa for a time when my daughter no longer needs me quite as much and offer my services to an animal charity.

Our Dreams May Have Changed

Our dreams may have changed since we were little as our responsibilities have grown, what’s the dream that gives you the reason to get up, work hard and do what you need to do in your career or for your loved ones every day?

  • Retire early?
  • Get a better work/life balance?
  • See more of the world?
  • Spend more time with or caring for your loved ones?
  • Buy that holiday home or move abroad?

Is this just a dream or are you making the plans that you need now to help this to become a reality?

Saving for The Future

When we are in our 20’s or 30’s it can be easy to not look too far into the future while we are busy focusing on the financial demands of the here and now, juggling work and family life and the additional living costs at this time. For many, this is the reality, well into our 40’s with big mortgages and low disposable incomes. Saving for the future seems impossible. In our 50’s, some have managed to get to point when we can start seriously planning for our future though the task ahead of them to achieve that dream can seem quite daunting at that time.

Savvy Choices with Your Spending & Borrowing

Whatever stage of life you are at, savvy choices with your spending & borrowing can help you to make your dreams a reality sooner than you think. Planning for your future in other ways such as protecting your income and family, can help you to cope better with the curve balls that life may throw at you. It’s not too late to start. We want our clients to have fun, be happy and spend quality time with loved ones with the peace of mind in knowing that your finances are in order, you have a financial plan for the future and your family will be provided for during some of the more difficult life events that can happen. If you know or think you need help in all or any of these areas to make your financial future more certain, please get in touch with me or your local Evolution for Women Adviser and see how we can help you.


Our Top Networking Tips

Our Top Networking Tips

Networking can be tough, especially if you’re the new one in the group. When you first step into a room full of complete strangers, all chatting and laughing like they are old friends (which some of them are), it can feel hugely intimidating. But networking is an essential part of small and medium business life and it can do so much good for your business, your growth and you as a business owner (it can be awfully lonely otherwise). But how do you make the most of your networking time? We have a few tips for you.

Show Interest In Others 

This should be your first and golden rule, but so many people break it. There are always the boring people who talk about themselves non-stop, or their own challenges and worries. Those types of people get nowhere in networking. Yes, if someone asks you about something you should respond, but the real value comes in showing an interest in others, rather than talking about yourself and your business for the whole event. It makes people feel valued like you are listening and endears them more to you as a person.

Be Specific

If you are in an event where you can stand up and offer a 40, 50 or 60-second pitch to the room, make sure you are specific. So if you’re looking to speak to a certain company, try and find out who it is you would be dealing with and mention them by name. You should also be specific about your reasons for wanting to speak with them, and what value you would offer. This helps everyone else in the room be on the lookout for the right person and introduce you in the right way – which is more likely to result in being referred. 

Be A Giver And Help People (If You Can) 

If someone drops their business cards or a stack of paperwork, be the first to offer them help. If a newcomer is looking lost, make sure you approach them, welcome them and make them feel comfortable within the room. Be a giver within and outside the room, as that generosity will often come back to you 10-fold. Showing basic courtesy and offering help, support and guidance is likely to help cement your relationships with the people in the room, which is ultimately what leads to more business. 

Dress Well

We don’t mean you have to dress up in your Sunday best or in black tie, but just take a second to choose your outfit for networking and show that you care about what you look like. Ask yourself ‘would I like to meet me looking like that?’ It’s not just about clothes either – make sure your personal grooming is up to scratch and your body odours are under control. Reflect the personality of your business in the way you dress, creative people can get away with more informal dress code than that of a solicitor.

 Don’t Just Hand Out Cards

There is nothing worse than watching someone rush around the room, pressing their business cards into everyone’s hand and then walking right out the door again. You should only hand out your card to someone who you have had a meaningful conversation with, preferably after they have asked you for it. Simply throwing your cards at people sends out a really bad message about you, it shows you are more interested in quantity than quality.  Cards given to people you have an in-depth conversation are more likely to be used than those sprayed around a room.

Be A Good Conversation Starter

Conversations are hard to start, so make sure you have some basic ideas in your back pocket if you start to struggle. Keep up with recent news and try to find something better than ‘nice weather’ as your go to. One of our favourites is to always aim to have an interesting fact available. That way you can start a conversation with ‘I didn’t realise this, but did you know…’ This not only gives you a conversation starter but leaves the person glad to have met you. If you are really stuck then read our 4 Ways to break the ice at Networking events for some inspiration.

Listen More Than You Talk

Have you noticed that listen is an anagram of silent? When you’re talking to another person or group of people at a networking event, make sure you are listening to what they have to say. We’ve seen so many networkers who are only ever looking over the shoulder of who they are talking to rather than actually paying attention. It’s horrible to see and even worse to experience. Make sure you give the person you are talking to your full attention, button your lip and be a good listener – you will get much more respect for it!

Make a Commitment and stick to it

Structured networking events normally come with a membership of a year or less and require a commitment to attend on a weekly or monthly basis.  If you join one of these groups, make sure you clear your diary for those monthly or weekly meetings and stick to them. Your investment will be totally wasted if you just turn up occasionally, lack of attendance can show that you are not committed to growing your business, even if its because you are so busy. Groups often allow you to send a hot seat so if this is the case, get a list of “hot-seat” fellow business owners, plan your diary in advance and make sure you always show up or send a replacement.

Want to try out some of these tips for yourself? Come and join us at one of our monthly networking events, meet our members and promote your business. For more information, get in touch or book here.


Business networking 1-2-1 meetings 10to12 Business club

Unleash The Power Of Your 1-2-1 meetings

Here at 10-12, we are big fans of 1-2-1 meetings. So much so, in fact, that we include a special slot for them in our networking events, right at the end. This means that everyone has had a chance to find out who is in the room and what they do, so they can figure out if they want to talk to them further. 1-2-1’s are arguably the most powerful tool we have as networkers, but why?

Why We Have 1-2-1’s In Our Meetings

One of the things our visitors and new members always comment on is the fact that we hold 1-2-1’s within our meeting. For many networking groups it is a bit unusual, as most spend that time doing longer pitches, feature presentations or passing around slips of paper. But we prefer to dedicate time to having short 1-2-1s because it creates a stronger bond between our members and allows us to get to know each other a little better. For visitors, 1-2-1’s allow you to get 10 minutes of someone’s attention and ask them all the burning questions you thought of during their 40 seconds. For members, they help you reconnect and find out new things about your fellow members. The thing that networking is famous for (and women’s groups in particular) is creating meaningful relationships that generate business for everyone involved, and the way to really maximise the chances of that is by utilising those 1-2-1’s.

Taking It Outside

10-12 meeting 1-2-1 meetingsOf course, within the confines of our monthly networking meetings, you only really get 10 minutes to chat – 5 minutes each really. And while that’s really useful for building a foundation and understanding of someone’s business, it’s the external 1-2-1’s they lead on to that are truly powerful. You see, there’s a reason most structured networking groups encourage 1-2-1 discussions and meetings. During these external meetings you have more time, are often in a more comfortable environment and can really dig deep into meaningful conversations about you and your business. The power of 1-2-1’s isn’t really about business – it’s about getting to know someone and making a deep connection that strengthens trust and builds a rapport. All sorts of things can come out during a good 1-2-1, and many friendships have blossomed from them as well. In getting to know other business owners, you get to know who you like, who thinks in the same way as you and really come to understand how you can help each other. Without 1-2-1’s, all you would have to go by is your 40 second pitch and a few brief moments of casual networking, and not much business comes out of that. But with that added trust and bonding that only comes from a one on one meeting, you have a much more powerful tool at your disposal – a networking partner who actively wants to get you business.

10-12 Business Club Networking ReadingUltimately, everyone who comes to our networking group is there for the same reason – to build connections and do business. But expecting someone to want to do business with you and refer people they know to you when they don’t really know you themselves is a bit like expecting to be able to swim after reading a book on it. You can apply all the right techniques and still end up floundering. But by taking the time to get to know someone, showing an interest in their life and business, you can start to build up the trust that leads to fruitful business. Want to see the power of 1-2-1’s in action? Come along to one of our meetings and discover just how good 1-2-1’s are for relationship building.

 


Angry client

A Guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay!

No matter what you do for a living, there is always one thing you can count on. Difficult clients plague everyone from time to time, and they never get any easier to deal with.  With that in mind we hope our guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay, helps you make some changes in your business process. Do any of these issues with clients and invoicing sound familiar to you?:

  • Asking for much more than originally agreed but  insisting the price stays the same.
  • Discounting because they don’t agree with what they have received.
  • Constantly refusing to pay your invoices on time. Or at all!
  • Saying the invoice never arrived, they haven’t seen it!
  • Promising payment that never arrives.

It can be difficult to stay in control of the situation and ensure you don’t end up out of pocket. At a recent 10-12 Business Club meeting this was our the topic of our brainstorming session. We came up with a few ways to keep your cool and deal with difficult clients.

Get Payment Up Front

A lot of the difficulties, we discussed as business owners tended to revolve around customers not paying their bills on time, if at all. Cash flow is a really important thing to all business owners, but even more so to smaller companies or sole traders. Getting invoices paid on time is crucial to your success as a small business!

Peggy_Marco / Pixabay

If you have dealt with a client previously who has missed payment dates, the easiest way to avoid the same issue happening again is to get full payment up front. If your client makes an issue of it, simply explain that due to the issues you experienced last time you worked together, up-front payment is required to ensure payment is received, and no work will be done until this is paid.

You can of course do this with new customers who you believe will be an issue, or instigate it as a general policy if this happens a lot. If you’re not comfortable with asking for so much up front, you could split the difference. Many companies operate on a payment basis of 50% with a confirmed order and balance due on completion or delivery, which helps you and the client with cash flow.

Make sure you have sent your invoice on time and that the client has received it. This can be the biggest delay for any small business in receiving payment for work agreed.

Start Using Service Agreements

‘Scope creep’ can happen during any project, but it tends to happen most in the creative industries, or any area where something is being built.

service-contractThe client will give you an initial brief, but as you go along they start adding things until the workload is actually twice the amount you quoted for. The client of course then expects all of this extra work to be done at the quoted cost, because it’s ‘all in the same project’.

To avoid this, service agreements will become your best friend. When you get the brief for the project, put it into a basic contract and have your client sign it before work commences. You can also include a pricing structure for extra work on top of the agreed brief, based on timescale, volume, whatever you want really. Always include your payment terms and what will happen if they fail to meet them. Summarise the potential costs of non-payment and state that you will take legal action.

You can use the same basic document for every client and simply substitute the brief in each time. By doing this you have it in writing (and signed) exactly what the quote you gave covers, so any extra work can be charged accordingly. Scope creep has become significantly less of a problem for us since we started doing this!

 Develop A Thick Skin

Sometimes no matter what happens, clients can get angry. They might be frustrated that something can’t be done in the time frame, that you won’t do extra work or that you’ve said no to their unreasonable request. Whatever the reason, angry clients can get pretty nasty sometimes.

To be successful in business you need to develop a pretty thick skin to deal with unsatisfied or annoyed people, no matter what they throw at you. Try to remember not to take anything they say personally, and let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back. If you struggle with this, a support network like one of our networking group of ladies is the perfect way to get things off your chest and let people help you, reassure you and get you back on your feet.

Don’t Be Afraid To Say No!

One thing we are all terrible at is saying no to work. When you’re first starting out you never say no to anything, taking on any work you can just to get by. As you grow and establish yourself as a business you can afford to be more selective about the clients you take on (though many of us aren’t).

noThis is an important step, as many of us get an idea of the ‘red flags’ for a difficult client. If you think a prospect will become a difficult client, don’t be afraid to say no! It’s better to spend time searching for a client who will be good to work with and worth what you charge than to accept a client who will be much more work for you. Sometimes, no price is high enough and you just need to walk away. And that’s OK!

Of course there’s lots of advice out there about dealing with difficult clients, search out some excellent blogs online. If you like what you have read then we have plenty more business topics to choose from.

This is the sort of issue we discuss in our meetings, allowing members to air their concerns and business problems and get advice on how to deal with them in a supportive and confidential setting. If you’re interested in visiting one of our groups, click here to book your place. We can’t wait to see you!


treat networking like the gym

Don’t Treat Networking Like The Gym

At one of our recent meetings, a member commented on the fact that many people would book places on her free workout sessions but not turn up, often without any notice that they weren’t going to be there. This is something of a trend across the fitness world, and I have noticed similar things happen for paid, pre-booked gym classes. It’s also something that tends to happen a lot with business networking sessions. Particularly over the summer months, when the number of no-shows soars dramatically and many meetings are postponed or cancelled so everyone can enjoy their holidays. But for the rest of the year, it’s important to remember not to treat your networking like your gym membership.

Commit Regularly

gym membership

Commitment brings results

There is common saying that nothing worth doing in life is easy, which for many things is true. Getting in shape, learning a new skill or starting your own business are all great examples of worthwhile things that are in no way easy. But there are some things, like networking, that fall into the ‘easy’ category while still being incredibly valuable.
The biggest issue people find with networking is not that it’s hard, but that it requires The biggest issue people find with networking is not that it’s hard, but that it requires commitment to see results. Just like you don’t do one session in the gym and expect a six pack, you can’t expect to go to one meeting and come away with dozens of new clients right away. In order to see the long-term results, you need to commit to turning up regularly and interacting with people. If you can do that, the rewards will soon follow.

Don’t Throw In The Towel

I read a very interesting article about gym memberships in the process of researching this blog. It turns out that a staggering 80% of new gym members don’t make it past the 5th month. So even if an average individual has neglected their body for years and wants that ‘beach ready’ body, they are only willing to commit 5 months of their life to trying to get in shape before giving up. This struck a chord with me, as it’s something I often see with networking and even business ownership in general. Business owners are willing to try out networking for a few months, but if they have not seen any results in that time they give up on the whole idea. Networking, just like getting in shape, is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight. So just because you’ve been going to a meeting a week for a month and not got a single referral doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Stick with it and you will see those amazing results.

Tell Someone If You Can’t Make It

We all understand that life gets in the way, and sometimes something crops up at the last minute and ruins your plans. But no matter what the situation, it’s important to always tell the person or group that you will be unable to attend that day. You see it a lot with gym classes – you’ve booked in to a class at 7pm and you’re super excited, but by 6.30 you’re exhausted and don’t have the ‘get up and go’ that you did when you booked in that morning. After 5 or 10 minutes of pep talk, you realise you can’t get there in time anyway and just stay at home instead. Meanwhile the instructor at the class is waiting for you, irritated that she could have given your space to someone else if you’d just told her you couldn’t make it.
don't keep it a secretThe same applies for booked networking. Maybe you slept in because you had a long night, or had an emergency issue or your childcare fell through. When you realise you can’t make the meeting, whatever the reason, you should let someone in the organisation know you can’t be there. Often they will be able to find someone to hot seat for you at the last minute – so you can still have your pitch read out and reap some of the benefits of the meeting.

At 10-12 we believe in a structured networking approach combined with a more informal attitude to create the perfect networking environment. Our meetings are structured, but allow time for individual development and conversations to take place. Like all networking groups, it can take time to see results, but our members have all been extremely impressed after building strong business connections and friendships. For more information or to book your place, get in touch today.