Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can you make networking really simple?

'Networking made Simple' is the title of a blog posted yesterday by Andy Lopata. In it Andy wrote;

"Think of networking groups as a way of meeting people who can help you achieve your goals. Now you should ask yourself:

- What am I trying to achieve?
- How can other people help me?
- Who is best placed to help me?
- What do they need to know and do?

This is good advice and they are indeed great questions to help you clarify whether a networking group could be right for you and your business. I would add one more question:

- Who do they need to know?

Just joining the group, though, will not be enough. You have to be proactive!

The way that networking in such a group will work for you is by helping those people achieve their goals. To make sure it will work for you there are a few more questions you should ask yourself:

- Do I like the people in the group?
- Are they people that could add value to my existing client & trusted relationships?
- Am I able to give the group meetings priority over other things in my schedule?
- Am I willing to invest time outside the group meetings to really get to know them and build profitable relationships?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is networking a bit woolly?

In a workshop before a recent Networking Lunch a conversation took place between a couple of the attendees. Let's call them A and B.

A said "I am not really sure about this networking stuff".

B replied "It's about getting to know, like and trust people. You build relationships and as you help and refer others then others do the same for you".

A then said "That all sounds a bit woolly to me. I prefer things I can predict my cash flow with".

I described how I have a number of regular meetings with people in my network where we share an agreed number of referrals so we can predict cash flow. These are people for whom networking is not woolly, but a proven and reliable method of business development. We have invested time in building relationships and are happy to share our contacts with each other openly so as to maximise our referral opportunities.

Last week Sarah Owen of the Referral Institute presented a Networking Masterclass before the NRG Charing Cross networking lunch in London. One of the things she want through was their VCP Process™. This stands for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability*. People can believe the activity of attending networking events is enough. It is not as that can only really build your Visibility. Good networking groups provide the environment for you to build on this and create profitable relationships with people you know and others you want to know.

One of the elements of their Referrals for Life Programme is the Referral Pipeline where you get to spend a day with a trusted contact and execute a process that will efficiently generate enough referrals to completely fill up your sales pipeline!

Networking is only woolly if you are!

*VCP Process™ copyright Referral Institute 2010, all rights reserved.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 5: Ethics and Information Security

1. Explain the ethical issues surrounding information technology.

The ethical issues surrounding information technology include:
  • Intellectual property: the collection of rights that protect creative and intellectual effort. An organisation must protect the knowledge it forms and maintain trade secrets.
  • Copyright: the exclusive right to do do certain acts with intangible property, e.g. the use of unlicensed software.
  • Fair use doctrine: the circumstances in which a business is able to use copyrighted material.
  • Pirated software: the unauthorised use of software.
  • Counterfeit software: software that is manufactured to look like the real thing and is sold as such.
2. Describe the relationship between an 'email privacy policy' and an 'internet use policy'.

An email privacy policy guides the use if a business's email system by employees and establishes the privacy they have over their emails.

An internet use policy is a more general document which outlines the acceptable use of the internet by employees (e.g. banned sites).

These policies govern the way in which an employee uses a business's IT systems.

3. Summarise the five steps to creating an information security plan.

The five steps to creating an information security plan are:
  1. Develop IT security policies.
  2. Communicate policies with staff.
  3. Identify crucial assets at risk., e
  4. Test and re-evaluate risks.
  5. Obtain stakeholder support.
4. What do the terms; authentication and authorisation mean, how do they differ, provide some examples of each term.

Authentication refers to the means by which an employee is given access t0 a system; it may be something the user is (e.g. a fingerprint or retina scan, face recognition), something the user has (e.g. a smart card, token) and something the user knows (e.g. password).

Authorisation refers to the information an employee is permitted to access once they have gained authentication to use a system.

5. What are the five main types of security risks? Suggest one method to prevent the severity of risk.

  1. Human error: such as severity can be minimised by proper training of employees.
  2. Technical failure: severity can be minimised by having backup infrastructure ready to go.
  3. Natural disaster: severity can be minimised by a disaster recovery plan, e.g. a hot site.
  4. Deliberate acts (e.g. virus, spam, malware): severity can be minimised by virus protection software.
  5. Management failure: severity can be minimised by having high procedural standards and an effective backup policy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Networking and the 4 Ps of Marketing

In a presentation last week from Gill Hunt of Skillfair I was reminded of the 4 Ps of Marketing - product, price, placement, promotion. In traditional marketing these are taught as the four elements essential to get right in any marketing. The world has changed with the Internet, but they can provide a useful checklist to help in our networking.

Promotion is often the initial driver for a business owner or professional to start 'formal networking'. This can lead to too much emphasis initially on trying to sell to the people you meet. You quickly learn that networking is about building relationships with others in similar markets to you - your 'Inner Network'. The best way to get your network to promote or advocate you is to get in the habit of advocating them first.

The other 3 Ps are useful in working out where to network and who with. Where to find the people who will become part of your Inner Network. If your product is providing a solution to a business problem then you can work out the places you should be networking. It is in those groups where the other members provide similar value (price) services to yours. They should be working regularly with the types of businesses you work with.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 4: eBusiness

1. What is an IP address? What is its main function?

An IP address is the way in which computers communicate with one another, through the assignment of a unique number to every computer in the world.

2. What is Web 2.0, how does it differ from 1.0?

Web 2.0 is the current stage of the internet's development as a 'read/write' web. It is characterised by technologies such as social networking, wikis, blogs and RSS. It differs from Web 1.0 (characterised by the one-way publishing of information by a webmaster) in that the user is more involved in the creation of content.

3. What is Web 3.0?

Web 3.0 refers to the transformation of the internet into a database through the use of metadata. It is considered the evolutionary path to artificial intelligence.

4. Describe the different methods an organisation can use to access information.

The different methods an organisation can use to access information include:
  • Intranet: is best described as a 'private section' of the internet used by companies internally, featuring components such as collaboration tools.
  • Extranet: similar to an intranet, however the scope is extended to include other parties such as fellow firms, strategic partners and suppliers. It also for easier sharing of data between businesses.
  • Portal: is a website that combines many systems on the one page, for example, a university website which has links to email, academic information and so on. Each session should be tailored to the needs of the user accessing the portal.
5. What is eBusiness, how does it differ from eCommerce?

eBusiness is a broad term that refers to all electronic business (including eCommerce, marketing etc), whilst eCommerce is the more specific function of buying and selling products on the internet.

6. List and describe the various eBusiness models.

The various eBusiness models are:
  • B2B (business to business): businesses buying and selling to each other over the internet.
  • B2C (business to consumer): a business selling its products or services to consumers over the internet.
  • C2C (consumer to consumer): applies to sites, such as eBay, that allow consumers to sell goods and services to one another over the internet.
  • C2B (consumer to business): a consumer that sells a product or service to business over the internet.
7. List 3 metrics you would use if you were hired to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of an eBusiness website.

The three metrics I would use to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of an eBusiness website include:
  1. The number of page views, indicating popularity of site.
  2. The type of visitors, e.g. unidentified, unique, session, tracked or identified.
  3. The number of abandoned shopping carts, indicating the quality of the shopping experience.
8. Outline 2 opportunities and 2 challenges faced by companies doing business online.

Two opportunities of doing business online are:
  1. Accessibility: eBusiness allows a business to operate around the clock, 24/7 for 365 days a year, on a global scale.
  2. Increase customer loyalty: eBusiness offers additional channels for contacting, responding to and accessing customers, increasing customer loyalty.
Two challenges of doing business online are:
  1. Disintermediation: the removal of intermediaries in a business's supply change may discourage other businesses from stocking its products, for example, a surf wear brand would be reluctant to sell directly to the consumer online as they rely heavily on a strong network of surf-wear retailers.
  2. Protecting customer's security: customers must be protected from online threats such as spam, illegal or harmful goods, invasion of privacy and fraud.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Using online to get offline

At a networking lunch last week someone asked about how you get to meet up offline with some of the people you connect with online. Networking online & offline are about about building relationships. You can strengthen existing connections online and make good new connections. Build relationships by contributing to online conversations and sharing your knowledge and connections. At some point you will probably need to meet up to really build trust. You may not be quite ready to meet One2One so consider inviting them along to a networking group you belong to.

Last week I attended an Event on 'How real time web is facilitating offline interactivity'. One of the speakers Meetup Founder, Scott Heiferman, was talking about the importance of meeting offline and said Meetup itself was all about:

"Using the Internet to get off the Internet!"

A pretty good approach to keep in mind with your online networking.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 10 top networking tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks

offline business networking | business networking events

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to decide where to spend time online networking

At a couple of meetings last week people asked me which online networks they should use. People tend to read the buzz about Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc & assume they need to be on them all. They can often feel daunted at the prospect of somehow incorporating all these into their networking.

I replied that the approach to networking is the same as offline. It is all about building relationships where people get to know, like and trust you. The important consideration for business networking is that the people you build those relationships with are in a position to refer you in the course of their everyday experiences. You should be networking online and offline in the networks where those people are members.

As I wrote in 10 top networking tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks:

"Business Networking is about finding other business people who operate in similar markets to you. Then helping them and building relationships to earn that trust so don’t expect instant results. Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. Take the time to develop relationships and create a network. Don’t expect to walk into a room of strangers or simply post a profile online and come away with business – it just doesn’t work like that!"

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week 3: Strategic Decision Making

1. Define TPS & DSS, and explain how an organisation can use these systems to make decisions and gain competitive advantages.

A transaction processing process (TPS) is a system that serves a business on an operational level by recording each and every transaction within a business. There is a trend for TPS to move online.

A decision support system (DSS) is a system that allows managers to make decisions based on data through the creation of models. It supports managers in their decision making. .

These systems allow businesses provide an organisation with the necessary information to make more effective decisions more efficiently, thus allowing it to gain a competitive advantage.

2. Describe the three quantitive models typically used by decision support systems.
  1. Sensitivity analysis: the study of the impact that changes in one or more parts of a model have on other parts of the model. Essentially, it asks what will happen to the overall result if you change one or more parts of your systems.
  2. What-if analysis: checks the impact of a change in an assumption on the proposed solution. It is used to understand the effects of certain situations on a business.
  3. Goal-seeking analysis: finds the inputs necessary to achieve a goal such as a desired level of output. For example, how many units have to be sold to make a certain profit.
3. Describe a business process and their importance to an organisation.

A business process is a standardised set of steps to achieve a certain output or goal, such as processing a customer order. It allows a business to achieve its goals by turning an input into an output. Their importance to a business is it's ability to efficiently and effectively achieve its goals through optimising its business processes.

4. Compare business process improvement and business process re-engineering.

Business process improvement is the examination and mapping out of current business processes with the aim of continual improvement of business processes.

Business re-engineering differs in that it assumes the business needs to be overhauled in order to improve, for example, following a merger.

5. Describe the importance of business process modelling (or mapping) and business process models.

Business process modelling refers to the creation of a detailed flowchart or process map of a work process. Business process models are graphic descriptions of a process, showing the sequence of process tasks, which is developed of a specific purpose and from a selected viewpoint. They are important as they allow an organisation to analyse whether its processes are effective, for the purpose of improving them (and thus becoming more efficient).



Thursday, March 11, 2010

How much should you give away?

In Nigel Temple's excellent Internet Marketing Masterclass yesterday there was a discussion about how much of your knowledge you should give away. A few years ago I sat in discussions where people argued that you should give nothing away. Yesterday most people were happy with the notion of giving away about 20%, but holding back the rest to charge for. It's the old 'Sprat to catch a mackerel' notion.

Most of us, however, are unhappy when we feel someone is holding something back. It gets in the way of building relationships. If you want people to refer you or do business with you that might be a problem!

The World has been changed forever with this thing called the Internet. Most knowledge is now freely available somewhere if you search for it. Some people will pay for your knowledge, but mainly they will pay for the the value you add.

Consider this statement from someone who is very successful in developing his business with networking. This was part of his response to the NRG research into business networking:

"I do not do any cold calling. All my business comes from networking and referrals. Networking is not about selling, it's about building relationships.

Much of the business is a result of doing a presentation where I share ALL my secrets so people know how to do what I do.

Mostly, they prefer to ask me to do it for them. Even though I've explained how they can do it for themselves!

Nigel was a living example of this in his Masterclass yesterday. The only thing the people attending were really paying for was the cost of the room for a few hours. He was then giving away his knowledge freely for a couple of hours.

Some of those people are now paying for his help to implement the stuff!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week 2: Information Systems in Business

1. Explain information technology's role in business and describe how you measure success.

Information technology is a business function that plays a support role, reaching all facets of modern business. It is effectively an enabler for facilitating business processes and achieving business goals. It should thus be aligned with the strategic direction of the organisation.

Measuring the success of information technology can be difficult, however it is best measured by efficiency and effectiveness metrics. Efficiency IT metrics measure the performance of the IT system itself (e.g. throughout, speed and availability). Effectiveness IT metrics measure the impact IT has on business processes and activities (e.g. customer satisfaction). Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to tie measures to business drivers through benchmarking.

2. List and describe each of the forces in Porter's Five Forces Model.

Porter's Five Forces model is used to determine the relative attractiveness of an industry, allowing a business to identify potential opportunities, create competitive advantage and deter potential rivals. Technology allows markets to become more competitive.
  1. Buyer power: high when buyers have many sellers to choose from, and is low when choices are few.
  2. Supplier power: is high when on supplier has concentrated power of an industry.
  3. Threat of substitute products or services: is high when there are many alternatives to a product or service and low when there are few alternatives to choose from.
  4. Threat of new entrants: is high when it is easy for new competitors to enter a market and low when there are significant barriers to entry.
  5. Rivalry among existing competitors: is high when competition is fierce in a market and low when competition is more complacent.

Source: (Porter, 2008)

3. Describe the relationship between business processes and value chains.

A business process is a standardised set of activities that accomplish a specific task. A value chain is a series of business processes, each of which adds value to the final product or service for the customer.

4. Compare Porter's three generic strategies.

Porter's three generic strategies are used when entering an new market. These strategies are:
  1. Broad cost leadership: low cost, reaching a large market segment.
  2. Differentiation: a focus on something that sets a business apart from its competition.
  3. Focused strategy: targets a niche market, concentrating on either cost leadership or differentiation.
To be successful, a business should only adopt one of the three strategies and not try and be 'all things to all people'.
Source: (Baltzan et al, 2010)


Baltzan P., Phillips A., Lynch K., & Blakey P. 2010, Business Driven Information Systems, North Ryde, McGraw-Hill

Porter, M.E. 2008 "The five competitive forces that shape strategy", Harvard Business Review, Vol. 86, pp. 78 - 93.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reducing your business risks with networking

In the NRG research into business networking conducted a few years ago the findings included the ways in which building trusted relationships through networking reduces your risk in doing business. Perhaps the more obvious ones were the benefits you get from having more people looking for opportunities for you and good honest feedback about your business.

Another one was the business intelligence that your network contains. A great example of this for those operating in the UK is the results from NRG member and Skillfair founder, Gill Hunt, for their 2010 UK Consultancy Fee Rate Survey*. This was her biggest ever survey so the results are pretty definitive. Rates by specialism, sector and region.

As Gill says "You can use this information as a guide when buying or selling consultancy and freelance services - day rate isn't everything but it gives you a place to start and confidence that you're in the right area."

I am also pleased to report that NRG members get 11% more than the average!

*Full results published here.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Follow up is the difference

Someone asked me this week "What is the main difference between people who are effective in their networking and those who are not?"

I replied that there were generally a number of factors. The first being that there are those that 'get it' and those that don't. By that I mean there are those who understand how networking works and some who have the idea that is some sort of selling or purely social activity.

The big difference, though, is with those that set aside time to spend following up with others. Investing time in getting to know, like, & trust them and then connecting them with the things they need to know and the people they need to know to help them achieve their busines objectives. You only get to know the relevant content and contacts in the context that is right for them by spending time with them.

In 'A simple way of standing out from the crowd' I wrote how you can stand out by becoming one of the proactive few who regularly follow up.

One simple way of ensuring you do this is to get in the habit of setting aside time in your diary for follow up and 121s after networking meetings.

I talk for a couple of minutes on follow up in this podcast, 'Follow up, Follow up, Follow up!'
Listen here:

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Should you be on Linkedin?

Earlier this week I was asked whether Linkedin was useful for someone in a Professional Services Business. I have experienced the growing popularity of Linkedin in the UK through the NRG-networks Linkedin Group I manage.

I replied that it was not really about just being on Linkedin, but how you use it to complement your offline networking. The reality is that the more proactive networkers are already using Linkedin to interact, build and strengthen trusted relationships with others operating in their target markets. If you do not have an active presence online then you are missing out on this.

Online networks like Linkedin are a great complement to offline networks if you are providing services on a Regional or National basis. You can read about this in more details in '10 top tips to increase business with the effective use of offline & online networks'.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke
Get 7 networking secrets for business success

business networking | business networking events | business networking tips