The Definitive Guide to Networking Part I: Top 6 Biggest Misconceptions

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Up to 85% of jobs are filled throughnetworking

The top 6 biggest misconceptions of its value therefore, lie in people’s perception of it

Networking for many, serves as a productive means to grow work opportunities and cement business relationships, but for a big portion it’s less an opportunity than an idea; straddled somewhere between a to-do list chore and a benefit with no tangible return.

This ambiguous area of modern business -similar to flexible work environmentsand digital workspaces- can ignite a sense of community in an industry known (and loved) for its independent freedom; or further solidify misled opinion.

So with clarity being key to realising the value of areas like these, here are the 6 biggest misconceptions about networking. 

1.     Networking is self-serving or selfish 

A networking event isn’t about milking a professional’s resources on a one-man goal to get work, it’s instead a mutually beneficial opportunity for two professionals with skills of comparable value, to meet and open a dialogue in pursuit of a long-term relationship resulting in work prospects.  

2.    Successful networking means immediate work 

Some networking can lead to a quick turn around, but much of it can often be long-term with relationships developing organically over time.

Often these types of relationships are the ones that yield the most pivotal and rewarding work; so remember to trust the process, keep the dialogue open and shift your focus from achieving quick results, to nurturing relationships that can open doors in the future.

3.    Networking events are large and daunting

There are many ways to make connections and strengthen your skills in ways that are productive for you. The variety of events include industry-specific talks watched by like-minded professionals, Linkedin group forums, happy hour meet-ups and creative Round Table events aimed at help creatives with queries and direction.

4.     To make networking a success you have to be an outgoing person

Networking is often seen as a by-product of an intrinsic outgoing character trait, but in reality, it's a skill that can be developed with practice and experience.

Once you’ve targeted your desired sector and found the type of event within that industry (as outlined in 3) that works for you, be clear on what you want to get out of it.

Are you looking to grow your clients or get a job? Form relationships or air some skill-specific questions? Having a clear agenda that you’re armed with when attending events, will enable you to target and hone your networking skills.  

5.    Focusing on your strongest, most apparent relationships is key to networking success

Focusing onyour strongest, most obvious relationships, such as professionals within your wider circles, leaves a mass of untapped potential work elsewhere.

Broaden your perception to extend to industries that are less apparent of needing your skillset, and you may be surprised at how much demand there is for your line of work.

Many unassuming sectors have a huge demand for skills but not the resource to accurately find them.

6.     Networking is purpose-built and targeted

Not only are 85% of jobs filled through networking, but a portion of this comes from no specific event in particular, instead, a disposition of being open-minded to opportunities.

Although one opportunity may not be exactly what you’re looking for, it will introduce you instantly to a wider circle of people, all with connections, contacts and fellow professionals working across multiple sectors.

Being open-minded to less apparently useful opportunities is crucial to growing a healthy diverse circle of contacts. 

The value of networking lies in the work, experience and relationships it can yield, proving it as indispensable

3 Ways To Be More Productive And Streamline Work

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The great thing in life is efficiency. If you amount to anything in the world, your time is valuable, your energy precious. They are your success capital, and you cannot afford to heedlessly throw them away or trifle with them.

–Dr. Orison Marden

Have you ever broke down the hours in a day and thought if you really needed to, how much you could get done in 16 hours?

Ways to be more productive and streamline work are high on any modern day business agenda.

The general 8-hour sleep, 8-hour work, 8-hour play routine varies from person to person, but one thing remains undisputed; a day accompanied by structure and deep work can achieve more than a frantically busy, fragmented one can in a week.

So what are the factors most conducive to maximising productivity? 

1.     Routine

Timings are everything. A start and finish time bookends each day to allow a window of complete focus, the same way it can allow a switch off when the day is finished. This relates more to freelance and flexible workplaces; but whatever the hours you work, make sure to pin down a start and finish time and stick to it militantly.

When a routine is so ingrained that it’s equivalent to going autopilot, it takes one less thought process from the day’s decisions; in turn minimising time on admin and maximising time spent on work.

2.     Structure

Being mindful of exactly what a day can fit in if you break it down incrementally, is quite eye-opening. There are many ways people can divide a day up, but whichever you adopt, it will dictate how you see your time and the opportunities available within it.

Writer and TED Speaker Tim Urban, breaks it down (minus 7-8 hours sleep) into 16-17 hours or 1,000 minutes, broken down into 100 10-minute blocks, which is what we get each day when we wake up.  

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Throughout that day we spend 10 minutes of our lives on each block, which when looked at as a whole, reveals interesting clues on how we use those 100 blocks we get each day, and how we can make our day more productive and streamlined.

 

“How many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed? How many of them are spent with other people, and how many are for time by yourself? How many are used to create something, and how many are used to consume something? How many of the blocks are focused on your body, how many on your mind, and how many on neither one in particular? Which are your favorite blocks of the day, and which are your least favorite?”

3. Streamlining

To increase efficiency and productivity(particularly after implementing an allotted window for deep work), all email notifications should be turned off, with emails only being checked twice a day at the likes of 11am and 4pm. The sporadic and spontaneous alert of email notifications not only interrupts your train of thought; but switches it completely off the task and onto the subject of the email, suspending any chance for deep work to enhance productivity.

Once notifications are off, it’s a good idea to set an auto-responder, saying something to the effect of, “Thanks for reaching out. I currently only check my emails at 11am and 4pm each day, to increase efficiency and productivity.

If you require assistance that cannot wait please get in touch on [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].” Being in control of incoming information this way, can structure and streamline your day in a way that enables deep work, not debilitates it. 

 

Efficiency when maximised, slots work into a finite window of confined, deep, productive focus, where a lot can get done in a shorter space of time. Optimum productivity needs practice, maintenance and work but when mastered over time, it can transform the way you approach your life and opportunities within it. 

 

We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.

–Earl Nightingale

Working Effectively Outside Of A Traditional Office Environment

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Being your own boss means being able to choose exactly when and where you work. That’s pretty awesome, right?

Working flexibly can be a huge help with achieving work/life balance and is practical from both a logistical and financial point of view. For example, you can join in the parents’ race at school sports day without taking a whole day off and save cash on office overhead and travel costs.

However, working outside of an office can be difficult at times. Home distractions can mean that you get less work done and procrastination may mean that even getting started is difficult. 

So how can you ‘work smarter’, i.e. stop procrastinating and achieve more? 

Well, it’s simply a question of creating structure and discipline for your work day. Once you get into your groove, you’ll wonder why you ever struggled with staying on-track. 

Read on for our 7 top tips to stay in control, keeping you productive and motivated, wherever and whenever you choose to work.

1. Get Up, Get Dressed & Get To Work!

Of course, you don’t have to get up at 6am (the benefit of having no commute is that you can have a little more sleep), however that doesn’t mean you can lie in until noon every day.

 Decide your working hours, then set a daily alarm that will give you enough time to get up, shower, dress, and make yourself a cuppa before you begin your working day. Some people find it helps to ‘dress’ for work (i.e. wear smart/’office’ clothes). I find I can concentrate better in comfortable joggers and a T shirt, but I do always change out of my pyjamas to switch into a ‘work’ mindset. Find what works for you but make sure you do something that signals your brain to be prepared for work. 

2. Choose The Most Productive Work Space For You

 Some people can work effectively from their sofa or kitchen table, others need a proper desk in a home office. You may choose to escape home distractions by working from your local library, or you might prefer the buzz of a nearby coffee shop. Experiment with different work spaces and decide what works best for you. Be aware that this might change, depending on what you want to achieve. For example, completing your tax return may require solitude and calm, whereas design inspiration might be enhanced by some fresh air (garden office, anyone?).

3. Prioritise Your Tasks

 At the start of your day (or perhaps the night before!), make a list of what you want to achieve. Order this list with the most critical task first and make this your priority. By working on your most important (and challenging) task first, you’re more likely to complete it and then feel motivated to continue with the less onerous ones!

 This time management technique of starting with your biggest, most important task is advocated by Brian Tracey

He dubs it ‘Eat That Frog’, which stems from a Mark Twain quote:


“If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.”

4. Minimise Distractions

You’ve already decided what is important and chosen to focus on that today, so don’t allow your phone, news sites, social media, chores, pets or anything else to distract you from that. This may mean closing the door to your workspace, complete with a large ‘do not disturb’ sign, switching your phone to silent, turning off social media alerts, or using a website blocker to help you stay focused.

5. Manage Your Time To Maximise Productivity

These tips will help you get even more done in less time:

Email can be a huge distraction (and the more you send, the more you receive!), so turn off email alerts, set time aside to check it and stick to that. For example, you might check email only first thing in the morning and again after lunch. 
If you find yourself writing a lengthy missive to someone via email, consider giving them a call or send a voice note instead.

‘Chunk’ your time to boost your productivity. You’ve already decided WHEN to check email, so go one step further and decide HOW LONG to spend on it. When this time runs out, STOP and go onto your next task. Do this with every task on your to do list. Breaking down your tasks into timed ‘chunks’ creates a sense of urgency and translates tasks into a series of ‘appointments’. And by limiting your time spent on each task, you naturally focus on the most urgent first. 

Try the ‘pomodoro’ time management technique. Essentially this means that you work on a specific task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. After 4 of these 25 minute blocks, you take a longer break of 15-20 minutes (you might use a timer app to help you with this). Pomodoro works well with time chunking. You can ‘chunk’ each task according to how many 25 minute blocks you want to dedicate to it. 
This technique forces you to focus on a task for a specific time, but the regular breaks prevent you from feeling stressed. 

6. Take Breaks

Regular breaks actually increase your productivity and help you stay motivated. Think of them as a mini reward for avoiding procrastination!  So, when that timer goes off to tell you that it’s break time, how do you spend it? 

Here’s a few ideas, but I’m sure you have others!

·      Read a book or magazine

·      Do some yoga

·      Go for a walk around the block

·      Make a cuppa

·      Meditate

·      Give your fur babies some love (is that just me?!)

Remember to get back to work once break time is over!

7. Stay Away From Lunchtime Drinking!

You wouldn’t drink in the office at lunchtime (unless you work in an advertising agency from the 1960s *ahem* Don Draper), but when you’re working from home it might be tempting to have a glass of wine with your lunch. That glass of wine might be a large one. And you might be tempted to top it up…

That’s a recipe for a fruitless afternoon.  Avoiding alcohol during your working day will make those Friday night G&Ts all the more enjoyable!

This post is brought to you by our client Watermark Homes, a property development company, based in Chislehurst, London, with a culture of flexible working. 


Watermark Homes creates beautiful, affordable homes for discerning homebuyers in South London and Kent.

Top 10 Must-Have Tools & Resources for Startups

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When you are ready to set up your startup, it can be a bit confusing to know which direction to take and what resources to invest in. This list below lets you know exactly where to start when looking for the best tools to run your business efficiently.

Take Charge of Your Accounts with Xero or Quickbooks

Keep up to date with all your banking and credit card transactions while managing your cashflow.

Send Proposals and Pitch Your Work with Proposify or Qwilr

Create easy to read proposals and streamline the pitch, quote and approval process. Replace presentations with sleek, customisable and interactive interfaces.

Maintain Customer Relationships with Hubspot

Organise, grow and track your customers with Hubspot CRM software while you manage your sales pipeline keeps the process effortless.

Research Your Competitors with Moz

Learn about how your competitors are gaining their inbound traffic and target areas where you can drive customers to your business.

Stay on top of Your Website Data and Traffic with Google Analytics

Measure your website performance to see how your content and marketing efforts are working and where customers are engaging with your brand.

Manage your Social Media with Hootsuite

Save time by using managing several social media accounts on one dashboard. Monitor your brand and check what’s trending in your industry.

Communicate across Multiple Teams & Departments with Slack

Communicate and message your team, send real-time updates, save files and develop a collaborative workspace with Slack, whether you are down the hall or across the globe.

Manage your Projects with Asana, Basecamp or Skwish

Whether you are a freelancer, a solo entrepreneur, or start-up, or a small team, these tools are perfect to manage tasks, create timelines for projects and to maintain transparency with clients or customers.

Stay Connected with your Customers with Mailchimp

Build an effective email strategy with your customers and clients by staying in touch with them and sending targeted campaigns to maintain your relationship.

Keep Your Documents Organised and Collaborate with Dropbox

Securely share files across teams or with clients and simplify the way you create, share and collaborate across devices.

Receive Access to Media Pitches and Get Direct Responses with HARO

Send your stories, press releases and important company updates to HARO and provide journalists with everything they need to cover your news which amplifies your message.

Outsource To Your Own Team All In One Place With CoStartup & Go

With the amount of freelancers growing how do you know which ones will actually be good and stick about? Remove the gamble of working flexibly by using CoStartup & Go and their experienced network who all seamlessly wok together on your startup, invested unmaking it a success.

Hire Great Talent with Workable

When you are ready to find permanent talent, use Workable to source, manage and track applicants in one space from over 14 different job boards.

Join a Coworking Space to Find Opportunities to Network

A coworking space is a fantastic tool to have to be able to network and creatively collaborate with other startups and small businesses. Alongside the routine networking events, the organic networking that naturally evolves is priceless and it doesn’t hurt that it creates a great space for productivity in your business. 

Some of our fave partners include:

The Office Group

BDC Works

Mainyard Studios

Boutique Coworking

Airspace

Interested in a FOC consultation on how we can help your startup?

GET IN TOUCH

3 Essentials to Marketing Your Business (and Yourself) Online

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In today’s business world, as a start-up, a small business, an entrepreneur, or a freelancer, it’s essential to have a web presence that effectively communicates who you are and what you are sharing. Being smart with your marketing ensures that your message gets heard and maximises your success.

Before you start paying for advertising you may not need and get overwhelmed, here are three essentials steps to take to ensure marketing your business online is a success.

1.     Research & Planning

This is all about understanding your customer and developing the right content plan and strategy that speaks to them personally. You have to know who you are talking to and understand them inside and out. Who is your ideal customer and what do they need? What do they want, what are their hopes, their pain points? Now map out content and messaging around that. This gets their attention and gives them a reason to want to connect with you. This research stage is about getting to know your customer and building a relationship with them, listening to them, and understanding them. 

2.     Discoverability & Relevance

If you Google yourself or your business, what comes up? Are your customers going to find you? Since you’ve done your research in the first instance, you should know where your customers hang out online, what platforms are relevant to them, and what events they attend. Ensure that you are playing in the right field and are talking to the right people before you spend any money on advertising. Remember, the best time to market to your audience is when they are already interested in your brand. So make sure you are consistent in building relationships, content, and authority in the right places, ensuring your brand’s relevancy and your customers’ interest.

3.     Systems & Tools

The last step is to ensure you have systems and support in place for consistent action. For example, how are you capturing leads? How are you communicating with your customers? This includes your email marketing and blog posts, but also includes your tweets, Facebook posts, your website copy, etc. It’s also key to maintain a consistent tone of voice and brand image for your business, so your customers know that it is you speaking across all platforms. That consistency builds trust, and trust leads to real connection with your customers.

In the beginning it can feel like a one-way conversation, but this is why it is so important to have tools and systems in place, so you don’t get overwhelmed or worried. As a director, owner or entrepreneur, work towards automating or delegating as many of these tasks as possible so you can work on your business by building and maintaining relationships, rather than in your business worrying about SEO and search.

Do you need affordable digital marketing for your business? Contact us now to get your free initial consultation.

 

Delegation Is The Key To Growing Your Startup

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As an entrepreneur running your startup, your business success and productivity depends entirely upon you and your decisions. Everything from website design and search engine marketing to business operations and monthly finances is dependent on you

One of the most valuable secrets of highly successful entrepreneurs is actually quite simple: they don’t try to do everything themselves. They delegate their work so they can grow at a faster rate than they could do on their own. But don't just take our word for it - here are 40 highly successful entrepreneurs giving evidence to why they hired virtual assistants.

But for some, it can be challenging to give up control, confusing to know where to start looking for people for your team, and seemingly expensive to hire a full-time employee. 

This is where hiring virtual support from a consultative team can exponentially help your business. The scope of remote working is changing and for many start-up and small business owners, VAs offer lean and flexible benefits. Moreover, company growth comes from more than just diary management and administrative tasks. Having a core support team that can adapt to your needs – whether it’s bookkeeping, social media, IT support, video editing, or event organisation – can help increase productivity and growth in your business, and also offer a better work-life balance for you.

It’s time to get more productive so you can focus on the most important aspects of your business. Here's how you can do it:

Visualise Success & Set Goals

Get clear about what your business goals are and how you want to achieve them. Create solid systems and processes that work for your business. At this point, you can get a better grasp on what areas you will need to invest in for the long term. You set clear expectations about what you want and need and it is easier to bring someone in to help you achieve those goals in a collaborative way.

Let Go And Delegate Tasks, Projects Or Business Functions To Your Operational Support Team

Focus on what motivates you, what moves you, what you started your business for in the first place. When you spend your time doing the things you love in the business, your creativity and great ideas come to the forefront much faster. Then you can communicate to your support team how to execute those ideas, so you can move on to the next one.

Communicate With & Effectively Manage Your Start Up Assistant

Once you have systems in place, consistent communication is key to maintaining an effective and successful relationship with your virtual assistant. Mapping out your goals with your Startup Assistant and then being able to constantly check in with him or her, via email, phone or Skype, sets an expectation for excellence and ensures that your investment in a flexible team is always adding value.

One of the great aspects of CoStartup & Go’s services is our consultative approach to operational support. You will be engaging an experienced team that adapts with your changing business needs.

Get in touch at sales@costartupandgo.com and we can see which package can fit your business needs in a FREE initial consultation.

The Best Networking Events to Attend in London for Entrepreneurs, Tech Start-Ups and Small Businesses

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When you are starting a business one of the most important elements for your marketing and promotions strategy should be networking. We can spend a lot of time thinking about our grand ideas, products and plans, but we learn a lot about our business when we speak to others articulately about it and generate interest through our face to face relationships in real time. 

Here are some of our favourite places to find networking events for entrepreneurs, tech start-ups and small businesses in London.

Where to Find Networking Events for London Entrepreneurs

Silicon Drinkabout by 3 Beards

We had to add this to the list. We love the Silicon Drinkabout for its informal structure and its fun crowd of like-minded of entrepreneurs and techies. Plus, they meet weekly in different locations all over the world, so you’ll never run out of new faces to meet on a Friday night, wherever your business takes you.

Your Co-working Space or Serviced Offices

Make sure to regularly check your favourite co-working space for some great events and networking opportunities. You are sure to keen entrepreneurs and business owners with whom you can develop some strong connections. For example, WeWork and The Office Group host fantastic workshops, breakfasts, and events for their members to socialise and meet with others in a relaxed and informal way.

Google Campus Events

The Google Campus is the perfect hub for tech start-ups. Entrepreneurs can attend workshops and classes while also providing the space and events to find your next investor, mentor, founder or recruit. Networking with a dose of digital learning included.

Alumni Events

Graduate from a university? Or maybe you have a friend who has? Perhaps you finished a short course or qualification certificate? We find keeping in touch with your school networks can be a goldmine for building conversations, as you often already have a common link. Find your local chapter and see how you can get involved.

Meetup and EventBrite

We like using Meetup and EventBrite when we are searching for specific industry events to go to. Looking for a networking event specifically for female founders? Or do you want to share a pint chatting with people in your niche industry? There are new meet-up groups popping up everyday and these are great for targeting connection with people just like you.

Local Community Groups

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and connecting with local players around you. You never know how you may be able to help and serve members of your local community with your business and vice-versa.

Remember, social isn’t the only type of networking for entrepreneurs. Sometimes, a business can't be built behind a laptop alone. Get out there and take to real, live people to help build and strengthen your business. And when you need operational support to ensure your start up is running smoothly while you make connections, make sure to contact us at sales@costartupandgo.com to help with your virtual support needs.

Did we miss an event source or do you host a networking event that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments. 

The Key to Networking Successfully as an Entrepreneur

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For any entrepreneur or business owner, networking is an essential element to success. It not only brings the potential for building contacts within your industry, it also provides opportunities to gain prospective clients and customers.

MANY ENTREPRENEURS SEE NETWORKING AS A CHALLENGE

Oftentimes  it can be nerve-wracking entering a room full of strangers and try to get them interested in who you are and what you have to offer. If you are naturally introverted, then networking can feel like even more of a daunting feat.

However, the benefits of networking for entrepreneurs and their businesses are so great, that it really is important to overcome the challenges and get it right. Having spoken to several key networkers across a broad spectrum of industries, the one key piece of advice to stick to when networking is this:

ALWAYS GIVE MORE THAN YOU RECEIVE.

If you want to be successful at networking and make real relationships that can benefit you - take YOU out of it.

When you walk into a room full of strangers at a networking event, the main goal should be to meet people you find interesting and see how you might be able to help THEM. Make it about their needs. Don’t make it about what you can get out of it.

If you stick to this key rule when networking, then you make real connections, and those connections will be clamouring to get back in touch with you - where you'll be inundated with ways you can partner with each other. From there you can grow a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

The 5 Types of Mentors for Your Start-Up

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Making good decisions comes from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions. 

The fastest way to success as an entrepreneur is to fail fast and to learn from your mistakes. To reach even higher levels of success, you should have a voice to guide you so you don’t have to make too many of your own mistakes, you can learn from theirs.

These days mentorship isn’t only about the wise old sage that gives you a map on how to do business. Mentors can come in different shapes and sizes. Here are the five types of mentors your business needs:

The industry guru that provides guidance and inspiration. This mentor is the established professional with years of experience that you can go to to pick their brains and share a coffee.

The networker offers relationships and opportunities that may not be in your industry, opens you to new doors and ideas that you may not have known before and introduces you to people in other fields that can accelerate your growth.

The consultants are specialists in their fields are there to support you whether it comes to marketing, product, business development, operations, finance, etc. You can always count on them to help you make decisions about each aspect of your business with a clear perspective.

The money and investment head provides invaluable insight on how to grow your business and make it profitable, steering you in the right direction and ensuring your business is optimised for revenue and growth.

And lastly it is great to lean on a smart and trusted friend with whom you can bounce ideas, share stories and do a little venting when the occasion calls for it. An impartial ear can help you to clarify your thoughts and gain perspective.

Advice, guidance and a helping hand are incredibly important as you start and continue your business journey. If you need support in your business, contact us now to find out how we can help your start-up.