The Importance of a first impression  

 Article by Neil Porter 01.02.16

We have all heard this line and the follow up lines that go with it: Only get one chance to make it….

Never get a second chance at one…

We all endeavor to conduct ourselves in such a way that we will leave a great first impression with everyone we meet, either in person, on the telephone or via email or social media. 

However, that same importance of making a great first impression extends to your marketing, your website, online presence, social media. 

All areas where a prospective client will come across your business for the first time and make a judgement on whether you are the business they wish to deal with, all without having done any of those things like call or tweet us that gives us a chance to create our first impression– it has already been made!   
Have you reviewed all of those areas of your business recently? Now is a perfect time – start 2016 strong. 

Are your images modern, relevant, unique? 

Are you team or staff images professionally done, or are they taken with an iPhone or worse just a selfie.

Are you using the same headshot across all social media platforms?  
In this visual age you often have as little as 30 seconds before someone decides if they will use you!  

If you are not conveying your brand, your image, with the highest quality and professionalism across all areas, you will be losing customers. 
If you would like to discuss any of these points please get in touch – I would be delighted to hear from you 

Thank you for reading  
Neil Porter


3 Key Tips to get the most out of your Business. 

Article by Gary Jones 27.01.16


I was thinking over the Christmas break about Leamington Hour & Grow Leamington and how I could grow the brand in the next few years.

I then remembered a podcast where they posed 3 questions that all business owners should know and be able to answer easily. 

These three questions are:

Do you know what your Business is?

Do you know what your Product is?

Do you know who your Customer is?

Let’s look at these in more detail:
1. Do you know what your business is?

It sounds simple but do you actually know your business? Can you explain to a 4 year old? Do you know what your USP is? Do you know what your competitors are doing? Are you doing the same as your competitors or are you being a purple cow?

2. Do you know what your Product is?

What are your products that you sell? Do you know how they are different to your competitors? How can your products help your customers? Do you have a product hierarchy? Do you have a loss leader? Have you got a high value product?

3. Do you know who your Customer is?

Who is your ideal customer? Do you know what your current customers have in common? Do you keep in contact with your previous customers? Have you got a plan to get more customers based on your ideal customer? How can you add value to your existing customers so they can refer you? 

All of these ideas are not new and they shouldn’t come as a surprise. If they are then think about them and look into them more deeply. I reckon if you can do this for your business and build a plan around this then you will be more successful than you currently are. 

If you want to talk about each of the topics more then please let me know. I did this with my business and it helped with creating a strategy to help me develop my brand. 

All the best and take care,

Gary Jones

07866 602507

Leamington Hour and Grow Leamington.

If you want to sign up for our free newsletter full of great info then click HERE

“Now is the winter of our “bizcontent”…with apologise to Shakespeare

Article by Ernie Boxall 13.01.16

In Chinese 5 Element Theory. Winter is the ‘Water Element,’ the time where all the seeds of the next harvest are below the earth being nurtured by the nutrients in the soil so that when spring comes the plant will be healthy. The DNA of the flower/vegetable is already set so that all that all it needs is the right climate to allow growth.

So what has this got to do with business?

I have tailored my knowledge of the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine to my business so that my plans can be part of 90 Day Goalsetting for the sections of my work and life. To outline what this means let me explain briefly what the 5 Elements of Business are.

Fire… The spark…the idea for our business.

Earth… The support for our business.

Metal… The financial and ethical elements of our business

Wood… The fuel for the next business idea

Water…The direction/speed of our business and the nurturing of the seeds we have planted.


How Do I Use Winter?

The period around our deep winter month of December can be used to make the plans for the next 90 days of the New Year. By now we have been using the days before the Christmas period for networking and growing our contacts. We should have been easing down in the weeks leading up to Christmas so that the few days available to be with family and friends can be taken without fear of missing out.

But while we may not be in the office or on the road so often, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be making connections and plans, so that when we get back to full time work our schedule can be managed more easily.

How Can We Nurture Our Business?

At this time of year, few people will appreciate a phone call concerning work, but social media is alive and well. Connecting with people through social media to wish our contacts our best wishes; to leave messages asking for, or suggesting New Year meetings; to setting up special offers for our services. In this way we can not only begin to nurture contacts or the next year, we can also begin to fill our diaries with meetings and business plans.

• What Are The Physical Aspects of Winter?

The physical element of winter is water and when we think of water we think of the merest trickle at the source, becoming a stream; a brook; a river and eventually an ocean. Water flows forward. It flows at different speeds and creates different outcomes.

The gentle forward movement of water represents the steady growth of our business from its inception. The speed increases as we grow our contacts and we have to make sure we are protected against stagnation: The business grows and the speed of our distribution increases, still moving forward but manageable: The business increases in size and the depth and width of our enterprise moves forwards towards our goal for the business plan until we reach the ocean of a completed contract and look to the next business idea.

What Can Go Wrong?

What are the negative aspects of our Water Element?

As with all aspects of Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang, there are negatives to our business plans. As we continue the Water Element what does this mean?

The trickle at the source can be blocked by debris. Our plans put on hold by small difficulties, minor problems and small setbacks. As the trickle becomes a stream or a brook, it can meander this way and that, procrastination and a lack of forward movement means that the business wavers. The situation can become so extreme that the water stagnates and all the plans die or lack of energy. Or more dangerously, the river becomes a flood which sweeps all of our ideas away and we lose our connections. The speed of the water rips away all of the pillars we have in place to support our interests and our connections. The earth, which has directed the flow of business falls away and creates a waterfall which just cascades onto the rocks below.

Which direction is your business flowing? – What plans do you have for the next 90 days?

What speed is your business flowing at? – Are your contracts being managed efficiently?

Is your support in place? – Have you kept in touch with your connections; thanked your staff or partners for their work over the year.

Is your business moving forward?

That is the question only you can answer.

If you would like details of the ‘5 Elements of Business’ by booking Ernie for a presentation contact him at or call 07962 216833

The Spring Element will follow @GrowLeamington in February until then plan your next three months in business.




Networking Tips for Success​​

Article from Sandra Garlick 08.01.15

 When I first started my business I embarked upon a networking campaign by attending as many events as I could! It was pretty much a scatter-gun approach with no strategic plan in place, a small budget and not really knowing what to expect.

I joined the local Chamber of Commerce, a couple of breakfast networking clubs and searched out anything that had a “networking” theme. I became the “Queen of Networking”!
It was only when I had been trading for a year, and the membership renewal invoices started to arrive, that I realised that I had no idea if any of these events had resulted in any new contacts or customers. I decided at that point to put systems in place to monitor how effective my networking was. I then had a great way of knowing which networking events were most effective for my business.
I strongly believe that networking has three main benefits:

1. Growing your contact database – contacts are essential for expanding your business network of potential customers and referrers

2. Building relationships – trusted relationships take time to build and are essential to business growth

3. Being remembered for the right reasons – being helpful and a sharer of information will reap rewards in the future

For me, networking isn’t just about “getting the sale”. So often, I am asked “How many leads did you get?”. In fact, I positively avoid the sales type approach and hard follow up. I simply link up via Linkedin and only email if I’ve promised to do so.

I spend the majority of my networking time building trusted relationships, listening to others, getting to know people and offering help, entirely without agenda. If one of these relationships recommends me in the future or becomes a customer, that is fantastic.

I do recall on one occasion receiving a phone call from a lady that had kept my details for four years. All she said was, “When I first met you, you were so helpful and I always remembered that…now I need your services.”

I now ensure that I only attend networking events or renew networking memberships where I know that I will build those relationships.

Selecting the right networking events and ensuring that your networking is effective is key to the growth of your business. You need to attend events where you are going to meet, or be referred to, potential customers.

It’s nice to go out every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner but as well as affecting your cash flow…and your waistline, it will also affect your availability to carry out your work or simply be a waste of your time out of the office.

Sometimes it difficult to attend a networking event once, or even choose the right one to go to, and make an informed decision whether it is right for you. 

The following 7 tips may help you:

1. Ask someone to recommend an event or networking group to you. Ideally, one that they have found effective. Ask if you can go along with them;

2. If you are attending an event for the first time, speak to the host in advance and ask them more details about the event, the type of people who attend, the format and if they can introduce you to people;

3. Ensure that you speak to as many people as possible while you are there and find out how they have benefited from attending;

4. Do some preparation in advance and think about your particular goals for attending the event and what you want to achieve as an outcome. Be specific…”I would like to meet 3 new business contacts”;

5. Make some notes as soon as you get back to the office… when it is fresh in your mind. Ask yourself some questions such as “Did I meet any good contacts?”, “Did I enjoy the event”, “Would I recommend it to someone else?”;

6. Keep an ongoing record of events you attend and more importantly the cost implications. Ensure that you monitor the cost versus benefit.

7. Have fun and enjoy your networking.

Sandra Garlick frequently speaks about “Networking for Success” and will be speaking at the FSB’s B2B Expo on this topic on Tuesday 12th January 2016 at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. You can book your free place here.

Follow @SandraGarlick on Twitter and #Periscope


15 content hacks to help your social media strategy thrive

Article by Lisa-Marie Nelson 06.01.16

(follow me @PRBirdie)

If you’re reading this post then you understand creating and sharing quality content can really elevate your business.

Chances are you’re probably stuck for ideas too, but that’s okay, content marketing is hard.

You may be surprised to know even professional communicators suffer from writers’ block from time to time.

It can be particularly hard to remain creative and gain cut-through against an ever-growing fast-paced torrent of social media content.

As a professional communicator who hates the fluffy stuff, I believe in order to add value you must be strategic.

That doesn’t mean you have to create everything yourself or spend an arm or a leg on development – curating content can be just as good if not better.

The fact is, sometimes we need a little help to get our creative juices flowing. And, the quickest and easiest way is to take inspiration from others.

To help with content planning brain fog, I’ve mixed a few of my own suggestions with some from Social Media Content Ideas to get you started.

In no particular order, here are some of my favourite quick wins:

#1 Fill in the blanks

Get people to show their creative side. Do it just for fun or run a competition to help promote a new product or service.

  Figure 1 OREO Cookie fill in the blank Twitter contest

#2 Promote social networks

Don’t be shy, let people know where else they can find you and start building a more complete customer profile.

#3 Feel good quotes

Make people smile. Share a feel good quote on a Monday or the mid-week hump and ask people to like, RT or share the love.


Figure 2 Feel good quote from Mandy Hale on Instagram

#4 Promote your events

Tell people about events you’re hosting, attending or sponsoring. Include relevant hashtags, stand numbers and @ mention the organiser for RTs/shares.

#5 Fan of the week

Celebrate your audience and give a fan a shout out! If someone has shared their experience with you use it tell others and thank them at the same time.

  Figure 3 Skittles “Rainbro” fan profile on Facebook

#6 Share your successes

Keep your audience up-to-date with your successes it aids transparency and builds trust. Post business results, awards, review and client wins.

#7 Use seasonal hooks 

There’s an awareness day for almost everything so make the most of the hype. Be selective; consider the audience and the value you can add.

  Figure 4 NFU Mutual teamed up with AGA to help promote Breakfast Week

#8 Facts and insights

Help people get to know you better. Share an interesting piece of your history, unknown fact or share quirky customer stories.

#9 Photo of the day

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so use it to your advantage. Post a captivating picture illustrating what you do or re-post one from a customer.

  Figure 5 Farmers’ Weekly photography competition entry

#10 And our survey says…

Are you really listening to your customers? Are you using the 10 best survey questions to ask your customers?

#11 Offers and promotions

Offer a freebie or discount. Why not work with another brand which complements your offering and will help grow your audience?

  Figure 6 NFU Mutual teamed up with Emma Cornes to giveaway one of her bags

#12 Post job openings

A cheap way to promote your growth and recruit. Your followers have a vested interest in your businesses so they could well aspire to work for it too!

#13 It’s for charity mate!

If you support a charity tell people about it; chances are you picked a cause that’s close to your customers’ hearts so they’ll be interested to know.

  Figure 7 Jess Glynne’s Take Me Home has been named as this year’s official single for BBC Children in Need.

#14 Call to action

Don’t just broadcast information; tell people what you want them to do with it. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a RT, like or share and helps with reach and engagement.

#15 Read all about it

If you’ve worked hard to get good press shout about it. Share news stories and @ mention the publication or website. If you have a press centre drive traffic to it.  

 Figure 8 Coverage in The Independent: The John Lewis Christmas advert 2015.

That’s all folks! I hope you’ve scribbled down a few nuggets to try out. If you found it useful please like and share it to help others struggling for inspiration.

Let me know what you of this article or share your own words of wisdom by connecting with me on Twitter using @PRBirdie or find me on LinkedIn.

Happy content planning!


Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking

Article by Sandra Garlick 07.12.15

Standing up for the first time in front of other business owners or an audience can be a daunting prospect.

However, these tips may help you overcome that fear. Remember…It’s all about preparation!

Build up your confidence slowly…

Start at a local business network meeting where there is a small group of people you know well. Rehearse in front of your work colleagues. You can increase your confidence slowly and you will soon be speaking to larger audiences with confidence. 

Tell a Story…

Rather than doing a sales pitch, tell a story, and make yourself memorable for the right reasons. If you share an interesting fact, your personal experiences or a useful piece of information, you are far more likely to be remembered rather than simply stating who you are and what you do.

Imagine your audience in a different context…

Someone once suggested to me that if you imagine your audience in pyjamas that this will relax you! However you decide to imagine your audience, pick something that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Alternatively, have a few people you know in the audience and imagine it’s just a conversation between you.

Engage with your audience…

Smile and most importantly…..don’t forget to breathe. Pause, especially if you lose track of what you are saying. Ask questions, interact by carrying out polls, ask for volunteers and invite questions. When speaking, use your tone of voice, vary your pitch and don’t forget to share personal experiences. If you have a large audience it’s a good tactic to pick 3 faces (left, right and centre) and focus on them throughout your talk or presentation. That way you appear to be speaking to the whole audience.  

Know your topic…

Avoid reading from pages of notes or using excessive content on Powerpoint slides, they should be used as a prompt only. Try to talk about things you know well and avoid heavy sales pitches. Share your knowledge and expertise, become a giver and sharer of information and the sales will follow later.

Be authentic…

Be yourself. Trying to be someone else or someone you think you ought to be will lead you to stumble. Just be authentic to who you are and you will come across as genuine. People buy from people and your honesty and natural authenticity will shine through.

Sandra Garlick regularly speaks throughout the UK on various business growth topics. To enquire about Sandra speaking at your event, please call 024 7621 4440.

You can follow Sandra on Twitter and #Periscope @SandraGarlick


10 Top tips to save time 

Article by Ruth Lowe 09.11.15

We all could do with more hours in the day. So in keeping with the subject matter of saving time, here is a really quick list of time saving tips, in no particular order.

• Figure out what your biggest time wasters are – once you know what they are you can either stop doing them, change how you do things, or limit your time spent on them.

• Live by routines – it may be boring but it makes your life more efficient, and you have to think less, feeing up your mind and some time. 

• Plan your meals – this will save you time and money (see previous post on meal planning).

• Record your favourite TV programmes – you can watch an hour’s programme in about 40 minutes if you fast-forward the adverts.

• Make lists – keep them simple and it keeps you focused.

• Live by the “two minute rule” – if something should take less than 2 minutes, do it straight away. You’ll spend two minutes finding your list, writing it down, reading the list, and putting it off again, and it won’t even be done!

• Set your clock or watch 5 minutes ahead – ok, so this doesn’t save time, but it helps prevent you from being late!

• Say “no” – sometimes you need to say no, or you’ll get burned out. Give yourself permission to say no every now and then.

• Delegate – the ultimate in having more time – get other people to do things for you!

• Pre-make breakfast the night/week before – for example, buy individual yogurts, and prepare 5 bags of muesli or fruit to add. Or make up pancake mix/scramble the eggs, ready to cook in the morning.

I hope that you’ve found these tips useful. Thanks for reading. If you want to see more of my tips visit my website, or follow me on facebook or twitter. And if you want to do some delegating, that’s what The Time Fairy is for!

Ruth Lowe

07928 553658

Twitter: @UKTimeFairy





The First Leamington Hour’s Christmas Business Fair

Article by Gary Jones 06.11.15

I am proud to announce a partnership with Love Handmade Fairs for our first Christmas Business Fair.
We have over 50 spaces available for you to exhibit your business. The handmade fair starts at 5pm and the networking starts at 7pm and finishing at 9pm.
You have the opportunity to meet with over 10 suppliers of the nicest handmade goods in Warwickshire. You can buy your presents there and the other half with never know (well until Christmas that is!).

 We have 3 great presentations starting at 7.30pm from Zak Roby, Kelly Taylor and a special guest speaker!! 

Food and drink will be available on the night and if you wanted to sponsor this or bring food along then please let me know. 

Expecting over 200 people to visit the exhibition and come to the networking event!!

If you would like to get more information or get a stall then email me at 

The stalls are FREE but spaces are limited. (Please note we cannot supply tables or props but the spaces are large enough for them). We will have space for leaflets and pull banners. 

If you have a pull up banner then you can exhibit!!

To get your free ticket then click on the link below.

See you there!!

7 Face-To-Face Networking Tips

Article by Rebecca Mason 23.09.14 

Networking is not just about gaining more business contracts; it’s about sharing knowledge, building relationships, giving and receiving recommendations and giving support to other businesses.  Remember, effective business networking is about linking together businessesthrough trust and relationship building so they all become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

So, how do you get it right?  Here are my 7 tips:


1. Know what your goals are in participating in networking groups.  This ensures you will pick the networking groups which will help you get what you are looking for, may it be new customers, or, a new supplier.  Remember, some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.
 2. Visit different networking groups and then become a regular of the ones which suit.  Not all networking groups are the same, they vary on formality, cost, types of businesses attending etc.  By trying different networking groups, you can join the ones which suit you and your business, allowing your business to grow in the right direction.  Remember, if you have to become a member of a networking group, many will allow you to visit before joining.  
3. Be the solution.  Before attending a networking meeting, make sure you are clear about what you do and why, for whom, and what makes you different from other businesses.  Make sure you can articulate this easily in a “60 seconds/elevator pitch”, or, briefly in an informal setting.  Ensure you are telling businesses the problems you can solve for them.  
4. Be authentic and build relationships, rather than sell, sell, sell.  Through sharing knowledge, building trust and relationshipswith other businesses you will become known as the person to contact for the service(s) you have on offer.
5. Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations.  This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
6. Have your business cards/flyers to hand.  Also, remember to pick up other businesses cards/flyer as well, so you can follow up on any potential leads.
    7. Follow up.  Always send a personalised email, or, make a phone call within 24-48 hours of attending a networking meeting with a potential customer/supplier.  It provides an opportunity to maintain contact with the business and to arrange a meeting to discuss how you can do business together in the future. Furthermore, follow those businesses you meet at a networking group on the appropriate social media platform 

Remember, networking is a slow process; it takes time to build trust with other businesses. For further advice on networking, or, how to combine this with social media, please feel free to contact me rebecca.troubleshooter@gmail.com07531051264.


Written by Rebecca Mason, Owner of RM Troubleshooter.