Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do I know you?

These words appeared alongside a stern looking man in an advertisement in a 1950s business publication:

I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now — what was it you wanted to sell me?

The moral of the ad was that sales starts before your salesman calls and was promoting advertising in McGraw Hill Magazines. The original can still be seen on their website (

Most business owners and partners in professional firms I meet say they have no problem selling. Their main problem is getting in front of the right person. Building trusted relationships through networking means you can refer your network to their right people and, in turn, be referred to yours.

Becoming an advocate for someone means unreservedly recommending them when you see the right circumstances. When someone is given that sort of word of mouth referral the recipient knows all about their reputation, what they do and why they are there.

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

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Walking your talk

Have you noticed the way children learn from what we do rather than what we say? The same is true of the people we network with. They learn far more about us from how we act than from how we introduce ourselves. It is vital in building a trusted relationship that you demonstrate that you are both consistent in what you do and that your actions are congruent with your message.

I hosted one of our NRG business networking groups in Reading on Friday. On Thursday I received a phone call from a business owner who wanted to come and who said to me, "I just wanted to check it was ok with you that I attend as I also run a group for another networking organisation."

I explained to him that we actively encourage cooperation and collaboration between networks. It is one way of demonstrating to our members how we build business relationships in the same way as we facilitate that process for them.

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

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs, What You Can Learn About Twitter From Teen Entrepreneurs

Are you confused about how to use such social media platforms as twitter and facebook? Are you wondering how to keep your friends easy to follow and yet looking to follow and make new friends, then let me introduce you to Stanley Tang.

Stanley is a teen entrepreneur who has some insights on these subjects. He recently found a video by another teen, Min Xuam, that he thought was so good he decided to share it on his blog. It is called “How Twitter changed my life”. It isn’t the only strategy for how to used twitter and facebook, but it is a great strategy. This slide show, How Twitter Changed My Life, is well worth the time.

I was most impressed with the suggestion that you tweet not about what you are doing but what has your attention. This is a massive revelation for me. It really helps me understand why I love reading certain tweets and why others do not capture my interest.

Twitter is probably not a fad. Even if it is a fad, we baby boomer entrepreneurs must learn to effectively communicate with our markets. Teen entrepreneurs are creating new tricks for us old dogs to learn. Let's keep on learning so we can stay on the porch with the big dogs.

You can follow Stanley on twitter at @stanleytang, Min Xuam at @minxuam, and even me at @
. You can get a free twitter account by going to .

Shallie Bey

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to get something done

"There are three ways to get something done:
do it yourself, employ someone, or forbid your children to do it

That's a great and amusing quote from Monta Crane.

Many owners of small businesses and professional firms, however, seem to think there is only one way and they try and do everything themselves. There is nothing more unrewarding than spending a day trying to sort out the administration and accounting that would take a professional little more than minutes per week. We had the tax return deadline in the UK recently and there were more than a few business owners scratching their heads over carrier bags full of a years receipts!

There are a great and growing number of providers of outsourced administration, bookkeeping and VA services. You can 'employ' someone to take on that work very cost effectively whilst you concentrate on building your core business and its value.

Remember that networking is a great way of finding suppliers and team members as well as growing your business.

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

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Reply to: Is Gladwell Right About What’s Most Likely to Make You Successful?

It took me awhile to finally decide to write this post as it runs against the tide of most readers’ opinions. And many feel strongly as I discovered at dinner last night with friends, but here goes. Outliers purports to reveal the real reason some people — like Bill Joy, the Beatles and Bill Gates— are successful. Yet what Malcolm Gladwell finds is, as Michiko Kakutani notes, “little more than common sense” – except when he draws conclusions about what’s most important for success.

I admit that my summary of the book is not as fascinating or sticky as the

vignettes in it, yet see if Gladwell’s conclusions surprise you:

1. Talent alone is not enough to ensure success.

2. Opportunity, hard work, timing and luck are also essential.

3. Poor children are less likely to succeed than those raised in rich or middle-class families.

4. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful.

The first three seem blindingly obvious yet I disagree about what’s most important. And he over-generalizes. While it’s also obvious that mastery improves one’s chance for success, his conclusion that there’s a magic amount of practice time cannot be substantiated by the studies, interviews (Bill Joy, for example) and stories he offers…

…As Isaac Chotiner concludes, Gladwell “dislikes attributing individual accomplishment to the accomplishing individuals. He has set out to prove that people with social advantages do better than people without social advantages, and so the really wise thing for society to do is to arrange for more advantages for more people.” In fact Gladwell never really defines success.

Here’s my problem. He plays up the power of cultural background, timing and economic class and downplays the role in success of talent and perseverance...

You can read her full post at

This is my response in turn:


Thank you for your kindness in sharing your "cautionary notes" about Gladwell's conclusions. I agree with your topics of caution to varying degrees. I think that is exactly the issue, that we do not have mathematical precision on how to measure some of the points. I visited your blog and enjoyed not only your comments but those of your readers as well.

I posted a rather long response there that I would like to elaborate on here. I think Gladwell did take into account personal responsibility and perseverance and such things as deliberate collaboration. He lumps them under what he calls "meaningful work".

He says: "Those three things -- autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward -- are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful...hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning...once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig...the most important consequences of the miracle of the garment industry, though, was what happened to the children growing up in those homes where meaningful work was practiced...a lesson crucial to those who wanted to tackle the upper reaches of a profesion like law or medicine: if you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world."

Just as I pieced the run on sentence from pages of discussion on meaningful work, I think meaningful work is the tread that holds it all together. I suspect that it is not that Gladwell ignores the concept of purposeful effort that he focuses upon the cultural issues. I think he makes the point that people flounder until their culture gives them the opportunity to discover purposeful effort. So, my conclusion is that if you were to sit down with Mr. Gladwell, he would agree with your cautionary concerns, except perhaps about the 10,000 hours. It is the combination of advantage, however it is produced, with meaningful work, that ultimately marks the path of the outlier.

For the convenience of readers to this blog, I will share below my more detailed post to your blog.

Thanks for taking time to both read my original post and to share with me your observations. As a blogger, you know how precious a gift that is.



Thanks for a very thoughtful set of comments about Outliers. I do believe you are correct to say that the ideas should not be accepted unchallenged. Like many things around us, this is a story of trends and probabilities. There is no exact science that we can develop at this point that describes everything perfectly.

I tend to agree with your challenge of the 10,000 hour rule, for example. I have heard it said that one can become exceedingly knowledgeable about many things with 1,000 hours of study. One thousand hours for you and I as newbie bloggers will leave us much more talented than we were at hour five. The same is true for learning to drive a car, learning a foreign language, or playing softball.

I do believe that Gladwell is right about building upon successions of advantage. Small advantages can grow into large advantages. As a former venture capitalist, for example, I did some research on the probability of someone getting financing from a venture capital company. The odds are small that you will get any attention at all, perhaps one in 100 at the time. But if you could get attention to your idea, the investor began to help you think it through and your odds went to one in five. Similar numbers apply to getting your book published or even finding the perfect date with an on-line profile.

In my own personal life, I can see much of the trend that Gladwell discusses. People often ask me how I got from being a minority kid from a low income family in a steel town to the point of being visible to the President of the United States and appointed to be Superintendent of the United States Mint Philadelphia, the world’s largest Mint.

I can assure you that I did not start my youth with that as an aspiration. However, after a couple close scrapes with death, I did know that I did not want to be a steelworker all of my life. I had above average academic skills and was named a National Achievement Scholar by National Merit Corporation. That lead to a degree in engineering from Purdue University, which lead to sharing an office with an engineer who worked on a taskforce doing operations research, sort of a combination of engineering, operational planning, and finance in a refinery. When he was temporarily moved to fill another critical role, I was assigned to step up to fill in for him because we had become friends and I had been interested in what he was doing.

We discovered that I had a talent for this stuff and I was nominated to fill a position as a financial analyst in a new division that was being formed to train some oil people in understanding non-oil related business as a possible diversification strategy. I assumed a managerial role and officer title in a very small subsidiary of a very large corporation. This created eventually an opportunity to back up my trial and error education in business by going to a little school down the street, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

So when the head of the search team looking to fill the position of the President’s appointee to Superintendent of the United States Mint Philadelphia came to town, he and his team talked with engineers, and oil company executives, and bar association chancellors, and bankers, and the Dean of Wharton. One of the things they asked was if they knew any minority person who might be a good candidate for them to interview since the President wanted to make some non-traditional appointments of minorities.

I was not on the top of anyone’s list, but I was on everyone’s list. That got me the first interview. And that interview was much like the eye to eye meeting with a venture capitalist or the endorsement of a literary agent for your book. It changed my odds.

And interestingly enough, my advantage was I had been a steel worker as a kid. I had worked on the bottom rung as a laborer in exactly the same type of heavy industrial environment as the Mint. My ultimate advantage was the disadvantage that got me started on my course of self-improvement.

Surely there is much more detail to how finally getting noticed led to my selection, nomination and ultimate Senate confirmation to become the 16th Superintendent, the youngest in the history of the United States and the first African American. Yet, the point is clear to me that my life correlates exactly to Gladwell’s hypothesis. I worked hard in one way or another every day of my life, but working hard was not sufficient to make me step into a small place in history. Everyone around me worked hard.

Shallie Bey

Smarter Small Business Blog

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The difference between Networking and Selling

I attended two recent networking events recently. At each of these I met someone running a property business for the 1st time. Each of them sold properties abroad to UK Nationals.

The first one described how he had got into the business after buying a property himself. His experience had been problematic to say the least and he determined that in his business he would do everything to ensure a great experience for the client so they could buy the property and enjoy it free from hassle and red tape. During our conversation we found we had various interests, friends and acquaintances in common. We agreed to meet up again and explore how we can help each other.

The second one gave the briefest of elevator pitches and then said "Is that something you would be interested in?". The conversation was very brief.

Which of the two do you think will lead to a mutually beneficial and profitable relationship?

You can hear more about the subject in this podcast on the difference between networking and selling.

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

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pay Attention!

I can remember the words of teachers at school instructing us to "Pay Attention" at certain times. They were used to get us to focus on the teacher or the task in hand and stop paying attention to ourselves and other distractions. The teacher knew that we would only learn if we paid attention.

As we start a new working week I know where we are headed as a business in the longer term, the next two to three years. I also know where we are headed in the shorter term, the next two to three months. This means I also know which things are important right now. I also know that if I don't pay attention to them they will not happen.

Paying Attention is important in networking too. Both with regard to your objectives and to the people you meet. When you meet with someone at a networking meeting or in a One2ONe remember to pay full attention to the other person when they are speaking. Only then will you be able to listen fully to what they are saying, ask good questions and be able to identify what they are looking for and how you can help.

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

business networking | business networking events | business networking podcast