Friday 13 July 2012

4 great tools to help you overcome small business overload

I mentioned at one of our Brighton Business Curry Clubs that I answered 10,000 emails in 12 months. When we launched the Gatwick Diamond Business Curry Club a month ago, I had 600 emails in 4 days. I answer each of them individually but I understand it when my clients complain of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails that come flooding in. Just knowing there is an ever increasing number of people to reply to can cause stress and panic and is a great cause of bad time management.
How do you react when you’re suffering from overload? Your poor old short term memory can only hold onto so much stuff at any one time and when it overflows, you might find yourself sitting blankly in front of your screen with no idea what you were just doing. Or repeating the same tasks. Or feeling like someone’s stuck a spoon in your brain and stirred it… hard. It’s horrible, and boy does it prevent you from getting things done.

Tools are the answer. Use them wisely, grasshopper, and they’ll save your sanity on a regular basis as well as helping you churn through your work with much less pain and angst.

Googlemail is great if you’re on the move, accessible from any computer or your smartphone. And millions of us use it to keep our email under control.

It blocks spam before it reaches your inbox. There’s a huge amount of space, so much that you may as well call it ‘unlimited’. You can search within Gmail to locate specific messages and it matches messages with responses so you don’t lose track of conversations.

There’s a Priority Inbox at Beta testing stage, which separates important messages from the gumph automatically. You can use Gmail to call other countries at low rates. There’s built-in chat with voice and video, plus super-secure HTTPS encryption.  

How to get it? Sign up for a Google account and follow the signs. 

ActiveInbox is a free plugin/add-on for Gmail which integrates seamlessly with your calendar and other tools. It makes organising tasks and project folders in Gmail easy, so you can work with other people better. It deals with the horrors of email overload by achieving inbox zero – what a relief! You can even use it for creative Customer Relationship Management.

If your email inbox is in a perpetual state of chaos, Activeinbox will soon sort you out. It’s a simple way to organise your Gmail life so you never lose or miss another message or forget a vital task. It keys directly into your Gmail account and transforms it into a wonderfully simple and intuitive task manager.

You can give each email a status and guarantee it gets completed. You can set deadlines and escalate emails elsewhere, achieving perfect filing. Oh, joy!

You can surface important work by moving relevant messages into a project folder as well as store actions, useful information and links to Conversation Notes. Clever shortcuts make cleaning out your inbox a dream. And Activeinbox’s Active Results tool is great for giving you a crystal clear focus on projects, people and deadlines. It’s built by local people, who created the system with the principles and best practices behind Getting Things Done in mind.  Download the free extension here. There is also a Plus version with extra features - if you mention the Brighton Business Curry Club I'll double your free trial to a month.

Disclaimer: I thought this product was so great that I contacted them – turns out the developer is based in Brighton so after a chat to give him some of my thoughts and suggestions from a user’s point of view - now he’s one of my clients and I look after the support (and lots of emails) that come in from the thousands of users around the world who also think ActiveInbox is great.

Remember The Milk 
A bunch of perceptive Aussies created Remember The Milk as a replacement for the slapdash post-it and back-of-your-hand approach to getting things done that so many of us resort to. With its help you can make managing tasks an enjoyable experience instead of an ongoing nightmare of mayhem and chaos.
Here’s a list of what it’ll help you with:
  • Manage tasks fast and easily with due dates, handy keyboard shortcuts and more
  • ‘Locate’ your tasks in the real world – for example pin your reminder to buy milk on a map, on the location of the supermarket
  • Access tasks via your mobile, print lists and populate weekly planners in seconds, plus a calendar facility and Atom/RSS feeds
  • Get SMS, emails and messenger reminders on the move
  • Collaborate, share, send and publish tasks (plan world domination, do the washing up…)
  • Plan, prioritise and postpone with ease, and set repeat tasks months ahead
  •  Create a task cloud in seconds, with tools for tagging, lists and notes
  • Add and search tasks wherever you are
Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts from your inbox. It doesn't help directly with overload, but it does give you essential insights into who is emailing you. You can see their gravatar if they have one, and what they do: their job, company and LinkedIn profile. It pulls in their location, what they’re getting up to with MailChimp and more.

Why bother? It’s useful for establishing a rapport, making contact with people near you, sharing interests and social media activity. It’s great for growing your online network because you can follow people on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etcetera, all without clicking away from your inbox. You can even leave notes for people on their Google profile from your email client.  In February 2012 LinkedIn decided they liked Rapportive so much, they bought the company.

Why suffer? Let tools relieve your GTD burden
If it’s high time you gave yourself a break, click through and get your life back in shape!

Thursday 12 July 2012

A Great Home for Curry Club - The Sussex Cricket Ground

The Sussex County Cricket Ground
 The Sussex County Cricket Club is the new home of the Brighton Business Curry Club.

"One of the largest informal networking events in Brighton and Hove."

What with the redevelopment of the PROBIZ County Ground in Hove, the Sussex Cricket Ground have the perfect venue to see the event attract more happy networkers while enjoying a great curry! Here is a little more information about the venue.

Delicious Indian Food

Event and Catering Expertise

1839 Hospitality & Events are able to cater for any kind of event with various different rooms around 'The PROBIZ' giving the option of a modern, adaptable and purpose-built facility compared to the more historic and nostalgic setting.

The Boundary Rooms, built in 2010, can be used for a variety of different functions, seating 300 for dinner as a whole or 60 in each private module if required.

It is extremely popular for Matchday Hospitality with its private viewing area and decking which offers an excellent view of the action.


The Spen Cama Pavilion

The recently refurbished Spen Cama Pavilion, one of the oldest of its kind in County Cricket, now plays host to three very different rooms. It comprises of the spacious Long Room and the charming Dining Room, with a brand new entrance at the back of the Pavilion constructed from scratch. The excellent facilities, which have already received superb feedback over the past twelve months, are developing a blossoming reputation in the City of Brighton & Hove for hosting a range of different events.


Maintaining History and Tradition

The Long Room, which includes the newly refurbished Jim Parks Bar, maintains all the history and tradition of the Pavilion whilst also providing a modern function area, as does The Dining Room which forms the part of the Pavilion nearest the Cromwell Road End.

The Museum, situated in the lower part of the Pavilion, is also suitable for drinks receptions and small parties.

A Venue for Many Occasions

The County now have ample facilities to hold family celebration and occasions, weddings and seasonal celebrations. Not forgetting the business side of the organisation with conferences, teambuilding, small trade shows and seminars, with Sussex CCC being recently nominated in the Brighton & Hove Business Awards Category of 'Best Place to Entertain Your Clients.'

Why does Sussex Cricket Ground work for the Brighton Curry Club?

 Here are a few words from Nick Harvey, one of the Curry Club organisers and founders explaining why the venue works so well:

"Having spoken to a number of event organisers in Sussex, plus having attended a number of events personally at the ground, the Sussex Cricket Ground seemed like a fine choice for our event. Free parking for our attendees, an accessible location, plus great quality food were the obvious draws to the venue; plus in addition to this we have been very impressed in the investment into state of the art facilities. What's more, the team there have an enthusiasm to deliver events which match your expectations and this has been important as we try and improve the offering of the Curry Club."

Getting in Touch

For those looking for more information about 1839:
Or e-mail

Kevin Berry is Sussex’s Catering & Hospitality Manager and he can be contacted on 01273 827124.

Here are a few more images from our most recent business networking event which was held on Tuesday 12th July. The fantastic images are courtesy of Paul Fletcher Photography. 

Monday 9 July 2012

Why Most Business Owners Fail At Social Media Marketing

Imagine this for a second... you’re at a networking event, and talking to people. Someone walks through the door who you’ve not met before and to nobody in particular says...


What do you do next? Ignore them and turn away to continue your conversation? Perhaps you figure you’ll give them a chance so go over to chat.

You shake hands and introduce yourself and tell them that you’re moving into new office premises next week and are busy sourcing the furnishings and equipment.

In response the person replies “well, here is the order form, sign here and I can sell you some whiteboards for your new office... you get one free if you order today.”

What are the chances that you’ll order their whiteboards? Slim to none I reckon!

Yet, every single day, business owners make this critical error in their social media marketing. They sell on first interaction, spend too much time broadcasting and not enough time listening.

If the person selling the whiteboards had taken the time to talk to you first, they may have discovered that you already have whiteboards, but you know someone else who could be interested.

Or they may have realised that when they stop staring at the pound signs over your head, you are an interesting person to talk to, and while you may not be a customer or referrer straightaway, it doesn’t matter because they’ve discovered you have plenty of other stuff in common.

The big difference you can make in social media marketing that will generate more sales is to;


Because, if you can get this right, you create emotional connections with everyone you come into contact with... and I’m sure you’ve heard that most people make emotional buying decisions? Making sales on social media is easy, providing you give people what they want from you.

So, how do you get this right? You SMILE...

S – Solutions:

If you see a tweet or Facebook/Linked in post from someone asking a question and you know the answer, give them the solution they are looking for. You’ll see lots of questions and it is a great way to share your knowledge and expertise... plus you’ll find plenty of opportunities to pass referrals too... double win!

M – Make people feel valued:

It’s a common human trait to make instant judgements. I urge you not to do this on social media but to treat everyone you come into contact with as if they were the most special person in your life at that moment. You know, just because someone doesn’t appear to be a potential client, you might be right, you could be very wrong but more importantly, who do they know?

You want everyone who comes into contact with you to leave with a positive impression... if they don’t, they’re never going to rave about you to their friends or contacts. And how much business will that cost you?

I – Inform, educate and entertain:

Share content that will add value to your followers... whether it is your own or you’ve sourced it elsewhere. Stay true to yourself, don’t try and be someone you’re not but if you have a love of F1 or an opinion on something, share this stuff. People buy from people and you may find clients where you find common interests.

Be careful with humour though, don’t say anything that could cause offence... no matter how funny it might seem at the time. And it’s never a good idea to post when you’re angry or drunk. Step away from the internet. You could damage your brand!

L- Listen:

Make time to listen to what the people around you are saying. To give them what they ask or hope for, you need to know what that is, so spend more time listening than talking. In social media terms that means more time commenting and replying to people than talking about your business. That leads me nicely onto...

E – Engage:

If you make the effort to talk to 6 new people a day on social media, in a year, 2,000+ new people will know who you are... and many (not all, I won’t lie to you) will become customers, referrers and raving fans. Search for keywords and phrases relevant to the problems your products and services solve for your customers and give the poster what they are asking or hoping for.

What I really want you to take away from this post is that your mindset is so important when you are marketing your business on social media. Don’t do anything expecting sales in return. You’ll get more sales if you give of yourself freely and because you care about the people around you.

And when you care about others, they’ll care about you too... and we’re back at the emotional sales decisions again. I promise you one thing, most of your competitors are too busy selling to care so you’ll be their go-to person when they are ready to buy what you offer.


Veronica Pullen has been building profitable relationships on social media for over 15 years and teaches business owners and business celebrities how to generate more sales from social media in her Academy training.

Based in Redhill she is the Surrey Mirror Social Media Columnist and has recently joined our team at the Gatwick Curry Club. Download her free eBook “Unlock The 3 Secrets To Skyrocket your Sales From Twitter” by visiting or follow her on Twitter @VeronicaPullen

Monday 2 July 2012

Understanding the Benefits of Networking.

Get to know other businesses
Networking Effectiveness.

Recently there have been some great online discussions about whether networking yields the results that you want it to, offering some great insights as to what it means to different business people.

Here is our understanding of networking, what it means to us and how you can use it to your benefit.

Getting to Know Local Businesses
Networking is an incredible tool for generating business in our opinion and it is something which helps businesses understand the different business types that are out there. Also, you can learn a lot about how other businesses conduct themselves, along with what opportunities and challenges they each face on a month to month basis.

So we think there is a lot of added value in networking as you learn about the 'business' environment from each other, plus you see familiar faces time and time again and this allows individuals to open up and trust each other a little more.

Success in networking isn’t guaranteed though and it depends to which business type or industry type you are operating in, your attitude to networking and your ability to spot an opportunity. You never want to be too pushy and it is about the getting the balance right.
"It takes a combination of factors to get networking right; part Ambassador, part sales person and part psychologist. Networking is a skill which fine tunes itself over time, the most important things is to learn from the whole experience and continually quantify how the process is helping your business."
Developing Business Relationships
Be yourself

Networking enhances the process of relationship marketing and relationship building whereby each contact could possibly become a buyer of your products or services.

On the other hand these contacts can  become ‘sales ambassadors’ for your business if they enjoy your personality and what you stand for. Always bare this in mind, you never know where your business may come and it is amazing when you get a referral from a fellow networker.

With all this in mind though, you have to ask yourself the following questions about networking as your time and energy is important to you:
  • Is the perception of what I’m presenting as good as it can be? 
This means 'YOU'. Your delivery, what you wear, your business cards, your body language etc. Ask a friend/ business acquaintance for an honest appraisal of your perception and how it could be improved. This is a great exercise and one that will help you immensely.
  • Is there an opportunity to follow up on this contact? 
Should you add them to your address book, send a full introductory email, a proposal, suggest a face to face meeting - or do nothing at all? Only you can answer this one. Think about any buying signals in a conversation, what will this contact mean to you? The most important thing is to leave a new introduction with a pleasant feeling, this way everything is left positive.

Engage and learn
  • Is this the right networking event for you? 
There are many different networking events out there and you have to look at the positives and negatives of each event. Do you feel comfortable, what are the costs, do you like the format, does it have potential ?

Some people don’t network and they can be incredibly successful. There could be many reasons for this.

Some people don’t network and have very little business.

We personally generate about 50% of business through 'business networking' then about 50% through referrals. Networking sits very prominently within our marketing plan. 
"Networking helps with the development of an individual too and enhances ones ability to communicate. Success in networking takes time, so regular attendance, NOT selling to others directly, but following up on conversations."

 We hope that this article has been  of use and you can pick up a few pointers which will help you improve your networking. Please remember, networking is just one activity within a whole spectrum of sales and marketing activities.

For a list of other networking events to try, please refer to this list.

Sunday 1 July 2012

What is Great ABout Doing Business in Brighton?


 Celebrating the Brighton Business Curry Clubs 2nd Birthday.

A recent video from our anniversary event of the Brighton Business Curry Club. 
Here we find out about what businesses love about doing business in Brighton?