Category Archives: Life & Style

Supply Chain Best Practice – What We Can Learn from Santa

With just over a day to go before Father Christmas needs to leave the North Pole to start his annual delivery run, we look at why Santa’s Supply Chain is the best of the lot.

Santa Claus

Frequently overlooked when it comes to the annual awards, Santa has been running his supply chain with precision and incredible efficiency for as long as we can remember. And with 2016 planning not far around the corner, there is plenty that we can learn from Saint Nick!

Communication

Communication across the supply chain is critical for success, and Santa manages to keep a two-way flow of communication both inside and outside his organisation.

Children’s letters to the North Pole are requested to arrive in time to allow for any last minute alterations to the loading list for the sleigh. In the UK, the Royal Mail help to facilitate this particular part of the supply chain, with all letters required to be mailed by the 6th of December.

Inside the organisation, in order to meet the tight deadlines and short timescales for production, Santa is sure to be in constant contact with his direct reports in order to ensure that all the products will be ready. How do we know his communication is good? Well, you never see mistakes being made, do you?

Stakeholder Management

Santa is also an expert at stakeholder management. He always know which children are on the nice list, and which are on the naughty list, and always works to ensure that his customers are satisfied with the end product.

He has clearly fostered strong relationships with the various suppliers he needs for raw materials, as they are able to keep him stocked with what he needs. Santa also works well with external agencies, such as the Royal Mail, in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Demand Planning

How can you manage supply vs. demand when the trends and demands are likely to change over the course of 12 months? Not only does Santa keep track of the trends, but he can also predict the overall demand for all these items and make sure he has enough of the most popular toys.

Delivery

Which other organisations can boast a record of 100 per cent success in delivering the right product, to the right person, at the right time? There are few, if any, who can rival Santa for his ability to make on time deliveries.

Logistics

Santa is a one-man logistics operation, taking on all the delivery duties himself, along with his team of trusty reindeer. His routes are clearly planned in advance to minimise the potential for getting lost and to make sure that the right deliveries go to the right house.

Additionally, all the presents are loaded in exactly the order they are to be delivered in. Without any spare time to root around in the sleigh for a missing toy, Santa’s logistics and warehousing operations must be second to none to pull this off.

Inventory

Finally, along with the demand planning, Santa is clearly a fantastic inventory planner. There is no question of holding excess stock when the trends and demands change from one year to the next, and nothing gets delivered for another twelve months.

So Santa must ensure that he has exactly what he needs before he leaves on Christmas Eve, as he knows that anything that is left over is likely to be left in stock for a year, without any planned demand for it.

Track Santa

There is a serious side to this piece. All the elements mentioned above are key to having a successful supply chain. In 2016, take a look at what you could be doing differently, and how you can make those improvements to your supply chain.

The bar is set very high, and it’s highly unlikely that any one organisations will be able to equal the record of Father Christmas.

And, if you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and you (and your children!) want to keep track of Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, check out NORAD’s tracker (now in its 60th year!) right here.

Top Tech Gifts For Christmas

Tech trends are changing…

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A recent uSwitch survey suggests that the must-have tech from yesteryear is quickly falling out of fashion, with only 8 per cent of responders lusting after e-readers, and 9 per cent focused on digital cameras. With that in mind we’ve rounded-up what we deem to be the must-have gadgets for Christmas 2015.

Ten lords a-leaping on their hoverboards…

This wheely-wheely good gadget has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons during the past few months.

Commonly referred to as ‘hoverboards’, ‘balancing boards’ or, in this case, a ‘MonoRover’ – this new form of transport will have you zipping down the streets and rolling into your next appointment in record time.

This innovation in personal transportation relies on pointing your toes down to go forward, and transferring your weight to your heels to move backwards.

Prices and availability vary from country to country (as do transport laws!) so we suggest a light spot of Googling will soon have you on your way.

While shepherds watched their drones by night… DJI Phantom 3

Kids big and small have enjoyed the drone boom this year. But with technology advancing at breakneck pace, as well as decreasing costs, those tiny gnats they lost outdoors last Christmas have been replaced by bigger, tricked-out drones.

For the pilot that must have everything, the forboding DJI Phantom 3 quadcoptor comes with 4K video shooting capabilities and can be controlled via a nifty iOS or Android app. A warning though… it’s not cheap, so crashes could prove costly – $1234.99.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus: The smartphone that’s invite only

If you’re growing tired of Apple and Samsung vying for your custom every twelve months then maybe you’re brave enough to try something a little bit different?

The Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has built an affordable range of phones that dare to challenge tech’s heavy-hitters.

Three handsets have been spotted in the wild to-date (the OnePlus One, OnePlus Two and OnePlus X) and each has required a special invite to be in with a chance to purchase. If the gamble was to up desirability and exclusivity then technology commentators have all but deemed it a success.

OnePlus has recently waived invites for purchases of the OnePlus 2, and also holds weekly sales for the OnePlus X.

Prices start from £289.

3D print your presents!

As we approach 2016 3D printing no longer needs to be confined to factory floors and workshops. If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a designer and the idea of turning your own 3D designs into solid, touchable objects gets your creative juices flowing then a 3D printer could be a worthwhile investment this Christmas.

Home-friendly units are arriving in their droves, some of the more popular names in the 3D printing world include M3D, MakerBot, LulzBot and CubePro – prices start around the £1000 mark and advance into their thousands for larger, more advanced printers. The only limit is your imagination (and wallet).

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No more bad Christmas TV with GoPro Hero+ 

The ideal accessory for gadget afficados and sports enthusiasts alike. If you’re looking for a camera to accompany you on the slopes the rugged Hero+ will survive all sorts of knocks and bumps, while shooting at a constant 60fps.

If you’re more comfortable taking a backseat the Hero+ can also shoot in HD video and produce 8-megapixel stills, plus you can control it from afar using the dedicated iOS and Android apps. It’s waterproof too.

From £199/$199.

(Walking in the) iPad Air 2

If you’re in the market for upgrading your iPad this Christmas, the Apple iPad Air 2 is the absolutely must have gadget.

The iPad Air 2 has squeezed a few extra mm off its predecessors already-svelte frame, while bolstering it with all the technical innovations expected of an Apple flagship product in 2015 (like the new A8X processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor). Grab the upgrade from $399.

On the other end of the scale and for those looking to supersize their life, the iPad Pro boasts an enormous 12.9-inch screen (2732 x 2049 pixels) and brings you tantalisingly close to laptop territory. Price from $799.

Don’t run out of juice this Christmas… Portable power

If you’re planning on having a gadget heavy Christmas then you’ll be wanting to eek out as much extra life from your devices as possible.

Clocking in at the smaller end of the spectrum, the Anker PowerCore+ mini could equally be at home with your lipstick as your smartphone. With 3350mAh at full charge and compatible with a myraid of personal devices, it’s nicely affordable ($40), and available in a range of eye-catching colours too.

Apple has made its first foray into the battery case market with a smart case that charges your 6S or 6 device.

The case extends your iPhone with 25 hours-worth of talk time, or 18 hours of 4G web browsing, and will set you back £79/$99/AU$165 respetively.

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Work off those mince pies: Microsoft Band 2

There’s a glut of wearable fitness trackers available today but Microsoft’s follow-up to its original Band is the most recent and it looks killer to boot.

At the time of writing you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gadget (that’s not a running watch) that’s capable of incorporating both heart rate monitoring and GPS. For that reason Microsoft’s Band 2 is worth a look-in.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

And finally… an inexpensive stocking filler. Give the gift of music and curate your own festive playlist for family gettogethers and New Year’s celebrations.

For a limited time Spotify is offering 3 months Premium membership for just £0.99/$0.99. Sign-up using this link and enjoy unlimited, ad-free music for a full 3 months, a saving of £9.99/$9.99 per month. Couple this with the Acoustic Research Pasadena outdoor speaker and you’ll be able to entertain on the terrace or even down on the beach thanks to its 8 hour charge. It’s yours for $99.

Your Procurement Christmas Booklist

The Christmas holidays are great – plenty of time to relax, see family and relax in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a good book…

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If you’re like the team at Procurious HQ, you can’t get enough of procurement, supply chain and leadership related literature, then we’ve compiled a short list for you to add to your bookshelf/Kindle/eReader for the festive period:

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  • Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA – Magnus Carlsson
  • A Quick Guide to Procurement (for non-Procurement people) – John Bowen
  • The Procurement and Supply Manager’s Desk Reference – Fred Sollish and John Semanik

Procurement-Mojo

  • Procurement Mojo – Sigi Osagie (procurement capability)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen Covey (change)

Getting To Yes

  • Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher and William Ury (negotiation)
  • The Brand You 50 – Tom Peters (personal brand)
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (leadership)

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  • The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users – Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
  • Music Rights Without Fights – Richard Kirstein (marketing procurement)
  • Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson (change)
  • Winning! – Clive Woodward (leadership)
  • Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (leadership)

That should be plenty to keep you occupied when you are looking to escape the mayhem or avoid another couple of hours of dodgy Christmas TV.

Let us know if we have missed your favourite and put the title in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

C3PO Teaches Us About Proper Communication

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Uncle Owen: “What I really need is a droid who understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.”
C-3PO: “Vaporators? Sir, my first job was programming binary load lifters very similar to your vaporators in most respects.”
Uncle Owen: “Can you speak Bocce?”
C-3PO: “Of course I can, sir. It’s like a second language to me. I’m a-”
Uncle Owen: “Yeah, alright. Shut up. I’ll take this one.”

So Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens soon (or has opened – depending on where and when you are reading this!) and following my article about change management one of the drivers (or stoppers) of change is communication.

Tony Hadley sang that communication lets us down, and in procurement it’s so true. How many of us plan our communication strategies, what we are trying to do, how are we are trying to say it, who do we actually want to speak to?

This article then is designed to give you a road map and some pointers for planning and executing your communication activities. There is a lot of advice out there on the internet, and a quick analysis of them leads me to summarise them thusly;

A simple communication plan should cover the following:

  • Who do you want to communicate with?
  • What’s the purpose/objective?
  • What is the key message?
  • How will this be delivered?
  • Who will deliver it?
  • How often will this be delivered?
  • Specific content

Who (audience)

A good place to start is to define who it is you’re trying to communicate with. Is it a person or a whole department, a key internal stakeholder or external supplier? A good piece of advice that I received was, to consider who influences this person? It may be that if we couch what we are trying to say with an analogy of the persons mentor or influencer then we may be more impactful.

For example, if the individual likes Richard Branson, we may start our messaging (see below) with an analogy of something that he did or said and how it relates to our points. This will help identify your history with this person and therefore will start to influence the overall purpose and objective

Purpose

So what is this piece of communication trying to do? Is it for information, or trying to persuade? Is it simply just to change a perception of someone about you or the whole department? Are we trying to get someone to be influential on our behalf, or are we actually trying to influence them?

Key Message

What is the overview or key message that you want to leave the person being communicated to with? By focusing on the end result we can then shape the actual message to ensure we deliver it accordingly. For example, “We want the supplier to consider us a potential strategic partner” means that the messaging and the method need to be aligned, and it’s likely to be a campaign of communication rather than a one off.

How (Delivery)

So now we come to deployment, the “nitty gritty” of communication. Face to face, telephone or email (letters anyone?)? Well it depends on what the purpose is, and importantly how the person being communicated to wants to be communicated with. Finally you need to consider the how impactful of the method.

Lots have been written about Albert Mehrabian and his study into communication. Essentially what he said was we get most of our clues of the emotional intent behind people’s words from non-verbal sources. And when the two are in conflict, we believe the non-verbal every time.

When you write an email there is no emotional intent that is being able to be read (even with emoticons), it also becomes easier to ignore. Have we ever read an email that in a way that is different than the sender intended? Emails are an essential part of our communication, as we use them all the time, but they are flat pieces of communication, if we want to become more impactful using our tone of voice, and being aligned with our body language will do this in our communication and therefore we need to plan for delivery.

Who (Delivery)

So who is the right person to deliver the key messages? Here’s a thought – does it need to be you? This is where your earlier planning will come in. We may not have access to the person we are trying to communicate with, it may be that others have an easier time to get this persons time, or alrerady have a degree of influence? (see the first who).

Suppliers use this strategy to influence decision makers when they are not readily available to be influenced directly. They identify an internal person who could be utilised as an internal brand advocate.

Frequency

How often will you need to communicate with this person? Is this a campaign or a one off? This will link back to the purpose, if we are trying to turn a detractor into a supporter, its unlikely that we accomplish this with just one meeting. Its more likely to be a concerted campaign and the messages may well change as we move them along our supportive line. On the other hand, it could be just for information only.

Mind your language

Finally it’s critical to use the language of the person to whom you are communicating with. All the planning in the world will not overcome the basics of not being understood.

Consider where the individual works, how will they be able to understand our acronyms, short cuts or techno babble?

So we need to consider changing our language and speaking theirs.

Unless of course, you really do speak Bocce…..

Happy Christmas, and may the force be with you.

Why Thanksgiving is a Happy Holiday for Business

Just in case you didn’t know, today is Thanksgiving! In honour of this holiday, we take a look at the numbers behind the day.

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It’s getting towards the end of the year, the real crunch time for businesses and supply chains as they head towards the festive period. For supply chains in America (plus all the other organisations supplying to the USA at this time of year), Thanksgiving represents an additional challenge to be accounted for at this time of year.

Looking solely at Thanksgiving itself (more on Black Friday tomorrow…), it’s clear that businesses have plenty to be in good cheer about.

Talking Turkey

It’s estimated this year that a staggering $2.8 billion will be spent this year at Thanksgiving on food alone. That’s nearly $9 for every person currently living in the USA. Over 51 million turkeys will be eaten today, around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015.

These numbers go on:

  • Over 51 million turkeys will be consumed on Thanksgiving
  • This equates to around 20 per cent of the total number of turkeys raised in the USA in 2015
  • The average cost of a family Thanksgiving dinner is over $50 for the first time ever
  • The average cost of a single turkey has increased by $1.39, to $23.04 (a 6.4 per cent rise from 2014)

Travel Woes

Businesses and supply chains will be ready far in advance of this week, with all the required stock already at its final destination, ready to be picked up by consumers. And this is just as well, given the increased level of traffic on the roads:

Even although most Americans say that Thanksgiving is the worst time of year to be travelling, 46.9 million of them will be travelling for the holiday. And, due to falling petrol prices, 42 million will be driving. In 2014, the average length of trip was a 549 mile round-trip.

Tradition vs. Today

Thanksgiving has come a long way since the first celebration, held by the founders of the Plymouth Colony, back in 1621. In nearly 400 years of celebration, just about the only thing left of “tradition” is the turkey. Check out this great infographic from History.com to see the changes:

Thanksgiving-infographic-final

All that is left to do is to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving from the Procurious team!

IQ, EQ, DQ or SMQ – Which Quotient Leads to Success at Work?

We’ve all sat tests at school, whether exams to achieve qualifications, or internal tests to determine which classes we should be in.

IQ or EQ

These tests, although we didn’t know it at the time, were a way of testing our IQ. However, this is a hugely simplified way of assessing a concept that is inherently complex in nature.

Some people excel academically, while others go on to great things, even although they don’t necessarily have any academic qualifications (think Richard Branson). Whether this is down to IQ, or EQ, no-one can be 100 per cent sure, but it’s worth looking at in more detail.

IQ – How ‘smart’ are you?

For those of you that don’t know, your IQ (intelligence quotient) is derived from a series of standardised tests that designed to determine how ‘intelligent’ you are (or aren’t).

For years, IQ was used by schools and businesses to determine how smart someone was. The first application of the test was delivered in 1905 by Alfred Binet to assess the intelligence of French school children.

In the 1980’s however, it was decided that this examination method was too narrow and wasn’t painting a fair picture of how an individual would perform in real life.

Smart isn’t everything

People had realised that being smart didn’t necessarily mean you’d be good at your job. There are other things to take into account, for example, how you work in a team or group environment. So the EQ (emotional quotient) measure was developed.

This test was designed to evaluate a person’s emotions (a fairly loft ambition), to understand how the person thinks rather than what they know and to determine how they might act in certain situations.

This area of psychology is fascinating, particularly the way that people are scored or compartmentalised in order to predict their performance. Given the response to the recent discussion topic on the Myers-Briggs scale it seems this is quite a widely held view.

Social Media Quotient

More recently, it has been interesting to read about the social media quotient (SMQ), and the role that it might play in an individual’s effectiveness at work. While it is far less developed and tested than EQ and IQ, SMQ is likely to play a critical role in evaluating individual performance at work over the coming years.

Social media is already an important part of our professional lives and it’s relevance is only going to increase. How people understand and interpret this space will impact their effectiveness at work. The good news is that it’s much easier improve your SMQ than it is to improve your IQ or EQ. It really just takes a little bit of effort on your part.

Get to know the different social media tools that are out there, what the best way to apply them professionally is and you’re already off a great start. There is a quiz here that can help to determine your current SMQ and a more rudimentary checklist here.

If this topic interests you, you could consider reading about digital quotient as well. Digital Quotient, was developed by McKinsey as a way to evaluate an organisation’s (rather than a person’s) digital capability, including their areas of strength and weakness. You can find more information on this here.

Good luck developing your SQM! If you need any help, want to organise a workshop, or use Procurious’ brand new social media “PRISM” tool, just get in touch!

Halloween – A (Trick or) Treat for Supply Chains

It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas (yet…), but Halloween.

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The ghoulish ‘holiday’ has, in the past, only truly been embraced by our compatriots across the Atlantic. However, in recent years it has gained a strong foothold in the hearts, minds and, importantly for retailers, wallets of the Brits.

In America, an estimated 157 million people will celebrate Halloween in some way this year, with spending set to total $6.9 billion. An increasing number of ‘pop-up’ stores focusing on Halloween is just one reason behind this level of spend.

Creating a Monster Spend

In 2014, total spend related to Halloween in the UK was estimated at £443 million, made up of the following spend:

  • £148 million on clothing and costumes
  • £132 million on Halloween themed food
  • £92 million on decorations
  • £70 million on entertainment and stationery

If you think that is scary, then further research has also found that in 2015:

  • 29 per cent of UK consumers plan on purchasing some form of Halloween related goods
  • Just 23 per cent of males will purchase something, but will spend an average of £48 each (£20 more than females)
  • 40 per cent of parents will spend on Halloween goods
  • 55 per cent of buyers will be purchasing clothing
  • 52 per cent of shoppers will purchase food and drink

Jack ‘No’ Lantern

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However, despite it being part of the traditional Halloween offering, only 45 per cent of people plan on buying a pumpkin this year.

The news gets worse for any amateur pumpkin carvers out there, as a wet August and less than ideal growing conditions has led to a shortage of pumpkins this year, with yields down to 50 per cent.

Nightmare on Supply Chain Street?

Supply chains will be well prepared for Halloween far in advance of actually getting products into the shops. But the variety of goods on offer could spook many organisations.

Going crazy with seasonal products can put a huge strain on supply chains, cost organisations considerable sums of money, but ultimately not provide a return should the product fail.

From a Logistics point of view, goods need to be delivered at just the right time to stop competitors ghosting in, but not going so early that consumers are trying to carve mouldy pumpkins.

Take into account planning this around Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas and it could suck your resources dry.

Trick or Treat

As these holidays continue to get bigger, it provides both manufacturers and retailers with some tough choices. Don’t get involved enough and you might miss out on that sales bump, make too much and you may end up discounting products you can’t use for another 365 days.

The most successful will asses the situation and work out the best way to be involved, while the consumers will just enjoy the ever-expanding list of products they can get their hands on.

But, if Halloween isn’t your thing, just think, it’s only 53 shopping days until Christmas…

Do Manners Matter for Motivating your Staff?

Manners maketh the Manager?

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Can you remember the last time someone genuinely said to you “thanks for doing that, good job!’?

I bet it felt good.

Even though you had to do whatever that task was, it was great getting that feedback.

I’ll double the wager and say that you thought something positive about that manager and then went about the rest of your day with a little more energy and positivity.

Which is what any good company wants…happy productive people!

Do you encourage your supervisors to be polite and respectful?

Too Soft or Too Friendly?

Are you worried about them being “too soft and friendly” and thinking that the workers will take advantage of them and “goof off”.

Your staff are people, and people at the most basic “human level”, want to feel safe and belong to a group they trust and respect.

And when that happens at the office or on the warehouse floor your business or company are onto a winner!

Those people, be it forklift drivers, pickers, packers or team leaders will be more engaged with their workplace.

I have yet to read a leadership book, or seen it in action, where manners cause sick leave, lower productivity or increase work cover claims.

So the lesson…give big genuine smiles, throw in some please and thank yous, and watch your staff transform.

It doesn’t have to be complicated!

Watch more video content from Productive Minds here!

10 Steps To Achieve Networking Success

Tips to network like a boss

‘It’s not what you know but who you know’ – never has this been a truer saying. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have made it easier than ever to target those in the know and the people who make the important decisions. But, many people just don’t know how to do it right.

Are you the person stuck in the corner of the room, trapped chatting to the same person for the duration of the event and leaving feeling dejected, like it was a waste of time or opportunities? You may have the knowledge and the expertise, but if you can’t connect with the right people, what’s the point?

Don’t worry! You can be the one circulating like a pro, making every meeting count and leaving with a fist full of business cards from the people that matter.

10. Are you attending the right events?

Who do you want to meet? Focus on the events where you are going to meet people who will help you. If you’re looking for a new job, identify those where you can meet potential employers. If you’re looking to sell a product or service, e.g. website design, don’t go to an event just for web designers. Identify who may need your service (e.g. bars and restaurants) and attend events where decision makers will be.

9. Entering the room

Enter the room with confidence: stand tall and scan the room to identify people you want to approach. Don’t rush straight for the sides or corners of the room; your underlying attitude is all-important as this is what you will be radiating. If you’re feeling self-conscious then maybe chat to the host to find out who is there. They may put you at ease and they may be able to introduce you.

8. Who to approach

Knowing which groups to approach can be the hardest part of networking.   Look out for groups of three people who are facing out towards the room – these ‘open’ groups are the easiest to join.

And if you need further help in getting into an established group, see if there is a table nearby that you can put a drink down on. This should open at least one person up and you can start a conversation with them.

Avoid closed groups, the ones that have three or four people huddled closely together as these will be the least receptive to interruptions.

7. The Handshake

The handshake gives you an insight into what the other person is like. A firm (not too firm) handshake is sufficient but there are three handshakes you need to be careful about:

  1. Dominant – the finger/hand crusher, implies you’re boss and not going to listen to anyone else
  2. The ‘Wet Fish’ – limp and powerless, this suggests you’re a walk over and
  3. Double touch – grasping both hands or hand and arm together, this can seem over-familiar.

Don’t write someone off completely for giving you the ‘wet fish’ though – they may have a hand injury!

6. Remembering names

If you have a name badge, wear it high on the right side of your body which makes it easily visible to the other person to see. Listen carefully when the other person says their name and repeat it in the conversation as soon as you can, as it will help to cement it in your mind. Word association can also help; try linking their name to a well-known phrase or person. If all else fails, it’s ok to ask and much better than guessing their name!

5. Building rapport

So you’ve made your approach and you remember their name. How do you build rapport? It’s not so much about WHAT you say but HOW you say it. We get on with people who are most like us, so you need to concentrate on two things:

  • Moving and gesturing in a similar way
  • Matching the speed and pace of their voice

Don’t be too obvious about it, wait a couple of second before copying actions, but if you’re able to you’re able to do this, it will make more positive impact on them than what you’re actually saying.

4. Be interested before being interesting…

You will get the most out of networking if you listen to the other person and find out what you can do for them. Ask key questions to identify their needs:

    • What makes a great customer for you?
    • What sort of contacts are you looking for?
    • Is there anyone I might know who could be useful to you?

Givers gain, so if you can help them first, they will be more likely to help you in return.

3. Moving on…

You have been chatting for a few minutes and you realise that this person isn’t able to help you… however don’t write people off straight away – they might be well connected with the people you want to meet.

If you’re in a group excuse yourself politely. If you’re with just one person it’s a bit trickier. Ask them to accompany you to the drinks table – you might lose them on the way, or find someone else to introduce them to while you’re there. If all else fails, it is socially acceptable now to tell them that you are there to network and would like to circulate more, wish them well and just move on.  

2. Work on your social networking personality

These days your virtual presence is as important as your physical presence. Make sure that your Linked-In profile is 100 per cent completed and get people to recommend you, especially from outside of your employment – client recommendations are worth a lot. Linked-In is great for connecting with key decision makers too.

As for Facebook, check your privacy settings. If your settings are set to public, only upload photos and comments that you would be happy for a client to see. If in doubt, tighten your privacy or don’t add it.

1. Following up…

You have attended an event and chatted to and exchanged business cards with a potential new client/employer. What next?

Ask if it’s ok to send them an email or message via LinkedIn and don’t be too pushy about meeting up. Be persistent but don’t pester: ask how you can work TOGETHER and if they don’t reply, back off.

If you have been chatting about a specific subject, send a link to articles or websites of interest. Really personalise the approach – a handwritten letter with an article of interest makes a big impression – and it will have the stick factor.

For more on this, check out my TEDX presentation on Successful Networking

Travelling for Business – A Rookie’s Guide

Travelling for business is one of the things I most looked forward to when I embarked on my professional career (excuse the pun).

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This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Growing up with a father who was forever jetting off around the world, I saw business trips as a great opportunity to see new places, do some shopping (since there were always presents for the kids when he came home) and I assumed some work must be involved but it was never clear what that entailed and how easy or difficult it was.

As a young professional I was fortunate to begin domestic travel in the first year of my career, progressing to international travel the following year and more recently in 2014 travelling to an average of two cities per week and in 2015 travelling to an average of two countries per month. These trips, I came to realize, were definitely a great opportunity to see new places, however shopping for loved ones was rarely on the agenda aside from at airport shops and in fact the amount of work involved before, during and after each trip was significant.

Aside from this realisation, I have learnt a number of basic lessons from the last few years of business travel so thought I would share some of my general tips with you in this post and then some more country specific ones in my future posts. China will be the focus on my next post and then the Middle East after that so keep an eye out! I hope these tips are entertaining as well as useful for you as you either prepare for your first business trip, or read this from your hotel on your 51st trip.

General Tips for Business Travel

As you will have noticed from my first post on networking, I like to think about the work that needs to be done before, during and after any activity. Therefore for business travel I have broken up the information into pre-trip, trip and post-trip:

Pre-Trip

When the requirement for business travel is first identified by yourself or your boss there are a number of questions to be covered before you can begin your pre-trip preparation.

One model I have found useful is the Six W’s which has been adapted from Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men (What, Why, When, How, Where, Who). By running through these questions you can understand what the travel is, the purpose and goal of the trip, when you need to go and for how long, how you will do it, where you will go, who you will go with and who you will meet with/work with on the trip.

An example is you are going on a sales trip, the goal is building relationships with prospective clients, the trip will be in June and last for one week, you will fly from Hong Kong to Beijing for two days and then fly from Beijing to Shanghai for three days and then fly from Shanghai back to Hong Kong, you will liaise with your local Sales Agent on travel bookings and meeting bookings and your local Sales Agent will accompany you to all meetings which will be with executives from 20 large companies.

Based on this information you can get the practical arrangements made, for example:

  • Book travel and meetings
  • Nominate a colleague to cover your normal duties
  • Purchase travel insurance
  • Pack appropriate business and casual attire
  • Get your passport and papers in order.

Once that is complete you can begin the preparation needed to help you achieve the goal of your trip. I fully believe in the Seven P’s (Proper Prior Planning Promotes Peak Performance) so would strongly recommend you take the time to prepare for your trip whichever way you need to.

Personally, my preparation normally includes some or all of these activities:

  • Research the country I am going to so I can be prepared for any cultural differences and safety considerations
  • Research the people I am meeting with including reviewing their company website and activity in the media and looking over their personal LinkedIn profile
  • Preparing meeting packs including relevant notes, presentations or papers which I will need to refer to in the meeting
  • Writing a clear itinerary showing the time, location, contact, goal and background for each meeting
  • Finally I think it is always a nice touch to send the people you will be meeting with or working with on your trip a brief email to confirm the meeting details, provide a short agenda and tell them you are looking forward to meeting them/ seeing them again.

By understanding the Five W’s and following the Seven P’s you are laying the groundwork for a successful trip and will reduce the level of difficulty and complexity of the work that you will need to do on the trip so maybe you will be able to find time for that quick shopping expedition for the kids or even visit a local attraction or two. Although of course the execution of the trip itself will also need to be spot on if you want to enjoy these perks. Here are my top tips for during the trip.

Trip

Depending on where you are travelling there are lots of ways to make or break your trip. Generally though my tips are:

  • Arrive to each meeting early and be professional and friendly
  • Note all follow-up actions and complete as many as you can straight after each meeting or well within the agreed time-frames
  • Pack muesli bars or snacks to eat between meetings as you often have to skip meals
  • Try to get enough sleep as the days are long and you have to be on top of your game for each meeting
  • If you have lots of meetings booked each day (5 for example) then arrange a driver or negotiate with your first taxi driver to drive you for the whole day as not being able to find a taxi is not an acceptable excuse for being late to your next meeting
  • Have your phone on you at all times as people often have to move meetings forwards or backwards at short notice so you need to be contactable

Speaking of moving meetings – always be flexible and as much as possible work around the people you are meeting with; Try to avoid excessive drinking at night (this could be easy or hard depending on the people you are travelling with and where you are going – I will address this in my country specific posts); Keep up the communication with any colleagues you are travelling with so you can support each other; and finally always thank and show your appreciation for anyone who has assisted you during your trip before you leave whether it is your driver, Sales Agent, local colleague, professional translator etc.

Post-Trip

To make sure you achieve the goals of the trip, it is important that you allocate time to your post-trip work, for example:

  • Prepare and then complete the action list from the trip which would normally involve things like sending promised information to people and saying thank-you for their time
  • Update any reports you need to with meeting notes and agreed actions
  • Put away your passport somewhere safe
  • Prepare your travel expenses for reimbursement
  • And of course give your loved ones any small presents you brought home.

Business travel is loved by some for the experience of visiting new places and hated by others for the long lines at the airport and the stress of rushing around a new city, but overall as long as you allocate sufficient time to the pre and post trip work and keep your head in the game during the trip then you should be able to meet all the goals that you set and perhaps even have a good time.

If you have any tips of your own on business travel please feel free to post them in the comments section!

Madeleine Tewes is the Head of Business Development and Marketing at Apsiz Services.