Chairman’s Blog Thursday 10th July 2014.
A good turnout, 20 members plus 1, Vivienne’s guest Aaron Foster who deals with commercial property investments;
The Ed Slot had David Plumley, back to basics and extolling the virtues of 1-2-1. His challenge for everyone, to arrange a 1-2-1 before they left the meeting, seemed to have a fairly good take up as I spotted people scurrying around at the end of the meeting and making appropriate arrangements. Congratulations to David for a very focused, productive Ed Slot.
In a topsy-turvy sort of way I will begin my description of the 60 second round with the Oscar winner- Marcelle. She extolled the virtues of the Ruby which is the stone for the month of July. It is apparently chromium that gives it its colour, useful for 40th wedding anniversaries and a most valued Ruby type colour is “pigeon blood”. The fact that I was interested to note the above facts down explains why she won the Oscar, awarded to her by last week’s winner Michael Adelizzi who immediately followed her and talked of low level baths and high level toilets. I am sure I was only one of many with the mental image of people transferring to the latter to the former.
Peter Hood has been changing nappies and burping, this he declared made the breakfast a departure from his normal routine although I had noticed the burping at previous meetings.
Dean Caldon talked about houses (‘cos Howard suggested it) Howard Bullock talked about pensioners (‘cos Dean suggested it). Alan Moller talked about electrical installations (‘cos he thought that’s what people would suggest if asked).
Richard Reed talked of cruises, in particular a company that was having a summer sale that take boats to places that other cruises don’t reach. It would appear that this accessability is gained at the expense of size. Although the word “cosy” cruises comes to mind, in fact the company is called Crystal Cruises and a cruise is yours from £2,000 upwards (come on Richard you can’t get a better plug than that!!!).
David Plumley was not going to let us off the hook after his very effective Ed Slot; he maintained his up beat manner by getting excited over “network sockets” and someone called NAZ who sounds like someone who is going to join a Jihad, but is in fact something that is very useful to small businesses (I do have some trouble concentrating at times in the early morning). Indeed as my concentration waned only certain things pierced my consciousness which were as follows:
Tina said she has 30 years of experience;
It was Stuart Smallcombe’s wedding anniversary;
Kevin Brooks has been installing a lift to take someone’s mother in law up into a loft…I did expect him to get more referrals in the light of this particular area of expertise but members were restrained in this.
That’s enough of the 60 second, round suffice to say it was upbeat lively and entertaining. Surely it could not get better…but it did! In the10 minute presentation Nick Cooke produced a memorable presentation. First of all he set himself up with a small “occasional table”…yes that’s right, one that you only see occasionally. This table contained the following items; cup, saucer, teapot, telephone and bottle of wine. Yes, I own up to it, I was once a contestant on Bull’s Eye. Anyway he proceeded to receive a telephone call when he had a discussion with what I think was an imaginary caller seeking his services. His caller thought he needed a Home Buyers Report from a surveyor. Nick was having none of it, he explained to the deluded individual that he needed a structural engineer who would be able to provide advice on the structure of the house he was proposing to purchase. These presentations can always be open to ridicule and I certainly am not going to miss out on such an opportunity but this telephone call was well prepared and was an excellent presentation. There was thererore a spring in his step when he did the running in the referrals and testimonials round.
There were finally 14 referrals and business written of £36,750 which sets us on course for a good July.
One or two little extras to report on this week;
Paul announced the results of the keepy –uppy completion but only after Michael Adelizzi had given us a demonstration of his own particular skills in that area. Most of us completed our test prior to breakfast and demonstrated more putty-downy rather than keepy-uppy skills. I think I recall Peter Hood making double figures but the winner, despite doing it whilst wearing a suit, was run away with 39 thus fuelling the suspicions that many of us have, that Dean Caldon is not only a look alike for Mehmet Ozil but is the man himself who had popped back briefly from his world cup duties to brighten up our morning. It perhaps explains why Howard Bullock had to tell him what should be the subject of his 60 seconds. Don’t worry Dean your secret it safe with us.
With every benefit comes a burden; I was the lucky beneficiary of the Good Egg Award for June and I thank all those who voted for me. I just hope that the votes weren’t prompted by the burden side of the award, namely the responsibility of looking after the egg until it is delivered back for next month’s award in the first August meeting. The responsibility doesn’t just extend to the egg, there is a rather attractive stand and the bag that is was purchased in. It should be safe in my lounge provided as it is sitting comfortably on my mantle piece…unless I have a keepy-uppy completion in said lounge.
A truly great meeting, let’s see if we can repeat it next week.
Windows XP was released in 2001 … and it is still on over 30% of all PCs out there. It is a testament to how “loved” it has been. Support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014. If you’re running this version after that, you won’t get security updates for Windows. Microsoft have been very fair in supporting XP for 13 years. Since XP we have had Vista [spit, spit], Windows 7 and now Windows 8. Windows 8 is getting mixed reviews and sales have not been high. It certainly is more secure, more stable and faster but many have found the user interface just too different. It looks like MS have a revision for Windows 8, codenamed “blue”, on the way later this year. Window 7 is also still available and has had very good press since its release. For advice on upgrading or replacing PCs that are currently running Windows XP do get in touch with us at Integrate Networks
Microsoft’s latest version of it’s ubiquitous “Office” product now presents us with a choice. We can either go for the yearly subscription model by choosing Office 365 (in one of its many variations) or we can instead pay once, up-front, for the full Office 2013.
Whether for home or business the correct choice is not straight forward. If you “Google” Office 2013 and follow nearly all the Microsoft links you will actually be sucked towards Office 365 … i.e. the subscription product. It can be quite hard to find the correct link for Office 2013. It does seem that MS wants us all to move to a yearly payment.
For advice regarding the correct choice for you, do contact us at Integrate Networks. David Plumley
10 point I.T. Health Check
Information Technology and computing in general … possibly the fastest moving aspect of the modern world. Much of the equipment we are using right now will be outdated and slow within 4 to 5 years simply because of changing demands and new approaches. Programmes and processes constantly evolve to increase efficiency and productivity. But older hardware struggles to keep up.
We need a simple strategy which will help us stay in control of our I.T. and computing requirements. Without a plan we can end up wasting endless man-hours trying to cope with systems that don’t quite deliver what our businesses need. This may be due to outdated hardware, incorrect software and poor implementation.
The B2B power group met this past Tuesday 28th August. The group is free to attend and has an organised yet relaxed approach.
In attendance were Jason Nortey, Graham Wright, Dawn Ribnell, Aidan Squire and David Plumley.
Apologies from Terry Maylin, Tina Walker, Claire Greenslade, Suzanne Riches, Neal Lewer and Richard Reed.
The main thrust of the meeting was to discuss the categories we should invite to the group. The aim being to increase the group’s size and effectiveness and to hopefully encourage attendees to consider becoming EBF members. If we can increase the group to at least 15 members we should have a reliable attendance of at least 10 for each meeting.
The following categories were thought to be the main ones to concentrate on:
- Car Servicing
- Car/Van Hire
- Events Organiser
We also want to encourage newer EBF members who fit the B2B category to come along each month.
We finished the meeting with each member describing their most recent work. This sparked quite a number of questions.
First some questions
- What are the purposes and goals of the power group?
- What is the function of the monthly meeting?
- Who is eligible to be a part of the group?
- What sort of commitments is required of a member?
Purposes and goals
There are two primary goals of the group. First, knowing that our business types have a natural empathy, we make an effort to bring referral-based business to each other. Second, we feel we can eventually market ourselves as a group … of “trusted traders” … a one stop shop for consumers. We aim to build better working relations among members. The size and diversity of the group will be crucial to its effectiveness and so a subsidiary goal is the need to increase the membership in order to fill the gaps in services we can offer as a group. We need to be able to offer complete solutions.
Why the monthly meeting?
To keep us on track and to maintain motivation and direction. We meet to generate, discuss and refine our goals and to then create action plans so that we really do accomplish something. Discussions will include how we can promote the groups as a whole as well as our individual businesses. Each meeting is part of our further business education and growth. We run through a structured agenda which ensures we grow increasingly knowledgeable about each other’s businesses and also learn how our own business is perceived by others. The monthly meeting is also the time to formalise referrals that we may have already given or are about to give. At each meeting we can also be reminded of the categories of business we need to invite as guests.
Who can be a member of this power group?
The core members of the Business-to-Consumer Power Group are drawn from Essex Business Forum. The power group is also happy to accept other local businesses which are not members of EBF conditional on there being a genuine level of commitment. Also, past members and outside professions can be invited if they are identified to be of benefit to the group. The members mostly run businesses which, in whole or part, trade and deal with the end consumers of goods and services.
All members of the group are expected to make reasonable effort to attend all meetings through the year. If a member cannot attend it is good form to let the Chairman know well in advance.
The commitment also involves being an active, contributing member, bringing guests when possible, striving to further the group as a whole and looking for qualified referrals for other members.
The EBF biz-2-Consumer power group met on Monday 20th and were joined by members from the property power group. In fact we are now an enlarged single group which brings the combined membership to nearly 20. Looks like we’ll stick with the B-2-C group name.
A full write up from Jason Nortey will come later but just to say that 9 were in attendance … Brian Painter, Graham Thurston, Mike Rogers , Nick Cooke, Richard Reed, Marcelle Saad, David Plumley, Jason Nortey, John Probert … and the following apologies … Kevin Brooks, Steve Carmichael-Brown, Aidan Squire, Suzanne Riches, Jamie Nye, Claire Greenslade.
We have decided that we will move back to monthly meetings, the next being 17th September and then sticking with the third Monday of each month [December excepted]. Time and location are 4.55 pm [5 mins to get drinks in for a prompt 5.00 pm kick-off] at the George and Dragon Mountnessing. We try to gather in the mezzanine area of the restaurant.
Windows 8 will be commercially and domestically available from Late October. It is a big move forward in speed, efficiency, and new possibilities. But it is VERY different!
Windows 8 [the full version] will probably have a very slow initial take-up within businesses. The interface is so very different that it will confuse users and slow them down. Enterprise will look at the support and training costs as quite a barrier. The change in interface is bigger than the entire accumulated transitions from Win95 through to Win7.
This does not mean Windows 8 is bad … but it might have to permeate the domestic market first. Enterprise [and even SME] may wait until users have been using Windows 8 for a while [maybe 2+ years?] on their home PCs and tablets. The less difference between home and work PCs the better.
By the end of the year new PCs for the home will increasingly ship with Windows 8. Also some will choose to upgrade an existing PC. Businesses will be wise to wait until a good percentage of users are familiar with the total change of interface.
Windows RT [the version running on ARM based tablets] will probably grab a quick slice of the tablet market … but it will not run line of business apps … except for the built-in version of MS Office.
I’d encourage domestic users to embrace Windows 8 early on. Early learners will be valuable at work. Also businesses may want to upgrade or introduce just a few Win 8 PCs 8 to get on the learning curve and to discover if their applications run.
I’m also wondering if third party apps will arise enabling a more traditional look … including the start button. Not sure if that is good or bad. Might be better to accept and learn the new interface from the start.
David Plumley, Integrate Networks
EBF Ed Slot May 3rd 2012
Presented by David Plumley
Preparing for our weekly 60 seconds and our occasional 10 min opportunities
[Part of the mini-series on communications]
Whether we are preparing for our 1 minute slot or the longer 10 min slot there are some common features:
Knowledge, confidence and delivery are the basic elements of our presentations … and these require some thought. The following points will build our confidence … and need to be in place before we speak.
• Plan and prepare in advance what you want to say and what approach you want to take. Don’t just wing it … this will be obvious to everyone!
• We need to now our subject … we can’t speak confidently if the information is vague to us!
• We should avoid waffle … and think before we speak.
• Also avoid jargon … instead use easy language and simple words … even if the subject itself is complicated.
• Get to your main points quickly. Then it’s easier for the listener to remember what we said.
• It is good to know something about our audience and also to look them in their eyes … we’ll then easily discover if we are being understood.
• Maybe we can try recording our own presentation at home … to see if we modulate our voice … rather than speaking in a flat tone.
• Stick to the time schedule … and avoid trying to say too much in the allotted time.
And with that last point still ringing … I will now sit down.
EBF Education Slot 23rd Feb 2012 – David Plumley
The fees we pay each month give us the coveted opportunity to tell others about ourselves, our business and the type of clients we are looking for.
Here are a few ways we can be specific in our 60 seconds.
- Identify examples of type of work that is perfect for you
- Also identify the types of work that are not suitable.
- Be specific about one or more of your skills or specialties
- Identify the type of individual or company you are looking for.
- Be specific about the location you prefer to work
- Identify a particular company you would like to make contact with
- Tell us of a particular person you’d like the opportunity to meet
If we are only giving woolly, repetitive and non-specific information every week two things may happen …
- Other members may struggle to know exactly what you do and what you want
- Your chums here may have just switch off each week and not give you the attention you need.
In conclusion, being specific when describing what we do and what we are looking for may well trigger thoughts in the minds of your sales team around this table.
Maybe the cup, next week, should go to the person who is the most specific?