The next episode of Beltin’s Working In Wigan podcast is out! Vicky speaks to Val Hogan from Verve Recruitment CIC.
Val, from Lowton, has a passion for helping children find the right foster carers – and she set up her CIC to recruit more suitable people into foster care roles.
And the range of people who become foster carers is huge – Val encourages lots of people from all walks of life to explore existing skills which could make them a brilliant option for young people in need of nurture and advice.
In this episode, Val talks about her background in sales, the difference between independent and not-for-profit foster care recruiters and the challenges faced by local authorities when it comes to recruitment.
The first episode of Beltin’s brand-new Working In Wigan podcast features Alice Coren from ReMade Wigan. Alice launched her CIC in Wigan to help women going through a tough time.
The upcycling business offers a safe place to come and draw, paint, sand, varnish and create wonderful things from used items. It’s also a haven for women looking to make new friends and gain back their confidence.
Vicky and Alice, who do not usually wear coordinating jumpers, honest!
In the first episode, Vicky Galligan from Beltin’ chats to Alice about social enterprises in Wigan, offering an insight into making contacts and setting up a business (and hopefully avoiding a few headaches!).
During discussions about marketing, lot of people ask me: is LinkedIn worth the effort? The short answer is, yes. The long answer is below.
Basically, if you’re really willing to put in a bit of extra time into building your profile, LinkedIn can be amazing.
A lot of local business people tell me they’re on Facebook. They’re on Twitter and Instagram, too. Oh and they have a LinkedIn page – but they don’t really use it.
I find this hard to understand! For those who haven’t got an account, LinkedIn is a professional network of people, companies and organisations – but it’s more than this.
LinkedIn is basically a window onto your career. It’s where people see you in your working environment, where they find out more about you professionally and personally, and where they decide whether or not you’re someone they would like to do business with.
When you meet someone in a business environment, the first thing they are likely to do is check out your LinkedIn profile. Here, you can show them what kind of a person you are and how your business is run.
To ensure you have a really well-rounded profile, just think about how your business ethos can shine through – on both your personal and business profiles.
Part of building a successful social media following is networking. Networking, on a social network?
Well it may be blindingly obvious but a lot of people create business pages, then post out their own stuff but forget to interact with other people on social media.
And as we know the old saying goes: “People don’t buy from businesses. People buy from people.” I’m not sure that’s 100% true as I don’t know many people who work in Wigan Tesco – but it’s certainly true for smaller businesses and sole traders. To get your face and business ethos out there, it’s crucial to network as much as possible.
You can do this really easily on LinkedIn – keep your business page fairly formal and professional, putting out your corporate news, but use your personal profile to share it and put some emotion into your reposts. Show people how much your business means to you!
Not only will you learn from other people’s posts and get a greater insight into their business, but you can teach other people as well. Contribute to the learning of others by informing them of changes in your industry, regulations, tips, etc. Learning more about making your social media look and sound great is also something which you should see as a challenge. Keep an eye on our upcoming courses or book a bespoke training session for more help with this.
Appearance is everything (well, not everything but it’s quite important)
Check out graphics apps like Canva (free for basic mode) and try creating the following on the app to really stand out:
– a single graphic post with your logo and offer/product details
– a multiple graphic post where the user slides across the screen to view
– a live video telling people your thoughts, news or asking a question
– a corporate video showing your work, include your branding (Canva pro can do this)
Once you create these graphics and videos you’ll have a template to keep working from time and time again, making changes as you go along to keep your LinkedIn page media fresh.
Give and take
Try giving your followers something – it’s as simple as that. This could be something tangible, like a free gift offer or a discount, or it could be the gift of passing on knowledge.
If you have learned something about your business this week, then share it with your followers. They may have had the same or a similar problem.
This will then lead to them interacting with you by commenting, liking or sharing – building your community.
Any referrals you make of businesses are also a gift – tag the business into people’s posts, introduce your contacts and help share your knowledge that way.
If you can recommend a great, reliable service, your contact will thank you for it – as will the business you recommended.
Now you’ve read all this (what a trooper!) head over to LinkedIn, give Beltin’ a like and get busy with your profile. Tag in @beltin-marketing-wigan when posting and we’ll follow you too!
Beltin’ is proud to be working alongside Flourish Together CIC to offer marketing support and training for women in the Greater Manchester area.
Beltin’ founder Vicky Galligan is herself an alumni of the Flourish Time To Grow programme. On the programme, women changemakers help business start-ups, women who are unemployed and those who are looking for a change in career.
Training given includes information on setting up a social enterprise, digital and creative training, and health and wellbeing support.
Vicky said: “I loved being part of the Time To Grow programme in 2020/21, and it really helped me to launch my business successfully.
“I am now running training sessions for Flourish CIC, including Self-Branding, Career Improvement and Social Media Marketing.
“There are some amazing people doing great things, from helping women through bad times to saving the environment and promoting mindfulness.
“The course also opened my eyes to my own personal health and wellbeing – as a busy working mum I had been putting my needs at the bottom of the list, and I realised I needed to put myself first sometimes.”
So if you’re a woman living in Greater Manchester or the surrounding area, and want to work towards making a difference in society, get in touch with Flourish Together CIC to see how they can help.
The How To Festival website is also worth checking out for resources – many webinars are free to access if you are on the Flourish CIC programmes.
If you’re starting a new business, making local connections is one of the best things you can do to generate new business. The mindset around networking is simple: if you know someone well enough, trust them and know they can do the job well, you’re likely to recommend them to people you know.
If you don’t know a company, don’t know who works for them and don’t really know what they do, then you’re unlikely to spread the word about them.
Local networking gives business owners the opportunity to talk about what they do, how they do it and how they can help people in the local area. More importantly, it helps people to build long-lasting relationships and even friendships. And it results in more business for you, more business for your contacts and more money being spent (and re-spent) in the local economy.
What’s not to love?
Can anyone network?
Yes! Whether you’re a sole trader, a team leader, a volunteer or a CEO, you will be welcomed into networking groups with open arms. Not everyone finds walking into (or logging onto) a room full of people appealing. But once you get over the initial nerves, you’re bound to hear some really interesting ideas, learn more about your local area and enjoy talking about your own work.
I am yet to leave a networking meeting without the feeling of “That was great!” Your time will be well spent and your contacts book bulging. Personally, I have gained a lot of clients (who provide about 75% of my turnover) through networking, either directly through people I have met, or referrals they have made to my business.
What’s the catch?
Well there are a couple of things. Firstly, you’re going to need to invest some time in networking. Find a local group that suits you, that you enjoy and that gives you a great ROI on the time you spend with its members. More on this later.
Secondly, there’s sometimes a cost – not always though. Most groups are free, some fees are included in a wider package and some networks charge a weekly or annual fee.You need to assess how much of your budget you can invest in networking – and whether your investment will see an increase in business. Make sure you reassess your ROI on a monthly basis, to see what the impact of networking has been on your business.
The frequency of the meetings, the cost and the other members in the group, can impact on your ROI – for example, if there are three other members doing the same thing as you, then you’re unlikely to gain ALL the business in that market. Although, there may be synergy between yourself and your competitors which you can use to collaborate on – and you may even pass business to each other. Even free networking comes at a cost to your time and added expenses such as travelling, so it’s got to be effective to work long-term.
If you’re gaining from and contributing to one particular group over another, then it makes sense to concentrate on the group gaining more business for the time spent.
How should I prepare?
You will usually get a minute or two to speak to the group about your business, in an introductory sense, so have a quick speech or some bullet points ready.
Try to get over three main points:
• what you do and how you help your clients
• how you can help others in the network
• what you need other people in the network to do for you.
If you can’t squeeze these points into your quick speech, focus on the first and second, and drop the third into conversation with others. For example, you could ask them to follow you on LinkedIn, share a post on your Facebook or sign up to your newsletter.
It’s a good idea to have your social media, website and phone number saved in a document so you can copy and paste it into the chat quickly. Or in real-world meetings, of course, have a business card or QR code on a poster ready to share. Have a pen and paper handy to write down names – and save the chat at the end of the virtual meeting. If you leave the meeting without connecting with people, you’ll kick yourself!
There are quite a few networking opportunities in the area, and at Beltin’ I was pleased to help launch a group – Proper Good Networking. It would be great to see you there, or at any of the events listed below.
The upshot is, the more you can invest in local networking, the more you will get out of it. But don’t network blindly – spend some time seeing which groups are the best fit for you and your business, and which offer the best returns in terms of time and money.
And most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Wigan and Greater Manchester networking groups:
Here are some of the groups we have been to or intend to visit soon: if you know of any more please get in touch and we’ll add it to the list!
FubHub – Female Business Network – Monthly, Wednesday AM
Training sessions can be run 1:2:1, in small groups or in larger workshops. Whether in person or on Zoom, Vicky’s sessions will leave you feeling more confident about tackling your marketing and with a clear pathway of where you’re heading.
At the end of the sessions, you’ll come away with an Action Plan. This will help you to focus on what you’re doing and why. It will highlight the things you’re already doing well, the actions you could take to improve and any areas in which you may be lacking.
Creating amazing content to boost your business
Vicky, who has experience in journalism and teaching, said: “People really enjoy the training sessions – I’ve had some great feedback from people. What I generally find is that people have the know-how and the tools to create amazing content but they sometimes don’t have the time or the confidence to implement this.
“Our training sessions help boost that confidence and help people to get excited about their marketing! Instead of marketing being a bit of a chore and a bottom-of-the-list job, it will become a higher priority. And when you start seeing results in the form of enquiries and sales, you’ll know that the training and your hard work has paid off!”