The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Investing in Youth – Three Reasons to Hire a Graduate

By Lee Parker - Managing Director, Parker Sourcing Limited

Freshly qualified graduates are labelled – a lot of the time and quite unfairly so – as a group of loutish and work-shy slobs who would rather sit at home watching Jeremy Kyle than flourish in an exciting new career. I should know; in the past I’ve been tarred with the same brush as those few who give students and graduates alike, a bad name. But in reality, when it comes to hiring new recruits, an attitude similar to this could see you miss out on a potentially brilliant candidate and addition to your workplace.
So here I am, armed with three great reasons why you should invest in graduate youth when it comes to expanding your business.
Graduates Have Bags of Enthusiasm
They’re young, they’re ambitions and their dreams haven’t been squashed (yet). This all takes the form of raw energy in a graduate, which can be tapped into and utilised in all kinds of ways for your business. Whether that be integrating with other staff members, raising the morale of your team, learning new skills for the job or even just brightening the atmosphere up a little – it’s a great kind of energy to have in the office!
Granted, there can be times when too much energy can be a distraction, but it’s all about tapping into what’s there in abundance and controlling it.
Graduates are Like Chameleons
It’s actually a popular misconception that Chameleons can adapt to suit their surroundings, but the analogy will suffice for my point – that graduates are extremely flexible when it comes to a new environment.
They don’t bring with them any kind of baggage from past jobs, or draw comparisons from previous positions they’ve held. This makes them very easy to mould into your way of thinking when it comes to character development, so that they fit seamlessly into your setup.

Graduates Bring in New Ideas
Sometimes, a company can get so bogged down in its day-to-day routine, that there is neither time nor the room left for creativity to thrive. This is where graduates really prove themselves to be a popular asset among team-leaders.
A graduate is new to the business world. Their thought processes have not yet been restricted by business ‘best practises’ or ‘proven methodologies’. Their minds are essentially unshaped pools of new ideas and fresh outlooks. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Friday Guest Blog: The PA and the Manager Working as a Team

By Heather Baker of Baker Thompson Associates

The PA and the manager spend a great deal of time together.

They have the same objectives and carry out different tasks to achieve those objectives. Communication is vital; it would be impossible to work together successfully without excellent communication.

The team (the PA and the manager) should be speaking regularly during the day but, most importantly, time should be set aside, probably once a day, to sit down together and agree on objectives for the day, week and month (this can always be done on the ‘phone if necessary).

How can PAs make decisions on their managers’ behalf and be proactive if they don’t know what’s important to their managers at that time? Managers who are secretive are harming their own effectiveness as well as that of their assistant.

These meetings should not be one way; the PA waiting for the manager to tell them what to do. It should be two way communication. Before this session PAs should have prepared what they need to relay to their managers and anticipated any questions they may have.

As issues arise, an effective PA will always attempt to offer viable solutions rather than problems; they are there to assist, not give their manager more worries.

Many PAs who tell me they have offered to do more for their manager, complain that he/she has not responded and they feel a lack of trust. In fact, the manager may very much want the PA to take on more responsibility, they are just not sure what they could do. The PA should give the manager suggestions of how they could be more proactive.

Networking internally and externally is vital. Take every opportunity to attend meetings and training courses to expand your knowledge and skills. Read books and magazines. Join groups on social media to share good practice with others.

Be aware of each other’s working styles and how you both like to receive information. Listen and observe to really understand each other’s needs. PAs should explain things clearly and simply; many busy managers do not have time for detail.

The key word on all my PA courses is “preparation”. An effective PA always puts some thought into situations before acting – from routine telephone calls and emails, to attending meetings, offering proposals and issues of conflict. An effective PA offers his/her views whilst always having considered the views of the other person. An effective PA is priceless!

 Heather had over 20 years’ experience as a secretary and PA before setting up Baker Thompson Associates in 2000 (  The company specialises in the training and development of PAs and administrative staff.

She travels around the world working with large and small organisations to enable their office staff and PAs to work more effectively.  As well as PA/admin workshops, Heather facilitates sessions in business writing, proofreading, minute taking and much more.

Heather is the author of “Successful Minute Taking ; Meeting the Challenge” and “Successful Business Writing”, in which you learn even more about business writing.  She is the creator of the BakerWrite speedwriting system and the author of “Speedwriting”.  As well as tutor-led courses, BakerWrite speedwriting can also be learnt online at Heather’s website.

She also does coaching for managers and their assistants.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Friday Guest Blog: Why Not Using Social Media Management in Your Business Is Insane

By Hakeem Adebiyi, Director of Hands Associates

A study by Manta showed that 42% of small businesses said that 25% of their new customers came from social media sites so isn't now the time to start thinking about social media management?

For some reason there are many businesses which are still reticent to enter into the social media forum in any way.

This article is for those people, let me give you five reasons why you'd be mad not to invest in social media management for your business.

1. SEO

Even novices to the game realise that if you are online you probably want your website coming on the first page of Google when someone enters a product of service that you provide. So if I told you that social media management would help do that for you, I guess you'd be interested. Search engine optimisation done in the right way basically means getting your website to be the most relevant site on the internet for the things people are looking for. If this happens then Google sticks you at the top of the rankings because all they are trying to do is to match people who are searching for a particular thing with that particular thing or information on that particular thing.

It stands to reason that if lots of people are talking about your service, product, website etc then it indicates that your site is relevant and useful, Google then wants to help get people to that site. Social Media management isn't the only thing that you need but if you have a strong relevant social brand presence then it isn't going to hurt is it?

2. Building Trust

Nowadays customers do a lot more research about who they are going to do business with, whether that is buying a product or a service. Most of that research is done on line so having a social media presence will help you engage with your customers in a way which helps build trust between you and your potential customer.

3. Puts A Face To The Brand

The old sales adage that people buy from people is still true even when buying online. It takes a lot of trust to buy from someone you don't know and this is exactly what you are asking people to do from your website. The more you can build a personality, the more people feel they know you and the more they trust you. Once people trust you, you can sell them almost anything (within reason of course). Look at Richard Branson, we all feel we know him even though we have never met him, hence when Virgin launches anything we feel we can trust the brand (i.e. him). Social Media Management means that we can now build this personality rapidly and at low cost but it does also mean that you can just copy and paste content. You have to give value, let people know you a real person and are interested in the things that they are. There is no better way for you to connect with your potential customers than social media

4. It's Where The Customers Are

The facts speak for themselves
• 2 Billion Internet users
• Last Year there were 300 billion searches performed and over 500 billion products sold online. Today being online doesn't just mean having a website; you need to be doing social media as well otherwise you will get eaten up by the competition.
• 80% of all the world is on a social network
• FACEBOOK - 1 billion active users and 500 million average visits a day
• TWITTER - 200 million members and 33 million visits a day.
This leads into point number 5

5. It's Where Your Competitors Are

The stats above mean that whilst you may be reticent to go online your competitors definitely aren't. Facebook's revenue from advertising was $5 billion in 2012. Even the UK government have spent £100,000 to promote Britain as a great place to visit. The thing is, people don't tend to spend that much advertising on any platform unless they can see that it works.

One would hope that these five reasons alone have convinced you why not using social media management in your business is sheer madness.

However if you ask nicely I'll even tell you a few more.

In the meantime, we will be starting our weekly webinars (FREE for Chamber members) on the 23rd of October. These webinars show you step by step, how to significantly improve your marketing effectiveness for your business on line.

Secure your place here

For help in building your online presence using Facebook please feel free to contact us at