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Edition 7

Networking from another angle

There’s no doubting the value to business of a good networking function but for a whole stack of reasons, 5.30pm on a week day (did anyone with children say arsenic hours?) is not something we can all manage on a regular basis. So what are the options? With the right mix of good ingredients, you can turn people you know from clients to loyal clients to advocates of your business with an E-newsletter and without a babysitter.

In my peaceful world before children, it was hard to imagine a person who didn’t like pizza. It’s the best tasting food on the planet right? Well, it’s at least on a par with chocolate, coffee (okay that’s a drink) and red lollies.

Since my daughter Ashlyn is now at an age (2.5) where she should theoretically be able to eat whatever we eat, I realise there is at least one person who doesn’t like pizza.

Although, this could all change by next month, next week, tomorrow or in an hour or so when she finally decides that she is, after all, hungry.

Plenty of people warned me that toddlers are fussy but absolutely no one could have prepared me for the red faced, eye-poppingly frustrating eating habits of Ashlyn.

The first time she tried mum’s pizza she (naturally!) loved it. The second time she wasn’t so keen and only ate half. The next time she picked off all the corn kernels and bits of pineapple before announcing it was “delicious” and this latest time, (Heaven help me!) she would only eat the crust but said she liked it because it tasted like biscuit with tomato sauce on!!!

From the comfort of my desk chair and keyboard even I can admit this sounds a little amusing but combine it with the preceding two hours of hell that usually accompany the task of getting dinner on the table in our house by 5.45pm and I’m telling you, nobody is laughing.

Yep, the arsenic hours, witching hours, whatever you like to call ‘em. Everyone with kids knows the drill well. It’s the end of the day, everyone is tired and grumpy and if you can just manage to finish a meal without getting indigestion, you’ve had a win.

So 5.30pm is not the most accommodating hour in my house. It’s the reason that these days, I very rarely get the opportunity to attend a local business networking function because they are inevitably held at the same time.

All of this is just another reason I love E-newsletters. Networking functions are all about building relationships and I’m here to tell you, so are E-newsletters.

But here’s the thing. If you went along to a networking function with your local chamber of commerce and stood in the corner for two hours without talking to anyone the likelihood of kicking off any new and potentially valuable relationships is pretty much nil right?

Well the wrong approach to your E-newsletter will return pretty much the same results.

Here’s I believe, the wrong approach to an E-newsletter. Trying to flog your subscribers something every edition. Using it to tell everyone how good you are all the time (new awards, new office, latest specials) and other various bits and bobs of information that are all far more interesting to you than to your readers.

Thinking about your E-newsletter like your first conversation with someone you have just met at a networking function is a terrific way to develop a far more effective approach.

You wouldn’t bash someone over the head you have just met with how many awards you’ve won or expect them to instantly want to buy something from you just because they shook your hand, otherwise you’d be that person standing in the corner by yourself.

You’d start the conversation by getting them to talk about something they’re interested in – themselves! If you didn’t know that you’ve got to read the ol’ classic How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

It’s the same with an E-newsletter. You can get people to start reading by presenting information they’re interested in.

Profile your major clients, then put yourself in their shoes. What kind of information do you have as the industry leading professional that you are, that would be useful to these people?

Here’s some ideas. How To topics, case studies with real life stories that demonstrate how your service or product solved someone’s problem or made their life better, latest research, industry trends, emerging developments, innovations or expert interviews.

Add to it your own personal and unique perspective and you have the guts of a gripping E-newsletter and a much increased possibility of your reader tuning in again next time instead of hitting delete or unsubscribe.

Or in the networking function analogy, ducking off to the toilet every time you start heading in their direction.

Brown Mouse Communications helps small business owners build trust and win sales through high quality, individualised email newsletters.

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

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Check out our previous editions

Why not check out some of the previous editions of Mouse Mail!