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'What I got from becoming an Enterprise Nation adviser'

'What I got from becoming an Enterprise Nation adviser'
Darren Weale
Darren Weale
PR Consultant
In Tune PR
 

Posted: Mon 11th Jan 2021

It started with the sheep. Well, the path to becoming an Enterprise Nation adviser did for me after I became a member in 2020. I was one of the advised before I became an adviser. I wanted to try out receiving advice from someone interesting and to find out what it is like to be an adviser.

I used the Enterprise Nation dashboard to approach Caroline Palmer of Raising the Baa, a company that delivers 'teambuilding with sheep'.

Her service is related to internal and corporate communications, an old speciality of mine, but not one in which sheep had hitherto appeared. I found Caroline - who fittingly messaged me back with sheep-related puns - delightful to talk with and I learned about her business and that, like me, she "really believes in what they [Enterprise Nation] do".

Becoming an Enterprise Nation adviser

Caroline inspired me not to be sheepish about applying to become an adviser, so I did. I like the fact that there is a one-stop shop of over 12,000 professionals willing to advise people on an array of business topics. I like helping people and I am conscious that people need help currently rather more than usually.

If you network as much as I do, you'll know that free advice sessions of 15, 20, 30 minutes and an hour are often offered by professionals. However, you don't have that one-stop shop and not everyone puts their money where their mouths are by having professional indemnity insurance, which Enterprise Nation insists on. So thanks, Enterprise Nation. Thanks to you I am better insured, and a little poorer.

As it happens, taking that insurance was on my distant to-do list anyway. Frankly, when giving or receiving advice, I like knowing that it is in place and the adviser has taken their role seriously.

Excitement time - my first advice request

Once I was signed up, it didn't take long for me to receive my first approach for advice. Exciting! It was from an online luxury goods seller. When the call came, it was great for both of us. Certainly that is what the lady concerned said of her experience later in a recommendation!

We took an hour to talk and I was able to give a myriad of tips, big and small, that could help refresh her online business presence, and in particular to leverage her own story and values much more into the front of the business. I learned that I can offer value in this scenario and I am not going to be letting Enterprise Nation down.

I wasn't expecting a confidence boost from signing up as an adviser, but there it was. That was my first lesson learned from becoming an adviser: try it as it might help your confidence and self-esteem.

Be authentic

My second lesson came from my second session of giving advice, this time from a gentleman setting up a novel virtual consultancy. The lesson there was, as an adviser, you need to talk within your comfort zone.

As we spoke, I realised I was adding value as I was talking to his needs and from my strengths. I was described as a "master storyteller" by Enterprise Nation recently (which makes me smug, I am only human). The point is that in both advice scenarios the client was not using and telling their own story online to make themselves and their business more engaging.

My second client charmingly reinforced this by saying he'd chosen me as my adviser profile seemed more 'authentic'. I had indeed written it as an outpouring of my thoughts and values, and not as an advert designed to showcase how slick I can be.

Immediate Future, a social media agency I respect, has been saying this a lot: consumers increasingly crave authenticity. They want to be able to know and trust those whose products or services they are considering, at a time when the currency of trust is at something of a low.

Be helpful - and behave

Even before I became an adviser, I was worried that I might become overloaded with requests for free advice. It is too early for that, but I have resolved this by realising I can simply schedule as I need to and create a waiting list, if I have to!

But if you are contemplating becoming an adviser and you are determined to help, you shouldn't let this sort of thing hold you back. Also, and being authentic once more, a lot of advisers will have enlisted hoping their advice sessions will be an introduction to new business.

I am no exception, and it is a reasonable motivation, so long as you advise to help the client and not yourself. It is a probably fairly hidden reason to sign up, but I see no reason not to be open about it, and if you seek out an adviser and they start selling to you, especially early in a call, you probably have the wrong adviser.

Preparation counts

As 2021 begins, I am just two advice sessions into being an Enterprise Nation adviser. I'd like to reflect on this again in a few months to share what else I have learned, but I can close on one more tip to current and future advisers.

You may think you have signed up to offer people advice for perhaps 30 minutes or an hour. If you are to do it right, you need to spend more time than that looking at what the person asking for advice does and how they do it. I did that research ahead of both my sessions, and if I hadn't, they would have been far less useful. I consider that to be part of the commitment.

Happy new year for 2021 and, with Enterprise Nation's permission, I hope to be baa-ck with further reflections at a later date.

Darren Weale is a trusted Enterprise Nation adviser who specialises in PR and marketing. If your small business has a story he might enjoy telling, connect with him today. _Inspired by Darren's own story and have expertise to share? Become an adviser now!

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Darren Weale
Darren Weale
PR Consultant
In Tune PR
 
I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months (from July 2020 when I joined Enterprise Nation). Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. Even in that short time, I can suggest opportunities that you can do yourself at no cost other than a bit of time and effort. Your business is worth that. In my experience the top themes that people value and want to hear about the most are music, food, drink, and cuddly animals. Link your public relations (PR) – words, sounds, visuals - to any of these and you can't go far wrong. You can see that daily in the way that businesses, small, medium and large, promote and advertise themselves. As a marketing consultant and PR, I know that I cannot overlook the essential value and benefits of whatever I may be promoting. Yet even when I was in the Civil Service working on communicating IT-enabled change, or internal communications for a major accommodation project, those themes of music, food, drink, and cuddly animals were still a go-to. They were hooks that often engaged people about what would otherwise be considered dull content. My love of music - hence the In Tune PR name - has also given me my greatest opportunities to write, from published editorial for online and in magazines including Blues Matters! And The American. The highlight to date was interviewing the Blues Brothers Band inc. Dan Aykroyd, Willie 'Too Big' Hall, 'Blue' Lou Marini, Steve 'The Colonel' Cropper and more and publishing 18,000 words across two magazines. One of those pieces has recently been re-published in a Classic Rock 'Best of' compendium. Press releases, website text, social media writing, brochure text, writing for flyers, all these are fun too. That fun is equally present when I am writing for clients from estate agents to manufacturers to removal companies and charities. Writing that conveys a message, or the character of a client, often in a way they couldn't do unassisted, is a real pleasure. That is why my business is named 'In Tune PR', because it is in tune with the clients, their messages, and the right delivery that will make a difference. Being a journalist myself helps me when engaging on behalf of clients with managers and editors working in print, radio, events, online and TV. It also means I can take the stress out of media engagement for people who would otherwise freeze when put before a microphone. Along the way I've picked up a couple of awards for contributions to diversity and society, which is the kind of thing that can happen when you are, like me, passionate about music, independent British businesses and people who make a positive difference in any walk of life. I work with other service providers (for example, specialists in branding, website design and social media) who share my values and professionalism. If any of this strikes a chord with you or if you have a story that I might enjoy telling, get in touch.
 

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