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Why is the HSBA ‘more than just networking’?

April 9, 2014 in Networking by Doug Andrews

We chose the strapline ‘it’s more than just networking’ for the HSBA because we felt that the idea of belonging to a networking group had become in some way devalued, that the expectation of networking was of being bombarded with sales pitches from self-interested (and boring) salesmen interested only in themselves and what they can get out it.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of franchise-style networking groups which are run to a formula, much of which is based around promoting yourself and your services. Now there’s nothing wrong with that and indeed at the HSBA we are all for ‘bigging yourself up’ and growing your business – but in our experience the true benefit from networking comes from building mutual trust and creating lasting business relationships.

Think about how you view self-serving salesmen (or women) and then think about how you would like to be viewed by others.

The long term benefits of networking can’t be gained by attending a networking meeting with the ‘what can I get out of this’ attitude, if you want people to view you as someone they would trust and recommend to others, we suggest the next meeting you attend you should be  thinking ‘what can I give to this group?’

At the HSBA we leave a significant part of our alloted meeting time to simply chat with other attendees – forget your pre-prepared 60 second elevator pitch and find out what other attendees are up to, you may surprise yourself and actually find some interesting and like-minded people looking to do business!

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The April MH4 meeting has been rescheduled

April 9, 2014 in News by admin


In order to avoid a possible clash with Easter we have arranged for the MH4 meeting to be re-arranged this month from it’s normal 4th Tuesday of the month slot (the 22nd), to the 29th. All other meetings are unaffected.

To attend on the 29th and hear Jaqui Dean (@info749) speak about how outsourcing can help your business please book your place now.

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New marketing opportunity

March 5, 2014 in Marketing by admin

We have created a new Harborough-based website which features news and content from a variety of Harborough sources including local media, business websites and blogs and also social media feeds such as Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest, we hope you like it:

The idea is that it is a one-stop-shop for all things local and it also includes a classified ad section which is currently free to use.

If you produce content that is relevant to the local area and would like to have it included please submit a request for inclusion. Any content that we display links back to the originating website or author giving you an opportunity to raise your profile.


Spring clean your business profile

March 3, 2014 in Small business by Jacqui Dean

Is it time you dusted down your business?

spring clean

February’s meeting saw @dougandrews lead a really useful session which raised some useful points and generated a lively discussion.   This got me thinking about some new ways I can help my fellow HSBA members.

How can we ensure our business profiles are sparkling?  When you set up your business you worked hard to make sure everything was perfect – your website and literature wording, contact details, voicemail, logo, social media accounts and so on.  Then your business gets going and things get busy, and things change.  Is your business profile out of date?  As you might imagine, an out of date profile looks unprofessional and might put off potential customers.

So here are a few of the things that you need to think about that are ‘out there’ for all to see but may be giving an inaccurate image of your business as it stands today:

Design – logo and look and feel – if these have changed, you need to make sure that everything is up to date – not just your website!  Letterheads, invoices, other documentation and also your online profiles.  Just think how many there are – Facebook, Twitter, online directories….

Contact details – changed your address or phone number?  No need to say that this must

Bank details – It goes without saying how crucial it is to make sure your invoices and anywhere else your payment details are mentioned (T&Cs, for example) show your current bank details.

Email signature  - Does it give your up to date contact details?  Do you have links to your social media?  Is it set up so that it always appears at the bottom of a new email?  There’s nothing worse than someone contacting you, you want to ring them and you have to dig around for their phone number.  Make it easy for your customers and potential customers.  In addition, it’s worth checking that any links to social media work and what people are seeing when they click your links.   Which leads to….

Social media profiles – If you aren’t using them properly, think about whether you really need them – an out of date or stagnant social media profile can be worse than none at all (or seek help from an HSBA social media expert!)

Voicemail – Is your voicemail up to date and giving out the right message, opening times or other important information?  How long are callers having to wait till they are connected to voicemail?

If all this seems too much like hard work or you simply don’t have time, I can help with a preferential hourly rate for HSBA members for me to check your profile both in document form and online, provide an action plan and implement the changes where possible.  So if you need help with a virtual mop and duster, contact me now on 0116 271 9867, by email at or via the HSBA site @info749.

New domain extensions now available

February 19, 2014 in News by Doug Andrews

Anyone who has tried to register a new domain name in recent years will know that all the best ones were snapped up years ago, leaving us to come up with more weird and wonderful variations on a theme – the problem being of course that the moment you have to explain your URL (that’s with a double zero for the ohs and R as in the letter etc etc) you are not really projecting the business image you would like.

Help is at hand, the body that regulates the Internet is in the process of releasing a lot of new domain extensions which are aimed at specific industries to try and free up this log jam. Some of these are already available for registration as of today:

.directory .equipment .gallery .graphics .lighting .photography .technology .today .bike .singles .clothing .guru .plumbing .camera .estate .construction .contractors .kitchen .land .holdings .ventures

There are more being released in coming weeks:

.diamonds .enterprises .tips .voyage .careers .photos .recipes .shoes .cab .company .domains .limo .academy .center .computer .management .systems .uno .builders .email .solutions .support .training .camp .education .glass .institute .repair .coffee .florist .house .international .solar

Protect your brand : if you own a,,,, or domain you may be eligible to register the shorter .uk extension as of June 10th 2014 (before anyone else can).

For more information on the full release schedule and a FAQ on how this may affect you see the full story on Globe2 : registering a new domain extension

Valentine overkill

February 13, 2014 in Marketing by Doug Andrews


It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

Anyone who claims to have forgotten on the day is quite clearly lying, it is not possible to get to Valentine’s Day without receiving a million and one Valentine’s Day marketing emails, newsletters and promotions unless you are a digital recluse.

Now, it is good practice to have a calendar of events to which you can pin your marketing activities, and I can see that for certain sectors – restaurants, bars, retailers to name a few – this is an important date in the diary and one that you want to make the most of.

I do however think that some businesses feel that they are missing out if they do not join the gold rush to promote themselves. I’m not a marketing professional so I welcome any comments to the contrary, but from a personal perspective I can’t help but be irritated by otherwise reputable companies in completely unrelated sectors sending out Valentine’s guff that just blocks up my inbox. Am I going to read it or think ‘hey, I’m really pleased I received this Valentine’s email from my solicitor* I’ll give them a call’?

* solicitor, accountant, mechanic, architect etc, insert as appropriate.

It doesn’t get read, it doesn’t cast you in a good light and it also drowns out the marketing messages of those companies who do have a genuine message for the occasion. Am I alone in thinking this?

I was going to include a list of the most tenuous and spurious Valentine’s marketing promotions that I’d received, only to realise I’d deleted them all – if anyone has any they’d like to share let me know!


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HSBA LinkedIn Group

February 11, 2014 in News by admin

Did yolinkedinu know the HSBA has a group on LinkedIn?

Groups are a great place to have discussions with other businesses and keep in touch, they can also be a good way of sending out information to a network of like-minded individuals in one go.

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to join our group :


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Help: Booking to attend & Logging In

February 5, 2014 in Networking by admin

It’s come to our attention that some people are finding it difficult to book to attend.


We’ve looked into what may be causing this and it appears that people are unaware that they need to be logged in if they have booked to attend previously, or they are unable to log in as they don’t have the username and password details.

If you do not have your login details we have now added a permanent link below the login box where you can reset your password and receive the new details by email. The password reset page can be found at

Booking should be a simple process:

  1. Log in (skip this step if you haven’t attended before)
  2. Find the event you want to attend, select the relevant ticket and submit
  3. Enter your payment details

If you click on submit and nothing happens, there should be an error message displayed at the top of the screen explaining why the form has not been submitted and what you need to do to correct it.

If you still have have any problems, we’re here to help, please let us know!



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HSBA: Jaqui Crooks, Tap into Business Success

January 31, 2014 in Video by admin


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We’d like to say thanks to Paul

January 30, 2014 in Members, Networking, News by admin


Late last year we launched our referral scheme to anyone who has attended the HSBA previously and they recommend us to a friend or colleague, and the referred person subsequently joins.

The referring person gets a £25 voucher to spend at the Harborough based independent wine merchant Duncan Murray – Paul (@pauldobson) is the first recipient of a voucher from our referral scheme as a thanks from us for his vote of confidence.


On receipt of his voucher Paul noted the reward scheme was not the reason he had recommended us, but we hope you enjoy the voucher Paul nonetheless!

We wouldn’t want anyone to refer us in the hope of getting a voucher, but if you have attended and would like to recommend us be sure to use your referral code anyway* – we recognise when you are busy running your business it is easy not to bother referring us, so we would like to have the opportunity to reward the effort when it is made.

* if you don’t know your code let us know @admin