As a small biz Networking is a crucial part of what I do and I have tried many many events to get my business and brand out there. However I find sometimes they can be a little stuffy or formal and not suited to my business or targeting my demographic. That was until I found DubNet which is a really fun networking event run in The Church in Dublin. Its specifically for small businesses and you alway meet a diverse and interesting bunch of entrepreneurs at their events. The event kicks off with a guest speaker followed by about 5 further businesses who get to explain what they do for apx 3-5 minutes each. This keeps it interesting and moving at a good pace. After the speakers are finished some finger food arrives, the bar opens and everyone mingles and exchanges cards and contacts (You might even find a hard core few making a night of it in the bar upstairs after the event ends!). As this blog post is all about what I learned from Bill Cullen’s opening talk at this month’s event I felt it made sense to introduce you to who DubNet are and what they do!

I’ll admit I was very curious to meet Bill and hear what he had to say following what surely has been an eventful few years for him in business and life no doubt. I was keen to see how he spoke as I have followed his career through the years and even watched the Irish Apprentice with interest! I heard him being interviewed by Ray D’arcy on Today FM after announcing his new car dealership with Ssang Yong in Dublin and he was as positive and punchy as ever. Needless to say as an entrepreneur this kind of “bounce-back-ability” is always an intriguing and desirable quality and I wanted to learn more!

Bill got up and immediately started speaking about Apples (here we go I thought cynically) wanting to learn more about the recent years not hear bout the “Long Way from Penny Apples”. However, he spoke about his acronym – APPLES as per his second book “Golden Apples – Six Simple Steps to Success. In fairness to him he made it relevant and applicable to today’s market and I guess it’s something we really should all keep in mind on a daily basis. Cynics say it’s too obvious and contrived and I may have been accused of that if I simply just read it but listening to him speak, how he really owned the phrase and his believe in both himself and success I have to admit I was won over! So here are his 6 simple steps to success and my take on each:

A – Attitude
We all know how important this is so it needs no explanation. Personally I’m a subscriber to the energizers and sappers school of thought. I was alway a very optimistic and positive person but I found that the struggles of starting up a business in the recession starved me of this positivity. I also found the negativity of those around me bothered me much more than it had before. I made a conscious decision to limit time given to the energy sappers of my life. THis had an immediate impact – surround yourself with like minded people and you can achieve anything!

P – Planning & Positivity
As a youth of the A-Team era I must admit I love a plan and love it even more when a plan comes together!! In fact I’ve been told I’m a planning addict with a need to plan even a chill out day (which I’m told defeats the purpose entirely?!). Anyway again now one can argue with Bill that planning is clearly an integral part of business success. If you just coast by and hope for the best it may happen but likewise it may not. Plan for success to achieve it!

P – People Power
Well I for one believe that it’s impossible to do it all on your own – and I am fiercely independent! While I run the business myself and am therefore the accountant, the sales person, the marketer, the trainer and the operations manager if it wasn’t for the support and help of my network of contacts and particularly my family and himself setting up a successful business would be even more challenging.

L- Learn to be Lucky
I’ve always liked the phrase “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” and this is what Bill is talking about when he says learn to be lucky.

E- Energy
If you want to be successful in life you need a certain energy about you. This is even more true in the case of self employment and entrepreneurship. You need to energy to keep going despite the inevitable obstacles you will meet along the way.

S- Sell
Kind of an obvious one but if you cannot sell you are at nothing. You should be selling every single day – selling your business, your product or service but mainly selling yourself. You are the greatest asset in your own business so you must be able highlight that to anyone and everyone who will listen!

So that’s Bill’s simple steps to success. I think if I could add one thing is would be a “C” for charisma. Bill oozes it and that was what kept us all listening. His passion and belief in both himself and what he does win out. He is a true entrepreneur, reinventing himself as he goes and capitalising on every opportunity that presents itself to him. If you can charm your audience I reckon you can get yourself past the most sticky of situations!