The Jabber on: Have you got business challenges facing you in 2017?

Networking News

Jabber attendee, David Cheek, is running the following workshop.

Find out how Business Coaching could help you and resolve one of your problems at a FREE workshop sponsored by NatWest Bank, 9th February in Watford

More and more businesses of all sizes are turning to Business Coaching to help them improve their business and their lives.

David Cheek, is a qualified Business Coach, specialising in working with small businesses.

Unlike many other business coaches David tailors each programme to meet the needs of the individual business to help them resolve issues and move the business on to the next level, rather than force them into a ‘process’.

This interactive workshop will last an hour. You will learn what business coaching is, how it works and will include a demonstration to enable you to find a solution to one of your own business issues. (You won’t be asked to share it!)’

Prior to having a successful Business Coaching practice David ran his own consultancy for 20 years, so he understands the issues of business.

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt said:  “the best advice I ever got was to get a coach”.

Date: Thursday 9th February

Time: 5.00 – 5.30pm Networking, 5.30 – 6.30pm  Workshop, 6.30- 7.00 pm Questions & Networking

Venue: NatWest, 74 High Street, Watford, WD17 2GZ

To register for the FREE workshop –

For more information about David Cheek, visit & Linked-In


The Jabber on Transitions UK

Blogging News

This article was contributed by Chris Palmer of Transitions UK.

Transitions UK is a relatively new charity established in 2014 specifically to support disadvantaged or vulnerable young people aged 15-25 years of age to make an effective and positive transition towards adulthood and to a productive and happy life as adults.

So many of our young people struggle at the point at which they leave a school, special school or support agency and move towards adulthood. There is, sadly, all too often a failure of planning and co-ordination just at the point when young people most need support.

The Charity works across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and works with key groups of young people, including those with learning disabilities, emotional and mental health issues and those at risk of (re) offending. Many of these young people may have other issues as well including homelessness, substance abuse and behavioural issues etc.

It is a huge concern that so many young people are disengaged and disillusioned, with youth unemployment still at 3-4 times the national average and many young people “falling off the cliff” as they move from children’s to adult services. This is particularly true for more vulnerable groups. This is an intolerable situation and one which Transitions UK is here to challenge.

If we do not address the needs of our young people in this generation then we are even more concerned at how things might be for young people in twenty years time. We need to act now.

What do we do?

We provide innovative and person-centred solutions working with volunteer and paid mentoring and befriending and we are keen to work with companies and individuals who want to partner with the charity and provide support that changes lives.

Right now, we are working with young people with learning disabilities in Luton and we will be launching a countywide service in Hertfordshire for young people at risk of offending early in the New Year. We aim to grow regionally as quickly as possible across Herts, Beds, Bucks and North London and within 5-10 years to provide a nationally based service supporting 5,000 young people every year. We work with those who have clear disadvantage, have the most potential to move forward but lack the support to do so.

An example:

One example is “Alex”, who has moderate learning disabilities but is most disabled by the lack of support from his family and his lack of friends. We work with Alex to assess his needs, provide the right volunteers and mentors to support him and give him a two year programme of personal development, including towards a personal life plan incorporating next stage education, employment and inclusion. Giving Alex supportive friends, confidence, skills and self-esteem are all part of make a lifelong difference for him, enabling him to lead a more positive and independent lifestyle.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for business partners to work with us as their charity of the year and hopefully longer, to sponsor events or to give time and expertise. We are looking for individuals to volunteer, become a regular supporter or take on a challenge or attend and event. If you want to help we will work with you to see how best you can be involved.

Contact Us

You can check out the website on or please like and follow us on facebook and twitter. If you would like to get involved or to take up a challenge or attend one of our events (see website) then please get in touch on 01582 380620 or email


5 Compelling reasons to use a Hosted Voice Service


5 Compelling reasons to use a Hosted Voice Service- especially if you are a start-up or have an end of life switchboard.

Contributed by Jon Pentel- Pen-Telecom

  • Flexibility – Hosted voice services are easy to expand and contract. With Hosted voice services, new lines and additional extensions are simply a matter of turning them on and adding a new handset. No longer is it necessary to order a new line, wait for 3 weeks for installation and then ask the PBX engineers to set everything up.
  • Low entry costs – Hosted voice services require minimal investment, usually just in the handsets and a suitable router. No large infrastructure investment required. Costs remain under control as there are no hidden extras and most of the expected services such as voicemail, caller ID, call transfer call forwarding and on-line control are included as part of the rental.
  • Future proof – Hosted services will always be updated to keep up with the latest developments and at no cost to the user. As more features are added they all become available to the subscriber. Works seamlessly across multiple devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones.
  • Maintenance charges and contract – Hosted service have no maintenance costs.  Or at least should not, if your provider is charging why not consider switching? Our contract term as standard is 90 days.
  • Complete Geographical Flexibility – because your number is no longer tied to any exchange the number remains with the service no matter where located. No more necessity to inform your customer base of a new number and the attrition that causes. No need for unpopular non-geographic numbers that can be expensive to call from a mobile.

The Jabber on Fri 12th Aug 2016

Jabber Meetings Networking News St Albans Networking

There were about 27 business owners attending today – despite the summer holidays……. although I guess this is how it works when you run a business!

We made new contacts and deepened existing relationships over coffee and pastries (thanks Metro Bank!) between 10am-noon in the sunny St Albans store.

Back next month on Fri 9th Sept – easy to remember – it’s the 2nd Fri of every month.


P.S. If you are a Jabberee and would like to showcase your expertise on this blog, drop us a line! We can publish your post and link back to your website.


The Jabber on Fri 8th July 2016


Today 30 business owners got together at metro bank to celebrate our 1st birthday… 12 months since Jabber first started! We celebrated with cake, tea, coffee and chocolates! The winners of the prize draw chocolates were Carl French from The Endless Book Case and Gordon Dickens from Tutor Doctor! I spoke with John Acton, Gretta Acton and Finola McMahon from DPI Europe, who were all part of the winning team from last night’s Business Festival Quiz night. One year down and hopefully many more to come!

Don’t forget that we have our Jabber blog, so if anyone would like to showcase their expertise through writing a blog please get in touch with me at:



3 Digital Marketing Tools To Supercharge Your Prospecting


This blog has been contributed by Cassie Hicks- Kerr from Modern Marketing Spark

Are you looking to get more from your networking?

You’re spending time at networking meetings, making new contacts, collecting business cards, practising your elevator pitch, following up with an email (maybe). And, it works!

What if I told you you could amplify your efforts 10x fold with a few simple tools.

OK, now I’ve got your attention, let’s get to it!

Super Digital Marketing Tool #1

My first rule of networking is to connect with everyone after the meeting on social media, usually LinkedIn. Depending on your business though, and ideal clients and customers, you might also connect via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Google+

Power Up Your LinkedIn Marketing

Since time is so precious I love finding handy tools that automate manual tasks, and Rapportive is my latest discovery. It’s a chrome extension that works within Gmail so when you send or receive an email from someone it tells you whether you’re connected on LinkedIn (and also the other social media platforms, and Skype).

Here’s how it looks:


So by exchanging a quick follow-up email with Mary you can – with one click – connect on LinkedIn without even leaving your email box. How genius is that!

(For my full Rapportive post click here:

Super Digital Marketing Tool #2

Did you know that you can use LinkedIn as a free CRM [customer relationship management] system?

When you make a new LinkedIn connection take a minute to make a quick Note about where you met that person (e.g. Jabber).

And if you want to use LinkedIn for some targeted marketing I’d also recommend you use Tags, e.g. I might tag David as “Herts, Beds, Bucks”, and/or “networking contact” and/or “prospect” or “JV partner”.

You can also set a Reminder to follow-up at a certain time and LinkedIn will send you a reminder. Best of all, this is all completely free!



Another great feature of the LinkedIn CRM system is that the messages you exchange with someone shows up in that person’s profile. So, for example, if you’ve arranged a meeting with someone, you can quickly go to their profile and see the conversation thread and find their phone number, email or Skype address.


Super Digital Marketing Tool #3

This is one of my biggest “can’t live without” tools, and an absolute life saver if you regularly organise meetings or phone calls.

It’s, an online scheduling tool.

There are other online scheduling tools available, and I’ve used a few over the years, but, for me, calendly is the best one so far. It’s cheap, easy to set up and seamlessly integrates with you calendar, email, WordPress, LeadPages, Zapier etc.

4 connects to your calendar (outlook, gmail etc.) so appointments can be scheduled directly into your diary. I can’t tell you the amount of time and emails this saves.

Simply send your customised link (e.g. and the recipient can select a convenient time to meet.

  • Need to reschedule? One click and it’s done
  • Automatic confirmation of your meeting? Calendly takes care of that for you
  • Want to ask qualifying questions before the call? Click, click, and it’s done
  • Want to block out your calendar and only schedule calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Easy peasy

Once you start using calendly you’ll wonder why you ever wasted so much time and inbox space scheduling meetings the old-fashioned way.

So, there you have three of my top Digital Marketing Power Tools.  We’re using these tools (and many more) every single day so if you need help setting them up just give myself or my friendly team at Modern Marketing Spark a shout (Contact us here) – and do please connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know you’re from the Jabber!


Cassie Hicks, Modern Marketing Spark

Modern Marketing Spark ( provides a holistic approach to Social media and Digital Marketing. Our clients benefit from a highly personalised strategy, tools and training to grow their business. We’ll get you tangible results and show you how to generate a steady stream of leads, clients and sales online.


The Jabber on Fri 10th June 2016


25 business owners got together this morning at Metro Bank, St Albans for some friendly business networking. It was good to see a lot of new-comers to Jabber today! New Jabberees, if you will!

With lovely weather and coffee, we had an enjoyable networking meeting. The conversation was lively, friendly, and sweet – thanks to plentiful chocolates and biscuits. The sugar-rush kept us going for 2 hours from 10am to 12 noon.

The business card draw (prize = chocolates) was won by Emma Thompson from The Marketing Centre and Lawrence Hewitt from St Albans Council.

Hope to see you at the next Jabber at the end of St Albans Business Festival Week on Fri 8th July.


1 comment

Is your business 'friendly'?


Contributed by Stuart Brooks – Blackbird Communications

Research shows that people spent more time on mobile devices than desktops and laptops for the first time ever last year. This equated to an average of 2.5 hours a day on our smartphones and tablets, which the study found was 10% more than browsing on desktops and laptops. Mobile usage has surged five-fold since 2011 whilst desktop and laptop use has remained almost static.

You might think this is unsurprising, given that more than half the planet’s population are actively plugged in to a social network. However, this has profound consequences for businesses as the world’s most influential search engine, Google, which processes more than 100 billion search requests each month, received more searches from mobile devices than PCs for the first time in 2015.

Ensuring that a business is ‘mobile friendly’ is now critical to its future, as Google now penalises websites that are not mobile responsive. This means that companies that have yet to upgrade their website will see it slide down the rankings until it ultimately disappears from view. Another algorithm change is due in 2016, which could be catastrophic for ‘unresponsive’ businesses, reliant on custom from search results.

If you’re unsure, test your website using Google’s free mobile friendly analyser tool. Simply type in your website URL and it will check your site automatically. We can send you the link- Email

You’re looking for a green light to say that it’s mobile responsive. If it’s highlighted in red, you have an issue but help is at hand. St Albans based Blackbird offers a ‘turnkey’ solution for businesses requiring a mobile friendly website. We manage everything to give you complete peace of mind, from content writing, design, build, even hosting. All in one neat package.


The Jabber on Fri 8 April 2016

Jabber Meetings Networking News St Albans Networking

There were 28 small business owners that turned up to Jabber Business Networking in St Albans this morning.

The conversation was lively, friendly, and sweet – thanks to plentiful chocolates and biscuits. The usual sugar-rush kept us going for 2 hours from 10am to 12 noon.

The chocolates were won by Christa from Atlas Translations and Melanie from Melanie Fowler Virtual VA.

The next Jabber Networking meeting is on Fri 13th (eek!) May – an easy date to remember!


1 comment

Tested by Teenagers


Contributed by Stuart Goodman- L2MC

We reduced our monthly company mobile phone bill from £180 to £51 and got 3 impressive new Smartphones at no cost.

It is widely accepted that the best value is to be had on a SIM only deal.

All our O2 SIM only contracts are from Carphone Warehouse Business, are 24 months and have unlimited UK calls and texts.  The monthly cost depends on how much data you need.  1GB data costs £14 monthly, 3GB £17 (this is the one I recommend for most people), 5GB £20, 10GB £25 and 20GB £32.  I have no idea how you get through 20GB, but I ain’t no teenager!!

The cunning SIM only plan often falls apart when you buy the handset, as the latest Apple or Samsung Smartphone will cost north of £600.  Even though you still save overall, it’s a lot to pay upfront.

However there are a number of prominent smartphone manufacturers in China, that produce phones of a very high quality at a third of the price or even less.  The reason you may not have heard of them, is up until recently they have mainly supplied the local market.  Names like Xiaomi (pronounced Show Mee), Cubot, and Doogee (not to be pronounced dodgy!).  Xiaomi are the 3rdlargest manufacturer on smatphones globally and are worth $45B.

We have been using online reviews and buying phones to test under strict laboratory conditions.  OK, I ‘ve had my 15 year old son try each one.  Some of you may have read my recent blogs on Linked In Pulse “Tested by Teenagers”.  In true teenage style, we are giving a grunt rating.  One grunt for good and two for go away!  So far we have found all phones have performed very well.  They also look and feel very similar to all main brands.  As the handsets are far cheaper, we can afford to supply a free phone with every SIM only contract.  This way you get the best of both worlds, keen rates and no upfront cost.

The next potential risk is what happens if it goes wrong?  I was on an Xiaomi group on Facebook and found an expert firm.  I was expecting to need a Chinese translator, but his name was James from Devon.  His firm have agreed to fix any phones that are out of 12 months warranty.  The ones that are still in warranty, we will send back to the company in China to fix and supply a loan phone while the phone is being fixed.

Lastly, you need to protect yourself from hackers and viruses.  We recommend McAfee for £3 monthly (covers up to 5 phones).

I am always available to talk things through on 0800 833 599.