"There are all manner of tricks and strokes you can pull to win a pitch," says networking entrepreneur Brad Burton. "These are some tried-and-tested tricks I’ve used. They really work!" Burton has built a nationwide business network boasting 15,000 members and 200 groups using his 50 per cent business, 50 per cent social rules. He shares his business advice and top tips for entrepreneurs exclusively with Real Business. 1.) Print your letter upside-down on the letterhead and send it out. Guaranteed to get a response when you speak to them. They say, “Did you realise you printed it upside down?”. 2.) Look for prospective businesses within one square mile of where you work. I’m not gonna get all Greenpeace on you about cutting down emissions through less travel, but contacting businesses within that target area with a note saying, “as a ‘neighbour’, I thought it’d be useful if we met as I’m only down the road”, is a great hook. 3.) Print and screw up your business letter so its scrunched up into a ball. Send in an envelope. At the bottom, write: "We do XXX [job]"…"This paper is the only thing we screw up." 4.) Chop a £5 note in half and staple one half to a letter saying, "I’d like to meet with you so we can both make money". 5.) Everyone loves free stuff. I sent piping hot pizzas to journalists in London. They’d open up the pizza box and it would have picture of me in the lid, smiling, winking, holding a pizza box in my hand, with the words "There is such a thing as a FREE LUNCH. WWW.BRADBURTON.BIZ " That was it! A day later, I had a call. This worked beautifully, winning me loads of appointments. 6.) Remember the old adage: "You’ve got to dance around the handbag for a bit before you invite someone back to your place for coffee". 7.) Print something on the outside of your business mail that gets attention or causes a smirk. For example: "LETTER MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF NUTS". 8.) While we’re on the subject of letters, make sure you handwrite the envelopes. We tried it with 1,000 printed and a 1,000 handwritten. We had four times more uptake from the handwritten. 9.) Always remember: your initial approach is about creating impact in order to get the ten-minute appointment. That’s it. It’s not about selling. Some people get caught out with this schoolboy sales error. It’s a bit like a CV: its purpose is to get you the interview, not the job. Brad Burton’s forthcoming book, "Get off your arse" (seriously!) is out in November. Related articles How to win pitches during a recession Julie Meyer: business advice on running an SME in the recession How to slash your operating costs
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