New to Networking?

There is little else more daunting than setting up your own business even if you are not quite fully aware of this at the time of idea conception! It’s your first year and you probably aren’t aware of this right now, but you are about to embark upon one of the most learning experiences of your life. You are now going to become a PR and Marketing Team, Human Resources Department, Payroll, Web Design, Book Keeper, Copywriter, to name a few (and that probably doesn’t include the day job!) You are also about to be exposed to several ‘experts’ who know exactly what you need to do, how you need to do it and what you need to spend. They are likely to have the perfect service/product/knowledge for your business which will catapult you to the top. Oh yes….I’m afraid so.

For the mothers out there, it’s rather like when you’re pregnant with your first child and thereafter. Everyone else knows what’s best and everyone has an opinion. My most vivid memories were being told that I fed my baby to much and I was preventing him from sleeping and I also recall a seemingly endless stream of elderly women coming up to me while I was out shopping because my baby wasn’t wearing socks. I was infuriated! Did they honestly think I hadn’t put socks on his feet? Did they think I was purposefully being cruel? Did they not know I had put socks on him fifteen times already in the last hour just to watch him take them off? How do I stop over feeding my starving baby (who looked 3 months at birth?). The ‘experts’ are everywhere.

When someone new comes to one of our meetings, and we get lots of new people, many who have never been to another Networking Group before, we are aware of all of these factors. Any initial advice given, would probably go a little like this….

  1. Go to as many Networking Groups as money, time and your patience will allow. Find your space, stay there and commit to that group and be consistent. If you don’t know what your ‘space’ is yet, you soon will. It’s the place you feel most comfortable, most safe and most able to be yourself (in a nutshell).
  2. Don’t rush into any decisions about anything you need until you are in your ‘space’ and you trust the people around you. I would be very rich indeed if I had a penny for everything I have had pitched at me to purchase as a ‘need’ since I started running a business four years ago. We’re all different and so are our businesses. When you are looking for services, use people who are recommended. Not just once or by one person but get to know people who are used by lots of people in your Network. Be a smooth operator and watch people and how others interact with them. Are they consistent? Do they turn up regularly? Do they do a lot of business in the local area? We all have reputations, so generally people will protect them fiercely by providing a good service and rectifying any mistakes quickly and giving excellent customer service. I would also say as a general rule, avoid ‘experts’ and go for people who are experienced in their field and are in a constant state of learning themselves so they are up to date on their particular business knowledge.
  3. Join on-line networking groups like Facebook Business Groups. In a good one, you will be looked after, trusting relationships will develop and you too will benefit from being recommended. Banbury Business Networking is a fine example of a localised Facebook Business Group really working for the benefit of its members.
  4. People are people and they are no different to deal with than when you were employed. Human beings will always have opinions about other human beings. Meet someone for yourself and make your own judgement call. After all, we’re all different and one person’s hell is another person’s heaven.
  5. Finally, try and enjoy yourself and understand that everything will be in a constant state of change. The baby will sleep again. You will sleep again. As you grow, you’ll end up getting rid of some of the many departments you’ve become and you’ll be happy to have virtual PA’s, Book Keepers, Payroll. Being a person who finds delegating quite difficult, I never thought I’d have a Virtual PA,  but I do.  I’ve not met anyone yet who doesn’t say that their business evolved in completely different ways than they had thought it would. I never meant to set up a Networking Group with a friend….but I did!

For more information about our Groups, our Development Days and our Conference in September please have a peruse through our website or give us a call on 0844 870 9287

 

The Voice Behind The Stories

One step at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time, we have a voice. A voice so powerful that we can create change and that we can be heard.

What a crazy, intellectually stimulating, powerfully resonating day I had yesterday. Like most of my days, the day was about women, but it wasn’t about directly ‘helping’ women or facilitating workshops or running events or using Holistic Therapies for healing. It was about standing still, taking a deep breath and being part of the bigger picture.

I was lucky enough to be asked for my opinions on women, relationships and intellectual compatibility by BBC Radio 4, so the day commenced with an interview conducted by a very lovely woman, the producer, a woman divorced for three years with two children, who shared her journey and her thoughts with me. I love the fact that even though we had never met before, we shared stories like old friends who hadn’t seen each other for years. We compared experiences from University right through to post divorce dating and something shifted for both of us.

When women come together, there is a need to share one of our stories and part of what I feel passionate about, is ensuring that women have the space to do that and are not judged, but supported, that it is normalised and not something that is considered as unnecessary or ‘gossip’ or unproductive. This may go some way to explaining the absence of women in The Boardroom as is currently being discussed in Government as we speak.

The day ended in the Examinations Building in Oxford where every student who belongs to Oxford University will sit and take an exam at some point or another, so the walls rang with learning, silence, tradition and more stories. I went to listen to a talk called Conversations with Extraordinary Women and the room was filled with extraordinariness. Hosted by the Global Retreat Centre, the underlying theme was about using your voice, telling our stories, working in collaboration, building our communities…..shaping the future from a feminine perspective. Lynne Franks, a hugely successful business women with a background in PR, sat at the top table in awe of the founder, a ‘Revolutionary’, of The Global Retreat Centre, a connection which Lynne clearly found ‘grounding’ in the heady sometimes, self-obsessed world of business. So much of what Lynne talked about resonated with me and the philosophy behind Networking Women that I felt compelled to go up to her afterwards excitedly trying to explain that we do this….we collaborate, we support each other, we have built communities, we tell our stories. Graciously, she took my card as I said you must remember me…think of Cherry, Cherry the fruit and please come and visit us. (I’m sure she thought ‘bonkers, bonkers the fruit!’)

The theme for the evening was about change and making a difference and being open about the fact that the ‘old’ order hasn’t really worked and that it is time for change. Change is such a big word, but it needn’t be. We can create change one person at a time…ourselves. We can work together in our communities supporting each other to work in our own rhythms, to be supported in ways that we need as women through relationships and by having a space to tell our stories.

We are all revolutionaries, sometimes in small ways, sometimes by making a big difference like the founder of The Global Retreat Centre. We all have voice and, it was said last night, that when we find it, we will create the most change through patience, tolerance and contentment.  I shall definitely have to give patience a lot of work (not a strong point) and in keeping with that, I absolutely cannot wait until our Conference when we will have around 100 women in one room all telling stories, all supporting each other and having a voice creating change….one step at a time, one conversation at a time, one relationship at a time.

 

Finding Your Passion… Because You Can!

How do you live your passion? How do you get up every day knowing that you have room to earn a living, be there for your friends and family, feel fulfilled and be in control of your own destiny and your own deadlines? Is it all starting to sound a little bit to good to be true? It’s not. I know lots of women who have set up their own businesses and live a work/life balance that is non-existent when working for someone else. Inspired by the book Making a Living Without a Job, nodding on every page with great gusto, I knew I wanted that. I had wanted that for years! Having been in business at that point for about three months, the whole work/life balance thing was not really ringing true. I seemed to be working through the night and all through the day, and a day off looked like a luxury only granted to employed people.

Just over one year on and I can honestly say, that I live that dream. It’s not the living that I was used to as an employee in my old life, but it is a living. After stripping away all of my ‘lifestyle’, living on a budget has become a pleasure too. Now I no longer require all the trappings required from the exhaustion and guilt that employment brought as a full time working single parent with a one hour commute brought, I can enjoy what I have.

Where do you begin if you want to make that change? It’s a big change to make and if you don’t have lots of financial backing, it can be scary too. For me, not having any financial backing is what helped me. There is nothing more motivating than needing to feed your children! But I realise that not everyone will cope well with that kind of pressure and am not advocating it unless you are of that ilk and respond well to immense pressure!

With all of our different experiences in mind, we have put together Believe You can, our first Conference, designed to be a One Stop Shop for women thinking about setting up a business or those quite new on the journey, to those women who want to move their business to the next level and are not sure how. We have an early bird rate available until 1st June. So don’t think that you can’t….Believe You Can! Because You Can…

 

Believe You Can..

Believe You Can is our first ever Networking Women’s Conference, being held in Oxford on 15th September.

The Conference came about over the course of the first year that Lisa and I have been running Networking Women meetings.  We found ourselves to be more than just a business networking meeting, we were complimented for the way we supported the attendees at our meetings, on our Self-Development Days and talks.  Seeing some the women and their businesses blossom has been an absolute delight.  It also made us realise that Networking Women was not just about doing business, but more about supporting women in gaining the right tools to take their business forward.

There are many women who take the plunge and go from corporate career to running their own business, but they don’t know where to go to get help and advice on the day to day running of the business, let along how to grow and become successful and avoid the many pitfalls.  There must be many more how think about how they would love to start up a particular business, but just don’t have the confidence to get going.

In our groups we have a wide range of amazing, talented women, with all the skills you could possibly need in creating a successful business.  So we decided to bring some of them together and have a one day, one stop shop, for all your business needs!  Whether you’re thinking about starting a business, have just started, or want to take your business to the next level, you will leave The Believe You Can Conference, with all the tools you need to make your business a huge success.

We are all authors of our own lives, Believe You Can, and make it happen…………

 

Sue speaking about The Conference