No time to Network?

Business Networking is everywhere. Groups are in abundance in most towns, cities and rural areas. In fact, if you wanted to be in a Networking meeting for all your main meals of the day, it’s completely possible and you could double book yourself if you so desired!

The term Networking can broadly be described as referring to a group of people who have interconnected interests. Where formal Networking for business dates back to, is a research job for someone with far more time on their hands than I, but Business Networking in more recent years has exploded. Why?

There are a number of reasons for this and certainly as human beings, many of our social needs, including making friends, gaining a support system, feelings of acceptance in a group and as an individual, can be met.

Systems of this nature exist everywhere and have done for time immemorial. Think of churches, school committees, sport teams, families, etc. As a Sociologist, social behaviour is deeply fascinating for me and Networking Groups offer us much to learn about the human condition and how we behave and learn to behave in order to experience some of the social benefits described above, namely acceptance.

But Business Networking gives us even more than this social amber nectar. It is accelerated marketing at it’s absolute best, that when done well meets our needs socially, individually and professionally. A sub group is created that involves trusted relationships whereby people can work together in a supportive, collaborative and mutually beneficial way. Powerful stuff isn’t it?

To not incorporate networking into your marketing strategy because of the cost or the time or because you don’t like groups, try and step back and remember what you gain by attending. When people feel over whelmed by the sheer choice of what meetings to attend, I always say, go to as many meetings as your time and purse/wallet can stand for no more than three months. Then find the group that will meet your needs on all the levels described (as much as is possible) and stay there. Make a commitment, turn up at every opportunity, get involved with the organisers, find speakers, deliver speaking sessions and bring new people. In other words, become part of the fabric that makes that group what it is and you will benefit tenfold. What is on offer, as described above, is gold for us social beings and all the needs that we have to function in a society.

So go and build your social and professional network and go and flourish!

 

Inspired Cake Eating….

I had the pleasure on Friday morning, on the back of an incredibly busy week, of venturing off to the most loveliest Cake Shop in Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

I suppose it could be described as a Coffee Shop or a Tea Room but the cakes adorned themselves all over the counter begging with me to taste them so I’m sticking with Cake Shop. After making a deal with the Universe about eating less later, my taste buds tormented themselves during the decision making process between the achingly, pleasurable Passion Cake, draped in a soft cream and the coconut fudge affair that appeared to go squidgy just upon looking at it.

 

Chocolate fudgy gorgeousness won….I am in Lotte’s Kitchen! And I am here amidst this glory because she has donated her most scrummy Cookbook ever, Lotte’s Country Kitchen, as a little prize. Anyone who books a ticket on Monday 12th September for the rather impressive Conference on Thursday (this week!!!) will be entered into a prizedraw to win a copy of this book.

So get booking, start cooking and see you on Thursday!

 

Are You Part of The Bigger Picture?

It would be lie a to say that organising an event such as a Conference isn’t hard work. It’s the hardest work! It’s frustrating, it’s filled with a hundred things you’ve never thought of before (having never organised a Conference), it’s late nights, lots of pleading, creative thinking and continuous motivation. And out of all that what do we get? We get personal growth, professional growth, professional development, free (ahem) training, stronger allegiances with local businesses, more business relationships, endless learning opportunities. Who wouldn’t want all of that out of a job?

One of the most exciting things about putting together a conference has to be working together with a myriad of different businesses. Big ones, new ones, small ones and established ones, so many have joined in and been part of the bigger picture.

That is essentially what Networking is about in a nutshell. Getting stuck in, seeing the bigger picture, looking for collaborative opportunities and working together supporting people in business, supporting people in business in your local areas.

Believe You Can is about being part of the bigger picture. It’s about being part of something happening in business, for women in business, that puts you and your business on the map. We’re proud, very proud, to be part of this bigger picture and you never know, we might even do it all again next year! In the meantime, see you on the 15th September 2011.

“I would have taken the plunge earlier.”

This post is part of a series – Number 6

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Laura Pryor – www.overthebloom.co.uk

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

I started my business a little over 2 years ago when I was 30.

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why?

To always listen to your gut feeling. As a business owner you have to make all of the decisions (and bear all the consequences!) so you have to trust your instincts. And to be prepared to make mistakes – everything can be solved, so learn from them and move on.

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

That no one is a harsher critic than myself! I used to spend too long on arrangements, worrying about a flower that wasn’t quite in the right place, that it didn’t look quite how I’d envisaged it…things that would give me a sleepless night but that no one else would notice!

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

If I’d known how much I’d love doing this, I would have taken the plunge earlier!

What’s the best part of running your own business?

That I am in complete control and can run the business exactly how I want. Of course it means that I also carry all of the risk, which can be stressful at times, but less so than some jobs I’ve been in previously.

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

 

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.

Brand Design Surgery presented by Vicki Gray from Blumango Creative

At the design surgery Vicki will provide consultations and advice in many areas of design (please bring along visuals to discuss) which include:

 

  • Brand and web design
  • Business stationery
  • Leaflets, flyers and brochures
  • Websites – both brochure style sites and ecommerce
  • The importance of SEO

You’ll come away with a clearer understanding of how your company can move forward with some exciting design ideas and how they can be implemented.

Read about Vicki Gray

 

The Perfect Work Life Balance

This post is part of a series – Number 5

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Jackie Cross – www.jacquelinecross.com

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

I started my first business at the age of 23; I made the decision whilst standing in the sea in Turkey, I still remember the feeling now after all these years…  a feeling of excitement and wonderful enthusiasm

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why?

I absorbed much advise over the years but one thing springs to mind – always make sure you give ‘value’ to the client  – one of the most important things working in business.

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

My weakest area is dealing with finances I don’t enjoy this area of the business I prefer getting creative.  A better understanding of the financials from the beginning would have been helpful.

With hindsight, what would you do differently? 

Hard to say what I would have done differently as I am a great believer that any challenges that we come across make us a stronger in business for the future.

What’s the best part of running your own business? 

I absolutely love working with people and I am really lucky to have a perfect work/life balance, which is very important to me.  Running your own business allows you do this.

Any additional comments?

If anyone has the inspiration or an idea that they are considering to move forward in business then I would say go for it.  The things you learn on the way are incredible together with your business support network, which just grows and grows, taking you one from opportunity to the next.

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.
Work Life Balance presented by Kirsten Sheat of Aspiring Change

This session will help you to see what ‘balance’ means to you and help you find your own priorities.

  • Identify key activities at work and at home
  • Recognise behaviour habits that sabotage balance
  • Learn assertive communication skills to negotiate priorities
  • Develop practical strategies to achieve work-life balance

Come away from this session with the understanding and practical tools and strategies to allow you to juggle it all successfully!

Read about Kirsten Sheat

 

“Success For Me Is Health and Happiness.”

This post is part of a series – Number 4

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Marneta Viegas – www.relaxkids.com

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

I started up my first business at the age of 19.  I was just out of university and knew that the best way to get a job was to set up a business.  I started up my second business at the age of 33.  I saw a great need in the area of children’s mental health and wanted to make a difference.

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why?

Grow your business organically and never get out of your depth.  It has helped me stay sane and stable.

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

Don’t work with friends. Get everything down in writing. Don’t be too trusting. Get a contract for everything.

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

I would make plans, budget for everything and be more organised and not hap hazard.  I would make decisions based on good business sense rather than emotion.  I would also keep a record of every contact and person who had ordered from the website.

What’s the best part of running your own business? 

The freedom.  Now I have people working for me, I have more time to do the things that I love. I can spend my time productively. I love the fact that my office is my summerhouse or seat by the lake.  I love the fact that I can have a day off and catch up in the evening.  I also love the fact that I am reaching thousands of children and parents and am making a huge impact.

Any additional comments?

For me success is not about turnover and profit.  I judge my success on how well I am looking after my health and wellbeing rather than struggling to make more sales.  At the end of the day, if I don’t have health and happiness, a successful business means nothing!

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.
Networking For Success presented by Gail Gibson of True Expressions
On the “How to Achieve Networking Success” workshop you will learn:
  • skills to network with confidence
  • the importance of being a regular networker
  • how to build your reputation
  • how to be aware of business opportunities
  • how networking provides personal and professional growth

Read about Gail Gibson

“No More Dead End 9 to 5”

This post is part of a series – Number 3

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Red Barrington – www.redstardigital.co.uk

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

I  got fed up of the daily commuting grind and I felt I knew my stuff and was being under utilised in a FT role. I was 28 when I started (I think!). I always said I wanted my own business by the time I was 30 and I got there!

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why?

Find a good accountant! They were so right, saved me lots of time and hassle and meant I could get on with delivering to my customers/clients. Oh and be sensible with your savings for paying your tax bill, some more great advice which I am glad I took (I nearly fell off my chair when my first tax return was due…)

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

That people don’t always do what they say they will and that there are many time wasters out there (who want free advice and information). I wish I had known this and been able to spot them!

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

Not much, I might have started to consider further income streams rather than just selling me. I can only work so many hours, so it does limit profitability and often means you work silly hours.

What’s the best part of running your own business?

I can do what I like, within reason, when I like! I have complete flexibility and I have new challenges all the time – much better than a dead end 9 to 5 🙂

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.
Getting The Best From The Rest of Your Life presented by Cathy Dean, The Life Coach For Forty Something Women

Whatever your age, this session will help you to take a good look at:

  • How and why you are where you are today
  • Your achievements so far
  • What colour your life is now, and what colour you’d like it to be
  • What’s holding you back
  • What you want for the future

This is an interactive session involving audience participation!

Read about Cathy Dean

“Without following through, you have no business.”

This post is part of a series – Number 2

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Elizabeth Kuhnke – www.kuhnkecommunication.net

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

Knew I couldn’t work for anyone else – too old to dance to someone else’s tune!  I wanted the freedom to work for myself and to create something that I was responsible for.  I like the sense of ownership.  How old?  Let’s just say 40+!

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why?

Watch out for the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.  While I love what I do and if I could afford to I’d probably not charge for my services, business doesn’t run that way.  If you take your eye off the balance sheet you’ll find yourself without the funds to maintain your business and keep doing what you love.  Money matters.

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

That I don’t have to do everything myself.  Do what you’re good at and hire the best people you can find to fill in where you’re not so good.  Then you’re free to do what you enjoy and are good at even better!

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

See response to above question and also, follow through on opportunities.  Met some really interesting people who were keen to know more about what I do – then I failed to pick up the phone to make the next appointment.  Sometimes I acted like making a good impression and generating interest was enough.  Without following through, you have no business.

What’s the best part of running your own business?

Working whenever I want and dressed in whatever kit I choose.  Because my office is away from the house yet still on the property I’m able to come and go as I please.  I’m in the office most mornings at 5 am in my dressing gown with Henry, my devoted dog, in his basket under my desk.  Peaceful with no disturbances.  In addition, I like the feeling of responsibility – knowing that my team depend on me for their salaries and my clients turn to me for their personal development fulfils my needs around fulfilling my potential and making a difference in the lives of others.

Any additional comments? If you want to run your own business, do it. Life’s short and you don’t want to bow out wishing you had given it a go. If you want something badly enough and are willing to work hard for it, then nothing, and no one, can stand in your way.  Your only block to success is yourself.  Believe in yourself.  And have fun.  If it’s not fun, what’s the point??!

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.
Time to Learn Sessions include a Social Media Masterclass, hosted by Nicky Kriel. This session will cover:
  • An introduction to Social Media -what it is all about and just how big it is
  • Brief introduction to the Big Five – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Blogging
  • Quick look at Twitter – the anatomy of a Twitter page
  • How to Tweet
Read about Nicky Kriel

 

 

A Steep Learning Curve

This post is part of a series – Number 1

We asked successful businesswomen to share their experiences of starting a business. We looked to interview women of different ages, backgrounds and business sectors, asking them to share the good and the bad. Here’s what they told us:

Isobel Lamplough –  www.isobelweddings.com

Why did you start your business and what age were you?

I started the business when I was 25 although I did not make it a full time business until I was 27. I started it from a love of planning events and designing unique experiences for each couple I work with. Every single wedding is a totally different challenge, which keeps it exciting for me.

What was the most important piece of advice you were given and why? The harder you work the easier it gets! Planning a wedding used to take me months and I would spend hours putting together client consultation report’s, I can now plan a wedding in a week or so! By working hard to meet lots of different and wonderful suppliers I now have access to a fantastic network of people.

What do you wish you’d known from day one?

That marketing yourself is difficult and although you can be great at what your business does it is very hard to be good at the PR, marketing and the accounts side of the business as well – it is a steep learning curve.

With hindsight, what would you do differently?

Nothing really, it is all a learning process and with each decision I make I am challenged in different ways which only later make my business stronger. I think I just underestimated the sheer amount of work it takes to build up a brand and keep it strong.

What’s the best part of running your own business? Being my own boss, running my own hours and still having time to spend with my 10- month old son.

Interviewed by Tracey Jefferies for Networking Women. Tracey runs her own successful marketing and PR consultancy. She also writes on a regular basis for various publications and reviews the newspapers on BBC Radio Oxford. www.traceyjefferies.co.uk

Networking Women is thrilled to present the programme for our FIRST Networking Women Conference, taking place in September in Oxford. We have put together a full day of top speakers, learning sessions and networking opportunities, as well as advice and support surgeries and an exhibition. Believe You Can is designed to cater for all your business needs, whether you’re a woman just starting out in business or a fully fledged female entrepreneur.
Time to Learn Sessions include a Beginners Guide to PR and Marketing, hosted by Emma Walton of Walton PR. This beginners guide will cover:
  • Creating a PR and marketing plan
  • How to establish who is your target market/publication
  • Writing a press release
  • What is news?
  • Talking to journalists
  • Following up a press release
Read about Emma Walton

 

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