June’s Networking Tip – Listen With Your Eyes!

May 31, 2013 at 8:35 am | Posted in Networking Tips | 1 Comment
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I was reading a blog this month about how Richard Branson networks.  Yes, he has presence, charisma and sharp mind, all of which are pretty compelling.  But what shone out above all that, was his ability to really listen to what the other person was saying.  He has the ability of giving someone his undivided attention even while lots of people wanted to catch his eye for an audience with him. The writer described it as “laser focus eye contact”.  That level of focus made the writer feel amazing – really listened to – and it made him realise that Branson’s success was due to more than some good ideas and a few shrewd business decisions.

In our Networking Strategy Training this month, we used some networking scenarios that we had experienced or heard about to start off conversations on how to deal with them.

One scenario that prompted great discussion was when people you meet appear to be looking over your shoulder whilst listening to you.  If it happens to you, it’s easy to feel that your fellow networker is waiting for “someone more interesting” to arrive.  In that situation we may, at best, disengage from the conversation and move on or, at worst, go home feeling shunned.

Strong eye contact does not have to mean your conversation is intense or serious, it can be fun and relaxed but it does show that you are interested in the person and what they are saying.  It increases the likelihood that you will remember their name, what they say and what they are looking for so that you can provide them with better connections.  And, perhaps best of all, it will make you memorable as someone who really listens.

We cite this quote a lot because it is one of the best reminders for us as we network and, in fact, as we live our lives – the quote from Maya Angelou:“People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

So ladies, use your eyes to listen and see what a difference it makes!

Would you Like to Improve the Condition of Your Business?

May 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment
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Are you and your business in Tip Top Condition?

Are You and Your Business in Tip Top Condition?

How often do you step back and evaluate the condition of your business?  I don’t just mean assessing the state of its bottom line, I mean giving it a thorough going-over –

Asking yourself questions such as:

  • Who are my clients – am I happy to be working with them?
  • How well do I work with them?  Could I communicate more effectively?
  • How easy is it for potential clients to find me?  How do I know?
  • As I am my business, how well am I looking after myself? Do I feel healthy and motivated?
  • Why exactly am I running this business?
  • How do I spend my time?  Am I trying to be jack of all trades?
  • What is my financial goal – is it clear and is it motivating me?

Taking time to consider the condition of your business and stepping back to think about how you could improve it can often feel like a low priority, when there is so much to be done, but it is one of the keys to running a successful and healthy business.

Six of our Athena members have come together to form a dynamic strategic alliance of expertise and will be sharing that expertise on 9th July at an already popular Business Conditioning Workshop.   We asked each of these experts to offer our readers a Top Tip, which we are delighted to share with you here.

Grainne Ridge from Business Fit Club:

“Keep checking that you are doing what you are best at – both as a business and within your business. That means saying no to work which isn’t a good fit with your product or your skills and outsourcing the tasks in your business that you’re not skilled at.”

Stephanie Smith from Stephanie Smith Coaching:

“Be very clear about what is unique about you and the way you do business.  Each of us IS unique so, by association, how we do business will be unique too.  Put your uniqueness in to words and get confident talking about it.  Once you are clear and confident about that, others will see it in everything you do and say – it will become part of your brand and set you apart from your competition”.

June Dean from The Elevation Factor:

“The key to successful marketing is monitoring everything thing you do, especially the return on your time and investment.

On-line you can use free Google Analytics to track visitors to your website, what they were searching for and what pages they visit.  However one the simplest forms of monitoring is just to ask the question “Where did you hear of us?” – keep a note and the review at the end of each month”.

Juliette Smith from The Relationship Coaches:

“Regardless of how someone speaks to you, what someone does or how unreasonable you think they or their requests are, remember that you are responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. If you behave and speak in a way that honours your values and reflects who you truly are (regardless of how the other person is behaving), that’s you, being the best you can be.  Try it and notice the influence it has on others and your relationships with them”.

Ellie Barnes from Barnes Fitness:

“Having a conditioned body can most definitely help keep you business in peak condition. Taking some time away from your desk to move your body can have so many benefits including increased levels of endorphins (feel good hormones), uninterrupted thinking time & a great stress buster. Plan exercise as a meeting in your diary….try it at the start of the day and see how virtuous and energised you feel for the rest of the day”.

Josephine Blythe from St. James’s Place Wealth Management:

“All the hard work you put into your business should probably show on your bottom line. There are many things that motivate business people but without a profit they won’t be in business for long. It is really important to set clear financial goals for your business and for yourself and to look at the future and be clear about your exit strategy – even if you have only started out. Start with the end in mind – plan for a comfortable retirement, plan for the unforeseen changes that could scupper your business and personal plans and most importantly make sure you are keeping some of the fruits of your hard labour”.

If you would like to join these experts for a morning of Business Conditioning presentations and discussion, you can book your place by clicking here.

Early Birds who book before June 9th will secure a reduced price ticket.

This Month We Welcome..

May 30, 2013 at 7:41 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Lucy Colquhoun

Lucy from Printing.com

Welcome to Lucy Colquhoun from Printing.com!

Please describe your business in 10 words or less: 

Printing/ Marketing/ Design/ Communication/ Advertising/ Corporate Marketing Solutions

Which three words describe you best? 

Fun, Creative and Caring

How long have you been in your company? 

2 1/2 to 3 years

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

Being creative and bringing people’s visions to life

What are your goals for your business in 12 months time? 

To expand the team to handle a larger capacity of clients and spread the word about printing.com to the whole of Berkshire

What first attracted you to visit the Athena Network

I was looking for new networking options when I came across Athena. A friend of mine belongs to a group in Newbury and encouraged me to visit. Having done many other networking events where the mantra is based on solely giving other visitors business rather than actually getting to know the person and the business, Athena is the complete opposite!

Athena’s main aims are to encourage inspiration & support; to develop skills and to provide opportunities for connections to be made. Which of these aims are most important to you and why?

All 3 of them are important to me but the one aim that resonates with me would be Inspiration. Having attended a few meetings and listened to a few presentations I’ve left the meeting feeling energised and inspired to take what I have learnt/heard back into my own business.

What are your objectives/your hopes for your Athena membership? 

My hope for Athena is to expand my base of connections but to also gain experience. Whether it is experience in the business sector such as taking ideas on how to expand and manage my business or within the networking environment.

What would be the ideal referral for you & your business? 

Any medium to large size business who are keen to update or maintain their corporate image through design and print

The Value of Healthy Eating – And Building Strategic Alliances!

May 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Proofreader meets… Nutritional Therapist

Joining The Athena Network is a great opportunity to build your business by finding new clients.  It is also an ideal place to meet fellow-professionals and build strategic alliances to strengthen your business.

Athena members Lindsay McLoughlin (Proofreader and Copywriter) and Janie Perry (Nutritional Therapist) found a great way to both benefit by working together.

Here are some excerpts copied from www.proofedbylinds.co.uk/blog with full permission of Lindsay McLoughlin.

Janie Perry

Janie Perry

Firstly, what is a nutritional therapist?

The nutritional therapist takes you through a comprehensive health and nutritional assessment to explore present health issues, eating habits, medical history and digestion. Using a “naturopathic approach”, she explores what is best for you, your health and your lifestyle in order to optimise your total wellbeing through the most natural source of essential nutrients – food.

Why did I go?

Two unrelated hospital stints by two members of my immediate family… the rehoming of the family cat… unusually high workload on several fronts. All of these factors, together with the rolls and punches of normal family life, had taken their toll. I was having headaches, trouble sleeping and I was putting on weight.

By the time I arrived at Janie’s door, I was pretty exhausted, stressed and I had definitely lost my “va, va, vroom”.

What happened?

Janie asked me a variety of health and medical questions. As well as my responses, Janie took “clues” from my irises (iridology) and my tongue (the only visible muscle), to build up a picture of how my body was coping with the demands of just “being Lindsay”.

The 1½ hour consultation simply flew by. Janie has a charming, peaceful nature; I felt I could tell her absolutely anything – and I did. It was a joy just to talk about how I felt literally from the inside out!

What was the nutritional advice?

Janie provided me with nutritional advice to plug some food group gaps, but also to put the energy back. Her recommendations included: night-time and other herbal teas; increased fluids (water); increased essential fatty acids (fish, nuts): increased quality protein (lentils, beans); adding a variety of wholegrain (rice, quinoa) and Ultra Muscleze® supplement.

Janie was gentle with me; she only asked me to make one change per week, on the basis that even small changes in the diet can have a positive impact on health. I introduced two or three of these recommendations immediately and – yes – I’ve got my va, va, vroom back!

If you would like to know more about how Janie at Relax to Revive can help you explore what is best for you, your health and your lifestyle, visit Relax to Revive or call 07725 665554.

Lindsay’s story is on her blog too – a great way of increasing publicity for Relax to Revive – in return for Janie’s valuable advice.

If you’d like Lindsay to Proofread or Copywrite for you, visit Proofed by Linds or call 07977 989862.

May’s Networking Tip – Spring Clean Your Networking!

May 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Networking Tips | 1 Comment
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Window-CleaningIt’s Springtime at last.  It’s a time of optimism and growth – in nature and in our businesses too.

So, what does that mean for your networking? If you did a “spring clean” of your networking, what would you keep and what would you change?

Do you visit the same meetings every month, saying  the same things to the same people, with the same results?  Urgh, that sounds unproductive! And guess what?  It’s not the fault of the meeting or the people, or the time of day, it’s because you’ve got stuck in a networking rut.

So what can you do to put a spring back in your networking?  There are plenty of networking meetings around Reading so why not pick out two or three that are new to you or you haven’t visited for a while and give them a try?  You’ll be surprised at how quickly your networking skills sharpen up AND you’ll meet new people, growing your network.

And to make it work even better, you can invite those new connections back to your regular networking events, bringing the great results of your spring clean to your network.  The MOST SUCCESSFUL business women in The Athena Network are those who keep their networking fresh and vibrant and who share that energy with everyone they meet.

Reading Networking Events to Try:

  • Business Biscotti – Reading North – 2nd Wednesday of the month, 10am-12noon, The Mill, Sonning
  • Business Biscotti – Reading Central – 1st Tuesday of the month, 7.30am-9am, QV Offices, Queen Victoria Street
  • First Friday Club – First Friday of the Month – various locations
  • Redingensians Rugby Business Networking Lunch – 7th June
  • Network your Business Berkshire – Facebook and some meetings

This Month We Welcome…

May 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Each Month, we will be profiling some of our new members and their businesses.  This time, Athena Reading South welcomes two new members – Isabel Roy of Cherry Services and Raquel Waxler of legal firm, RX Consulting.

Isabel Roy, Cherry Services


The Cherry Girls!

Describe your business in 10 words or less.
We are a VA service (PA without the desk costs). Cherry Services aim is to reach out with a service to assist you with your busy lives and businesses and ‘picking up where you left off’.

Which three words describe you best?
First class, perfection and professional

How long have you been in your business/company?
Our business is 1 year old but we have been PA’s for over 15 years

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Organising – we love making someone else feel organised!

What first attracted you to visit the Athena Network?
For their
professionalism and positive known reputation.

What are your objectives/your hopes for your Athena membership?
To build long lasting business relationships

What would be the ideal referral for you & your business?
Individual or small business that need help with a “bit of everything” diary management, hairdresser appointments, data entry, chasing invoices – we love having a mixture of things to do! We enjoy getting to know our clients and being their right hand person!

Raquel Waxler, RX Consulting

Raquel Waxler, RX Consulting

Raquel Waxler, RX Consulting

Describe your business in 10 words or less
Tailored, quality, practical legal and business risk advice and solutions

Which three words describe you best?
Determined, passionate and incisive

How long have you been in your business/company?
A little over three years

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Providing businesses with practical solutions

What first attracted you to visit the Athena Network?
An opportunity to meet like-minded women passionate about their businesses

What are your objectives/your hopes for your Athena membership?
To build business contacts to ensure the networking “circle” works.

What would be the ideal referral for you & your business?
A medium-sized business that has no in-house lawyer and wants tailored advice on a retainer-basis

It’s Just as Important to Invest in Yourself as Your Business

May 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Articles | 1 Comment
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If you’ve ever flown, you’ll remember the part of the safety demonstration that says “If the cabin air system should fail, oxygen masks will be released from the panel above…..pull the mask towards you………place it over your mouth and nose …….. Make sure your own mask is correctly fitted before helping anyone else.”

The point of this is the same as in life – to stress that we cannot support others if we are not in a good state ourselves.   What good are we to our family, our business and all the other areas of our life, if we are not looking after ourselves and making sure we are in the best possible physical and emotional condition?

This question makes me think of all the things I find it easy to say yes to, when I budget my time as well as my finances – things like:

  • Keeping my website dynamic
  • Travelling to networking meetings
  • Tweeting and blogging regularly

…..all for my BUSINESS

However, the things (and I know I am not alone in this) I find it hard to say yes to include:

  • Organising to see a back pain specialist (and buying a new office chair!)
  • Finding a mentor
  • Taking a lunch hour

…..all for ME

So why is it so hard to prioritise the investment of time and money in ME like I do for my BUSINESS?  Like me, do you find that question hard to answer?  Instead of answering it, I suggest you redirect your focus and imagine what could happen to both you and your business if you were prepared to put the same amount of energy, time, love and money into YOU as you already put into your business.

I started to create a very compelling picture of what my business would look like and how I would feel within it if I made some key changes.  Even asking the right question made me feel more motivated and inspired.

I truly believe we would all be far better business people and, more importantly, we would feel so much better about what we are doing if we really looked after ourselves, aimed at maximising our potential and felt confident doing it.

Here are some of the ideas I came up with to help achieve all three of these goals.  For me, they are a work in progress but doing much of the following has already made a difference to both ME and my BUSINESS.

  • Time poor? Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant and/or a Bookkeper and get some Time Management Training
  • Tired or in pain? Organise a physical check-up; enjoy a massage; get that niggling back problem sorted out; go see a Nutritional Therapist or Naturopath
  • Feel a bit stagnant, not developing? Look into a business training course; do a workshop or seminar; find a mentor
  • Feel stressed or nervous? Organise some reflexology or hypnotherapy and treat yourself regularly to a candlelit bath containing your favourite essential oils
  • Need motivating? Attend a Conference with like-minded professionals
  • Want more confidence and to feel better about yourself? Talk to an Image Stylist and treat yourself to a make-over
  • Want to improve your relationships or make a really big change in your life? Hire a Coach
  • …..and finally, a personal favourite of mine……Want to smile more? Take a dance lesson; get away for the weekend; buy yourself some flowers; go out for dinner or on holiday with a bunch of strangers new friends (!) (trust me – this one really works!)

Looking after your mind and body and developing yourself really will help you flourish, which makes it far more likely that your business will do the same.

Oxygen is not the only thing we need on our journey and, if you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions. Just click on the relevant link to start making those changes.
Juliette Smith

Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant



Massage Therapy

Back Pain Relief

Nutritional Therapy

Business Conditioning Workshop

Essential Oils

Confidence Coaching



Greek Island Personal Development Course

Image Styling

Inspirational Conference for Business Women

Professional Make Up Artist

Relationship Coaching

Holidays and Weekends Away

Beautiful Flowers

Dinner Party with New Friends

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