Networking Top Tips from Reading East Athena, March 2014

March 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Networking Tips | Leave a comment
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Where better than to find top tips about networking than from a room full of business women who have already grown their businesses through networking?

We met with the members and visitors of the Reading East group in early March and asked them to offer their Top Tips for Successful Networking and this is the output.  Do feel free to add your own!

Reading East Top Tips for Successful Networking:

  • Be clear. Set an objective for your networking generally and for each meeting you attend.  Being clear about who you are and who you want to connect means you’re more likely to make it happen!
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up. Look for opportunities to connect or to help someone else and then follow it up as soon as you can.  This shows that you listen and are thinking about others. If someone offers you a connection, always follow it up or the potential referrer will think you don’t care!  And once you have received a referral, do keep the referrer informed so that they know you are looking after their contact.
  • Be proactive. Take the initiative and seek out opportunities.  By really listening to what people say, you’ll be proactive not pushy!
  • Be a good listener. Finding out about others and their businesses creates a connection and build relationships.  Relationships are the foundation of a strong, powerful network. Follow up one to one meetings are a great way to do this.
  • Be friendly. If you are feeling nervous or unsure, the chances are others are too.  Go and introduce yourself to break the ice and then invite others in to your conversation.
  • Be bold. If you loved a speaker’s presentation and have always wanted to connect with them, make a point of introducing yourself as soon as they have finished.  They’ll be on an adrenaline high and will be receptive to your positive approach.
  • Be the presenter. Look for opportunities to take on a role within your network.  Presenting or joining the committee elevates you and your business and provides more points of interest for you to discuss with you people in your network.
  • Be prepared. Find out who is going to a meeting and who is speaking.  Do some research on them before you go.  It feels wonderful when someone has already looked at your website or twitter page!
  • Give, give, give If you are a “giver”, you are much more likely to receive referrals as it demonstrates attentiveness, professionalism and generosity.
  • And if that lists sounds exhausting, just remember this and everything else will be OK:  Be yourself!

Would your business benefit from a Strategic Alliance?

March 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Being self-employed or working independently has many advantages, but one of the downsides for me, when I first ventured into this new found freedom, was the absence of someone to get creative with.  There were only so many hours in a day, so a limit on what I could achieve.

Consequently, through my network, I created a number of strategic alliances ie joint ventures and informal partnerships where I work with others towards a shared objective.  This includes combining expertise, designing new services and co-referring.  For an extrovert like me, it has been invaluable, not just because one of my business goals is to expand my client base, but also because I want to have more fun!

At The Athena Network we strongly encourage our members to work together to form STRATEGIC ALLIANCES.

We’d love to hear from you, if you are part of a strategic alliance with another Athena member. There are numerous examples within our network – here are just two:

Agustina Tulloch, Sarah Aspital, Penny Campbell and Caroline Shaw all have very different skills and are joining together to offer them all to you at an Afternoon Tea Spa on 15th March.

Josephine Blythe, June Dean, Ellie Barnes, Juliette Smith, Grainne Ridge, Stephanie Smith and Diksha Chakravarti are combining their expertise on 14th May to run their third Business Conditioning Workshop aimed at helping you improve the fitness of your business.

What might the benefits be for you in creating a strategic alliance?

  • Connecting your business with another more established brand could elevate your visibility in your network
  • You might be able to gain access to the network (including possibly the clients) of whomever you link with
  • You could increase your skills
  • It could give you greater buying power (thereby reducing costs)
  • Approaching new clients as larger concern when pitching, could increase opportunities for you.

Who do you want to connect with? 

Think about what you would like the alliance to accomplish before you start approaching people.

  • Perhaps another business in your market that is not a direct competitor would be a helpful link.  You could potentially market to the same customer base.
  • You might even want to create an alliance with a competitor.  I have a great connections with other Coaches.   I don’t have the same expertise as them, so am able to benefit my clients by referring.

How could the alliance work?

  • You and your partner(s) should get clear who is responsible for what
  • Ensure you communicate honestly and regularly with each other and think about how the alliance can become a win-win for everyone involved
  • Ensure your goals are aligned as well as your level of commitment (of energy and time)
  • Discuss any costs involved and ensure that each party has the same understanding

Then you could:

  • Link to each other’s websites
  • Develop joint marketing materials and/or include your material in each other’s mailings
  • Develop a workshop together then market the event as a team

and so much more.

Most of all though – HAVE FUN!

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach

http://www.juliettesmith.co.uk

Polish Up Your Networking Strategy for FREE!

March 2, 2014 at 6:58 am | Posted in Athena Events | Leave a comment
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TrainingDo you want to make sure that the time, energy and money that you are investing in your networking is going to get you the results you want?

Whether you are new to networking or have been networking for years, taking some time to review your strategy and freshen up your Monthly Minute will help you get more from your networking.  And, as an Athena Member, this training is all included in your membership!

On March 18th, Athena Reading will be holding the next session of Networking Strategy Training.  And it’s FREE for all our members! From 9.30am to 12.30pm at Bills Restaurant, we’ll be running through the key elements of your networking strategy and, if it works for you, you’d are welcome to stay on for lunch.

During the morning we’ll work through:

  • What IS networking?
  • What is our impact when we network?
  • Networking etiquette
  • How to enter and leave conversations

and the very popular

  • Knock out Monthly Minutes!

As you would expect from Athena Reading, this is going to be you “doing” it rather than someone else “telling” so come prepared to give it a go in a relaxed and friendly environment.

To book your place, enquire about visiting a meeting or to find out about joining Athena Reading, email Jill athenareading@jmva.co.uk today!

Don’t Stay Stuck! How to Make Powerful Choices

March 2, 2014 at 6:42 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Woman-ThinkingHave you ever felt stuck?  You know, that feeling where you can’t or don’t know how to change something in your life?  It might be something about your businesses, something to free up more time or generate more money or even something that you know will make you happier!

Feeling “stuck” is not pleasant.  It’s uncomfortable, smothering, claustrophobic even.  Sometimes we confuse being “stuck” with feeling secure.  Do you find yourself saying “I have a business/family/house, I should be happy”? Notice the “should”?  That’s a red flag word. 

So, if you want to get un-stuck, here are four steps to reclaim the decision making for your life and to make your choices more powerful.

1. Acknowledge you DO have choices.

Thinking about, writing down or speaking about choices does NOT mean you are making that choice.  We too often shut down the possibilities available to us because we fear that thinking about them will cause trouble:

We catastrophise: I don’t dare to think about working away from home because I my children will suffer, fail at school and start taking drugs.
We molly coddle:  I don’t dare to think about having a business that I love which pays me a great salary because I might be disappointed.
We presume: I don’t dare think about investing in my business because my partner/friends/parents will think I’m being irresponsible.

These are all excuses. Allow yourself to imagine, to think, to create.  Sometimes the most enlightening ideas come from a seemingly “impossible” choice.

2. Recognise HOW you make choices.

Typically we either Think, Feel or Know when we make choices.

Thinkers lead with logic, practicality and facts.

Feelers will often ask others opinions, be led by emotions, will create stories or images about the potential outcomes.

Knowers will decide fairly quickly and independently, without always being able to explain why they’ve made that choice.

Naturally, we don’t use just one of these approaches.  In fact, it is really powerful to harness all three.  To recognise how you make choices, think back to the best decision you’ve ever made.  What brought you to that decision?

Having trouble making a decision? Perhaps you’re ignoring what your lead factor is telling you?  For instance, we often turn to our Think factor if our instinct (Know) is saying something scary!

3. Make POWERFUL choices

Our values are a core part of who we are and what makes us happy.  When faced with a choice, your values will make the answers much clearer and simpler.  Your choice will either be true to one or more of your values or will ignore them/go against them.

If you’re not sure of your values, answer this “Success in my life means…….” and then for each part of your response follow up with “Which means that….” until you get to the source of what is most important to you.

NB this will not be money or time.  Dig past that to get to the real stuff.

4. Choice = change

Change is inevitable.  Even if you stay as still as you can, everything around you is changing all the time.  And you can’t control it all, no matter how hard you try.  Every choice comes with a risk.  The “what if….” factor.  And that’s OK.  Don’t be afraid of the “What if”.  Just as in point 1. thinking about it doesn’t make it happen.  Work it through.  Think about what you would do “if” your choice didn’t work out the way you wanted it to.  What could you do now to mitigate it or minimise the impact?

And if, after all that, you don’t change anything, that’s OK too.  Choosing NOT to do something is still a choice and by making that choice, you have started a change in and around you.

My favourite saying when I’m deliberating choices is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” from Susan Jeffers book of the same name.  I’ve never read the book.  For me, the title is enough to jolt me out of my procrastination.

www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk

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