Photographing Calcutta – Tina Cleary’s Impossible Trip

January 6, 2014 at 10:14 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Making the Impossible Possible!

As some of you know, Tina Cleary (Reading South) embarked upon a fund-raising trip to Calcutta in November. Here we can see some of the photographs from her time there as well as an extract from her diary which just shows how others can surprise us with their faith and generosity and how we can achieve so much when we put our minds to it.

Friday 8th November 2013 – The adventure begins

One month ago I sat in a cafe, in Peckham, with a photographer friend who mentioned he has one space left on his street photography course in Calcutta, India.  The course raises money for the Hope Foundation (helping the street and slum children of Calcutta who live in the most terrible conditions and are exposed to every risk imaginable.)

I had wanted to visit India for a while and am always looking to be inspired with my photography.  I have admired Mark’s work with the Hope Foundation for a while.  This trip would be an experience of a lifetime but as I have a young family and we are saving to visit my brother in New Zealand I did not think it would be a possibility for me in the near future.

Mark explained how safe he felt when he was there and that I could probably fundraise to help pay the donation to the Hope Foundation.  Once I heard these two things I realised this could be a possibility and this trip ticked all the boxes.  I could help people and improve myself as a person and a photographer and of course I get to visit India.

My family were so supportive during the month, helping me with all the plans and fund raising. My youngest daughter even agreed to do a charity 6 mile bike ride. They made me feel so proud.  It was wonderful how kind people could be, helping me raise money for a good cause (including my Athena group who offered donations in return for head-shots). I also found out just how physically tiring it is to fundraise whilst having a full time job and raising a family.

After a month of organising flight bookings, immunisations and rearranging my work & home calendars so that the family continued smoothly while I was away, a very tired and emotional me said good bye to my family.  My husband took me to Gatwick airport where I met Marcia And Stuart (two other photographers) and we all got to know each other a little before our flight to Dubai, then off to Calcutta..

Want to know more?  Here are some of the stunning photographs from Tina’s trip or get in touch with Tina or the Hope Foundation to find out what happened next.

_MG_2350 _MG_1143 _MG_1066 _MG_1008 _MG_0644 _MG_0523 _MG_0263

Tina Cleary

w.  www.clearmomentsphotography.com
w.  www.expectingphotos.co.uk

www.facebook.com/berkshirematernityweddingphotographer

http://www.facebook.com/berkshirepregnancyandnewbornphotography

What’s all the fuss about?

October 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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multitaskingHave you heard the phrase “networking is a marathon, not a sprint” ?

It’s true that effective networking can take time, as you build strong relationships and get to know people in your network.  So, you want to make sure that you get as much benefit as possible from your networking time.    You get so much more than networking as an Athena member but don’t just take our word for it, here’s what our members have to say:

Support

“When I first joined Athena I was unsure about the concept of a women’s networking group – in fact I wasn’t even comfortable about networking at all.  Three years later I am a raving fan. I have met some of the nicest women with whom I have built firm friendships and amazing business links. When you are a woman in business for yourself it sometimes feels like a struggle to balance everything. It’s been so nice to realise that there are other like-minded women who share the same issues…but instead of sitting around drinking coffee in flowery skirts we work out ways to make things easier for ourselves. The support is immense!”

“From my first Athena Guest lunch I felt very welcome and decide to join immediately . I could really see the value and benefits of having the support of other women running their own businesses. It was great fun and a wonderful opportunity to learn about some fabulous local businesses as well as promoting my own business. I am really looking forward to the next year and getting to know my group and see how we can support each other.”

“For me, Athena has been a great support network when starting out in a homebased role spending a lot of time on my own. Networking with the other ladies in my group has enabled to me to get out of the house and meet people in a similar position to myself, and we are able to support each others’ businesses at the same time.”

“I admit sometimes it’s a struggle to fit in the Athena meetings with everything else that goes on in my “work” world but it would have to be something pretty major for me to miss a meeting because I gain so much from my “Athena” time. For me it’s a time to stop and reflect, to regain focus and where necessary to challenge my thoughts and behaviours in a supportive and forward thinking environment.”

Confidence

“The friendliness and support from other members is enormous.  It has meant that I have gone from working on my own to feeling like I have a lot of colleagues that I work with.  Having an increased network of contacts that are reliable means that my confidence has increased in the respect of knowing that I have supportive people around me to call upon.  The monthly training within the meeting always gives you something to take away and think about, not only from a business perspective but personally too.  Overall a great boost to self esteem and lovely to see friendships being formed.”

“During the 4 years that I have been a member of Athena, my confidence in both networking and public speaking has blossomed, this has been as a result of being part of a community of ladies that have supported and inspired me.  Recently myself and some of the members have set up a mentoring group whereby we meet each month before the meeting to see how we can help each other, either through own experiences and ideas or via our own contacts outside of Athena.  Most importantly for me personally, Athena has also contributed to my overall wellbeing through meeting a wonderful reflexologist, dietician, personal trainer and sports massage therapist – 4 ladies through whom my health has improved dramatically”

Inspiration

‘I was a complete stranger to business networking before joining Athena, and unsure what to expect. I’m not someone who likes to blow their own trumpet, bleat about business or shout from the rooftops about successes and failures. However, from the first meeting, I could tell I was in good company with a range of women from an array of businesses who all had one thing in common; they understood the highs and lows of being a woman in business. Far from being competitive, all I felt was support, and as a result, this feeling of camaraderie at each meeting has sent my self-esteem and confidence soaring. I’ve discovered skills I didn’t know I had, and am regularly inspired by the ladies in my group and beyond. Incredibly, I’ve even started taking tentative steps towards friendship, which was not something I hoped for from a business networking group. Joining Athena has far exceeded my expectations, and I’m excited about the year ahead and the role Athena is sure to play.’

“I have found Athena to be a really positive part of my life.  I enjoy getting out from behind the computer and having a really uplifting meeting and enjoy lunch with like minded ladies.  I always leave feeling very inspired and full of energy and it is very healthy to think about your business each month & to summarise what targets you are hoping to meet it makes me feel much more focused.”

 

How Not To Follow Up In Sales!

October 1, 2013 at 6:05 am | Posted in Articles, Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Grainne Ridge, Business Fit Club

Grainne Ridge, Business Fit Club

This month, Grainne Ridge of Business Fit Club shares her expertise on how we can change how we feel about selling by understanding more about the process.

How not to follow up in sales

Prospects can be frustrating. We have all had the experience of thinking that the business is in the bag and then what comes next is radio silence. They appeared keen to meet and find out more about our products and services. We burned the midnight oil to prepare a proposal and then – nothing. So why does this happen?  Here are just some of the reasons.

  1. We don’t understand their decision making process
    A proposal is just one part of the 11 stages in every buying decision. For this prospect they may be at the market research stage when they ask for a proposal and we have simply provided one more piece of research.

2.   We didn’t ask the right questions in our meeting.

Pre-proposal meetings are the prime time for us to find out as much as we can about the prospect’s business and yet this is often wasted by purely pitching. Do we know their pain points, their plans, their budgets, their timescales, their previous bad experiences with suppliers?  And these are just a few of the things we should know.

3.   We used the wrong language

How well matched was our proposal to their problems? Did we show them that we understood their biggest challenges and how the specific elements of our product would solve these?  Did we use their company language or ours? Did we propose next steps that hit their triggers, management meetings or other decision making steps?

4.  We didn’t follow up well

Did we say that we would call 1 week later at 3.30 and called 1 day later at 9.15?  Indeed, did we ask what the next steps should be? Keeping our commitments is part of the sales process. If we are lax in our follow up what message are we sending about our ability to deliver the goods? Secondly, agreeing up front what the next steps are creates a joint commitment which improves our chance of making contact, but it doesn’t guarantee it. We also need to be resourceful. How compelling are the phone messages we leave, the emails we send, the LinkedIn messages we send?  Who else can we call upon to get closer to our prospects

5.  Their needs have changed

Priorities can change, new stakeholders become involved, budgets get cut – or can increase. Proposals can often raise new issues that the prospect hadn’t previously considered, driving a whole new set of criteria – and a revised decision making process. All this can mean that the business may not happen for another 6 months so we need to find ways to stay in the running. Can we provide useful information in the meantime, invite them to relevant events or point them towards other resources.

6.  We didn’t stand out from the crowd

Few prospects will be simply sitting waiting for our proposal to arrive. They may have seen several suppliers so we need to be memorable. While this could be a novelty gift, if that would be appropriate, it could be our humourous approach, our sensitivity to their workload or an invitation to see our product in action.  Be creative!

So, with these in mind, can you spot what’s wrong with this follow up letter?!

Hi Mary

Can you please take me off your marketing database.

I came to see you and sent you a proposal, which you didn’t bother replying to, despite me chasing it up a couple of times.

I wouldn’t recommend you to anyone or wish to hear what you have to say.

Regards

M…….

So what can we do to give ourselves the best chance of success?

  1. Find out what their decision making process is – the timescales, the steps and the people who will be involved – and match it with your follow up activities.
  2. Ask what needs to be in the proposal, what format it should take and who else needs to see it.
  3. Deliver against the agreed timescales
  4. Get a specific commitment to the next step – and make it a strong one.
  5. Be resourceful and creative in your follow up
  6. Be useful to prospects, through your information, advice and other contacts you can provide
  7. Think long term.

And remember, in sales questions are often the answer.

Grainne Ridge

Business Fit Club

http://www.businessfitclub.co.uk/

Finding the Time to Train Increases Your ROI!

July 26, 2013 at 6:53 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment

Joining a networking group is an investment.  You invest your time, your energy and your money.  So what do you expect in return?

At The Athena Network, you meet other, like-minded business women; you get the opportunity to make connections that will help you and your business to grow; you will be surrounded by individuals who will inspire and support you AND you receive training and development to strengthen your business and your networking skills.  That’s a pretty compelling Return on Investment, however you look at it!

In June, we ran our regular half-day Networking Strategy Training session, available FREE for all members.  We’ve known this was good stuff right from the get-go and yet sometimes it can be hard to prioritise the time to take advantage of these opportunities available to you.

So, we asked Debbie Atkins of DA Fitness and Antonia Taylor from Antonia Taylor PR, two new members who attended that session to tell us what they thought.

Debbie AntoniaDA: A client and friend of mine introduced me to Athena.  I came along in April 2013 and joined immediately!  I had no previous networking experience but had been wary of breakfast/coffee morning/luncheons as appeared to be all about “selling” so my expectations of the training was to find out more about Athena and how to promote my business in a natural way without the hard sell.

AT: Similarly, I had done zero formal networking!  I’ve never seen myself as a networker and pretty much relied on word of mouth and personal recommendation.  I felt my business needed more focus and direction and I was looking for a supportive environment to enable this – setting up on your own can be quite isolating so having that core network is vital.  My intention was also to invest in building more relationships locally as part of this, to build up own referral network.  Within a month of joining, I have established some great connections, learnt so much about running a business through 121s and opened up to a host of new personal experiences too. I don’t like to have regrets but I do wish I’d joined up sooner.

What was the key thing you took from the training?

DA: I formed stronger relationships with other Reading members and it was great to meet others too.  I am a lot clearer as to why the monthly minute “Call to Action” is so important and how others perceive me when I speak.  Even though I’m from a Finance background, I’m aware the Business Planning/Strategy side of the business sometimes gets overlooked when I’m busy…..it has made me think of revisiting my “old” business plan and putting new objectives and strategies in place.

AT: I had expected the NST to be interesting and informative – not quite as full-on and interactive as it was. Be prepared to invest a lot of yourself in the session! The main thing I took from it was the pivotal role of planning when you network – it’s key to take a step back and map out your strategy otherwise it becomes networking for networking’s sake.  Also, having the opportunity to develop and shape my minute, with honest, constructive feedback from my Athena associates was really useful.

How did you make time for the training?

DA: I understand the importance of training and taking time to consider where your business is going, so it was easy to justify.  I did have to move clients because of the training but because it was a one-off I was able to do so.

Making time for yourself and your business is very important.  It helps confirm why you have joined Athena and shows you to get the most out of your membership.  You don’t know who you will meet on the course!  Learning is fun and the course was fun as well as being very good.

AT: Business owners are often reluctant to invest in training for themselves – I can’t honestly remember the last time I received any training.  An Athena associate suggested that I should build my own benefits package into my business plan and networking and training becomes part of this.  It’s not about being away from the office for a few hours but the long-term view.  The training has made me a stronger networker and in time, I am confident I’ll see the ROI.

The session really got my membership off to a positive start – it also helped me get to know other group members better in a more intimate, relaxed setting. It gives you the space to take a step back and reflect on what you want to get out of your membership. Three hours well-spent and I will be requesting a refresher course next year!

And what would you say to people considering joining Athena?

DA: The Reading Central group have all made me feel so welcome.  When I said to friends what I was doing some were quite negative about networking and asked “aren’t there are other ways of networking that cost a lot less?”….I am glad I listened to them but very pleased I trusted my instincts and came along.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first meeting and felt that I had found a group that were friendly and willing to help support each other.  The other members are interested in you and your business.  Building relationships and looking after others is how my business has evolved over the years and this is what Athena is about.

The business training is an added bonus, it was not why I joined but has been extremely valuable.  I have found two people to bring along to my group in the last two months and both have been very impressed with the meeting.  One is already using the services of a current member and will probably join in the coming months and the other was “blown away by the whole experience”….great feedback.

AT: Just do it.  For me this isn’t about new business so much as fostering meaningful connections that will help my business grow organically.  It’s about meeting likeminded and positive women you can learn from and hopefully share your own learnings with too.

Debbie runs her fitness business from her “outside office” offering Personal Training and Nordic Walking to groups and individuals.

Antonia runs her own PR firm, working with businesses who want to develop their relationships with their customers, suppliers and the public at large!

Phenomenal Business Through Athena But That’s Not All…

June 28, 2013 at 11:54 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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When I first started out on the networking circuit, I expected immediate results; new clients signing up on the spot, referrals and recommendations to all their contacts, big corporate opportunities landing at my feet etc. etc.

When that didn’t happen in the first month, I told myself that networking didn’t work and I took myself off and sulked behind my laptop for a few months.  Funnily enough, that didn’t help!

LaurenneIf only I’d met Laurenne Dorgan from PBS Services, she’d have set me straight instantly!  Laurenne is a prolific networker.  She is a member of several groups and, at virtually every meeting, new clients sign her up, provide referrals and/or give her glowing testimonials for her work.  And she does the same for others.

Here she tells us how she makes her Athena membership work for her and her business year after year.

Q: What made you join The Athena Network originally & what makes you renew every year?

I’ve been an Athena member for 6 years and I belong to two groups, I also belong to BNI and have done for 11 years (since I started my own business).  I find it is important to build relationships and that is not done by just joining a group for a year.  You need to be in it for the long term and build long term relationships and support your group.

I joined Athena because I wanted to join a women-only networking group that was serious about business – Athena has a structure which I like too and I find that women like to do business with other women.  Very powerful things can happen and great connections can be made.

Q: How do you use networking to grow your business?

I have a monthly structure for my networking and I always attend every meeting, I put all the dates in the diary at the beginning of the year so I never miss a meeting, I always try and bring visitors to the group and I always try and connect and give referrals

Q: How would you quantify the business you’ve gained through Athena?

The business I have had through Athena has been phenomenal, but it is not just about the business, it is about the whole support structure, the training and the long term friends that I have made which makes it so important to me.

Q: What advice would you give someone thinking about joining Athena?

JOIN! But you must take it seriously, do your 1-2-1′s, always attend every meeting, stick at it and don’t just join for a year, bring visitors and enjoy every meeting.

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.

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

cherrygirls

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

The Network that Keeps on Giving

March 27, 2013 at 11:27 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Think you’ve “done” all the networking you need to do for your business?  Here, June Dean from The Elevation Factor, Gill Bye from Royal Bank of Scotland and Jill McLachlan of JMVA tell us why, with over 12 years membership between them and already being successful business women, they keep coming back for more…

June Dean

June Dean

Gill Bye

Gill Bye

Jill McLachlan

Jill McLachlan

Q: What made you join The Athena Network originally?

 

June: A close friend was the Chair at Marlow and recommended I should come along as I had just started my business.
Jill: It was recommended to me by the VA Community as a good source of connections and also a friendly way to network.
Gill: I wanted to build my profile in the local community.

Q: What difference has being an Athena member made to your business?

Gill: I am more confident in public speaking.  I have saved members money on renewing their annual business insurance and also secured members interest on their business account deposits.
Jill: I have so much more confidence to network both within Athena and outside, through my role as Chair of one of the groups.  Also, having had the opportunty to present to the groups, I now have much more confidence in public speaking.  My business  has grown not only through increased revenue but also from the support and contacts I have made within the group.
June: Huge difference – it has given me the foundation and network to build a solid business.

Q: What made you renew most recently?

Gill: I like the ethos of Athena and I really like my group.  I have got to know the businesses in my group and also been able to meet many members of the other groups too through Cappuccino Connections. This has helped me to build my wider network.
June: Continued business from referrals, enjoyment of monthly meetings to focus on my business and the opportunity to take advantage of ideas and support.

Q: How would you quantify the business you’ve gained through Athena?

Gill: The business  I received through Athena last year easily paid for my annual membership fees.
Jill: In 2012 60% of my client base was made up of either Athena members or connections I had made via Athena members.
June: I usually get 10 – 20 times my fees back in business every year!

Q: What advice would you give someone thinking about joining Athena? 

Jill: JOIN! Come along and try it;  Don’t expect immediate results – the groups have to grow to trust you and find out what you do.  Also you, in turn, need to learn about your fellow members to understand how you can help them and how they can help you.  Also use your membership to its full potential e.g. hot seating and visiting other groups.
June: Go for it! Networking is the most effective marketing tool out there. People buy from people and its the best way of meeting them and getting recommendations.
Gill: Do join and remember it is about building relationships. From 1-2-1’s with your fellow members you will build a profile on that individual and from doing that, this business will naturally come.

Why Join the Athena Network?

March 27, 2013 at 10:46 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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What kind of women join The Athena Network? Here we’ve asked two of our newest members to tell us about themselves, their businesses and what brought them to Athena.

Fiona Nicolson, Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Fi Nicolson Describe your business in 10 words or less:
I am a Cognitive Hypnotherapist working with a wide array of client issues.

Which three words describe you best?
Professional, compassionate and insightful

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The huge satisfaction I get from helping my clients achieve the freedom they want from the wide range of issues that hold them back.

What are your goals for your business in 12 months time?
Successfully running my weekly clinic in London with a high proportion of my clients consulting me for stage anxiety and stage performance issues. Continuing to work towards achieving my Masters Degree in Hypnotherapy. Writing relevant articles for mainstream magazines and journals.

What first attracted you to visit the Athena Network?
Excellent reputation in the marketplace for networking with professional women.

Athena’s main aims are to encourage inspiration & support, to develop skills and provide opportunities for connections to be made. Which of these aims are most important to you and why?
Inspiration from different sources is very important to me as it part of a good hypnotherapist’s role is to inspire their clients. When you yourself feel inspired, it is easier to inspire others!

What would be the ideal referral for you & your business?
Artists, agents and contacts working in the Artists and Repertoire division of Sony or other music companies.

Fiona Nicolson www.fionanicolson.com

Alison Ashford, Meadway Travel

meadway%20travelDescribe your business in 10 words or less:
Meadway Travel is a retail travel agency established in 1980

Which three words describe you best?
Passionate, dedicated, humorous

How long have you worked in your industry?
30 years

What first attracted you to visit the Athena Network?
I liked the idea of meeting like-minded, professional women.

What made you become and Athena member?
I saw an opportunity to expand my business and client base, whilst at the same time meet new people and enjoy a different kind of social activity.

Athena’s main aims are to encourage inspiration & support, to develop skills and provide opportunities for connections to be made. Which of these aims are most important to you and why?
Providing opportunities for connections to be made was my main aim, as word of mouth has always been a powerful tool to use as a form of advertising

What would be the ideal referral for you & your business?
Introductions to people who have a disposable income and time on their hands to travel.

Alison Ashford, www.meadwaytravel.com

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