The power of networks

Two blogs down and going strong. I’m really enjoying writing them. They are keeping me on track, making me accountable to myself and I’m enjoying all of your helpful offers of support or advice.  Still utterly amazed by the amount of views. Over 6000 views of my first 2 blogs. Just wow!

This week I’ve returned to work after a week off and the inbox had exploded! I’m not going to complain though because I’m off again shortly! Alongside the exploded inbox I have also attended 2 webinars.  A bit of personal development time for myself. One about how you might be holding yourself back and how to step up to your plans, the other about making the most from your LinkedIn profile.  Both were super useful. The first was hosted by Amanda Alexander and I literally came off the iPad after it ended, put my women of the 80s Spotify playlist on (yes I have that playlist!) and danced around like a fool. That’s how energised I was!  It’s ok to laugh at this point!  In fact, yesterday I had a call from Amanda to say she is offering me some of her time for a career momentum call. How fabulous. 

The content was so helpful though and funnily enough a chunk of it was about networking and I had already started to draft this blog so great timing really!

I mentioned briefly last week about networking. So I thought I would focus on that this week because in the last 2 months my opinion has changed massively on the value that this has.  I also said I would be honest about my highs and lows. I had a lot of time to think whilst relaxing in Palma last weekend. That was great to get some head space but I definitely have been through a range of emotions and then returning to work after a week off has been hard. Hard because when I’m there I am acutely aware of how much I will miss the place when I do go. That makes me sad.

Honestly. It’s emotionally exhausting and there’s still so much to do and let’s not forget that Monday to Friday there’s still the day job to take priority. My head has never been as full, or excited to be fair.  It’s an equal split of mega excitement and utter fear right now!

So before I get on to my thoughts about networking let me tell you a bit more about me.  I’m sociable, fun and I like to think I’m pretty funny too but maybe you should ask others that know me if that’s true or not! I enjoy meeting new people, I love learning about others, from others and equally I love supporting others.  I’m pretty good at making myself stay out of my comfort zone but like most I don’t like the feeling that at  times this brings. I have high standards for myself.  That can be a good and bad thing.  I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to succeeed. I’m the kind of person that’s loyal personally and in business and I try my hardest to keep friendships and connections strong. There’s a definite art to that and you most certainly do have to make a conscious effort to do this well.

So I’m sure most of you would think they are all great characteristics to apply when networking and I agree, they are.  But really, when I said last week I nearly didn’t attend my first I’m being honest. I felt so sick.  That’s an odd emotion really for something so simple. It’s bizarre how your body can take over in a way that I can only describe as ridiculous but hey it happens to us all from time to time. It’s what you do as a response to that I suppose.  It’s the age old fight or flight scenario. I didn’t want to go but I did, and I said last week how fabulous I felt as a result of making myself.  So yes, I have the skills to build effective connections and yes it is something I do daily and am currently doing more than ever.  Is it always easy? No. Will I face in to it anyway? You bet!

In the past I’ve always questioned how useful it was, I now wonder how much of that was my own excuse to not step up but I suppose I also never had a clear reason for being there and I guess now I do.   Don’t get me wrong, I network in my current organisation it’s not like this is entirely alien and a newly acquired skill but that’s internally and not externally. It’s different. You have a common topic internally. It’s a little more comfortable and familiar. There’s the common goal that’s easier to pinpoint. As part of her webinar, Amanda also made me realise that networking isn’t just face to face. This blog is building my networks, LinkedIn is exactly that as are all of the other social media platforms. I had never made that link in my mind. Networking is simply connecting with others. So, my challenge to myself is to connect with at least one new person a week from here in. I will keep you posted but I’ve definitely been doing that so far.  I’ve had a number of great conversations with new people this week 😃

Networking isn’t all about taking from others or attracting potential future clients either, it’s about learning, trying new things and equally offering support.  I never knew how supportive it could be. I expected it to be competitive. My experience so far is the opposite.  I have been blown away by how so many people want to help and are keen to share. In fact it’s infectious and I’ve found myself sharing my experience and helping others more freely than ever.  Why not? I’m a firm believer that good things happen to good people.

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want – Zig Ziglar

Love Laura x

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I know some pretty amazing people, lucky me! 

Hey everyone. I’ve been in Florida for the last 10 days and I’m feeling happy. It’s been wonderful. I’ve had a good balance of totally switching off and time to do some reading and planning for when I return. Actually I’ve been reading a book this holiday called the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, it’s about following your dreams. I can totally relate. I’m going to be honest, I have struggled writing this blog. My flow doesn’t seem to be there, I’m blaming the heat and excitement of being in holiday mode!

I’m in Florida with friends. Friends I’ve had since my early teen years actually. I went with friends but also came to visit friends who live here. I’m going to run with this theme for my blog this week as it seems fitting.

We all have at least one friend in life, some of us have more than others. I have enough to share around if anyone needs some?! Since I was a kid, I’ve held friendships close.  I care about others and I just love people. I get my energy from others, I’m not a fan of being alone and I love to chat things through. Probably why I love writing my blog actually.

I have been giving a lot of thought about the people in my life recently. You kind of rub along, admiring their talents, successes, their careers and families.  You feel proud of what they achieve and often aspire to be more like them.  You’re there to celebrate the good times and support them through the tough times. You learn from their mistakes and they learn from yours.  I don’t take that for granted but what I have never really considered is how key friendships will become as part of my journey to starting Sparkle. Having as many people in my life as I do I have some I see often, others less often and some hardly ever. Down to no other reason than circumstances. But that’s ok, what matters is, that you’re there.  In a world of technology it’s easy to stay connected if you really want to.

Two weeks ago I was having a random panicked moment and at that same time I had a text from Dino, a friend that lives in the Midlands.  He’s the kind of guy that’s bold, successful and great to learn stuff from.  (He’s also wicked fun!) Anyway, his final message in our conversation was this

Take this opportunity and grasp it with both hands! It may seem like a downer but it’s time to change your life and be in control of your destiny! You will do so well! I believe in you xx

I believe in you. Those four words changed my entire mood in seconds. It’s not just Dino that has said something to boost my confidence, support me, encourage me, lots of other friends have too. All at different points in time. I know I couldn’t do this without their unwavering support. For that, I’m grateful.

I’ve had friends contacting me with offers of their skills, advice, specialist knowledge. On all kinds of helpful things. I’ve had others contact me with possible leads for future work and then there’s the heaps of friends that are happy to listen to me waffle on about my excitement and fear over and over again!

So, without going on that’s kind of all I wanted to say this week. Cherish the friends you have, invest in them and care for them because you never know when you will need them.

There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger and live just a little better.