Jul 16

Sales secrets: how to sell yourself and your business

What we learned from our sales experts Sue Holly Rodway, Catherine Watkin and Sally Burrell at our latest Masterclass

Be necessary


Be confident

Be different

Be clear

Be considerate

Be smart

More To Life Than Shoes run regular Masterclasses on all aspects of business and careers . To get updates on the latest events, join our mailing list.

Jul 11

The 6 most popular tips from our book

imageWe’ve just discovered that Amazon displays the passages most highlighted in e-books by readers using Kindles. We love this, because it’s given us a list of the bits in our book, More To Life Than Shoes: How to Kick-start Your Career and Change Your Life here  that people found most inspirational and helpful, and here they are.


1. “Be decisive in knowing what you want, but flexible about how you’re going to get it. The timetables of our lives rarely run to plan.”

imageBooker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel told us this. She has struggled with poor health for most of her adult life, but didn’t let this stop her getting on with the hard slog of writing. She’s become a household name in recent years with her novels about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She gave us some great tips on finding and using inspiration.


2. “Doing is like dominoes, a chain reaction which will lead you to the right place.”

Camila BatmanghelidjhCamila Batmanghelidjh, who gave us this great line, is the amazing founder of the charity Kids’ Company. The centres she started have changed the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children in urban areas, and she started it all from a broom-cupboard. From that small beginning she is now changing attitudes to child poverty on a national level. Dominoes indeed.


3. “Rejection happens all the time. Believe in yourself, don’t take rejection too personally and don’t let it stop you … The Beatles, Beatrix Potter, J K Rowling, H G Wells … all got rejected several times over before they hit the big time.”

imageClearly lots of our readers know what we mean when we talk about the difficulty of dealing with rejection and failure. When things don’t go to plan or people don’t appreciate what we do, it’s tough not to let it deflate us. But for many of the women we interviewed, the knock-backs made them stronger, and they gave us great advice on how to deal with criticism and rejection so that it doesn’t knock the stuffing out of you.


4. “Passion is catching – burning with enthusiasm for something can ignite the people around you, helping you find unexpected help and support.”

imagePassion for what you do was such an important theme throughout the interviews we did that we devoted a whole chapter to it: how to find it, what it feels like and what it can achieve.


5. “Talk less, do more. There’s no time like now to start your new life – make a plan, break it into small steps, and get on with it.”

imageIt’s obvious advice, perhaps, but something clearly chimed with our readers on this one. It doesn’t matter how small the action is, whether it’s signing up for a course or checking the jobs pages, just taking that first step helps break down the inertia barrier many of us face.

6. “Volunteering is a good way to uncover hidden passions. Get out there, give up your time and see where it takes you.”

imageIt’s true! Doing something to help others makes you feel good, but it also exposes you to new people, new ideas and new skills. It’s a brilliant way of getting you out of a rut and giving you ideas about your future.

 

You can get the Kindle edition of our book More To Life Than Shoes: How to Kick-start Your Career and Change Your Life here , or the paperback here.

Mar 16

Stuck solving a problem? Seek the obscure, says Tony McCaffrey, a psychology PhD from the University of Massachusetts. “There’s a classic obstacle to innovation called ‘functional fixedness,’ which is the tendency to fixate on the common use of an object or its parts. It hinders people from solving problems.” McCaffrey has developed a systematic way of overcoming that obstacle: the “generic parts technique” (GPT)…

Here’s how GPT works: “For each object in your problem, you break it into parts and ask two questions,” explains McCaffrey…

“1. Can it be broken down further? and 2. — this is the one that’s been overlooked — Does my description of the part imply a use?”

” —

psychological technique to get you unstuck when problem-solving. Or, try a more creative approach.

( The Morning News)

(Source: , via explore-blog)

Mar 08

Our historical heroines: Mary Kingsley, African explorer

IWD LogoIt’s International Women’s Day 2012 and we’re celebrating the lives of some of our favourite historical heroines, women in the past who pushed boundaries, broke down barriers and smashed glass ceilings.


Mary Kingsley went from stay-at-home spinster to African explorer, conquering the jungle armed with little more than a sensible skirt and a brolly.

imageMary’s father was an explorer, but as the girl of the family Mary was expected to stay at home and nurse her invalid mother. She didn’t go to school so she taught herself, using the books in her dad’s library. It must have been a pretty boring life, especially with her dad disappearing on jaunts to far-flung places then pitching up and expecting Mary to write up his notes. Then, when her father also became ill, Mary had to look after both her parents until they died within six weeks of one another in 1892.

So Mary found herself at 30 years old, single with no ties and a small inheritance. She was in no doubt what she was going to do to make the most of her freedom – become an explorer, of course.

She told people she was going to research a book on Africa and offered to collect specimens for the British Museum on her way. But we suspect these reasons were a bit of a front. Mary just wanted a bit of adventure, and who can blame her?

Mary landed in Africa armed with £300 in cash, two suitcases and a phrasebook which started with the useful “Help, I am drowning”. She travelled hundreds of miles around West Africa, collecting specimens and meeting the locals. She also got close to the native insect population. Her advice? "If you see a thing that looks like a cross between a flying lobster and the figure of Abraxis on a Gnostic gem do not pay it the least attention - just keep quiet and hope it will go away - for that is your best chance”.

This was a lot more than an adult gap year for Mary. As soon as she was back from her first trip she was itching to be off again. She returned to West Africa in 1894, travelling by canoe up the Ogowe River, collecting fish specimens, three of which were named after her. She travelled with members of the Fang tribe through areas never before explored by Europeans, often taking the lead on marches, not wanting to show weakness, too “afraid to be afraid” as she put it.

Mary took the hardships and dangers of the jungle in her unruffled stride. She learned how to light fires, make ropes from vines, and catch and cook the local wildlife. (“A good snake, properly cooked, is one of the best meals one gets out here.”)

She amused herself by teaching the natives typical English phrases such as “dear me, now”, “stuff, my dear sir” and “who’d have thought it”, stood up to moody gorillas and crocodiles, traversed treacherous log bridges where her native guides had bottled it, crossed swamps (“oh bless those swamps, here’s another”) and fell down thorn-filled game pits (“it is at these times you realise the blessing of a good thick skirt”). At one point Mary discovered “a human hand, three big toes, four eyes, two ears and other portions of the human frame” in a bag in a chief’s hut. Nice.

Mary dealt with life as an explorer with a down-to-earth unflappability that we love. But as she herself said, “that is the path you have to go by, if you’re not wise enough to stop at home”

Back in England, where she took to walking around her house with a monkey on her shoulder (very ‘this season’), Mary’s accounts of her travels became best-sellers. Her books changed the Victorian view of Africans, promoting the idea that black people were not inferior to whites. Mary was a dab hand at rubbing the establishment up the wrong way, accusing them of mismanaging the African colonies. The establishment retaliated by labelling her as “the most dangerous woman on the other side.” She labelled them right back as “stay at home statesmen, who think the Africans are awful savages or silly children”.

The point where you succeed in becoming an explorer, a naturalist and a successful author might be the point where you decide to call it a day for most of us. But Mary was a restless soul, and during the Boer War she volunteered as a nurse and travelled to Africa again, where she treated prisoners of war. She died of typhoid there at the age of 38, having become one of the most famous female explorers of all time.

Doing the Business: 10 Top Tips to help you get your start-up started.

It’s International Women’s Day – so to celebrate, we’ve put together 10 top tips to help us girls kick start our entrepreneurial ambitions. Bring it on!

1. Suck it up
It’s hard to come up with an idea for a new business just by sitting on the sofa and racking your brains. Look around you. Inspiration is everywhere. If, for example jewellery is your thing, check out magazines, fashion blogs, student shows, trade shows and online retailers, to immerse yourself in that world. Sit in a coffee shop with a notebook or wander around town for half an hour at lunch time. You’ll start spotting new businesses, interesting behaviour and potential opportunities.

image2. Special Sauce
Starting a business doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with a unique idea or invention. Coffee shops have already been invented, but there’s no reason a new one shouldn’t make money. It’s a case of doing something special that makes you stand out from the crowd. How will your business be different and special? How will you wow your customers?

3. Raking It In
How are you going to make money? It’s the million dollar question, literally. Remember, this is not your hobby, it’s a business. Be clear on this right from the start! It might be a good idea to have a few different sources of income in case one doesn’t work out.

4. Spend a Penny
You’re going to turn over lots of money, but how much will you need to spend to get there?  In our experience, costs associated with running a business are always higher than you’d think. Don’t get caught out! Think about direct costs associated with each product eg. raw materials, packaging, delivery and your general costs e.g. accountants, electricity, web hosting etc. We feel another spreadsheet coming on… Oh and don’t forget to include a salary for yourself- you gotta eat!

5. Pitch It
You need to be able to talk about your business idea passionately, but concisely. Launching into a 20 minute speech every time someone asks you about your business is not ideal! What is your business going to do? What are you selling? Why do people need it? Be brief and don’t waffle. Sum it up in one sentence, so that if you bump into a very generous millionaire in a lift you can dazzle them with your ingenuity and maybe encourage them to write you a cheque before they reach their floor.

6. Friends First
Your friends, family and of course your local More To Life Than Shoes group are your ready made focus group. Get them to sample your wares and ask them for honest feedback. Is the price right? Do they like the colour / taste etc? Where would they expect to see them - Selfridges or the local market? And so on. Really pick their brains. Ply them with wine if necessary!

7. Home Hub

We know some people can be a bit snobby about setting up a business from home, but why would you risk loads of cash on office space or a retail premise before you’re ready? We’ve met some amazing women who’ve started businesses from their kitchen table, including the likes of pottery genius Emma Bridgewater and famous inventor Mandy Haberman. Hanging out at home until you’re ready is the smart thing to do.

8. Network Your Socks Off
Get involved in local groups (like More To Life Than Shoes – http://www.moretolifethanshoes.com!) to build your network. You’ll be amazed at the power of word of mouth and how quickly news of your new venture starts to spread. Plus, having a supportive network of likeminded ladies to help you make it happen will come in very handy.

9. Spread It
You don’t need to spend millions on a global ad campaign to spread the word.  Get creative and have fun! The key here is to consider your customers. Who are they? (That’s the first crucial question!) What do they do? What do they read? How do they spend their time? How can you grab their attention?  Twitter is a fantastic tool - and it’s free. Get onto Twitter and start engaging with people in your area who share your interests and business will start to blossom. Just, remember, to chat to people first and foremost, and not to endlessly plug your stuff!

10. World Domination
Women often get accused of running kitchen table or lifestyle businesses, implying that we don’t aim high enough. How patronising! If you want to run a small business from home to fit in around your family that’s great, but if you want to go global and take over the world, go for it. Whatever you do, ask yourself whether it could be scaled up to work on a bigger scale. Start thinking about it now and build a plan to create a scalable business from the start, rather than having to redesign everything later on.

Check out www.moretolifethanshoes.com for local meet ups, inspiration and masterclasses for budding female entrepreneurs. No swagger!

Mar 07

Our historical heroines: America’s first self-made female millionaire, Sarah Breedlove Walker

IWD LogoIt’s International Women’s Day 2012 tomorrow, and we’re celebrating the lives of some of our favourite historical heroines, women in the past who pushed boundaries, broke down barriers and smashed glass ceilings.


Sarah Breedlove Walker was a career women in an age where no one had heard of such a creature, a successful entrepreneur who took a product she’d dreamed up (literally), turned it into a household brand and America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Sarah Breedlove Walker

Sarah was born in 1867 as one of six kids in a family of African American Louisiana farmers. Her mum and dad had been slaves, and a life of hard work and poverty meant they didn’t last long after Sarah was born. Sarah packed a lot of life-experience into her early years. Married off at 14, a widow and single mother by 20, she spent 18 years working as a washerwoman to put her daughter through college. Sarah must have been the kind of woman who is always itching for a challenge, and although she’d spent years slogging away to support her daughter before she married again at the age of 38, she wasn’t prepared to put up her feet. Instead, she decided to start her own business. Her bright idea came to her in a dream one night – it was a new recipe for a hair treatment for black women’s hair which would protect it from hot hair straighteners. Sarah leaped out of bed the next morning and tried the recipe out and, rather surprisingly, it worked like a dream.

Sarah spotted a business opportunity, and began to make up her pomade in huge quantities, starting out selling door to door in her neighbourhood. Clearly a woman with an eye for marketing, Sarah called the treatment The Walker Method, rather glamorously re-branding herself at the same time to Madame C. J. Walker. It was exhausting work, trawling the streets for sales, carrying out demonstrations and cooking up more of her mix.

Women loved her product, and within four years she had expanded her business to two offices and a production plant. Creating an early version of the Avon lady, Sarah trained up an army of sales-women to take her vision to the whole of America. She got the women into teams so they could compete with each other for sales, and gave prizes to the most successful. A canny lady, no doubt about it. Sarah was always proud of the fact that not only had she made millions for herself, but she was giving other women the opportunity to earn their own cash on their own terms.

At its height, Sarah’s company employed over 3,000 people, making it the biggest black-owned business in America at a time of growing racial segregation. Sarah was realistic about what she’d achieved. “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success,” she said once. “And if there is, I have not found it - for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

Adele is the shape of the future -

Adele is an awesome singer. She’s also a size 16. The world of fashion is rocked. The media declares curvy is back. Ridiculous. Will women everywhere start eating more, because suddenly it’s ok? What a load of baloney.

Surely, Adele is fabulous because of her songwriting and beautiful voice. It’s strange how successful women are always objectified in this way. Why does it always come down to the way we look and the size of our backsides?

She's a funnny girl! -

Our latest girl crush Zooey Deschanel talks about the rise of the funny woman

Mar 03

Don’t bother getting organised, just call in the experts

Sort your life out, get organised, de-clutter, get a grip … we’ve all heard the lectures … sorry, we mean ‘advice’. But what if getting organised wasn’t just a challenge, it was actually a waste of time? Time-management expert Duda, of PA service duda does puts the case for giving up on getting organised and calling in the professionals instead.

DudaDo you start de-cluttering your house, only to leave it un-finished for days?  Does your resolution to become more organised fade out within a few weeks? Does your ‘to do’ list get forgotten in the chaos of a family weekend? Are you an organisational machine at work but your house is a complete mess? If any of this sounds familiar, I’m here to tell you this doesn’t make you lazy, or a failure! You are not alone, and there is nothing is wrong with you.

Wasting time ‘getting organised’ will not bring you success
The call to suddenly ‘get organised’ is a familiar start to many magazine articles on time-management, but it’s misleading and misused. Bringing order to chaos is a long process for a start - it requires a time-investment in itself. And it’s not easy - organisational tips that work for one person won’t for someone else - there’s no such thing as a ‘Top 10 Steps to Getting Organised,’ no matter what the mags say. Add in lack of time and motivation and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Being organised requires skill and discipline. Organisational skill is like creative skill, financial skill or mathematical skill -  you might have it, or you might not. All in all, the chances of someone who isn’t already the organised type suddenly bringing colour-coded, scheduled perfection to their life are low, to say the least. Unless of course you want to waste your energy on your weaknesses instead of your strengths, but I would simply call that self sabotage.

SumImagine being asking an organised person to become disorganised. Apart from finding it hard to ditch the diaries and in-trays, they’d be miserable. Forcing ourselves to be something we’re naturally not is a dead end. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being disciplined. It’s the most natural response to life I know! Some people are disciplined because they were trained from an early age. But ask those people if they enjoy it, and, if they’re telling the truth, most will say they don’t. They might enjoy the results, like monetary or other rewards, but to love discipline as a way of living is another matter.

I’m a time management coach, and even I’m the first to say being diciplined is no fun! I’m good at it because since I was young I’ve had a dedicated career as a musical performer. It certainly helps me in many ways - it’s my strength, and I started a business doing it for other people, but it also often stands in my way.  I’m always planning ahead, so I find it difficult to rest and to enjoy the moment.

So what do you instead of getting organised? Get us in instead!
Of course, being disorganised might be your natural state of being, but it still probably leaves you feeling out of control and unsatisfied. If it bothers you and you don’t feel on top of things, what can you do about it?

Forget the old way of trying to become miraculously organised or fitting more hours into the day. A different approach is needed here. It’s time to delegate your weaknesses and focus on your strengths.

You can be making money, building a career or spending more time with your kids while someone trusted and motivated is dealing with your mail, paying your bills, waiting for a plumber or de-cluttering your home.

Great managers focus on their contribution to the bigger picture, delegating their weaknesses to other experts. That doesn’t mean they don’t have control, or their fair share of input. But micro-managers who want to do everything by themselves end no where.

We at duda does are just part of a potential support network. We can offer advice on new ways of handling your life that don’t cost a fortune. So, enjoy life while it’s there and get us to do the jobs you hate! For invites to your group talks or training opportunities with us, please contact me directly on duda@dudadoes.co.uk

Duda xx

Feb 22

Feb 09

3 Techniques for practising The Art of Focus

imageSinead Mac Manus of digital wellbeing company 8fold has three simple ways to make your working hours more productive so you can swan out of the office at five on the dot.

Does this scenario sound familiar? You enthusiastically start your day with a long list of priorities. You feel awake, focussed and ready to have a productive day. You think to yourself “I’ll just check my email quickly to see if there’s anything urgent.”

Tick-tock. Suddenly it’s lunchtime and you haven’t even ticked off the first thing on your to-do list. And with the amount of email we consume rising 10-20% each year, plus all the other distractions of the modern world, from smartphones to social media sites, the problem’s just going to get worse. Our brains are struggling against an ever-growing tide of information.

If this sounds like the story of your working life, don’t worry, you’re far from alone. It used to be me too, before I started practicing mindful productivity

How can I actually get any work done?!
Let me share with you three tried and tested techniques for practising The Art of Focus.

1. Do one thing at a time
We all think we’re brilliant at multi-tasking. It’s part of most job descriptions, and pops up on CVs all the time. But humans are not like computers. While a PC can move quickly from task to task, human beings don’t function in the same way. We think we are multitasking but actually we are SWITCHTASKING, flip-flopping from one thing to another.

Switchtasking  uses up energy in the brain faster than doing one thing at a time. The more we attempt to do things in parallel, the more energy we invest in switching tasks and juggling. Research has shown that multitasking is an extremely inefficient way to work. In 2007, in a study of a group of Microsoft workers, they took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, such as writing reports or computer code, after dealing with incoming email, as they wandered off to reply to other messages or browse the web.

Action: Try this for today. Do one thing at a time and complete it before moving onto the next task.

2. Minimise distractions
I think it’s fair to say we live in the age of distraction. Research shows that 28% of our day is wasted on interruptions that are not urgent or important and the time it takes to get focused again is a scary 2.1 hours each day, on average.

When you want to get focused work done, you have to cut out your distractions. Literally TURN THEM OFF! Put your phone on silent, sign out of your instant messaging service, do not open your inbox and don’t even think of looking at Twitter or Facebook.

The urge to switch tasks will come. Something will catch your attention or you will become frustrated/bored with the task at hand. But we don’t have to be slaves to our brain impulses. The wonderful thing about human beings is that we have the capacity for choice; we can feel the tantalizing pull of the inbox or Facebook and make a conscious decision to ignore it.

Action: try going half a day with no distractions and see what a difference this makes to your productivity.

3. Manage your energy
All time is not created equal. There are times in the day when you work brilliantly and times when you would be better off having a nap under your desk. Be aware of your energy patterns and when you work best. Ring-fence this golden time for your focused work.

Action: spend a day being aware of your energy patterns. When do you work best? When are you tired and unfocussed?

imageDo let me know in the comments how you get on with these actions.

Sinead Mac Manus is founder of 8fold, a digital wellbeing company that helps busy people work better. Sinead has just launched Mindful Productivity - a six-week eClass full of practical, get-going insights and tactics so that you’ll have an action plan to do more Right Work and make an impact with your business. Find out more here. The Business Yogi book by Sinead and Bridget Stacey-Luff will be published in April 2012.

From acorns…. easy-to-do top tips to get your business started

If you’ve got a dream, but it’s not happening for you. Never fear! We’ve got some quick top tips to help you kick start your entrepreneurial aspirations.

Suck it up
Look around you. Inspiration is everywhere. If, for example jewellery is your thing, check out magazines, fashion blogs, student shows and online retailers like 77Diamonds to immerse yourself in the world you’re interested in.

Talk to People
Approach people who do what you’d love to do and ask for their support and advice. You could even offer to do some work experience for free to top up your skills. Most people are happy to help, plus, you’ll be making them feel important too!  

Friends First
Your friends, family and of course your local More To Life Than Shoes group are your ready made focus group. Get them to sample your wares and ask them for honest feedback. Is the price right? Do they like the colour / taste etc? Where would they expect to see them - Selfridges or the local market? And so on. Really pick their brains. Ply them with wine if necessary!

Home Hub
We know some people can be a bit snobby about setting up a business from home, but why would you risk loads of cash on office space or a retail premise before you’re ready? We’ve met some amazing women who’ve started businesses from their kitchen table, including the likes of pottery genius Emma Bridgewater and famous inventor Mandy Haberman. Hanging out at home until you’re ready is the smart thing to do. 

Local People
Make use of local websites and newspapers to spread the word. Local journalists are always on the look out for new businesses, and especially during the recession and the current economic doom and gloom positive news will be welcomed with open arms!

Network Your Socks Off
Get involved in local groups (like More To Life Than Shoes!) to build your network. You’ll be amazed at the power of word of mouth and how quickly news of your new venture starts to spread. Plus, having a supportive network of likeminded ladies to help you make it happen will come in very handy.

Tweet On
Twitter is a fantastic tool - and it’s free. Get onto Twitter and start engaging with people in your area who share your interests and business will start to blossom. Just, remember, to chat to people first and foremost, and not to endlessly plug your stuff!

Jan 25

Four actions you can take right NOW to ensure your freelance career gets off the ground

FreelancerAre you considering becoming a freelancer at some point in the future? Career coach Beth Reacher has some great ways to start laying the ground work right now so your freelance career gets off to a flying start.

For many, the idea of being their own boss and working from home in their PJs on the odd occasion can be pretty appealing! And with today’s online economy, it’s becoming more and more feasible to create a sustainable career as a freelancer.

But gaining success in freelance world doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re planning to make the switch, you need to start putting the foundations in place now. Here are four key actions you can take right now to ensure your freelance career has a flying start.

1. Research
When you decide to make the switch to become a freelancer, you’re creating a small business based around YOU, selling your skills, services and expertise. Just as with any business, you need to do some thorough research to know what kind of demand there is for what you have to offer.

One of the best ways to do this is to speak to clients that take on freelancers in your profession and industry. How often do they hire? What skills/ experience do they look for? Also get in touch with freelancers who are already making a successful living doing what they do- how do they find work? What works for them? What are their biggest tips? Fellow freelancers may well refer you in the future, so it’s worth building those relationships now.

2. Create a clear, compelling proposition
To be a successful freelancer, you need to be attractive enough to clients that they’ll pay a market rate for you, and that means selling yourself.

To do this, you need to focus on the advantages of the work you do rather than just focusing on features. For example,  “I’m a PR professional that writes top-notch engaging press releases that will get you into some of the most high profile women’s glossies“ is much more enticing than “I’m a press officer with five years experience” (if you were recruiting a PR Professional, who would you go for?)  You’re planning to be your own boss now, so it’s essential you can sell yourself confidently and convincingly to pull in the work. Start writing some ideas down now and get clear on the unique advantages you bring to the table.

3. Build Your Personal Brand
Building a powerful brand is at the heart of creating a thriving and consistent freelance business.  Ultimately, clients will make a decision on whether or not to offer you a contract on the bases of your overall brand and reputation.

One of the best ways you can start to breathe life in to your personal brand right now is through building your presence on the web. This is especially important in today’s online economy and it’s often the first place clients go to sniff out the expertise they need. Here are the key tools you should be engaging with now to establish an online brand.

Get on LinkedInIf you only have time to prioritise one social media platform, this is it. Create a clear, engaging profile and start connecting with relevant contacts in your industry. Better still, ask previous colleagues/ service providers to write a testimonial for you. Building a bank of testimonials now will be invaluable when your start freelancing, giving clients the confidence that they can trust you and you really do know your stuff.

Build a blog Create a blog sharing your knowledge, insights and views on your area of expertise. This shows that you are genuinely passionate about what you do and positions you as an expert. There are many free blogging platforms out there, and you don’t need any web know-how beyond common sense to set one up.

 Tweet! (Be warned- can be addictive!) Set up a Twitter profile and succinctly sum up your expertise in your bio. Start building a relevant tribe of followers including potential clients and tweeting insightful, constructive tweets that will engage with your audience.

4. Network
Forging relationships with potential clients in your industry is an incredibly effective way to start building the foundations of your freelance business before you make the switch.

You need to be thinking long term, not short term. Although they may not have work for you right now (and you may not be able to take it on!), things are likely to change in the future. If you’ve met in person and they’ve warmed to you, they’re much more likely to send the work you’re way than to a competitor. Keep their details on file ready to contact them when you’re on the market. In the meantime, if you see an article that might interest them, pop them an email. In the freelance world, it’s all about nurturing relationships, and thoughtful actions like this can go a long way.

Check out events on LinkedIn and specific industry meet-ups as a starting point. Initially, I’d commit to one night a week networking. This will also give you the opportunity to practice pitching your ‘proposition’ and ensure it’s perfect for when you finally make the switch.

Beth Reacher
LogoBeth Reacher is a life/ career coach, ex-city recruiter and founder of The Career Stylist. Her passion is coaching women who feel lost and uninspired in their careers to shape a thriving career or business they will LOVE, on their terms. Download her FREE E-Guide giving her “8 Top Tips to Shape a Career/ Biz You’ll Love” straight from her website by clicking here.

Jan 13

100 more women on boards in the last 12 months. A great start, but not enough……

Woman in BoardroomThis week saw the announcement that 100 more women are now on the boards of big UK companies. More To Life Than Shoes member Tara looks at how companies can do more to keep their female staff on board.

In the Guardian this week the Professional Boards Forum announced that 100 more women were now on the boards of the UK’s biggest organisations.  So companies have been making a concerted effort to address some of the issues that were highlighted by the Davis report last year and have been appointing women as non-executive directors. This will make a difference in the board room, but we still have a long way to go to get the numbers that were recommended by the Davies Report and I am afraid that this will not address the more long term issue of more women being promoted through their own organisation to senior executive positions. We are still losing too many young women because there are so many choices for them, such as going to a smaller company that may be more female-friendly or setting up their own businesses.

Whilst I applaud those women who are now NEDs, we still have a shortage of women in senior positions within these companies and something has to be done to make them want to stay and make a difference within a company which may well have invested thousands of pounds in their development.  This is a complex issue and there will not be a one-size fits all solution, but More to Life Than Shoes believes it has part of the solution - to work with companies to find out what needs to change in their organisation, to make sure that their talented women decide to stay and make it to the top.  

More To Life Than Shoes has been supporting and helping women in cities around the UK to get motivated, inspired and get what they want in life, whether that be a new job, to start a new business or to write a book.

It’s a simple idea, women meeting every month to share ideas and support each other, committing to taking action and then sharing success.  It’s essentially networking and mentoring all rolled into one, but done a very female way.

We believe this idea can be taken into your business and used as a structure to help your talented women feel supported and encouraged to be at their best, develop and ultimately get promoted.  It also can be used as a forum to understand what needs to change in that organisation to ensure that more want to stay and are not tempted away.

In recessionary times, when reducing your recruitment costs is so important, it makes sound financial sense to stem the flow of women leaving. Our internal programme is a cost effective way of stopping the attrition and building the capability and confidence of your female employees.

If you would like to know more about  how we can deliver your own women’s networking programme, delivered by professional coaches in your business, then please call Tara on 07816 908 662 or Jo on 07786 685849.

Jan 12

Meet-ups, masterclasses and inspiration to kick start your 2012

We’re on a roll! (And, not because we’ve eaten too many mince pies…) We’ve jam-packed January with meet-ups, masterclasses and inspiration for all you working girls and budding female entrepreneurs.

                huddle

MEET UPS TO KICK START YOUR YEAR
This month we have meet ups happening across London in Wanstead, Vauxhaull, Clapham and Mayfair. Outside London, we’re in Luton, St Albans, Peterborough and Oxford (so far!). Sign up now to get your ticket – and kick-start your 2012. All that inspiration, motivation and support for just £5 – bargain.

TWITTER MASTERCLASS
Twitter is a powerful tool that can help you drive your business forward, raise your profile, boost your sales and meet cool new people, but it can be a bit overwhelming at first. So, we’ve gathered together our favourite tw-experts, to provide a range of different perspectives and help us get our tweeting groove on. Come to our masterclass and find out how to get the most out of Twitter as an entrepreneur or professional. We’ll discuss how to use Twitter as a marketing tool, how to attract more followers, how to make the most of hashtags, retweets and favourites and how to get noticed by the Twitterati. Get your ticket now, before they’re gone!

CHEERS! WINE TASTING MASTERCLASSES

Miss BouquetIt’s January, it’s cold, we’re detoxing and busting our bits off down the gym. If that sounds like you too then you could probably do with something to look forward to. We’re teaming up wine wonder Miss Bouquet who is going to show us how to sniff, slurp, spit and swallow like a pro. Come to our pay day party on Jan 31st, have a drink and get networking with fellow MTLTSers. You’re bound to leave with a spring in your step – and maybe a slight wobble!

NEW GROUPS
Following on from our feature in the Independent we’ve had loads of enquiries from people wanting to start new groups. If all goes according to plan we should hopefully be coming to Harrogate, Royston, Clacton, and Canterbury to name but a few. We’ve even had someone wanted to start a group in the Carribbean – holiday anyone? So, watch this space!


See you all soon,

Nadia xx