Month: November 2020

Working outside my comfort zone.

In the last few weeks, I have spent quite a lot of time outside my comfort zone. Why? Because my working life used to be, in the main, quite straightforward. I networked, I worked on strategy, I implemented new processes and systems. Occasionally, I would be outside my comfort zone because I was doing something new, but I like spending a bit of time outside my comfort zone, as long as there is foundation of ‘business as usual’.

But all that changed in March. I, along with most of the population had to:

  • come to terms with meeting people using Zoom and other similar platforms,
  • practice looking at the camera rather than looking at people so you end up looking slightly unfocussed,
  • learn how to deal with the gap between saying I wasleaving a meeting and then actually leaving a meeting having found the right button to click on.

So when that became easier I became a bit more adventurous. I took part in my first podcast[GC1] , I did my first virtual presentation and I chaired my own less formal meetings, rather than other people doing all the techy bits. I started to study some new social media platforms and realised how little of the language used I understood.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like that adrenalin surge you get when you are nervous. But the last few weeks it has felt like I couldn’t see my comfort zone even if I had binoculars! So, two weeks ago I attended my first virtual international conference and used my very rusty German. Last week I chaired my first formal business meeting and was in charge of the system. Scary! And to finish the week I recorded my ‘Business chat’ with a colleague which I then uploaded to my new YouTube channel…did I mention that I also set up a YouTube channel?

I’m sure that these new adventures will become normal so  I’m planning more adventures. I’m organising a virtual Christmas networking event for members and, if successful, I will be arranging some regular afternoon networking events, starting in the new year. I’m also looking at opening Groups outside of our current area. All are making me nervous…but that’s becoming business as usual!

Is networking “outside your comfort zone? Get my top 20 networking tips to


Learning from other people

Last week was a busy one for my brain. I attended 2 training sessions and I had two meetings to discuss new products and services, which will involve using new systems. The bit of my brain that was left started to think about this aspect of networking: knowing people who know stuff.

When I became self-employed, nearly 25 years ago, I quickly realised that I had left behind the support system that comes with working in the corporate world: a secretary who sorted all my admin needs, an IT section so I didn’t have to bother with things that plug in and require passwords, a stationery cupboard that the fairies filled, and a whole team who made sure that I could concentrate on what I was good at—building relationships with customers and potential customers (so some things haven’t changed).

All the above included having projects, usually decided by my boss, that meant I would be given a brief that included a how-to sheet. (Is it just me who wants to call this a brief brief?)  That was it. Now I think of new products and services (woohoo!) and I must find people who know the stuff I will need to know to implement the whole thing. I then need to manage the implementation. This includes a level of understanding. However, since I know these people who know stuff, it doesn’t have to be a deep understanding since I can always ask my supplier for help.

I have suppliers who I have known for forever and I have suppliers I’ve known for months. All of them have the same qualities. They:

  • know their stuff,
  • can solve my problems (not all of them of course just the ones that relate to their specialism!),
  • can explain stuff I need to know and understand in language that I can understand and
  • are people I trust.

So last week I learnt:

  • about making websites effective and uploading videos to YouTube (thanks Mike Hennan),
  • some intricacies of social media marketing (thanks Lesley Morrissey),
  • additional information about how to get the best from Zoom (thank you David Bell).

Self-employment can be a lonely place but we are not alone. We are surrounded by people whose knowledge is different from ours and who are willing and able to help us build our businesses.

What did you learn in the last week? If you want get some information about networking, go to: and download my 20 top tips.

Happy networking.

My problem with business cards?

Do you remember back in the mists of time, pre-March 23rd to be precise? In those wonderful days we met people face to face, we could see all of each other’s faces, the nightmare of coordinating masks and outfits weren’t on the radar and women wore  lipstick when they went out of the house (Wait: OK the last two might just be me, I tried wearing lipstick under my mask and ended up looking like the Joker) Anyway, back to the story, in those halcyon days you met someone, chatted, thought there might be some points of contact and you exchanged cards. (Yes there were some hip-and-happening youngsters—or as I call them—geeks, who had apps on their phones but I’m still old school…and I paid a lot of money for all the business cards I have.)

On 23rd March, the world of business changed in many way.  (Read to see how it affected me personally) but here I want to focus on business cards.

Before March 23rd, and given GDPR, I would get their card connect on Linkedin, send them an email, and ask if I could add them to my list from which they could, of course unsubscribe. (Interestingly, I never had anyone say that I couldn’t). We would then work at building a relationship, perhaps by arranging a 1-2-1. But that whole process started with a business card exchange.

The other thing with business cards was I ALWAYS had them with me when I went out of the house. Why? Because if you are not talking to yourself you are networking. Want proof that this approach works? When I had a catering company, I was once at the checkout of my local supermarket (I’d like to say Waitrose, but it was Tesco) and got talking to the next woman in the queue. She said she was very angry because her caterer had just rung her and cancelled her booking, something about a surprise holiday! I pulled out my business card, we met, and I got a very profitable job. I always took my business cards with me.

After 23rd March I can still connect with people on Linkedin but I don’t have the business card process nailed down, and since I rarely go out, I don’t even know where my business cards are.

As I try to evolve my working practices, I spent some time giving this some thought, and what did I find? The solutions to these business cards issues is simple: 1 I will be asking permission to add my new Linkedin connections to my list and I am digging out my business cards and putting them next to my vast array of various coloured masks.

How can you help? Make sure your contact details are correct and complete on your Linkedin profile. Please.

What are some of the small changes you are making?

Want some networking tips? Go to: and download my top 20 networking tips. You’re welcome.

Have fun