Networking – good for business!

I host and run a networking group for Mums who run their own businesses (in the Bristol and North Somerset area). We meet on the third Thursday of every month. I was looking through some files yesterday and I found some notes I had written after a meeting last October.  I had arranged for the brilliant Gail Gibson (her business is True Expressions to speak at the meeting with the objective of helping us all ‘Network for Success’. Her words of wisdom reminded me of exactly how successful and rewarding effective networking can be.

Here’s my notes!

Effective networking requires participation and effort and, if done well, it will deliver real (and hopefully financial) results.

Remember not to SELL whilst networking as you’ll just give yourself a bad name. Any selling may come later. You are now networking only, nothing else. And if it turns out that you meet a prospective customer there and then, you’ve already opened the door to a sale by establishing a relationship.

If you can, arrive at meetings on time. Don’t wait for something to happen. Introduce yourself (wearing a big smile!) with enthusiasm to as many people as you can. You never know who might be a useful contact as just because their name badge says one thing, they might know lots of interesting people that need to know about you and your business! Focus on talking with one or possibly two people at a time and talk about THEIR business – not just yours.

Be one of the last to leave and if you felt you struck up a relationship with anyone, you could send them a short email to acknowledge anything significant talked about. DON’T be tempted to spam all attendees!

And then, the most important thing is to maintain your presence at the networking group (providing it suited you) as the more you go, the more you’ll get out of it. People want to do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.

Thanks Gail for explaining to us the dos and don’ts of networking. If you want to find out more, I can recommend Gail’s book, ‘Making Connections’.


Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose”…….

I was recently reminded about this great book by a contact on Twitter. It’s by the fabulous Dr. Seuss. My children have a copy of the book which we read together from time to time. My best friend read an extract from it at my daughter’s naming ceremony 5 years ago. James (husband) and I felt it was very appropriate.

And it seems appropriate again at the end of the school year. Phoebe is 6 on Friday  and finishes Year 1 tomorrow and Adam (who’s 5) finishes Reception.

For those unfamiliar with “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”, it’s all about believing in yourself as you go out into the world. It may be a children’s book but it’s inspiring for people who are opening a chapter in their life, or even those who may have just closed one. This book is about taking charge of your own life, facing difficulties in your life such as loneliness, fear, and confusion, and taking on life ahead of you.

“I’m afraid that some times,
You’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win,
‘cause you’ll play against you.”

This verse is powerful for me because it is saying that there will be times where you can succeed, but because you do not believe in yourself, you end up losing the game or not succeeding at all.

I also really relate to:

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”

How true:

“And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

And this is true too:

“Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.”

Another favourite part is when we get to the Waiting Place – a place I’ve been to quite a few times actually. You’ll have to read that bit yourself!

So this simple yet profound, beautifully written message applies both to adults and children. Let’s read the final lines together:

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

Delicious Banana Cake – foolproof!

Just thought I’d share this fab recipe that a friend of mine gave me a couple of years ago. This recipe is very easy, very tasty and ideal for using up the bananas that you’ve kept for a bit too long! The children not only love helping make it, they love to eat it!

115 gms    butter (or marg)

170 gms    sugar

225gms     self raising flour

2 eggs

2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas

2 heaped tea spoonfuls of honey (optional)

Half teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)

Half teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180 c). Grease a loaf tin. Mash the bananas (with a sturdy fork!). Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the eggs. Then add the two sludges you now have together. Mix in the flour.

Scrape into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes. Then lower the temperature to gas mark 2 (150 c) and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Try to let it cool (turned out on a rack) before you devour it!

Children are like sponges…

I am sure many of you know this quote but I wanted to share it as it’s just how I am feeling at the moment. There is no doubt the start of term has been tiring for my two. Phoebe has just begun Year 1. She is finding it hard being back at school and having to concentrate for the full school day. She is also struggling to get back into the swing of the ‘morning rush’. The settling in period for Adam, as a new Foundation boy, is tough. Not because he isn’t ready for it (he is, Phoebe has taught him to read!) but the sheer shock to the system!

This has meant that all the tiredness, over stimulation and often hunger (they seem more hungry than normal!) has led to sibling rivalry, bickering, unreasonable demands and premier league grumpiness. I am therefore comforter, referee, cajoler,  jester, peace-maker, pre-emptor, and anticipator (I may have made up some of those words!). As a result, I am pretty exhausted too!

“Children are like sponges. They absorb all your strength and leave you limp, but give them a squeeze and you get back everything.”

But as the quote says, a bit of time-out on the sofa and a cuddle and it’s all OK. Until the next drama!

Waiting for Life to start ….?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I just can’t wait for my (real) life start”?  If so, you are not alone. So many people often think that when they experience a certain event or acquire a significant item then, and only then, their ‘life’ will begin.

I thought about this following a conversation I had with a Mum in the playground yesterday. She was explaining that she feels that she is not living her life yet for a variety of reasons. Firstly, her husband works away for several months at a time and will do for the foreseeable future. This means that when he is away, she is on her own with her two children. She feels that they are waiting for their ‘family life’. Secondly, she is waiting until her youngest starts school and then she can sort her career out and feel good about it. And finally is the fact they are living in rented accommodation until the housing market situation changes.

As we were talking we decided that ….Guess what? Life has already begun and life is happening even as I type. We mustn’t miss it and waste our time waiting for external factors to kick in to deliver us ‘our life’.

And it was talking to my friend yesterday that made me, this morning in bed, spend a minute or so (that’s all I had time for before the school run!) thinking about all the things I am grateful for. I definitely felt more energised and positive as Phoebe, Adam and I skipped off to school.

Although I am not in the same position as my friend, I am still guilty of “I just can’t wait for my (real) life start” or “ I’ll do that once my life starts”. So, I have decided that instead of waiting for life to begin I must realise that life is now and that this moment will never be again. I do not want to be that person that wonders when did life pass me by or where did the time go?

Coincidently, only this afternoon I was sent an email from a friend which had the (corny?)

A birth certificate shows you were born.
A death certificate shows you have died.
A photo album shows you have lived.

……This is also something to throw into the Life mix!

Life Manifesto

Anyone got any other suggestions to appreciate the life we have?

I used to be Jane Todd

I am blogging as me, Jane Geldart …… although I am also Jane Todd. It’s the name given to me when I was born. I use to like (still like) my maiden name. I think of it fondly! I never had to spell it! Since being Mrs Geldart, I have also been called Mrs Geldhart, Geldheart, Geldhard, Geldoff, Gellheart ….. I could go on.  So why did I change my name when I married James? Names are very much part of our identity and heritage so it’s quite a major decision to change your name. It is not unusual for a woman to keep her maiden name professionally, and to use her married name socially. I did this for a while. At work, I was Jane Todd. I’d worked hard over the years to build up my reputation in the Agency world so I wasn’t prepared to give that up. When I left the the world of advertising/marketing (and left London), I used Geldart for everything. I took my husband’s name by choice. He wouldn’t have minded at all. I can’t really say WHY I wanted to change mine. I definitely didn’t feel like I was losing my identity, as I am pretty secure with who I am. I suppose I just like the idea of being united by the same name. It’s an outward expression to the world that we are a family. I do still use ‘Todd’ to book tables at restaurants though!