I’ve been working for myself for 12 years now. And for the first 4 or 5, I really did work by myself. I got by.
Then, Pam Case, Deborah Dean and Lynda Walkley invited me to a monthly networking group in my village! So I started networking. I met some lovely people who lived near me and a few of them have become friends, which is great and I loved the social side. However, they weren’t the right people for me to talk business with. They didn’t really get what I did or know the people I needed to connect with.
So when Rebekah Ayres started a networking group in Liverpool for ‘people’ people I made every effort to go. It was fabulous. I made some more friends there (Hi Simon Jones!) and was able to grow my professional network and meet potential clients through these contacts. I was able to do the same for others. They helped me to gain confidence in who I was and what I did – simply by taking a genuine interest, and being able to have a detailed conversation. They pointed me to useful resources, introduced me to other helpful people and also encouraged me embrace Social Media, especially Twitter and making better use of LinkedIn. In short, they helped me to grow in skills and confidence.
It was around this time my business started to do better and the shift away from associate work to supporting clients directly began. Coincidence?
As a result of their support, I began to actively network on-line. Two ladies in particular have been phenomenally supportive: Becs McNeil and Sharon Gaskin. They helped me to further define who I am and what I do. They encourage me to work to my strengths and (perhaps even more importantly than this) they welcomed me into a community of similar people. On the face of it, these people are competitors, but they provide so much support and positive challenge, they are collaborators. Now I can’t imagine being in business without being part of the Trainer Talk Community. Finally, earlier this year, I asked Lorraine Harris from Virtual Desk Solutions to act as my VA, and her expertise has really added value to my business too.
Today, my business is probably stronger than it’s ever been. This is at odds with the beliefs I held 12 years ago, when I would have thought that to succeed, you need to be completely self-sufficient and look after number 1. Now I know that strength is in numbers, and I am lucky to have a large number of people who do (or could) support me, both directly and indirectly. The more I’ve opened up to others, the more help I’ve received. This made me want to share too: Because for every helpful thing I give away, I get one in return, and EVERYONE benefits.
When I work with clients, I work WITH them and FOR them. I do as much or as little as they need me to do. It’s about being of service.
And for similar reasons, I’ve started two groups: one on LinkedIn and one on Facebook to create a space where busy L&D professionals can ask for help. One small thing can make a huge difference, and I want to be able to give back a little of what I’ve received.
If you’re a busy L&D manager or training designer who just wants to bounce ideas around, please join the group and get involved. I promise to help if I can. Or (even better) get in touch so we can have a chat or even meet up. I don’t bite – I love sharing ideas, connecting people and generally helping. It’s good for us both.
2019 will be better if we tackle it together!