On Wednesday the 26th June 2019 Facebook London signed the Armed Forces Covenant.
I wasn’t going to miss this. We are currently based up a RAF Shawbury so
I packed my bags on Tuesday evening and waited for my husband to get back from dive club before driving the two hours to collapse into bed at midnight in my mums house. Up again at 6am I showered and got ready to catch the train from Kingham to London, a great opportunity to catch up on some social media. I navigated my way through the warm wafting heat of the underground from Paddington to Westminster and into the Park Plaza Hotel. There was a fantastic energy in the air. Within moments of walking through the door people I had only ever met online before were coming up to say Hi with hugs like they were my long lost friends, it felt so good to be amongst such positive, dynamic and forward thinking people.
Business owners from the military community were invited to a fantastic day of networking, inspirational speakers, panel discussions and live master classes on the many ways Facebook and Instagram can help boost your business #fbveteransboost. At this point I want to say a massive thank you to Facebook London for putting on such a great event and feeding us so well too and an equally huge thank you to the Heropreneur network who do such great work supporting military business start ups through their mentoring programme.
The theme of the day was community, and what a community the British Military is, warm and fiercely supportive with a healthy dose of humour. For me this was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with some people I had only met through the power of the internet before, as well as meeting lots of new and inspirational business owners. I love meeting people in the flesh, building rapport and cementing the bonds with common interests.
The words of Simon Harmer really shone for me that day, he confidently walked onto the stage on his prosthetic legs and delivered a funny and heart warming account of his story. I was lucky enough to interview Simon for The BeGlad Movement in 2018. He was a combat medic serving on a tour of Afghanistan when he had his legs blown off. This man is so inspirational, when a nurse in the recovery hospital suggested he should look for three positives for every negative Simon decided he needed to look for five. My favourite quote from Simon that day though, ‘I live every day as a thank you.’ Find out more about Simon here
I can’t write this post without mentioning how disappointed I was not to see Michael Coates from the Declassified podcast. He runs a business called Combat Pest Control, again I was lucky enough to interview him too and was so inspired by the way he set up his business. Not only does he champion the employment of veterans and spouses but also giving a proportion of profits towards the education of children in war torn countries and towards the training of African pouch rats. Unfortunately he couldn’t be there on the day as his mum fell ill and family should always come first. Thankfully the amazing Woody, Brian Wood MC stepped in at the last minute to lead a panel discussion on Michael's behalf. That is the power of a great community with strong relationships, being there for each other in times of need. Hear more about Woody and his incredible story here
It’s important not to underestimate the power of community. Even if you are not as lucky as I am to be part of the military family you can still curate a tribe of supporters around you. Looking for people who share your values and lift you up is imperative as a self employed small business owner but it’s also equally important that you distance yourself from negative people too. Although you may not feel it too much in any one instance a steady drip of negative talk can be a secret assassin. Like Simon was told, you need to look for AT LEAST three positives for every negative because evolution has wired our brains with a negative bias.
With this in mind it’s important to acknowledge our minds and our mental health especially as business owners. Naturally we are go getters, used to being self disciplined to get where we want to go but we are bombarded with a heck of a lot of information daily which is tiring to sift through; if we’re not careful it can send us into thought loops that go round and round. Taking the time to share your thoughts with your community or even better having the undivided attention of a coach or mentor for an hour really does help unpack all the ideas, clear the wood from the trees, and sets you free to move forward more quickly and effectively.
Recently I posed the question ‘Which platform brings you more business? Instagram or Twitter?’
I posted a poll to my Instagram stories and I posted a poll asking the same question to my Twitter feed.
Twitter gives companies a better way to interact directly with customers than Instagram. That's also a big reason why Twitter continues to be one of the top social media channels. You can quickly communicate in real time. Instagram is more focused on the content than customer-to-business interaction.
Gary Vaynerchuk says that Twitter is too noisy, it’s definitely still the place to go for breaking news when something is kicking off but Instagram is where you get more of your followers attention. And holding the attention of our potential customers is what we need to do to be able to create an impact.
So what results did my polls pull in?
100 percent who responded through Instagram claimed Instagram was best for business.
77% of those who responded through Twitter claimed that Twitter was the best. I sensed there may be a slight biased towards the platform which you happened to be viewing the question on in the first place!
And, there’s the thing. Surely where we spend the most time and put in the most effort is going to be the place we see the biggest results.
Behind every social media platform is that element of ‘social.’ It’s where you hang out and where you interact with people. I could have thrown into the poll Facebook, Snapchat, or even a traditional in person networking meeting – which by the way is my favourite way to get business. But that’s not the point I am trying to make here. It’s not really about the platform it’s about the commitment and engagement.
More and more of us feel that we need to have these social media accounts to back us up, to validate us almost. But do we really need to be everywhere? Could we be spreading ourselves too thinly unnecessarily? Being realistic and selective about where we spend our time, (and time is money,) will help us to focus our attention and efforts more effectively to serve our beautifully curated communities.
As well as our websites our social media presence is acting as a 24 hour sales assistant, always representing our brand and if you’ve got it right, answering the key questions about who you are and what it is you do. Giving the visitor enough information to decide if you’re likeable or at all relevant to their needs.
And that is what business is all about after all, fulfilling a need. I read in a marketing book many moons ago now, no one wants a drill, what they really want is a hole.
I know that no one really wants coaching, what they do want though, is to reach the next level of success, after all, ‘what got you here won’t get you there,’ as Marshall Goldsmith says.
Personally I like both platforms. I enjoy the ‘in the moment-ness’ of Twitter, it’s far easier to show appreciation for content via retweets and the conversations really do flow.
Instagram speaks to the designer in me, although that is a double edged sword as I don’t generally add to Instagram in a spontaneous way because I wouldn’t want to mess up my pretty feed.
I'd love to know your thoughts on this - feel free to add to the conversation either over on instagram or twitter! (see what I did there?!)
What I learnt at the circus.
Two weekends ago (yes I know it’s taken me a long time to get round to writing this blog post!) I was lucky enough to be able to fit in a trip to the circus, not just any circus, the beloved Giffords Circus. A magical village green circus that tours England throughout the summer.
I’d not been for years and at the time the big top was pitched on the stunning historic grounds of Sudeley Castle – where, incidentally, my husband and I were married four years earlier.
This year’s show is called ‘Xanadu’ meaning an idealized place of great idyllic magnificence and beauty. We were transported back to the 60’s where flower power, peace and love reigned true.
Here are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind while taking in the show.
Are you letting first impressions blind you to valuable connections?
Close to the beginning of the show we were introduced to a very smartly dressed mother and father who are busy chasing after and berating their young daughter who is clearly intrigued by the hippies and flower power surrounding her. She tugs in the opposite direction to them and they scold her in their ridiculously up-tight voices. They clearly want to be seen as upstanding respectable people.
They run in and out of the ring in between acts until eventually towards the end of the show the young girl manages to break free and subsequently encourages her parents to surrender to the movement of peace and love. A fantastic display ensues with the parents taking it in turns to glide through the air around the ring suspended on a rope. It was so spectacular my writing skills just aren’t up to describing this act with the true justice it deserves.
The fact that I had paid such little attention to this couple throughout the show got me reflecting on the hidden talents they went on to display. We’ve all been to networking events and been asked ‘What do you do?’ I’m not a big fan of this question because I don’t feel people should be defined just by the job they do in that moment in time. We all have a history of experiences and most of us are planning many more.
How someone seems on the surface may not be the full extent of their talents, talents which may be of use to you. I’m not suggesting, ‘So tell me your life story then?’ as an opening question at a networking event but ‘What are you passionate about?’ Or ‘Tell me a little known fact about you?’ might be a nice alternative. Warning - make sure you are ready with your own answer should the question get turned around on you though!!
Be open to the fact that first impressions can be deceiving. Don’t presume you know or write anyone off too quickly.
Direct opposites can work well together.
The policeman and the hippie. Although they were polar opposites in the show these two
came together and performed an amazing balancing act. Using their individual strengths they were able to flip and tip and roll together. How often do we look to socialise or work with people who are like us? Could it be, that accepting we can’t do it all and that we are not always right might help us to find people with an opposite yet complimentary skill set? Allowing someone else to bring something completely different to the table could elevate our game and help us break new boundaries. Embrace different.
The juggling act and work life balance.
I personally don’t believe in work life balance. There I said it. After all, who wants an equal amount stress to their levels as happiness. Much better to accept that sometimes family is going to have to take the lead and other times work is. Some projects will take more time and other tasks will have to go on the back burner.
At the end of the day the juggler was never holding all the balls at once, he bounced some in, he took some out, sometimes they were in the air and other times they were balanced on his neck. You will drop balls and that’s ok, the word multitasking was actually invented to describe the actions of the first computers, humans are not computers. Just make sure you take some time now and again to check which of your balls actually need to be in the show.
The star of the show!
The general public may often think of the clowns as filler acts but at Giffords, for me, Tweedy really was the star of the show. His energy and enthusiasm coupled with silly gags and audience engaging mayhem made him the life and glue of the show. All team members are important; some team members may have skills which are more important than you think.
I was once employed as a receptionist for a tech firm. I turned that job into something of my own. I wasn’t just simply meeting and greeting customers at the front desk. I was counselling staff, maintaining morale and setting them up for the day with a cheery smile. I made ‘flapjack Friday’ a thing, with votes on chocolate chips or raisins an important debate (Sometimes I’d make two batches.) Team morale is important and often overlooked when considering how to increase productivity. You may have staff who are not the highest paid or the most highly skilled but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a key part in your company ecosystem.
Ending on the note of increasing team moral have you considered how my Kick Ass Kindness workshop could help your business team? Click here to find out more,