Wednesday, 9 December 2009

week eight: faulty time continuum

where does it go? i believe i may have entered an actual wormhole this week and surely i'm soon to pop back out at monday. i have 40 minutes before #1's nativity at which she stars as an angel. she has four lines and i've practised them a lot with her, feeling torn between the roles of supporting mother and pushy over-interested control-freak. i just don't want her to feel nervous so i've explored the meaning of the words and lines to give them a structure in her head and help her remember: control freak? she has to say "don't be scared" (because they've not seen something like you, have they? and you're all shiny in the sky... which will hopefully prompt....)"i'm an angel" (and why are you there, talking to those shepherds?....)"baby jesus has been born" (and so what've they got to do?...)"follow me".......yes. i can now see that perhaps i am focusing too much on this. what will presumably happen is a 5 minute shambolically hilarious mishmash of crying, waving and knicker-wetting followed by a lot of chocolate eating. all by me.

this week i had a speednetworking marathon; let's just say that it left me in a monging, unable to communicate, star trek (new generation) data-like mode for 48 hours. it started at 9.30am and until 1pm we networked face to face for 1 minute, alternating then moving on. 43 times. with one small coffee for sustenance. it would have been really really good if my business provided guidance on "how to network interestingly for 1 minute", or "how to keep your breath fresh and saliva in your mouth for short bursts of time", or if i'd been selling espressos. as it was i'm not sure my target audience was hugely represented. i think i quite scared the sole business bank contact with my huge enthusiasm and vigour and the way i leant back to continue talking to her once we'd moved on, and then sent my business cards her way on the back of small paper aeroplances once i was further down the long table of life-coaches or business-mentors. she, unlike quite a lot of others, hasn't thanked me for my interest in her product nor asked me to join her on linked in.

i did meet the operator of another networking group there and attended a session with her yesterday and, without making any slanderous comments, it was the least useful function to date. the harp (?) drowned out everyone's pitches; we'd been told to drop in whenever but then had to adhere to a matrix-like structure of pitching "and now is time for free talking" only to be interrupted with harpy-like yells across the table demanding we attend to a new entrant. lots of talking over people by the two hosts, usually about lattes, and a strange familial connection between them kept the dynamic that of a too intimate christmas gathering of in-laws. i tried to escape but was trapped in by a fund-manager, sadly recently redundant, who was trying to pitch for £500k investment tranches in his new fund....felt a strange empathy for a man caught in the middle of this downturn at a point in life where he was ready to start the last few years pre-retirement and was now floundering in a new field of networking which he hadn't fully grasped. that being said the jowls spoke of years of gout-inducing corporate functions so i don't feel he was totally adrift.

another eye-opener was the fact that someone presented their pitch and it was identical to my raison d'etre. somewhat un-nerving; will have to track down and eliminate the individual. if i then do eventually pop back out at monday then no one will be any the wiser and the market will be ALL MINE!!!!!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

week seven: handbags and gladrags

as the dust settles and i grab a coffee before a 10.30 meeting i feel that the week has been a networking haze of, dare i say it, a phase 2 stylee. still the twin twangs of children vs work are chiming as i sit here post the flurry of a morning when adam takes the 06.20 london flight.(no more loitering in the ba lounge for him, now on sleazyjet as dictated by the new boss.....soul destroying; surely early morning business travel should have an element of avoiding the great unwashed?....)

i call it a flurry but that sounds sort of snowy and festive with bells chiming as we all sit ruddy-cheeked in front of our porridge and giggle as daughter #2 smears it across her chin and pretends to be santa. it wasn't really like that. the lure of the newly discovered chocolate advent calendar proved too much for the youngest. the eldest (slightly puritan-quaker in her nature) savoured hers slowly, enjoying the pleasure of a restricted treat. not so for #2; she devoured hers and then, while i made the bed and did #1's "plait down the middle" (one of a number of morning hair options) i noticed a deathly silence had descended which is a positive indicator of doom. i ran towards the silence and found that a seek and destroy mission had been successfully completed on her sister's hello kitty calendar. the pink cardboard had been ripped in a grotesque, massacre like way, to reveal an entire sheet of foil which had been slashed aside releasing a smorgesbord of chocolate joy. these had been heavily gorged upon and #2 looked up, sugar glazing her eyes and snot forming a large triangle between nostrils and top lip which was caught in a nervous half smile. there used to be a set of books called "my naughty little sister" and i think it was a nostradamus description of what was to come to the holden household. #1 actually screamed in genuine horror, which turned into wailing sobs of absolute sadness and betrayal. the punishment of timeout in her room seemed to have little effect on #2 who played quietly, digesting like a snake, and when "released" and asked to tell us what she'd done she advised that she'd been posting some letters in her room. under duress she apologised for eating the "chocklat" but i wasn't truly convinced. and this was all before i'd even showered let alone approached breakfast.

dressed, fed, washed, brushed, we all rushed to nursery whereupon the ticket machine decided not to accept £1 coins. handfulls of change later on crossing the road blue-dolly was dropped. i stood on the pavement feeling vaguely distressed wondering how to get back to the middle of the road with a 1 and 4yr old to reclaim the favourite toy, when a lovely lady gauged the situation and ran to get it for me and i honestly welled up! so ridiculous but it's the little gestures of kindness that actually break the camel's back sometimes and they often come from fellow women who know oh-so-well how hard we all try to get it right. lordy; i'm going to weep into my keyboard and i have to go and meet a business angel head in 30 mins and once again assume the front of fully functioning commercial and strategic accountant financial advisor.

speaking of which, that sounds very blurry and ill-defined, and a very focused marketing head said to me last week "lose the flowers" on sight of my business card and website, so i'm thinking of re-branding. i need a capsule style: a logo to embed the facets and concepts and direction i embrace. i thought "japanese wood-print" when i selected my current style: zen, focus, calm, different etc. however it would seem that whilst women do like it (cappucino connections meeting last week had provoked a very positive response) the men look at it and simply see "flowers". and as the marketing head said to me "you're not a very flowery person really". so i think i probably need something a bit more dynamic and as i've met a graphic designer through networking i may invest in a bit of professional help.

so this week has seen two networking events that i was invited to rather than sourced myself: surely this is a development?! one was the cappucino morning which was great and i've made some excellent connections there. a virtual pa service, a graphic designer, a make-up artist, and many wanted some small business advice so this could be a sideline. the other was an evening at a big 4 accounting firm. on my drive there i felt the least focused i've felt in some time. i'd planned to think through my key networking lines in the car, but despite restricting my secret pleasure of radio 4 comedy programmes i found i couldn't get into work-mode. i kept thinking about my new high-heels. i love the word high-heels. we all use it but it makes me feel about 7, as if i'm talking about my mum's shoes. i was wondering whether it is just me that actually does use this word: has everyone else moved on and i'm totally out of touch? but i do love my new shoes and at the event one of the more unlikely of attendees gasped outloud and said how much she loved them. when i admitted they were from M&S (why can't i lie?) she breathed "crocodile trimming, platform stiletto and suede edging, all from M&S?" i felt positively entranced by her passion! and they're wine red: am i hip? it was an eclectic group of people and i added to my network and heard an excellent speaker on the role of women in business. as i sat there listening i did feel a sense of pleasure that pursuing this self-empoyment is throwing me into so many unexpected situations all of which are interesting and different to life as an employee. the other key change being the lack of a pay-cheque but it can't be far away...

i also met with a fellow accountant who'd set up on her own about five years ago and got some great tips: different sort of business but similar mindset. and a group of research and development tax credit advisors (circulating in similar business groups to my desired pool) who had the coolest office i've ever been in and i now aspire to having my own premises high up in a west-end tenement.

yesterday i had three meetings. how am i functioning in all these networking environment wardrobe-wise, the most attentive of you may be wondering? well the trousers i bought have come into their own, and i've decided to go with a sort of wraparound or jersey dress look, a couple of which i'd bought for work events over the past few years, but i think i need to start keeping a track of what i've worn to different do's so as not to start repeating key wear! today i'm in my suit, felt that a business angel maybe needed a slightly more formal touch. talking of which, i'm going to need to go and catch a bus to meet him......more later. i'm hoping he's buying: i did the honours yesterday and am doubtful as to how tax deductible multiple coffees are.....

back and one extremely toxic coffee poorer but it was definitely worth it: a great meeting with the outcome that i will be able to offer my services to companies wishing to bid for finance at the angels den, and also fortuitously i bumped into a fast growing business manager from the chamber. this is fantastic as will open up my offerings to new and rapidly-growing businesses. now i just need to do some practise for tomorrow's speednetworking marathon: crocodile shoes and over the shoulder bag methinks...