Archive of ‘networking’ category

App Spotlight: Evernote

So, this is a new-to-the-Blog feature, where I will share an app that I use for business, and give a bit of an overview on how I use it, and why I really like it!

First in the series is a new’ish app that I’ve ended up with almost by accident…Evernote.

evernote

Evernote is a ‘freemium’ app – based on a pricing strategy where a product or service (typically a digital offering such as software, media, games or web service) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality etc.

I currently use the free, basic service, which sells itself on the following benefits:

  • Organize your life.
  • Workspace for daily projects
  • Keep everything together
  • Sync across all devices

I ended up as an Evernote user because the business card scanning app I used (Cardmunch, by LinkedIn) was being withdrawn, and they were encouraging users to transfer data to Evernote.

At that time, all I was using the app for was to scan business cards (using my iPhone camera), and then adding contacts to my database and connecting to key contacts on LinkedIn.

I’ve found Evernote to be even better than Cardmunch was for this service, but it does SO much more.

I can take notes, create reminders, to do lists, create notebooks around different subjects, to help organise projects etc. I can signpost web pages to return to, or which relate to different projects, and I can take photos of receipts & other documents that relate to work projects.

And although I started using it on my iPhone, through my Evernote account, I can access all of the information on all my devices – laptop, iPad etc.

A useful feature on my laptop is the little ‘clip’ where I can take a screenshot of the full screen, a window, or part of the screen – although there are other programmes which do this for me, as Evernote runs in the background, and sits quietly on my taskbar, its so easy to access!

But above all, the main use I have for this brilliant app is to make sure I keep track of people that I meet, storing their contact information and connecting myself to them – I can then use that business card scan picture to add notes to remind myself of where I met them, and create any follow-up actions as necessary.

It’s just such a handy part of my day-to-day working life!

I’d love to hear if you use it and have other ways to make it work for you…or even if you have another similar one that you’d recommend?

I will be making these App Spotlights into a series, so if you are looking for an app that fits a particular purpose and you’re wondering what I & others here at My Pinkie Promise use, just ask and I will look to feature that next!

Alison

@alisonhendo

via Remember everything with Evernote, Skitch and our other great apps. | Evernote.

What do I think about CONFIDENCE?

What do I think about CONFIDENCE? | the3rdi magazine | the UK’s foremost co-operative business magazine.

I wrote an article recently for the 3rdi magazine, where the question for the writers was ‘What does confidence mean to you?’ So, my thoughts are below: trying to stick to the word count was a challenge (not altogether a surprise, especially to those of you who know me well!)…I’d love to hear what you think?

And if Confidence is something that interests you, it’s also the theme of a Conference that I’m involved with in Edinburgh on 8th May – why not join us to flex your confidence muscle & meet lots of new women in business from across Scotland? I believe that everyone needs to work at their Confidence…there are very few people for whom it’s completely second nature!

http://www.wbeconference.co.uk

@wbeconference

073307-pink-jelly-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open2Having been a working adult for (whispers) nearly thirty years, much of my confidence and cues for confidence have come from work scenarios.

I’m a wife, and a working Mum who for the last five years has run her own business.

When I look back over the jobs I have done, I can see that I have gained lots of confidence in the various roles I have carried out, and I come from a family background where I became very self-sufficient at quite an early age.

I’m sure that much of the confidence I have in myself is down to the control, and feeling of being in-charge, which I’m realising is such a major part of who I am.

When I ask myself if I’ve always been confident, what I realise is that some of that exterior confidence is a bit of bravado, mixed with quite a lot of ‘jumping right in’ and a dash of “I know that I can pick things up really quickly, so let’s just wing it and see where it gets me”.

So I’m asking myself “Do I feel CONFIDENT?” – well the answer to that is the old 80/20 rule rearing it’s head again…80% of the time I do feel confidence: in my abilities to tackle the job at hand, learn the skills I might need to complete & do a good job. 20% of the time I might be questioning whether I can do something, whether I am the right person to be doing it and if it’s all actually going to turn out ok!

I’ve learned over 30 years that I CAN handle most of what is thrown at me in a work scenario – the times I have chosen to move jobs have been for new challenges or promotions, and only ONCE in all that time did I decide to get out because of a fairly difficult work colleague who made it awkward for our team to fully function when she was there.

I make conscious decisions to surround myself with people & work colleagues who have a positive influence on me, or my work. I enjoy working on my own initiative, working with others and leading teams.

Looking back at some of the managers I’ve had, I don’t even need a whole hand to count the ones who have motivated me and, for me, have been inspiring role models. What often happens is that a person is promoted to manage a team because they are technically very able, but they are hardly ever supported to learn the soft skills of people management – that can have a really draining effect on team & individual confidence. And let’s face it I don’t actually think many of them felt very confident in their abilities to lead.

Probably because I like to be in control, I can sense when others are finding it difficult, and I like to jump in and help out – I’m not sure that’s always the best solution!

In 2008 I was made redundant after being with the company 11 years, along with around 20 others across a couple of teams, it was a real shock to the system – lack of control you see (spotting a pattern anyone?)! For a week or so I felt really out of sorts and had no clue how to get my bearings. I took the time to enjoy my family, meeting my son from school and spending time with friends.

After a few weeks I began to realise that I was in a good position to try my hand at self-employment, and with the support of my husband and family I set about finding out how to go about setting up my company and grabbing hold of as many new skills and free workshops that Business Gateway could give me!

I can honestly say that during the first year of business it was the most exciting and scary time – I don’t think for even one moment I questioned whether I could do it or not…what I do remember is constantly evolving during that year, testing my products & services, the marketing messages I was using etc.

I was getting the confidence to continue from the success of running the business, getting new clients and meeting lots of new people.

I am often questioned about the fact that I seem to know lots of people and whether I had a large network of contacts and existing business that transferred to me from my old role.

I’m proud to say that 99% of the contacts that I had pre-My Pinkie Promise were based in Edinburgh & Glasgow, and south of the border – none of the work that I generated came from existing contracts or customers…I’ve built from the ground up.

I know that the work that we do is highly regarded, and that’s important to me from a personal confidence perspective – maintaining that quality, while gaining new customers and working on new projects is what inspires me.

I get real inspiration from the people around me, and role models in my life. I’ve got huge respect for two previous female directors that I worked for, who gave me enormous support and confidence in my abilities to succeed.

Many of the women that I now work and collaborate with give me confidence too – learning how they got to where they are now, or understanding that we all face the same challenges in running a business while juggling families & relationships serves to remind me that others have worn a path that I know I can follow, while doing it my with my own spin!

I’m absolutely an Optimist through and through – but I’m also an Opportunist. I may finally be beginning to believe that I’m a natural entrepreneur – now that I have the heady rewards of running a business, my antenna are SO switched on to new projects and exciting possibilities that I’ve no idea why my feet touch the ground as much as they do:

confidence in myself is the key!073305-pink-jelly-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close2

More of the 3rdi magazine articles on confidence can be found here – enjoy!

Scottish Women in Business | Events | Special Independence Referendum Debate event

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Scottish Women in Business | Events | Special Independence Referendum Debate event

McCance Building, University of Strathclyde

Special Independence Referendum Debate event

McCance Building, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 16 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XQ

April 7, 6:00pm-9:00pm

The debate will be chaired by well-known TV presenter, Sally Magnusson.

With ballots before and after the debate, this will be a unique opportunity to directly gauge the views of an important voting audience.

The Panel

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister Scottish National Party

Annabel Goldie MSP, Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party

Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of Scottish Labour Party

Ruth Wishart Journalist, supporter of the Yes Scotland Campaign

 

My Pinkie Promise are absolutely thrilled to be able to support & promote this event. There will be few opportunities for women in business to attend an event to hear a facilitated debate & be able to question Scotland’s leading female politicians in the run up to September 18th, so please register for the event and get involved.

We very often hear that as business owners and professionals, that we’d like more information on the referendum, so take this opportunity to find the answers to your burning questions – don’t wait for others to make your mind up for you!

If you are a member of Women Ahead, the Dundee & Angus businesswomen’s group, they are laying on free transport, so its well worth getting together and going through to Glasgow.

See you there!

Alison

 

Finalist in Most Enterprising Business Award 2014

2014 WA Awards Finalist logo
I’m really thrilled to be a shortlisted finalist in the Women Ahead Most Enterprising Business Award for 2014…we’ll find out on 15th March who the award winners are!

Are we ‘Enterprising’?

I’ve been involved in some brilliant events this year, exploring the theme of ‘Enterprise’ and I’m really interested in how enterprise and the smaller businesses underpin our economy.

What often makes me stop & think is the actual terms that we use…enterprising, entrepreneur, business person etc.

I run my own business and have been called an entrepreneur by lots of people – sometimes with a hint of admiration, because they see running a business as an aspiration of their own, or somehow think I’m lucky to be doing it, and on at least one occasion is it was because they thought it was great that I was a risk taker! However, I don’t really see myself as walking around with that label above my head – not sure why?

Being enterprising seems (to me at least) to be a slightly strange way to describe this in a business context – one definition of enterprising is ‘having or showing initiative and resourcefulness’ – and I can see that many business people do exhibit that behaviour, but I believe I’ve been that all through my career – so using the word as an adjective to describe a business owner doesnt feel spot on to me.

At any rate, I suppose what I am getting at is, how will we inspire the people of Scotland – whether they are work for others or are coming out of school & wondering what to do next – to get involved in running their own businesses, generating their own income, fueling the economy and making things happen for themselves if we use words like enterprise, entrepreneur which can mean so many different things, to so many different people?

I guess the best thing we can do is to showcase as many success stories as possible so that people can identify themselves in some way with the person in front of them, whether that’s

  • full-time, running a team of people
  • part-time running a business round a family, second job or caring for someone
  • in partnership with someone else who complements your skills
  • a sole trader working at in a role that they love, producing products or services that people value

There are many ways to run a business, and many many measures of success for the individual involved – and no-one else can (or should be allowed to) make judgements on that success. For me, having the control & ability to ‘make my own money’ and do something that I absolutely love to do is the best (and hardest) way to earn a living that I’ve come across so far!

We have a responsibility to give everyone who wants to do it the resources, information and support that they need – Scotland is a nation with a rich history of invention, innovation, business, leaders and success – and I am proud to be running a business in a beautiful place, with a group of peers who constantly inspire and motivate me – and remind me of why I’m doing it in the first place!

As the Vice-President of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen, I am excited to be part of a team delivering the only Scottish conference aimed at women and business – so get the date in your diary: 9 May 2013 – you definitely won’t want to miss it. It will be a day packed full of interesting speakers; debate; workshops to learn, be inspired and motivated; networking and you will come away from it more determined than ever to build a future for Scotland where women-run businesses will continue to make an enormous impact on our economy – that’s much more than a win, win situation!

WBE Conference

WBE Conference

  http://www.wbeconference.co.uk

 

Why I’m happy working on a Sunday!

Afternoon everyone, I’m writing this having enjoyed my extra hour this morning reading the Sunday papers and indulging in a few cups of tea!

Because I run my own business, I’m always juggling my work time and prioritising what to do next.

I am Chair of the Dundee & Angus businesswomen’s network group: Women Ahead and today am fitting in some work for the group which I never get a chance to do during the week.

Our latest event led to me being seated beside one of the leading women in UK business: Lady Susan Rice who is Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland.  She gave a Masterclass presentation to a joint lunch that we ran with the Chamber of Commerce and was an inspiring speaker. We heard about her career path and the qualities she believed had helped her to her success in business. I was inspired by her speech and a couple of the things which struck very true for me were:

  • in business, HOW we get there is as important as the end goal
  • we need to be ADAPTABLE, THINK FOR OURSELVES & ENGAGE with others
  • we need to be INNOVATIVE & ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
  • we need to SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES & be QUICK where possible

So here I am, at my desk on a Sunday, updating the Women Ahead members’ database, sending some thank you emails to attendees and updating the website with new events. Being Chair of the group has expanded my own network, let me help the group by adding my event management skills to the mix of committee members and I willingly give my own time to forming a great programme of events for the members. We also raise money each year for a chosen charity, and this year we are supporting Breast Cancer Care.  In August, we held a Strawberry Tea where we raised £1500 PLUS Gift Aid, and we are in the middle of planning our Awards Event where we will add to the charity kitty by holding a raffle & auction.

Anyway, enough from me – I only came onto my blog to accept a comment on a previous post! I think that what is important in this tale is that you never know how you will get your next shot of inspiration when you run a small business, especially if you are working on your own. Its vital to attend events and network, you never know who you will meet or what you will pick up that will drive your business forward.

I hope you have a great Halloween,

Alison x

Marketing a small business in 2011 – ten tips

I am going through the process of updating my own marketing plan (its ALWAYS much easier to be objective and create marketing strategies for other people!) and it has made me think about & question some of the things which I do routinely to promote my business.

So I’m going to put these down into a list – its by no means a top 10, must do action for every business, but I hope that reading this will give food for thought and encourage you do make conscious decisions to try something new to add to what you do already.

The important thing is to make sure you are consistent, use a few of these things together to give an integrated marketing approach and plan ahead to target the right audiences.

2011 is coming up on us very fast and November is traditionally a busy month in business – do you have an eye on what will happen to your revenue in the New Year? Now is the time to lay those foundations and get your marketing plan written now so that you can be ahead of your competition and hit the ground running after the festive period.

  1. IDENTIFY your target audiences
  2. UNDERSTAND what messages will work most effectively for them
  3. attend some NETWORKING events to promote your business to the right audiences
  4. create an OFFER which you can promote to your audiences
  5. use ONLINE marketing tools: website, blogs, facebook, twitter, articles
  6. use your EMAIL SIGNATURE to promote the main message you are communicating
  7. arrange some FACE-TO-FACE meetings to explore future orders
  8. think about what news your company has which would be interesting to send as PRESS RELEASES
  9. find out if there are any opportunities to give PRESENTATIONS to groups
  10. be CONSISTENT, communicate REGULARLY and be CLEAR about your story

If you are clear about what you are going to do, then it makes it much easier to follow through on your actions and create the momentum that you need to have a brilliant 2011.

We’ve only got 10 weeks of 2010 left, so make the most of it and PLAN AHEAD :)

Cheers!

Alison x

Social media – do you or don’t you?

I’ve been working this morning creating a couple of new social media pages for the businesswomen’s network that I Chair: Women Ahead.

Have a look at the twitter page @womenaheadgroup and join the Women Ahead facebook page

I am finding more and more when I am advising my clients on their marketing strategy that people are still very unclear on how or why they should use social media. I always say that using social media MUST be done as part of your overall strategy – after all its just another piece of your marketing toolkit.

So first of all, what are some of the options?

These are just some of the sites which will appeal to a large cross-section of people who are active in social media. There are others which can be of specific interest, depending on your business & customer type.

The other consideration is of course your time – you need to be putting in a little bit of regular time to keep the communication going, otherwise your ‘connections’ will lose interest and all the hard work you put into attracting them will be lost.

Here are a few examples of how businesses can use social media to reach audiences.

If you are a customer facing business like a hairdresser, using a Facebook page & Twitter to tell people in your local area about any offers you have on, or new products that they can try, should work well. You should also be sending out hints and tips to showcase your expertise and give a bit of extra added value to those people who connect with you. You can also use competitions to encourage people to become connected and recommend your page to their friends.

If you are a photographer, having a Flickr photostream lets you display your shots, tell people what projects you have been working on, and link to your website to raise your profile.

YouTube is a good way to either give people an insight into you and your service, by recording a short video telling them what you do, or to show your premises, highlight an event you ran etc. Again, linking to your website will drive inbound traffic, and will improve your Google rankings. And you can publicise the video via other pages like facebook and twitter too.

LinkedIn is an online network mostly used by people in business to allow them to connect to business contacts, take part in group discussions and ask for online recommendations of their product or service by their peers. It is also used for recruitment. I recommend LinkedIn for firms who are selling a product or service to other businesses – its less relevant for consumer facing targetting.

The social media arena is a bit like shifting sand, as the popularity of sites rises and falls – for example, Bebo.com, which was heavily used by a younger audience and has now been left behind as people shift to Facebook.

Not so long ago, it was unusual for businesses to have much of a website, now you need not only a good website, but you should be using social media to interact and have conversations with your audiences. You need to take the news about your products and services out to people – your competitors will definitely be doing it!

I run several pages for my clients, who find that this is the best way to tackle social media – its easy for me to do it. Their audiences aren’t aware of any difference, and the business owner can get on with what they do best – delivering their product or service.

If you are interested in finding out more about how I can help your business communicate through social media, or want some help to get the ball rolling, get in touch!

Have a good week,

Alison x

Dundee’s Business Show

Well I am shattered today!

It was an early start for the My Pinkie Promise team today. We were exhibiting at The Business Show at Dundee’s West Park.

It was Donna’s first exhibition with me to promote My Pinkie Promise, and today we talked to a LOT of people about the marketing services that we offer. She did a very good job and it made such a difference not to be on my own at an event like that. I was able to get round and talk to the other exhibitors, though I did cry off the speed networking today.

Many thanks go to Janet & Joan from Events for Business for putting together such a good event – they will be talking to us very soon about the Fife Show, I’m sure.

We were very pleased with the responses when we told people about our Foundations of Marketing service which involves our 1-2-1 business support for companies looking to put together plans for the development of their marketing, business planning & communications.

And we did some research on an exciting new development coming from My Pinkie Promise which was also incredibly well received and will be coming to a venue near you in the not too distant future.

So now we’ve got a bit of planning for that, a lot of follow-ups to do from today’s show – and a couple of people who want us to go in and work for them straight away.

I am a very happy but tired bunny who is away to curl up with a good book and try to switch off a bit. Running my own business is very rewarding but extremely hard work – I would definitely recommend it though.

I’ve got a business trip to Inverness coming up on Monday, followed by a marketing presentation to a group of Dundee business people so I will probably do a bit of unloading on you next week once I have recovered from all that.

Have a good end to the week!

Alison

x

PS Did I forget to mention in ‘print’ that I had one of the best weekends of my life last week when my beloved Dundee United won the Scottish Cup! My family had a great day out to the game, followed by a whole weekend of celebrations, culminating in a pitch invasion at Tannadice from my 11 year old son: what a blast. Roll on next year! :)

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