Photography by the talented Faye Green www.fayegreen.co.uk
There’s only one way to spend International Women’s Day, and that’s in the company of strong, confident, and like-minded ladies who run successful businesses and know how to have fun. As with most events, the morning began with lashings of coffee and a mouth-watering array of pastries. The eager attendees were greeted with a big smile from Christine Cooper, a member of the Socially Shared team who delivered their delegate pack. MC for the event was Joanna Tidman, Broadcast Journalist for the BBC Worldwide & BBC News, and Breakfast Presenter at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio. Jo kept the event flowing beautifully with an injection of humour that kept the giggles rippling throughout the day. Her opening address touched on the power of networking, and the wide range of support that events such as the Women in Business Conference generate within the community.
There were women from every sector of industry attending this conference, and each one had an engaging and inspirational story to tell. We were fortunate to hear from six speakers throughout the morning who encouraged the audience to think outside the box when it comes to being a woman in business.
First up to the podium was Sally Dhillon who, along with Nishi Mehta, runs Career-Mums Partnership, a business offering spotlight coaching for entrepreneurs and would-be business owners focusing on their personal development. Sally and Nishi also work with local employers to minimise the negative impact on women’s careers after maternity leave.
Sally gave a delightful talk about the evolution of the human species, explaining in humorous detail how our caveman ancestors delegated the tasks among the pack. We’ve all seen the hunter gatherer scenario play out in our back gardens every summer when the BBQ is lit. Man brings fire and meat! Sally touched upon the fact that within these early settlements women were deemed the most important. You can’t expand the human race fast enough with one woman and five men, but turn that situation on its head, and the human race will grow much quicker with five women and one man! Therefore, the male species learned to hunt and the women did…everything else! Although Sally’s talk was enlightening and funny, she was also sharing an important message about holding your own ground as a woman in business. Be proactive, make decisions, spot any issues and thwart them before they happen, and own your position. You can find out more about Sally and Nishi on their website www.career-mums.co.uk It was quite apt that following Sally’s closing message of ownership we were introduced to Angela Gordon and Sandra Godley, two women who know how to ‘own it.’ Angela is a multi-award winning professional life coach, speaker, writer and an international host of an online radio show called ‘Time to Inspire.’ I follow Angela’s Facebook page and love her messages of motivation and hope. She has a passion for inspiring others, and this came across in her talk about getting involved in business awards. According to Angela, there are numerous benefits to be gained from both winning, and being nominated for business awards. She explained how your brand becomes more recognisable, and you begin to attract the right clients. Also, you get a huge confidence boost for your business, and you personally, by being nominated. Raising your profile within your industry and community is a sound business goal that can be easily achieved through awards. It was interesting to hear both Angela and Sandra talk about nominating yourself for business awards; something that many of us may shy away from. However, this is how you can push your boundaries and attract a positive future. Sandra is an award-winning, MOBO nominated Singer/Songwriter, Entrepreneur and Broadcaster. She hosts two radio shows: ‘My Story, My Song’ at UCB Radio, and ‘Live from the UK with Sandra Godley’ on Finding My Way International Network. The successful years that Sandra has spent in the spotlight came across in her presentation as she motivated each of us to step into our female power and do something for ourselves. Her moving speech touched on the lessons we are teaching our daughters and nieces with our actions and words, and I, for one, could resonate with everything Sandra said. ‘Do it for our daughters, and be a good role model.’ She also talked about taking too much on, something else I could relate to, and having the confidence in yourself to step back and be specific about your goals and ambitions. Choosing to focus on two or three projects over nine or ten will free you from feeling overwhelmed and enable you to concentrate on success. Sandra reiterated Angela’s message about the importance of business awards and ‘owning it.’ To round off their slot, the ladies reduced the audience to tears of laughter by acting out an award ceremony. The Diva International Award was given to Angela who graciously accepted her prize, but wait, oh no, Sandra’s got the wrong envelope…sorry Angela, but Jo was the winner. Hilarious!
To find out more about Angela you can visit her website www.iloveinspiring.com. To discover more about Sandra you can email her at email@example.com The third speaker, Ruth Waring is MD of Labyrinth Logistics Consulting, specialising in transport and safety compliance as well as process improvement for hauliers. She is a powerful influence within a male dominated industry, and her confidence filled the room. Ruth talked about breaking down barriers through networking and touched on being the founder and chair of Women in Logistics UK, which has 3600 members, 600 of whom are men. Ruth also won the Business Person of the Year award at the Leamington Business Awards in 2016. Changing the landscape was the theme of Ruth’s inspiring talk. She shared her top tips for getting the most out of networking such as being in the right frame of mind at events and refining your elevator pitch (a simple sentence that explains your business and can be recited quickly). Asking those you network with how ‘you can help them’ received a positive response from the audience. Women tend to be givers, and have an inbuilt nature to help others, by offering this help it gets the brain cogs whirling for the person we are talking to, and they dig deep to find a way to reciprocate. Ruth closed with some sound advice – ‘Ignite passion in people, so they don’t forget you.’
I eagerly awaited the next speaker’s entrance and wasn’t disappointed. Ellen Manning is a freelance journalist, blogger, and writer. She has covered some of the biggest breaking news stories of recent times, from high-profile court cases to the Royal Wedding and Wimbledon. Ellen has also interviewed Prime Ministers, celebrities, royalty, and troops in Afghanistan. Over the years she has been able to combine passion with her career, and this was clearly evident in her speech. Ellen knows how to entertain her audience, either through the written word or by standing behind a lectern. Telling stories is what she does best, and it was fascinating to discover how journalists search for their next piece. Ellen prompted us to think about the who, what, when, where and why of our businesses. Who are we? What do we do that’s new, inventive, exciting? When is the best time to share our business news? Where are we based and how can we impact our local community? Why is what we do important? For Ellen, it’s all about the icing on the cake, and that’s not just because she is also a food blogger. As a journalist, she wants to hear the personal story, the human interest twist behind the business mask. Backing up your story with fact, figures and images also help your piece. The audience were thoroughly entertained by Ellen, and the photographs she shared from her career were inspiring. Her closing message was simple – ‘What’s your story?’ To find out more about Ellen go to her website www.ellenmanning.co.uk or visit her food blog www.eatwithellen.com To close the morning sessions, Jo introduced us to the keynote speaker, Judy Ledger from Baby Lifeline. Judy’s story of personal tragedy triggered an intake of breath from the entire audience. 35 years ago, Judy lost her first three children prematurely, losing them after just a day of giving birth in some cases. Many of the attendees were mothers, and the emotion of Judy’s speech was palpable. Instead of slipping down the slope of grief, she used her situation for good and founded the charity Baby Lifeline. The charity provides equipment for maternity and neonatal units as well as delivering professional training for the maternity sector. It was heartbreaking to hear that fifteen babies will be stillborn or pass away in the first four weeks in the UK today. The work that Judy and her team do is awe-inspiring. We were delighted to hear that Judy went on to have three children, her daughter joined her for the conference and also works with the charity. Turning tragedy into something so positive is an incredible testament to the hard work and dedication that Baby Lifeline is all about.
If you would like to read more about the Charity or get involved, please visit the website www.babylifeline.org.uk
As we broke for lunch, there was a buzz about the place that confirmed just how empowering such events could be. Excited chatter, laughter, new connections, and copious amounts of cheesecake flowed, and beyond the window, the sun shone on the first signs of spring.
The afternoon was broken up into workshops, and I was honoured to run two sessions on self-publishing. I’ll be writing about the workshop over on my author blog, so please feel free to pop over and have a read www.shelleywilsonauthor.com. I can honestly say, I didn’t want the day to end. I met a host of incredible ladies, made many new friends, and came away with a bulging notebook and plenty of ideas. The event was a huge success, and I would like to express my thanks and congratulations to the team at Socially Shared who organised the conference. Karen Heap, Rebecca Jones, Christine Cooper, and Maxine - congratulations ladies. It's also important to give a shout out to the main sponsor of the event, Nicolette Williams from Nanna Nursery Nurse and Nanny Agency. I must also mention the girls who kept the social media flowing and managed to get #SociallyShared trending on Twitter here in the UK! Emma Kavanagh and Kate Keene from Piece of Cake Marketing did a fabulous job of keeping us connected and teaching those attendees who were new to the platform how to engage. Well done girls. As Jo thanked the audience and congratulated the team at the close of the event there was only one question on everyone’s lips – ‘When’s the next event?’