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Out with the old and in with the new
As I saw out 2015 with friends and welcomed in 2016, I reflected on what had been quite a difficult year. I left my church, I also left a voluntary group where I helped to feed the hungry and the homeless and I left my Rotary group. These were not things I had intended to do at the beginning of the year but sadly there are those who thought it wise to try and bully me. Having spent 30 years of my life as a teacher during which time I worked very hard to discourage all bullying, there was no way I was going to succumb to adults who should have known better – long story short – I removed myself and took my skills with me. In my church I had been holding 6 posts (not something I wanted but posts were not being filled) including social media manager. One of those organisations had others who managed the social media, but the other two didn’t and as noone came forward – those facebook pages and twitter streams now lie dormant.
These situations occurred during the early part of the year and as they weren’t among my happiest memories, I will not continue further discussion as it will serve no purpose. The only reason I mention them were they happened during 2015. It is so good to see them go – out with the old and in with the new.
On a much happier note, my son Tristan and I have continued to build our business Allthingsnetworking.com For those who don’t know, for 5 years I ran Wightbuzz – a networking and business support group and in 2014 my son. Tristan suggested we put our skills together and create a global network group – Allthingsnetworking.com
As with all businesses it hasn’t been without it’s challenges however, we ran a very successful conference in the UK in September when Tristan flew over to join me.
We had some glowing testimonials and have been asked to run another one. We continued to build the group both on and offline.
I am pleased to say we enter the new year, I am delighted to say we have a string of new clients wanting to join us . I am having great fun learning all the new social media platforms – periscope, blab and now snapchat and my son amuses himself watching me – at the ripe old age of 65, teaching 20 and 30 years olds all the latest platforms. I love teaching others – it is in my blood! I used to teach little people now I am a business mentor and digital strategist teaching the bigger people. I look forward to 2016 with great excitement as my son and I plan for an awesome year helping our clients to grow their businesses. At a time when most people think of retiring – I can’t wait. – I am very much looking forward to out with the old and in with the new . Times they really are achanging – and very much for the better.
This is post 1 of the thirty day blogging challenge.
It’s time to celebrate our 5th birthday
5 years ago today I founded Wightbuzz - unable to find the right networking group when I started amy new business as I emerged from a long dark tunnel, I set up my own. Times were hard and life stressful but undaunted I grew my network- 5 years on I have helped well over 200 businesses to make good connections earning the title The Connection Queen along the way. They also called me Mummy Buzz as I nurtured new businesses as I buzzed around .
Members have come and gone as their needs changed. Many have remained.The successes are many -Graham Reading Photography has made many connections but one of the best was for the Mardi Gras. I was to be a VIP guest at the lunch before the Mardi Gras (I’m Chair of the Ryde Business association) and I was in front of my computer during the morning. I spotted a cry for help – The allotted photographer was unable to cover the event and there was an appeal opn social media. I knew Graham was covering the round the Island Yacht race from a boat in the solent but I contacted him to see if he could help. He thought he could but wasn’t sure he would be there right at the start. I put him in contact with the New Carnival Company and they engaged him. Things turned a little hairy as Graham was still in Cowes (having to negotiate very heavy traffic as the MArdi Gras started from the top of Ryde ) All was not lost as I kept him up to date with what was happening and he managed to come round a different way so he didn’t get stuck behind the procession. He managed to catch up with the parade and get pictures of the whole parade .Our service was much appreciated.
Another success story that has appreciated our networking is Neil Southwell of Oasis said “And without you, I wouldn’t be working for Wightlink and Bestival.” What a lovely testimonial that was at our Let’s Leverage conference –
In 2014, my son Tristan (who lives in Australia), suggested we join forces with my networking skills and his social media skills and we have now become a global brand Allthingsnetworking.com – we are able to offer 24/7 support to our members – so today it is time to celebrate and its double celebrations as I have been shortlisted in the Venus awards. – influential woman category. I have just been to face the camera –
making a one minute recording to support my entry (and I thank the 4 people who nominated me) Now it’s on to a public vote in January.
So here is to the next 5 years as we build our brand globally – helping businesses to grow and prosper – leading them through the social media minefield and helping them master all the latest platforms – Currently we are embracing livestreaming such as periscope and blab and now we are working on snapchat.
Day 4 – 30 day blogging challenge
I have been to many networking groups in my time, and I have to say that some of them have been pretty stiff and starchy. Until recently , I was known as the Networking Guru of the Isle of Wight but more recently , Veronica Pullen, The Social Marketing Queen also living on the Isle of Wight – gave me the more attractive title of the Connection Queen.
Now anyone who knows me, knows that I like to have fun – a day without laughter is a day wasted.
Many will also know me as one half of the Giggly Grannies and together we put the fun into fundraising. Well just like life, networking doesn’t have to be serious.
Tonight, I have had another very successful Wightbuzz, networking meeting and it was anything but serious. There was some of the regular crowd and also, along came Paul as a visitor and potential member. I do encourage folk to try before they buy, to make sure we are the right fit. Paul is the Rodfather. He rods drains, unblocks toilets etc! If only I had known him on Boxing day!!! My mum had a houseful and we had an unfortuate blockage. Little did I know the rodfather comes out on bank holidays – didnt even know him – only actualy got chatting last night on facebook.
Well true to form, my lovely members made Paul feel at home immediately. The fun and banter started almost immediately – when I got his business name wrong and called him the Codfather by mistake (we have a local fish and chip shop that go by this name – and the old brain does get overloaded from time to time as Brian or is it George recently found out!! Brian and Sandy recently joined and have still stayed even though for some reason I called him George!!! I’ll just put it down to being a poor old pensioner!! Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. But I digress – and so back to tonight. The whole evening continued with lots of laughs and a great time was had by all. I am aware that my networking group wouldn’t suit everyone but we have certainly proved that networking doesn’t have to be serious.
It was such fun I decided to make a video to share.
Do you like to have fun networking?
30 day blog challenge post 3. Can you afford not to?
I have run a low cost networking group Wightbuzz for businesses on the Isle of Wight for 4 years.
Now in its fifth year, I have linked with my son and his graduate friends to add to the local brand. We have created Allthingsnetworking.com to take our brand to a global level. As we start expanding, I have been reflecting on the past. I have been very mindful of making sure my group was affordable. Some people pay a years money up front without batting an eyelid. Others haven’t joined because they say they can’t afford it. I find this very interesting. Many of those who say they can’t afford it will happily have coffee in local coffee shops that are part of national chains
They think nothing of paying £3 per cup and some of them will do this several times a week – I know I have seen them (social media reveals much) I wonder why then, do they not see the value of business mentoring, networking sessions, one to ones, social media training, ferry discounts, loan of business books, plus much more as excellent value at £12.50 per month? The equivalent of just over 4 coffees a month. It is clearly down to mindset. If they are running a business what about a marketing budget? I’m hard pushed to think of any other marketing they could get for this price (and they get me too!!) It is all about return on investment. Surely, if they gave it careful thought, they would realise that if they invested in putting in time to interact with members either in our online group or in person at meetings, took advantage of the business book loan system, or the ferry discounts etc. they couldn’t fail to benefit their business. I think I will add to my video trainings with a video about mindset.
I have to admit that recently, I was almost guilty of this (as I was in my early business days) There was a black tie, business to business event, recently with quite a high ticket price. I decided I couldn’t afford to go but after a little more careful thought, I realised I couldn’t afford NOT to go. I run a business networking group! All the attendees were connected to/ran local businesses – sheer madness not to be there. One of my members was also on the short list for an award so it was important to offer support. That was it, my mind was made up. I purchased my ticket (after a slight panic when the system told me no tickets left!! – I emailed to go on the reserve list and was rung next day – system was not correct – phewie!!)
I am so glad I went. My son, who works with me now (albeit from the other side of the world) asked me to trial an app which would actually put our skills in front of the attendees via the displayed twitter feed . We dominated the feed all night and it was noticed. Result!
Suffice it to say, I am now in follow up conversations with several people who I met that night. There is much interest in Wightbuzz and our social media skills. The results will generate far more than the ticket price. I’ll make sure they do. So what do you think? Can you afford not to?
Well, when I decided that 2015 was going to be an awesome year, I really meant it and what a start to the new year. My Wightbuzz members recently helped me celebrate our 4th birthday with an evening full of networking and cake!! (and a lovely buffet supplied by Janine of Missy J Cafe- who kindly hosted our party too.) Photo by Wightbuzz member Graham Reading of Graham Reading Photography
There was more than our birthday to celebrate. Not only had I successfully survived 4 years of networking within my own group Wightbuzz, but I was also celebrating the expansion of the business to become a global network - Allthingsnetworking.com. My son, Tristan, wanted to help me move the business on and what an exciting time we have ahead of us as we maintain and grow Wightbuzz on the Isle of Wight but take the online networking onto a global level. Together with the expertise of 4 other graduates the scene is set for exciting times ahead.
Last night, I decided to arrange a rather impromptu meet up again in Missy J Cafe this morning. This year, on our list of things to do is lots of video marketing for the group and for the members. What better way to start than include a round up of the brilliant networking day I had with some of my members – making more connections as The Connection Queen (the name given to me by Veronica Pullen – Social Media Queen who also lives on this Royal Island )
I am thrilled to see joint ventures and collaborations happening within Wightbuzz. It was a vision I had 4 years ago – to Connect lots of the Island businesses for the benefit of all – and finally – it is really starting to come together. I was taught to dream BIG by Roberta Jerram of Roberta Jerram Enterprises years ago when I joined Giant Potential. Very soon, there will be joint ventures on a national and international level. I love what I do and I love why I do it. It is such a hard life (NOT) I love that I have joined forces with my son. The dream is BIG – very BIG!!
When life gets in the way
There was I, with every good intention, starting out on the 30 Day Blogging challenge. I did wonder if I was a little foolish starting out in my busiest week of the year!! Then life got in the way! I’m social media manager for my church, my Rotary group, several paying clients as well as for my own businesses, Wightbuzz, AllthingsNetworking.com (with my son) Lyn’s Green Biz, and Lyn Blackledge Independent Phoenix Trader . I was also giving a lot of my time to another voluntary project.
I have always undertaken a lot of voluntary work. However, I don’t expect to be verbally abused for giving of my time and effort free. When I found myself faced with 5 other volunteers who saw fit to shout at me – I took stock. Much as I had loved working on the project for well over a year using much time and effort and raising a considerable amount of funds with my friend, I decided that it was time to take a break. We were all supposed to be part of the same team – volunteers – helping those less fortunate. This wasn’t the first time this happened but this time I had had enough. The accusations were unnecessary and unfounded. Sadly, all too often the old green eye works its way in. My social media skills had done much for the project. Obviously too much for some folk. I did suggest that we sit and talk like grown ups – unfortunately the main culprit couldn’t even bring herself to answer me directly. I was sad at first then realised that my own health is the most important. If I don’t take care of myself, there is no way I can look after others.
I was watching my grandaughters’ dancing – they were dancing to a song from the very popular Disney film, Frozen. There, I had it . Instead of feeling bad, I just had to LET IT GO!
Since I made that decision, life has improved. I celebrated the New Year last night with family and friends having made the decision to start the new year in very positive mode. So far, so good. I have had a very productive day achieving far more in one day than I have for a long time.
Decluttering – tick, paperwork tick, videos made tick, listening to some very soothing tapes tick. decision to tackle the weight problem tick, plotting and planning for the portfolio of businesses I run – tick. Restart the exercise regime too – tick.
So as for the rubbish in my life – LET IT GO . Sometimes you really do need to stop and take stock. So 2015 you WILL be an awesome year.
I can’t believe we have already reached our 4th Wightbuzz birthday and what a way to celebrate – with the launch of our global brand Allthinksnetworking . It is a very exciting time for us and so I take a few minutes to reflect on why I started Wightbuzz and how it is making my dreams come true. – So a quick flashback in history to bring you up to speed.
I am a teacher by profession and spent 30 years nuturing little people and then slightly bigger people and helping them to achieve their potential. My first jobs were in the primary sector in the state system until my first born, Toby arrived on 24th November 1975. I spent 18 happy months at home being mum. I decided I wanted to work but didnt want to put my son in care so what better than open a nursery school and take him to “work” with me. Perfect! Baby number 2 , Natasha, very obliging arrived on 24th March 1978, (19 days late and very conveniently made it to the Easter holidays and was born on good Friday and mum and baby were back at “work” 2 weeks later – perfect!) baby number 3, Tristan was born on 15th October 1981 (would love him to have been late and arrived on 24th – do you see a pattern here? – and it would have been half term too) but as Natasha was 19 days late and a 10lb plus baby, they were taking no chances. And here they are now taken at a recent family gathering.
Well 21 years later, I began to lose the will to live as the council and government were changing my role.Had I wanted to be secretary – that is the path I would have chosen!!!
I continued in teaching for another 7 years but along the way I had become a book seller by chance so when teaching had lost all of its appeal, I decided that full time book selling was my preferred option. I had a home based business with a children’s book publisher and I had enormous fun travelling the country in my van laden with beautiful books (I could write my own book about that too!) I won awards and had a lot of fun.
I joined a local referral network group where I became the top referrer connecting people and introducing thousands of pounds worth of business to the group. Eventually I decided to walk away from the book company as they moved the goal posts and I wasn’t prepared to have my business compromised. Therefore I had to leave the networking group as I no longer had a business for which I needed referrals. .I then decided to take the #ecofriendly route and joined #wikaniko. I needed to find a network group so went back to the one I had been in before. I went to visitors day, then to two trial days before filling out the application form. I got a call -The conversation went like this! We are NOT accepting your application. Do you mind telling me why? Oh no I can’t tell you why.
Well when you are a networking guru (as the county press called me – ) or a connection queen (as Veronica Pullen so nicely named me ) you tend to have a big network so I used the network to find out why and sure enough it gave me the answers. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say those who didn’t want me were doing a huge disservice to the group by denying them my skills. However, not to be deterred, I decided the only way was UP!! I opened up my own network group and Wightbuzz was born. Over the years I have helped very many businesses. People have come and gone and many have stayed. Sometimes, like most businesses , the ride was bumpy but we have arrived in a fantastic place as we celebrate birthday number 4.
When I started Wightbuzz, my facebook friends wanted me to bring the networking to the North Isle as we, who live on the Isle of Wight, so lovingly call the mainland. I tried but clearly the time was not right. I continued to network as hard as I could across the Island connecting many people who continue to do business together whether they are still members or not. I had the vision of helping many people. The Island is quite deprived and unemployment is high. I wanted to see more people get into work through Wightbuzz and to help and serve the community too. My perserverance has paid off. I am starting to see some wonderful collborations between members. Members support members in times of crisis and are also there to shout from the hilltop when praise is due. I love my wightbuzz family. They are really doing me proud. When I won my mumpreneur award in 2010,
(when I was in a very dark and long tunnel) I came back to the Island , proudly displayed it on my cabinet and determined to make good for the Island. Tonight I will be celebrating with those who have helped to achieve so much of this. Recently, my son, Tristan, who has also been through a long and very dark tunnel, suggested we join forces. He graduated from Bournemouth University last year and now lives in Sydney. No problem there though as with modern technology we can shrink the world and in fact we talk more now than when he was in Bournemouth. What he and his graduate friends don’t know about social media simply isn’t worth knowing. So together with them and my other son Toby, of Cubic Mushroom we have set up AllthingsNetworking – our global brand. Wightbuzz stays as it is unique to the Island but all my members will also benefit from being members of Allthingsnetworking. ATN will allow us to go national and global .as we network across the world. We will be able to deliver networking skills and business mentoring and training online. What a journey it has been but I can truly say tonight I will really celebrate as we start that fantastic new journey beyond the Island. I do hope many of you will join us as we start that journey. Pop over and sign up for our newsletter and see what we are doing. We do hope many of you will join us if you like what we are delivering. Yes it has been a bumpy ride and I am sure there might be the odd hiccup but the future is looking very bright. What is this thing called retirement. It certainly isn’t for me. I’m having way too much fun and meeting so many lovely people and now I’m even learning to blog!!!!
The other day, my Giggly Granny friend, Julie Jordan and I were reminiscing and trying to work out when we met each other. We were introduced by a mutual friend and fellow church goer, Helen WIlks and am I glad she made that introduction. I have shared so many giggles with Julie since and been very proud to be her friend. She is a total inspiration to me and although her health is not the best, she continually puts others first and sticks by her motto of “Leave them laughing”
She certainly leaves me laughing often so much so that sometimes I nearly have to stop the car.
One of those early memories of giggling with Julie was at Ryde Methodist Church when Julie and I attended one of the international evenings put on by Ruth Realey and her team of helpers (all church members) . They always provide a magnificent spread and suitable entertainment. This time it was a night at the Oscars and Julie and I went complete with feather bowers and tiaras. We won the quiz (you would expect nothing else with Julie, the quiz queen as a member of our team) My lovely friend, Paula Pomeroy was over from Kent and was enchanted to meet Julie.
Julie made an brilliant Oscar winning speech. She really stepped up to the part and from then on we have giggled all the way!
We have dressed up and probably dressed down., We have supported each other through some tough times but most of all we have giggled. We now have a facebook page and a twitter feed (@gigglygrannies) and we have many giggly granny you tube clips. (found on the Lyn Blackledge Channel) Unfortunately the camera froze as Julie was making her acceptance speech but she has made up for it since.
This is part one of our story – there is much more to tell but this is just the beginning so watch this space…………..part two is coming tomorrow.
When I opened a new bank account with Barclays Bank recently, I had no idea of the fun that lay ahead. I love to have fun while working my business and as a self employed work from home mum and grandmum, this is so easy. For most of my working life, I have been self employed and so I set the rules. I enjoy what I do and having fun whilst doing it makes it even nicer. No boss to relate to. No boss to set my hours. I work as and when I want to. I work hard but I also play hard.
Well, on the day I opened the new account, my new Barclays manager, Wayne Child, told me about the back to business scheme that Barclays run. The managers are encouraged to go out with a client and spend a day with them in their business. Wayne asked me if I would like to participate in the scheme and I was very keen to take part. When I set the date, I had a client who wanted a video made so thought this might be quite interesting for Wayne to watch. After all, he had told me he didn’t want a boring day in the home office. Unfortunately, my client had to postpone my appointment with her but I decided to keep the date with Wayne.
When I set the date, I hadn’t realised it was Comic relief day. However, it soon occured to me that this was a day that could be a lot of fun and during the day we could do something funny for money. Why ever not?
I checked with Wayne to see if he was prepared for a fun day and he had absolutely no problem with it – in fact he sounded as though it was right “up his street”.
I am, very much a community person and I love to fundraise and encourage my Wightbuzz members to do the same. I spotted an opportunity and ran with it.
I sent out a letter to my Wightbuzz members and was offered raffle prizes. Jade Thornton of Petticoats and Frills offered us a box of red nose cup cakes. She even dressed in red to deliver them to the Wightbuzz office. She was truly embracing the “doing something funny for money” theme.
Michael of the Dorset House, offered us a Sunday lunch for 2
Susan Revell, also a Wightbuzz member, donated a free first aid course and Jayne Read of Island Memories, donated a family ticket for the VE celebrations being held in May. Claire and Ann of Attraction, a lovely gift shop in Cross Street Ryde, donated a jewellery set. I am very grateful to all these ovely people.
With all these lovely prizes, I knew my super Wightbuzz members would be happy to part with their money.
Before my bank manager came to pick me up, I uploaded a video clip to you tube,
My bank manager turned up to pick me up at 9. We needed to decorate the collecting tin and Wayne even obliged with this!
Then, after a quick coffee we were off on the start of our very exciting day. First stop – Jo of Wightcakes
who supplied us with coffee and
scrummy cake! It was going to be one of THOSE days
We then popped along to Missy J cafe where Janine insisted on tweaking my nose before parting with her money – well the theme was doing something funny for money!
Next stop - Wightsight for a quick laugh and joke with Mandy and Adrian who also bought raffle tickets
then a few doors along to Attraction to see Claire, one of the raffle prize donators.
We just HAD to stop at Barclays in Ryde. Well it would be sily not to as I was with my Barclays manager!!
a few more stops in Ryde then we zoomed over to Sandown and to the lovely gift shop Che-Sands
then over to recruit Wendy of Deeva into Wightbuzz before selling her raffle tickets too
by the time we got to the wightbuzz office we were really beginning to flag but Liz supplied us with coffee to keep us going
and it was here we stopped to make a couple of video clips about our day.
Our final stop was with Julie Jones Evans of Dragonfly i Nodehill – (my fellow shock cash mobber )
We rounded off the day with a lovely sit down and chat with Julie and more coffee and cake!
We had a brilliant day – it was manic, it was fun and we did something funny for money. We raised about £75 for comic relief and my Barclays bank manager and I now know each other much better! It truly was a fun day. (I spent the weekend chilling as I was quite exhausted!!)
I did pop in to see Wayne’s boss on Monday to report on what an excellent experience it was! Praise where praise is due. I have had friends, who bank at other banks, who don’t even know if they have a bank manager, let alone know his name!
I made a you tube clip of the day
Do you have stories to relate about your bank manager? Have you had a fun day out with yours? Pop your comments below