On Tuesday everything I consumed was done so out of the house (with the exception of the pint of Ribena I had before bed). I’ve not been very hungry and my calorie intake was largely driven by the social conventions of meals, first a networking lunch and then buying dinner for the husband (I can hardly deny him food simply through lack of appetite myself). As for the baby, well I take solace in my midwifes comforting words that babies are parasites that will take everything they require from their mother and that really I’m eating for my own benefit (such as the calcium rich foods which will prevent all my teeth from falling out). I like my midwife a lot.
I do however have an appetite for business but have been faced with a certain dilemma with regards as to how hard to push for it. I’ve never been a pushy salesperson* and think I generally strike a good balance at networking events. I’m keen to talk about my business and not shy about giving out my business card (although only if I think the person I’m giving it to will action it) but I don’t try to sell to people. I see networking events as an opportunity to inform people about what I do and learn about what they do. I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture and as a result had an enlightening conversation with an accountant about how I could potentially fall foul of employment law and how I can protect myself. That was every bit as valuable as had I sold him a four hour web content package to update his company’s site.
No, the problem is once I actually have a lead. For example, an acquaintance put me in touch with a contact of his who he said needed a copywriter. Several unanswered phone messages later and I was starting to feel like I was stalking the guy! I checked with my acquaintance and he reiterated the keenness of the potential client. I asked for an email address and worded a simple offer of a flexible meeting and decided to leave it at that. A few days later I got a reply and we have a meeting set up for tomorrow. He was just very busy.
I’m not alone in wondering where the line is. Talking to an independent hotel owner this week, he expressed his opinion that the South West has a pace of its own. Coming from the South East, he said he’d found himself needing to adjust from a 24hr working culture to a place where there still exists the lengthy lunch hour. We had arrived at The Daffodil at midday for their monthly cheese club and I left around 3.30pm with a quarter of the dining room still occupied. This is one of the reasons I have developed my freelance business into an agency; marketing and client relations can be a full time job.
My hotel owner friend said he found it strange how people (in this instance, tradesmen) would come and quote for a job and not follow it up with a phone call having invested their time. This something I’ve found myself and hence my concern at being perceived as pushy (despite being in a different industry) for practises that strike me as standard. For me it’s a learning experience, I want to know if my quote is too competitive or if I haven’t instilled confidence in the work to be done. I am ready and willing to adapt and develop if I haven’t convinced my potential client in our initial meeting.
But if nobody does it will I stand out in a positive or negative way for my proactive approach? Yesterday I received a brief email where I was CC’d into a message saying I was the copywriter the sender had mentioned in conversation with the primary recipient. I sat and pondered it for a little while. Should I make the first move? I decided to look up the organisation (based on the email address) and wrote an email explaining the nature of the service I can offer his business type. It worked and I think he appreciated my brief summary of what I could do for him.
I’m enjoying the challenge and I suppose when (for it is sure to happen) I overstep the mark it will help me clarify my approach but for now I’ll stick with chasing each opportunity. I began with the attitude that it was necessary to pursue every job but that hasn’t been the case. Within hours of establishing a contact form on my fledgling website I had an enquiry. So much for the notion that if you build it they will come being completely outdated (although clearly you’d never want to rely on a single method of lead generation).
While I’ve long recognised the value of building relationships through networking (having made referrals for people myself only after meeting someone a few times and getting a feel for what they do), it has surprised me how much business I’m getting through conversations with people I’d imagine I could neither help nor be helped by. It feels almost too easy; be nice, assume niceness in others and life will be good. I’m sure my Nana said something along those lines once!
Oh and we didn’t make it to Lechlade Festival. I couldn’t face crowds in high temperatures in my fat and grumpy state.
* Once upon a time I sold kitchens on a commission only basis and truly believe direct sales experience is vital if you’re going to be an entrepreneur and yes, I rather like Lord Sugar as he actually reminds me a bit of my late father.
I’ve deleted one post as it merely served to out myself further as a horrific snob. My neighbours on one side are nice enough but well... they’re just that bit noisy, that bit slack with regards to training their dogs or paying attention to their child.
The Olympic Torch passed through Gloucester this morning but I missed it in favour of attending my networking breakfast. I did get a bit excited that my youngest stepson brought home a torch he’d made at nursery. That was pretty cool.
I’m pretty occupied with the copywriting agency I’ve started and have been talking to accountants and business bank managers and a computer type person who can do something with servers. I’ve written a business plan and non-disclosure contracts and about a million emails. All of which leaves me a little empty on the creativity front.
I’m finding it hard to schedule time for my column as it feels in competition with other urgent stuff. Tomorrow I’m visiting a venue for a workshop tied to the agency and I’ve a seminar to write. That’s the stuff that will bring in money and help my business grow so I’m spinning with ideas for that.
Perhaps this phase is good for me. I need to carve time of blogging as it is one of the ways I unwind and get to explore new ideas. Just as from November I’m going to have to make the effort to find time for myself around the needs of a newborn.
Oh dear lord the neighbours drunk friend is yelling in their garden for them to watch him (they are ignoring him). Is it utterly evil to hope he injures himself sooner rather than later and they all decamp to A&E and leave me in peace. In all seriousness they have a giant trampoline, not the ideal partner for a drunk adult.
I think pregnancy is making me grumpier than usual. The heat certainly seems to be bothering me more than ever before. I did just have a little seethe at the neighbour on the other side (the polar opposite of the chavvy neighbours) for saying how she loved being pregnant. I’m not a fan of women who are good at it. It is proof of my bitchiness that my two closest friends weren’t great at it either (it’s also reassuring how much they’ve gone on to nevertheless take motherhood in their stride).
Whoops, I wasn’t going to talk about being pregnant.
Well it’s either that or my tax return; after all I had a lovely chat with my mortgage lender about interest paid for the financial year 2011-12.
I have a plan for my next column as at the weekend I’m planning to go to my first festival. It’s largely been my hatred of camping that has put me off in the past but Lechlade is local and seems a good way to get started. Then hopefully by next summer my business will be super successful and we can stay in a tepee or yurt at one of the big ones. For some inexplicable reason my stepsons’ mother likes taking them camping (truly, the eldest has flatulence that could be utilised as chemical warfare and no way would I be in a confined space with him) so that is a special thing they do with Mummy. Daddy and Kay do accommodation with proper beds, ensuite bathrooms and sockets to plug in fans to dissipate the smell of them.
So I shall be writing about music and local food and hopefully sunshine.
Not that I expect you to come back and read it.
I like silly and childish (or perhaps just nerdy) things. This week someone told me to go into Google maps and get directions from The Shire to Mordor, select walking as the option and note the message. It pleased me an absurd amount, as did my eldest Star Wars loving stepson getting excited about tomorrows date.
But sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of segregation. Not so much from children as teenagers. I like that Gloucester park has a distinct area for skateboarding; an area for wearing ones jeans around ones arse and where the pinnacle of sophistication is the correct application of false eyelashes. One reason why the husband and I frequent the pricier bars of our city is their appeal to old people. Ah the real log fire at The Fountain, the delights of board games at Cafe Rene and the charm of the Jacobean features at The Old Bell. Young people seem to focus on drink price, we think about atmosphere. But then maybe we don’t mind pricy drinks as we’re rarely out late. What with the being old.
This week we made a visit to The Screening Rooms in Cheltenham. It’s a branch of the Cineworld family but you pay more for tickets, get bigger seats (with table service) and it’s licensed. It’s a very grown up way to see a film (even if it is the latest offering from Marvel). I had an elderflower presse and some duck spring rolls. I sat back and had a completely uninterrupted view of the screen and enjoyed the film through complementary 3D glasses.
It’s hard to say exactly what is so different but there were no negatives. No noisy teenagers (you have to be over 18 to enter after 5pm), loads of leg room and massive seats. There was somewhere to put my handbag and my drink was served in a glass.
When I was younger I could never see the merit in spending money on hotel rooms instead preferring to spend it on food, drink and entertainment. Gradually I’ve started to appreciate the little touches you get in classier establishments such as the mini fridge which means I can enjoy a cold drink* after my afternoon... nap.
I can’t ever imagine justifying paying business class but then I never thought I’d see the value in expensive hotels and now I adore them. Drinking champagne in a private hot tub on my hen night was pretty damn fabulous and when my mum offered to get me a weekend break in a spa hotel with elegant restaurant for my upcoming 30th she kicked of a fantasy daydream that will last until September.
I think a lot of it harks back to the kids. Prior to 2009 everything about my life was adult orientated. Then children slowly encroached on my life, not just the big stuff but things like finding a bag of yoghurt covered raisons in my handbag when I reached to get out a business card. When we were renovating our house I was struck by the urge for my bedroom to be an adult only space. The loft conversion isn’t huge and the ensuite about as compact as they come but there are never any toys or tiny socks up there. The children knock before entering and understand it’s not for them.
I love the toys and tiny socks but they highlighted the desire for a bit of something that wasn’t about little people. The main bathroom has a wonderful big bath but it is surrounded by rubber ducks and often decorated with stick on letters. This amused me briefly in the beginning but now I seek escape as I sink into the bubbles.
My experience at The Screening Rooms really wasn’t so different to a regular cinema trip, just as (aside from the fact it’s a cube – like I said, tiny bathroom) a bath in the ensuite is particularly different to one in the main bathroom but it’s that carving of something that’s just for us. Us the couple and not just Daddy and Kay.
* I still tend to buy my drinks at corner shops. I’m still a Yorkshire lass after all!