Invictus Games, nearly a princess and being completely stupid

‘One day your prince will come.’  Really?  Actually, yes.  Mine came!! When I announced that I’d be supporting the Soldiering On charity at the Invictus Games, the first question most people asked was “Will you meet Prince Harry?”  Having met Prince William without make-up and hair in a scrunchie (me, not him), I was somewhat hoping to make a better impression on his brother.  After all, this could be my last chance to marry a prince….

Well, he did come – and I missed him!  Realising that it was going to be a long evening, I’d stopped to pick up a slice of lemon drizzle cake in John Lewis, and that ten minutes cost me my chance to become a princess.  He stopped by the Soldiering On stand and chatted with Dennis, posed for a photo and politely refused to buy a raffle ticket.  Weird, thought he’d like to win a Triumph Bonneville motorbike, but there you go… no flying down the M4 like a bat out of hell for this man.

More important than royalty, spending five hours with clients, one obviously hopes to impress – or at least not look a complete idiot.  It was cold, that’s my defence.  Dennis had bought me a glass of red wine to warm me up as we walked around the Olympic Park handing out charity freebies.  (I blame him for what happened next…)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAs the opening ceremony started, I held the wine in my left hand with camera poised in my right, aimed towards the royal audience and the big screen, snapping away for Twitter.  “Quick!” yelled Tal, waving at the Red Arrows soaring overhead… (I blame him for what happened next…) 

Actually I can’t blame anyone else… As I raised my camera I forgot about the wine and elegantly (not) tipped the whole glass over myself!! It splashed off my face and down the inside of my clothes, staining a branded sweatshirt that I’d borrowed from someone else, ruining a new, very nice cream lace bra, soaking my skin  and settling in a claret puddle on my white converse (left foot only!) – ruined!!  But how they all laughed!

This story of my own stupidity can’t detract from the seriousness of the games – if that’s the right word. Serious because it highlights the horrendous injuries sustained by so many of the people fighting for our – and world – safety.  Yet inspiring and so full charm, team solidarity and comradeship; fun, exciting and totally motivating,

I stood at the front of the stage for Harry’s closing speech on Sunday, and heard him congratulate all the competitors before foo Fighters stormed the stage.  He thanked everyone involved in executing the event, and I was proud to be a teeny tiny part of that.  What a wonderful experience.

As Wednesday’s ceremony drew to a close, I raised my Merlot-stained face to the sky and closed my eyes as a million pieces of gold ticker tape fluttered over me like angels.  I guess if you stop searching for a pot of gold it can sweetly land on you right when you least expect it.  But then, isn’t that the story of life…?

I only recently found out that Neil Diamond wrote these words:  ‘I’d have thought that with time thoughts of you would leave my head.  I was wrong, and I find, just one thing makes me forget.’  I don’t turn to red, red wine to forget; I prefer to remember everything with clarity than claret!  And these past few days at Invictus with Soldiering On certainly won’t be forgotten!

No business pitch to end today; life is so much more than that.  You can follow the charity at @SoldieringOnTLT or follow me @WeekendWitch.  I retweet them!

Hats off to social media, aiming high and sunrise over the ocean

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI love love love Vegas!! There are no two ways about it, and advising one of the stores in a premier shopping mall on social media issues was almost a dream come true… The fact that Hattitude is a hat shop made it an actual dream come true!  (Watch out – its new super-jazzy website is launching soon!!)

 

Between discussing SEO, mail shot Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingcampaigns and a social media strategy, I managed to find the time to try on almost every pink and purple hat in the store.  Even got to design a few customised Mojo fedoras, despite some artistic disagreement over the aesthetic merits of mixing orange and fuscia ribbons…

The whole trip was fantastic. I stayed with a cousin that I met on Facebook… He casually invited me over, I said yes, he was shocked – and suddenly I was there!!  122 degrees in the shade and fun whichever direction I turned.

Getting a vacation within a vacation, he drove me through the desert to Coronado, a gorgeous San Diego beach where we walked along the shore at sunrise. It was a favourite haunt of Marilyn Monroe, and so lovely that I wrote poetry about it while I was awake at 4am. (Most nights!)  It was absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the world, and almost one of the most peaceful – despite the US Navy SEALs marching and the helicopters circling San Diego’s huge naval base.  Every girl loves a sailor, right?

Further up the San Diego coast I met new cousins – true Californian beach babes with golden skin, who swim with sea lions.  We’ve built up a Facebook friendship now – someday I’ll dive with them in the Pacific Ocean and search for mermaid treasures.  We visited more new cousins in California’s wine country. Spending an afternoon wine tasting up the road to Dolly Parton’s home was such fun too – although forcibly mixing my colours meant I had to pay full attention to staying on best behaviour…  And I wasn’t drinking in heels either…  I save those ‘incidents’ for my London networking adventures!

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Hoover Dam – an awesome place to visit

One of the trip’s highlights was a tour of the Hoover Dam; the incredible artistry and technical skill that enabled its construction 80 years ago, ahead of schedule and within budget, should make some of today’s engineering firms ashamed.  Another was a morning at a shooting range. Didn’t know whether to mention this as opinions obviously lurch across the scale, but I have to admit it was incredibly good fun – and I hit the target!!

It’s a bit like the advice I give to businesses in training sessions: set your target, aim, fire. If you don’t have a target you’re never going to score.  My shooting teacher, the mad hatter, told me to always aim high.  I’ve had that advice in the past but seemed to have forgotten it.  It’s front line now.  Aim for the stars and you might just hit the moon…

I’m very lucky that I have a business I can run from anywhere in the world.  Not that I needed to… everything ran smoothly in Marion’s capable hands.  But if I ever wanted to uproot, west coast America seems a nice place to choose. I didn’t post a lot on social media while I was away, but I did bombard my personal Facebook page with photos.  Gill commented that I seemed to have found my spiritual home (not least because of the hat shop).  Bit of Stevie Nicks on the sound system and she might just be right.   Simon called me the definitive unreconstructed it-girl – not sure exactly what that means but I like the sound of it!!

Huge thanks to Stephen and Fester for putting up with me for nine days, cooking for me, spoiling me and making me want to stay.  We played this album on our road trip through the desert but it resonates for far more reasons than that. ‘Sail on silver girl, sail on by.  Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine… if you need a friend – I’m sailing right behind.’  Behind, in front, next to you: here I am: back in London, back where you can follow me… @WeekendWitch.

Managing time, opening doors and a shiny red Ferrari

The Monty Hall Problem is something that’s taken up an awful lot of time in our house this year.  Some people just don’t get it.  I’m one of them.  The theory is this:  Imagine you’re a contestant on a game show.  You’re presented with three closed doors and you can keep the prize that you choose when you open a door.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingBehind two doors are two pigs, and the third door hides a shiny red Ferrari.  You make your choice without knowing which prize you’ve selected, based probably on gut feeling.  But then the game show host opens one of the other doors – revealing a curly-tailed, honking baby pig.  Now, do you stick with your original choice of door, or do you swap to the other unopened one?

I see this as a 50/50 decision: two closed doors.  So why not stick with your original choice?  It’s either the right door or it’s the wrong one – same as the other option – right?  No, apparently not.  It’s not a 50/50; the probability of the Ferrari being behind the other door is actually 66%.  So compared to your original choice, which is only 33%, you’ve got more chance of winning the shiny red sports car if you swap!

So, when one door closes in life and another one opens, should you walk through it – or knock on the next door…?  I’m a fairly numerate person but I don’t love maths.  I can work out a decent tip in a restaurant easily enough, deduct VAT or calculate the percentage of time I spend on social media compared to presenting training courses; but I’m no Carol Vorderman.  In my defence, I understand the theory of why the third door has double the chance of hiding the Ferrari, I just don’t agree with it.  What do you think?

Anyway, doors are opening all over the place this week, and the one I’ve chosen to walk through leads to Las Vegas.  If I don’t post a blog next Monday it’s because I’m a) road tripping through the desert with no wifi; b) caught up in the excitement and lost all track of time; or c) gone awol!!

Elvis wisely said about Vegas: “How I wish that there were more than the twenty-four hours in the day. ‘Cause even if there were forty more I wouldn’t sleep a minute away…”  Viva indeed!!

If you need more hours in the day you might be interested to know I’ll be running an open time management workshop this autumn.  Email me for details, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

A London pub tour, social media storm and dancing in the rain

Every year the free concerts at Canary Wharf get better – and more packed.  People squidged into every inch of Canada Square until not a blade of grass is evident beneath the picnic mats, rugs, beach towels, discarded plastic wine glasses and feet. And this year…. brollies.  For most of the first half the sun shone, perhaps not brightly, but pleasantly enough for an outside venue.  Then suddenly, before the drummer could even change his beat, the sky turned black with menacing clouds drifting atop the silvery glassed structures.  It was totally reminiscent of War of the Worlds: the tumbling masses of slate grey powder puffs threatened to part to allow a cosmic visitor to blast through…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingInstead, the trees shook as a deep howl echoed around the square.  At the exact point the singer reached the bridge of Livin’ La Vida Loca, the rain clouds burst and torrents were literally sheeting horizontally across the shiny walls surrounding us! The well timed lyrics made us laugh as we ducked for cover and kept dancing, the rain diluting our rosé as we splashed in spontaneous puddles.  (Can you guess what today’s lyrics are going to be…?!! Martine will get it!)

As well as the weather, it was a social media storm!  People were tweeting all around us as photos appeared on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all over the place. Drenched partygoers smiling through the adversity of the British summertime…

London proved herself to excellent company again on Friday when a group of us traipsed about with Vic on his historic pub crawl.  This was our second outing with Vic, an entertaining tour guide who I met a couple of years ago on Twitter, then discovered that, bizarrely, we were working in adjoining training rooms.  For this, his ‘Stripper and Schooner’ tour, We met up on Friday in a seventeenth century hidden gem in Covent Garden with oak beams and a dizzying slanted floor – known in times gone by as ‘the Bucket of Blood.’  Then we walked the length of Soho (an ancient hunting cry, apparently!)  to visit five more establishments dotted around the west end, including a beautiful gin palace, a sedate tavern and the birthplace of the communist manifesto!

Soho on a Friday night is about as busy as you can imagine. Office workers celebrating poets’ day, tourists shoving their euros at the barmaids, and us…. Laughing hysterically, learning less about the history of London’s ancient alehouses and more about each other than we wished to know.  Carrying half full (never half empty) glasses of wine from one pub to the next, making new friends, networking, offering counselling to heal a broken relationship and generally putting the world to rights.  Highly recommended!

And the rain held off, unlike Tuesday.  This is what we were singing when the Canary Wharf storm struck: “She’ll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain.   She’ll make you live her crazy life but she’ll take away your pain.” (Whatever happened to Ricky Martin?)

Well I won’t make you take your clothes off (had enough of strippers for one week), but there’s a lot to be said for letting your hair stream down with the rainwater.  I can definitely take away your pain though – especially if it’s business related.  Call me to heal your social media problems, or ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

(Thanks to Mark Haringman for sharing the Canary Wharf concert pic!)

Taking the leap, blood red poppies and lessons in love

In two separate conversations this week, the following sentence came up: ‘The grass isn’t always greener…’  Is it merely a sentence, or a sentiment?  Do people sitting on the fence get to compare both sides?  And can they view the grass objectively?  Isn’t the point that the grass looks greener from the other side of the fence but once you’ve catapulted yourself over the thin wooden slats you discover it’s a dull greyish, mossy hue.

Sometimes you just have to take the leap and hope the landing is at least soft, even if not completely weed-free.  And my philosophy is simple: If the grass isn’t greener, lay some shingle and grow flowers in tubs.  It’s not all about the grass.

10592935_10152654426561255_1668391128739144403_nTalking of grass, I stopped by the Tower of London on Tuesday to see the fantastic display of ceramic poppies creeping across the grassed moat.  They spill out from a small arched window in stark contrast to the fields of blood where the crimson flowers spread upwards and outwards a century ago.  More than 200,000 of the ceramics stand proudly in the shadow of England’s most historic castle, each representing a life lost, boldly honouring the sacrifices those young men made.

So red featured as the colour of my week.  Blood red poppies and the colour of love.  Spending Thursday at the Southbank Centre where I gave a 121 training session to a new social media client,  the Festival of Love grabbed my attention and wooed my camera from my bag.  It was brash, funky and fun.

Celebrating seven kinds of love, a collection of artists and communities have created this lovely programme of free events, performances, poetry and pop-ups.   I learned something new that day: I didn’t realise that the ancient Greeks had 30 words to describe different types of love!  These are the seven definitions chosen by the Southbank Centre:

  • Pragma – love which endures
    Bonding love that develops over a long period of time, enduring ‘in sickness and in health’ or through years of friendship.
  • Ludus – flirting
    Testing out what it might be like to be in love with someone; that slightly dangerous sensation.
  • Agape – the love of humanity
    Making us upset when we hear of a world crisis, encouraging us to give to charity, and connecting us to people on the basis of our shared experiences.
  • Storge – family love
    The love shared within a family, whether related by blood, or not.
  • Philautia – self-respect
    The love we give to ourselves, being true to our own values and taking care of ourselves.
  • Philia – shared experience
    The love we feel based on achieving shared goals, such as co-workers, team players.
  • Eros – romantic and erotic love
    Based on sex and attraction, falling in love is the one which can get us into the most trouble…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI’ve known them all, but agape is the one that will make me buy a ceramic poppy!  Being at South Bank always reminds of the Flash Mob I took part in a couple of years ago with Sue and Karen.  We had such fun singing on the steps, demonstrating a good example of Philia love… The chorus of this Lennon/McCartney classic was part of the medley that day, and I was humming it on Thursday too:

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known, nothing you can see that isn’t shown.  There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be… It’s easy.”  And it is.  I can teach you or show you.  And if you’re not happy where you are right now, follow me: @WeekendWitch.

Traditional training, dancing with Marion and Word on the Water

I’m really happy that Marion has officially joined the team.  She’s full of fun with whacky ideas and fantastic skills for managing some of our social media clients’ accounts.  I’ve known her for years; we started working together in the days when sisters were doing it for themselves and our friendship has endured through pop concerts, blue dinners, holidays, children, balloons, and Andrew Wright.  (But that’s another story.)

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Marion’s cottage long ago… with residents even older than us…

When she’s not looking after clients’ social media, Marion walks her three dogs through the landscaped park in Hawick.  There’s a tiny museum there that houses a memorial to motorcycle legend Steve Hislop.  ‘Hizzy’ died tragically eleven years ago last week, when his helicopter crashed into the next field to Marion’s cottage.  I was staying there then, and remember the day so well.  Although the tragedy didn’t involve a bike, I can’t help playing Bat out of hell in my mind whenever I think about it.

I go up to the cottage when I need some peace to write quietly, diametrically removed from London’s bustling metropolis.  It’s a wonderful place to design new training courses; no distractions, other than the dogs barking and chickens clucking.  My new social media sessions (which were partly written there) have been so well received this summer that I’ve been commissioned to run them again through the autumn, let me know if you’d like any details.

Aside from the new courses, I had an influx of bookings through July for my traditional plain English training sessions.  Being on page one in Google searches definitely helps, plus the sprinkling of enquiries that came via LinkedIn.  So I’ve been all over London de-jargpning and clarifying texts to suit the clients of various organisations.  It’s taken me to some areas I hardly knew before, with unique places to discover.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingComing out of Paddington tube, I quite literally stumbled upon the cutest bookshop ever.  A moored Rosie and Jim type barge that’s fitted out as a delightful bookstore.  It was absolutely lovely, totally unexpected and completely full of charm and character.  I chatted to the owner, who invited me aboard Word on the Water for my virgin voyage.  Well, not voyage exactly; it was stationery, bobbing about on the Grand Union Canal, but I enjoyed it anyway. It was one of my three favourite places this week.

The second was Richmond, as I ventured out west to visit a potential social media client.  I would have liked a picnic lunch among the deer wandering elegantly through the park, but as I have a habit of getting lost and a fear of close-up large animals, I decided it wasn’t a clever move on my own.  Made up for it on Friday, when a trip to Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge in Chingford came a close third.  No deer roving around now, but in Tudor times the area was rife with Bambi’s ancestors.  The lodge is a beautifully preserved piece of Elizabethan architecture set amongst ancient fields. (Although I have to note, the wilderness of Richmond is a far cry from Chingford’s Premier Inn, plonked right next door to the lodge.)

Anyway, neither compares to the beautiful scenery surrounding Marion’s cottage.  We’ve danced around in there – not quite the same as in the Annie Lennox days, but still fun… “Now we ain’t makin’ stories, and we ain’t layin’ plans…  ’cause a man still loves a woman, and a woman still loves a man.”  Making stories, making training courses, making words on water… if you need something written, here I am: @WeekendWitch.

Making law, a magical time warp and positivity

Visiting the House of Lords is a little like stepping back into some sort of magical time warp.  Entering via the Peers’ entrance you’re greeted by a receptionist dressed in Fred Astaire coat tails and a white bow tie. The vaulted halls and stairway are so beautiful you want to lie with your head on the landing and your feet pointing at the royal blue, star encrusted ceiling, gazing at the beautiful glittery paintings and stained glass while people walk by holding golden sceptres.  Liz described it perfectly: a Victorian concept of a medieval dream.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingIt’s an honour to be invited to watch a parliamentary debate in the House of Lords.  We sat quietly in the impressive Moses Room and witnessed an embryonic act begin to unfold.  I can honestly say it was truly awesome!  Baroness Wheeler led the debate on childhood stroke, with a number of Peers from various political parties supporting the cause.

Their speeches were well planned, comprehensive and structured to fit precisely into their allocated time slots.  Not a second of that precious hour was wasted: as one Lord or Lady finished speaking, the next person was on their feet before the previous bottom was even back on its red leather seat.  But more importantly, they were passionate and heartfelt; they put across a compelling argument for government intervention to support research, medical guidelines and after-care.

My friends and I have put in three years’ hard work to raise awareness of childhood stroke, so seeing it actually coming to fruition was the highlight of my week.  There’s still a lot of work to be done, but (hopefully!) it’s onwards and upwards from here.  A very positive day!

In fact, the theme of positivity has been overarching this week.  Someone began a chain Facebook post whereby everyone had to list three positive events each day.  David nominated me; I was a safe bet: I rarely have trouble finding the silver lining.  On Thursday I successfully delivered the final social media training session of a series of five – and was very happy to announce that I’ve won a contract to deliver another five starting in August.  Signed up a couple of new training clients and I’m meeting this coming week with three prospective social media management ones – so all in all it’s very positive on the business side.

Being snowed under isn’t always great though, as it can be hard to juggle the work/life balance.  That’s why I always try to tie in my meetings with something that’s not work-related and counts as food for the soul!  So my positive challenge week included two lunches with friends, huge Toblerone cake at Southbank followed by a boat ride along the Thames to Greenwich, a night out for Stef’s birthday, dinner at the Waldorf with my BFF and mango ice cream wandering around Covent Garden at midnight.  One of these days I’m going to find time to sleep…..

The artist formerly known as a squiggle says, “Can U sleep nights?  Do U dream straight up or do U dream in W’s?”  It’s positivity!!  Whether I’m awake or asleep, I’m positive that you’ll find me here: @WeekendWitch.

Plain English dreams, lost in London and Galileo Figaro Magnifico

If you were in the UK on Thursday night, there’s no way you could have missed the fantastic storms that lit up the world with shards of lightening zigzagging across the purple sky.  Unless you’re my brother-in-law, who slept soundly through it all like a worn-out little kitten.

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Fab photo taken by Tony Simmonds – Hove, Sussex. With many thanks to all my Facebook friends who supplied pics and links x

Lying in my bed at 3am, I remembered that someone once told me to unplug major electrical items.  So I crept downstairs where the boys were still watching a film, and ran around unplugging everything like a crazy woman.  Forgot the wifi router though, and woke up on Friday to find no internet!!  Unable to work from home, I baked a cake then headed out in search of 21st century connectivity.  Huge thanks to my clients, Nordens, for putting up with me all day!

During the storm, alarms were going off all over the place.  A nice chap called Vince who’s attended a couple of my social media training sessions must have been busy as a result – he’s a specialist in alarm systems, CCTV and all that. Strange the things that spring to mind when you’re listening out for thunder.

The day of the storm had been ridiculously hot. I left a meeting at parliament at 2 o’clock heading to a potential new client in Pimlico.  Turned out to be a 20 minute walk from the station – not in flowery flip flops this time, but high heeled, hot shoes – and I actually felt as if I was walking through a wall of tangible pressure.  It was so weird, like I had to push the air away to get through.  (Before you ask, no, I hadn’t been at the Pimms at lunchtime!!)  And to top it off, I got lost.  The silly iPhone map took me a horribly long way round, past beautiful cream painted Georgian houses that I couldn’t admire because I was suffocating.

It brought to mind someone else who Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingattends my social media sessions: Francesca writes London guide books with simple maps – and boy, could I have done with one of those that day.  Her ‘Step Outside’ London guides are actually for children, but they’re so beautifully illustrated and charming that they’re a pleasure for anyone with a love of London.  Must admit, I loved it a little bit less after the aimless wandering then rush hour tube trip home.

Aside from running a workshop on Social Media Strategy this week, I have a couple of Plain English sessions booked.  I’ve also been creating website content and de-jargoning technical blogs recently, for clients’ audiences that don’t need to know the specifics.  I do love a linguistic challenge.  I completed a plain English edit for a company abroad a couple of weeks ago, relating to extremely high tech computer software components – of which I knew nothing.  (I do now!)  The end article was far removed from the initial draft and received excellent reviews when it was published in the glossy Telegraph IT supplement.  Sometimes I wonder if I dream in plain English…

If you’re wondering how copywriters can turn a gobbledygook concept into a coherent and easily understandable text, I’ll tell you in the Gibb Brothers’ own words.  And that’s what it really boils down to:  “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away…”  (Sung so beautifully by Ronan Keating last week, but I still prefer the ancient Rita Coolidge version!)

I think this may have been my first blog in three years to talk about the weather. Whatever it’s like this week, have fun! And if you need me, you can find me here as usual, but with an ice cream: @WeekendWitch.

(Title lyrics by Freddie, of course.)

French bikes, French lunch, French everything

It’s been a very French week for me. Started with Monday’s faux pas when I buggered up my quarterly mail shot to 600 people by typing in the wrong code to pick up everyone’s first name.  The good news is that, when I emailed to apologise, I had my best mailshot response ever.  It’s been brilliant to reconnect with a few people I haven’t seen for ages and new lunches booked in the diary always makes me happy.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingThat email was about using the topical Tour de France as a springboard for Monday’s social media posts.  A group of us took a picnic and watched as the blink-and-you-missed-it event passed by.  As the cyclists whizzed through London on their way to the Palace there were dozens of opportunities to tweet, post and blog. Londoners also had a field day on Pinterest!

Then on Wednesday, we popped over to Paris for lunch.  One of my Facebook friends asked if I’d eloped with a Tour de France cyclist, which made me laugh.  I’d have liked a ride on the handlebars but no one stopped to pick me up!  Eurostar got me there just as efficiently; a little less environmentally friendly but a lot more comfortable than on a bike.

Paris is such a beautiful city and the Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingmorning in Montmartre was the highlight of the day.  True Parisian style: its ancient cobbled streets winding around pretty buildings adorned with flowering window boxes between paint-peeling shabby chic shutters.  That was a long sentence for a plain English writer, but hey ho!  Like the sentence, we packed a lot in.  First, the petit train took us from the Dali exhibition to Moulin Rouge, then back up the steep hill to Sacre Coeur.  Next stop was the Musée de l’Orangerie, followed by a walk in the rain through Jardin de Tullieries towards an obligatory visit to the Louvre.  You can’t visit Paris without saying bonjour to the Mona Lisa. Then a taxi ride to Notre Dame (no, I didn’t see him) followed by a boat trip to the Eiffel Tower.

Driving rain failed to dampen the day, but by the time we walked along the Champs-Elysée I had puddles in my flip flops.  So we stopped for French onion soup and French fries in a French bistro and watched the world and their brollies go by.

The French theme trickled into Thursday, with a delightful – and very English! – chocoholics afternoon tea at the Hilton in Park Lane.  Little French Fancies adorned the top tier of the cake stand.  I posted photos of those delicious chocolate creations all over social media. So, a très bonne week.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingBack to Park Lane for yesterday’s fantastic concert in Hyde Park.  Tom Jones headlining the event was always going to be amazing – and he certainly didn’t disappoint! Stef and I were right at the front, and WOW!! Has the man still got it?!!  (Yes, it was rhetorical…)  Can’t discuss the Facebook knickers conversation here as this is, after all, a professional business blog!  But, needless to say, would have to have been French knickers!!

Boyzone were also brilliant – I wasn’t a huge fan in their early days, but they put on a great show, and it was quite touching how they still include Stephen Gately in their videos and commentary.  10CC: fab as always, Little Mix: hot dancers.  Sunshine, colourful drinks, dancing, laughing – what better way to spend a Sunday?

You‘re probably expecting some TJ lyrics now, but had to end with this.  Hopefully no one will think the video is too raunchy for a Monday morning… “Paris is calling.  Falling, we’re falling, we’re falling, we’re falling.  Lips close, then blossom like a rose, embrasser c’est Francais, embrasser c’est Francais.”   Suivez-moi ici: @SorcièreDeFinDeSemaine

LinkedIn photos, squidgy cakes and £1billion of business

£1,000,000,000 worth of business…  Wow!! That’s a lot of money coming in.  I’ve mentioned Fit for Legacy (FFL) before; it’s the organisation based in Canary Wharf that provides support to businesses in and around neighbouring boroughs.  On Tuesday night, they held a party to celebrate the amazing achievement of bringing a staggering £1bn worth of business into the area!!  I’ve only been a FFL training provider for eight months (social media and time management) and I’ve met some fantastic people during that time, so I was really proud to be invited.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingI trotted off to the East Wintergarden in my long purple dress and high heels – the relevance of this will become clear later…  Over 200 businesses were represented in the tall glass building overlooking the evening sun-kissed river.  I usually enter these events with my eyes firmly fixed on who to say hello to first – after all, networking is the key to being remembered.  But on this occasion, I was sidetracked the second I stepped onto the marbled mezzanine: the longest, most colourful, most beautiful array of cupcakes stared up at me, simply begging me to take a bite.

Hope Mutongwizo is the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery and creator of these fantastic delicacies.  My favourite was the red velvet with a thick, sugary, buttercream swirl and a raspberry.  I liked it so much that at the end of the evening I ‘stole’ eight cakes – and this is where the long dress and stilettos became a bit problematic.  Along with a couple of glasses of red wine and the slippery looking flight of green glass stairs facing me, I knew I’d have  a problem balancing the eight ribboned boxes on my journey home.

As if by magic, my friend Mark from the Barking Enterprise Centre appeared with car keys and a smile – and the kind offer of a lift home.  So I tricked him into helping me sneak out the cakes quietly and unobtrusively… which would have been fine had I not dropped one and cried out loudly in horror as it squidged across the floor.  (Don’t worry, it wasn’t wasted.  Mark scooped it up and put it on the edge of the table, and we later saw someone carrying it away! Oh dear.)  Turns out crawling around in a long dress in a puddle of buttercream is the key to being remembered.

I first met Hope when she attended one of my time management sessions.  (If you’re reading this Hope, thank you for the LinkedIn recommendation!)  Other people I’d never met before recognised me from my LinkedIn photo.  Ade, a business growth coach that I bumped into at one of my first networking events, knows me only as WeekendWitch and did a great job of promoting me throughout the evening!  (Thanks very much for your LinkedIn rec too!!)  Proves my point that you must must must have a clear, current and professional photo on your LinkedIn profile.

Cakes aside, the evening was brilliant. Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training It was a genuine delight to be part of the celebration and to feel I’d contributed to the success in some small way.  Karren Brady gave an amusing keynote speech about being a ‘woman in a man’s world,’ showing off plans and photos of the new West Ham stadium being developed at the Olympic Park.   I didn’t chat to her about football though.  We spoke about our mutual work for the Stroke Association and her business mentoring for women.

I’m not a football fan, but what with the West Ham presentation, world cup sweepstake and being part of a client’s football predictor game, it’s been a very sporty week for me!  No football songs this week though!  As this blog was about networking, this seemed a relevant song to choose as networking is ALL about talking to people.  It was also number one the day Karren Brady was born!

“I finally got to talk to you and I told you just exactly how I felt.  Then I held you close to me and kissed you and my heart began to melt.”  (Actually, kissing is not obligatory at networking events…!!)

If you’d like to know more about networking, FFL or your LinkedIn profile, feel free to ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

(Lyrics: Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller)