Renee

Horrible hackers, big bums and artisan food all over the place

I spent Monday morning working in the Hoxton Hotel – in fact, I think I mentioned that in last week’s blog.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that, while I was busily tapping away using a friend’s laptop, some nasty person somewhere was busily tapping into me.

So a couple of things to say about that. Firstly, thanks to those of you who alerted me to the fact that my mobile website had crashed. Secondly, thanks to the friend who had let me borrow his laptop to save shlapping mine on the train – I think it’s now been upgraded with a stronger anti-virus, anti-hacker, anti-whatever. And thirdly, thanks to my webhost: TSOHost, for quickly and painlessly restoring the site to its former glory, minus someone’s big fat bum staring up from your mobile phone in place of my blog.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingTo say thank you to them for all the times I drive them mad – and they always help me without charge and without showing any sign of laughter at how ridiculous I must sometimes sound – I sent them a gift. I’ve spent a couple of mornings recently delivering 121 social media training and support to BoroughBox, a fantastic foodie delivery and mail order company in South London, so I jumped on their website and ordered a gift box.

The carefully-sourced products all looked so lovely it was hard to choose, so being in an I-can’t-make-up-my-mind kind of mood, I emailed John at BoroughBox and asked for a recommendation. Hence the webhosting company received a scrumptious box of artisan sweets and treats to share amongst themselves.

Moving slightly away from nosh and onto real food, on Wednesday night I had fish and chips at the Camden Roundhouse before dancing to Poliça a band that Dale found through some trendy music magazine. We were definitely in the 10% of ‘older people’ – something that never pleases me very much. It was fun though, and always good to catch up with old friends.

As travelling home from Camden made it a late night, I skipped breakfast on Thursday. This turned out to be very lucky as it was a happy working day full of even more artisan food. (It seems to be seeking me out…) Charles Roc, a company that specialises in hotel housekeeping, invited me to attend a hoteliers’ conference in London that was organised by the Caterer magazine. As you can imagine, the food was amazing!! Tiny portions of deliciousness dotted all around the room, from a creamy Thai chicken dish to mini rare roast beef in brioche buns, to mango and coconut bircher and beetroot and something smoothies. And that’s just what I’d polished off by lunchtime.

Desserts were served in a bar overlooking the canal, with Rosie and Jim barges floating by. The display was an incredible array of lemon drizzle lollipops covered in pineapple icing (I think!), lavender cream éclairs, pina colada cakes and so many other delicious things that I can’t even remember what they were. I took photos. I also helped myself to a couple of doggy bags, much to my client’s amusement. (Or horror – not sure which!!)

So, with the chocolate fair stash on its last legs, I’m making up for the last couple of week’s binging with a daily stint on Ben’s exercise bike. As Freddie so famously said, “Bicycle races are coming your way so forget all your duties, oh yeah! Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today, so look out for those beauties oh yeah!”

Forget your duties? Not if you’re running your own business!  But if you have too much to do and too little time to do it, you can always pass some across.  Outsourcing your social media takes away the headache of managing your marketing campaigns on a day to day basis.  You can have a professional presence 24/7, 365 days of the year! Email if you’d like to know more about social media management, or ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

Marmite musicians, local exhibitions and gaining a business advantage

Dean Friedman is marmite.  If ever a musician could be described as that revolting yeast extract, it must definitely be him.  I’ve seen him perform live twice – once in 1986 at Ronnie Scott’s, then again a few years ago at Dingwall’s in Camden, and both times I loved him.  Went off him a bit when he didn’t want to kiss me though.  (“I don’t kiss fans…”) But I do know people who can’t stand his whiney tone and physically cringe if Lucky Stars comes on the radio.

So it was quite lovely to have lunch with someone this week who quoted his lyrics before we’d even ordered cocktails!  Happily, I have never been to a business meeting, lunch or networking event where I’ve struggled to make conversation; and my favourite has to be when the chat starts with common musical tastes.  When people say they have nothing in common, I simply don’t believe it – there is always a shared thread. And once you find it, the thread unravels and suddenly the moon’s smiling down and you’re running in stilettos to catch the last train.  Or something like that anyway,

Imaginative Training | Social media blogMy lunch date cast his eye quickly over the menu then slowly scrolled through my iPhone music collection.  Yes, we like a lot of the same things.  No, he doesn’t want to take me diving.  Yes, we know a few of the same business contacts.  No, he’s not going to dance in the restaurant to entertain me.

I had to be up early the next day to attend a local business exhibition, where I made some very interesting new contacts.  Someone asked me to present a LinkedIn workshop at a national conference in January, I met an energy harnessing hypnotherapist whom I’ve linked up to the angel funded project I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, and I was given a lot of free chocolates.  Result, result, result.

A charming man approached me as I wandered around the hall.  Having spoken a few times previously on LinkedIn and Twitter, we’d arranged to say hello during the afternoon.  Being a regular reader of this blog (thank you!), he recognised me straight away.  He also knew an awful lot about me, and laughingly confirmed that he’s not a stalker.  I guess this does put me at a disadvantage. Does that mean I’m offering an unfair advantage?  Anyway, it certainly speeds up common thread conversations when meeting someone for the first time and we had a lovely chat, drawing in passers-by to join in the fun – that’s networking!!  (I can also give you a fair advantage in business – click here to find out more!)

By the way, I don’t usually drink cocktails at lunchtime – tap water with a bit of ice will do.  So if you’re thinking about meeting up to discuss your social media needs, don’t worry about getting even a teeny bit drunk – that won’t happen.  An evening meeting in Liverpool Street…? Well, that might be another story for another day.

You may be expecting some of Dean Friedman’s words of wisdom here, but I’m more in the mood for Jim Kerr today.  ‘Will you recognise me? Call my name or walk on by – rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling down, down, down, down.’

I’m actually writing this on Saturday morning with the garden doors open and sun shining brightly, but the three-day forecast for London shows storms ahead.  So if the rain is indeed falling as you read this, cuddle up and stay warm and dry.  And…‘Don’t you forget about me, I’ll be alone, dancing, you know it baby.’  Maybe not alone, but always dancing.  Join me? @WeekendWitch.

An early Christmas, moonwalking and 34,000 Twitter followers

In a week where Naked Scrabble Buddy revelled in temperatures soaring over 30 degrees, my trip to Harrods’ Christmas shop exceeded all expectations!!  You may possibly remember that I had a bit of a rant earlier in the year after spending two days dismantling a tinsel-clad house alone.  The fairy lights are still in situ… that’s ok, makes partying easier.  Anyway, a few large green carrier bags later Gill and I left with baubles and glitter, contrasting sharply with summer frocks and sandals.  We love Harrods; the buffet was superb.  Mr Al Fayed wasn’t dining with us this time, having sold up and moved on.  So no one bought us cocktails with our lunch this time. [Read more…]

Lunch with Tom Jones, savvy sales people and lighting up London

I’m writing this at 1am so please forgive any typos or nonsense… Watching the Olympics closing ceremony tonight, we felt privileged to be Londoners. (Apart from some rubbish music – and where were Sting and Phil Oakey?) We watched the fireworks light up the sky from a distance, spreading colour and warmth across the city.  It’s been a spectacular summer for our capital, and how great if the British spirit we’ve witnessed this year continues!  We’ll see… [Read more…]

Networking, notworking and social media over breakfast

I attended two very contrasting networking events last week to talk about effective communication skills – web content writing, blogging and social media.  The first was an extremely early breakfast club deep in the heart of Essex, and the second a drunken (not me of course), very enjoyable afternoon in the city.  So how do you quantify the benefits of one type of event over another?  Well, unprofessional and maybe a bit childish, I know, but I usually start with what they feed me…  The breakfast cost £10, I spoke for 60 seconds about plain English writing and training, exchanged business cards with 30 people I didn’t really have time to bond with, and served myself egg and not-so-crispy-bacon and a glass of orange juice.  The Doyle Club afternoon in Liverpool Street was free and I was given the most amazing sausages and a big bowl of chunky chips, which I shared (of course) with my networking buddies Jason and Ian, and new friend Hanna – who claims she can make me look ten years younger for only £355.  [Read more…]

Generating leads, tequila and free butterscotch muffins

Ran a training session this week on a specific sales technique: generating leads by achieving referrals.  Some businesses don’t need to advertise, all their business comes by word of mouth, but even so, everyone likes a new client.  The session went well, with four hot leads in the bag by the end of the morning but, apparently, the part of the day they liked the most was my home-made banana and butterscotch mini muffins. [Read more…]

Financial theft, florals and picking up men in stations

On Tuesday I ventured up to the beautiful St Pancras International to meet a new client travelling into town from far away.  I was early and he was late so I popped in to Pret while I was waiting.  The two blokes sitting next to me smiled, said hello then put their heads down over an A3 piece of paper covered in blobs and arrows.  After a fair bit of hmmming and not a lot of words, one of them looked at me and asked “Don’t suppose you know anything about customer care strategies…?” [Read more…]

Business plans, clouds and talking in my sleep

So the first week back at work was wonderful.  A new client – design, photography, fun… evoking many memories of my years working in fashion. Gosh there are some stories to tell there but where to start?! I think I need to organise my memories into some sort of rational sequence rather than just rambling on aimlessly as usual.  Creating business plans for other people reminded me [Read more…]

Phobias, fate and embarrassing things happening in lifts

This week’s blog is sensible.  I’m pointing this out for the benefit of new readers.  Actually it always veers on the less-than-completely-bonkers side as I’m mindful of my known audience, which includes clients and sometimes family. I’m also painfully aware that on any given week it may be read by no one.  Not no one in particular, but no one at all.  So now you’re probably thinking that I should find more effective ways to spend my time than writing to potentially no one, but there we have it. The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. [Read more…]