Renee

Would you like to join me for a glass of wine? (And a free LinkedIn review!)

If you’re free on Thursday, 1st March, please join me at the Art Pavilion in east London for the private viewing of “In a country far, far away.”

There will be some awesome works of art, live music, wine and dance displays – so it will be wonderful if you can come along!

This exhibition has been inspired by tales from countries in war and crisis. My exhibit is a poem dedicated to the first recorded poet – a remarkable woman who lived over 4,500 years ago in the area now known as southern Iraq. Her work has survived almost five millennia, yet I’d never even heard of her until recently! Just think… her message spread across the globe and made a lasting impact without even a whisper of wifi…

While I won’t be giving out social media tips on the night (apart from reminding people to tweet, share and Instagram their favourite pieces of artwork, of course), I will be happy to follow up with a complimentary LinkedIn review for anyone who comes along as a result of reading this blog!

Here are the details, and I really hope you can make it!

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn – or any social media – but you can’t make it on March 1st, please feel free to ask.

Looking forward to – hopefully – seeing you there!

How to avoid being annoying on LinkedIn

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketingA few weeks ago I received an invitation to connect with another social media consultant. I’m usually happy to link up online with other people in my field as it’s great to be able to share ideas and – occasionally – concerns, and have meaningful discussions about the digital media marketing world. Also, there’s always the chance of cross-referrals if one person is too busy to take on new clients, so it’s good to have other people to recommend.

Some of the clients I coach don’t like to connect within their own industry sphere – and that’s fine.  Although I always point out that if it’s a reluctance to connect for fear of the competition poaching their clients, it might be worth reassessing their current client relationship strategy.  Within most industries there’s enough work to go around, and a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.

So I accepted the LinkedIn invitation and started a discussion. This person specialises in handling the social media for clients in only one industry sector – we’ll pretend it’s liquorice manufacturers. (It’s not really, but I don’t like liquorice.)

Only, later that day, a problem sprang up.  I received an email via LinkedIn from this person – trying to sell me social media services! And not only that – it rambled on and on about liquorice. My new LinkedIn connection started spamming me within 12 hours of discussing the beneficial crossovers and differences of our respective businesses!

The following day… guess what?! Another communication – this time a group message. When I received the third message in two days I emailed to remind him that I am not his target client and asked that he please stop emailing me. No reply.

On receiving the fourth email, I – very nicely – asked if his strategy when working with clients was to bombard their contacts in the hope that they may turn into future customers… Again, no reply. For the first time ever, I disconnected from someone on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a highly professional social network and, aside from its incredible power in the business world, there is an etiquette attached.  So here are a few tips to keep out of people’s annoyance zone:

  1. Personalise your connection requests: Remind people how they know you or explain why you’d like to connect if you’ve never actually met.
  2. Respond promptly: If you receive a message, reply quickly. Set your notifications so that messages filter through to your email box; that way you won’t miss anything important.
  3. Send a welcome message: If someone adds you (and you accept them), drop them a note to thank them for connecting. It’s also a good opportunity to find out why they connected and what you may be able to do to help each other.
  4. Don’t send spam or irrelevant messages: Be mindful that not all your connections are potential clients – your target group probably accounts for only a small percentage of people. Just like networking off-line, the people you know on LinkedIn will be a complete mix – and not all need your services or products.
  5. Don’t add LinkedIn connections to your email list: With GDPR approaching, that’s not an acceptable way to build an email list – it was never ethical and, from May, it will be illegal.
  6. Never ask people to recommend or endorse you if they haven’t experienced your work. And even if they have, only ask for a recommendation if you know they were happy with you. Ideally, do this at the time of the job so it’s fresh in their minds.

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn, feel free to ask. I’ll happily answer questions in the comments – or write a future blog to cover wider topics.

Alternatively, if you’d like to freshen up your profile or spend some time together on a 1-2-1 basis, click here and we can make a date!

Facebook’s new newsfeed strategy will affect you and your business!

If you use Facebook to raise the brand awareness of your business, the past few days have seen a major announcement that will shake up your marketing efforts going forward.

There is a huge change in the way business information will be presented in people’s newsfeeds, which means that your business will no longer enjoy the visibility it has in the past.  Basically – anything you post will be seen by fewer people!

As a personal Facebook user, you may be pleased to know that you’ll see more of your friends’ activity and less business page news.

This is the main point…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketingMark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has decreed that Facebook’s goal is to focus on helping people to have meaningful social interactions with their friends and families. He said, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”

Feedback shows that ‘public content’ – posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Mark Zuckerberg basically wants to make sure people’s time on Facebook is well spent and enjoyable.

What this means

This means that the posts you’ll see will be more community-focused from people you know rather than sales oriented from business pages.

Facebook will still encourage posts from large communities around things like TV shows and sports teams. Mr Z says, “Too often, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.” He wants to establish large, vibrant, engaged, realtime communities watching the same events simultaneously. (This will be a good opportunity for advertisers to shift more of their budget away from TV to Facebook.)

How it will affect businesses

In reality, this means that for business owners, the best way to be seen is to invest in paid ads. The good news, though, is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for properly targeted advertising on Facebook (and Instagram) to help to grow your business.

My prediction is that, from a Facebook user’s perspective, nothing much will change.  We’ll all still see the same business posts in our newsfeed – it’s just that the business owners will be paying for them rather than them appearing organically!

What you can do

  • Accept that you’ll have to invest a little in Facebook advertising. Make sure your demographics are accurate and that you monitor the results and tweak ads accordingly.
  • Ask your friends and family to like, comment and share info from your business page, so that Facebook can see the interaction and recognise you as a community-interactive business.
  • Get into the habit of creating live video content, as this reportedly gets six times more interaction than standard videos.
  • Encourage any form of back-and-forth discussion, such as asking for advice or requests for recommendations.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few weeks.  If you’d like some advice or help to manage your Facebook or any other social media platform, please feel free get in touch.

Prince, Diamond, working, not working… a month of being an exhibitionist

Exhibitionist? Well… not exactly – more of an exhibitor and exhibition visitor. I seem to be spending a lot of time in vast London exhibition halls lately – for both work and fun. Not to be confused with work or fun; the work is fun!

IMG_5260 (1)One of my clients provides facilities management services to hotels, so we recently set up a two-day stand at the Independent Hotel Show at Olympia to meet prospective clients. Trade shows are hard work. The environment is hot and airless, with miles of walking along aisles or hours standing – yet the opportunities to meet future customers is wonderful. I was working on their behalf, so I wasn’t targeting social media clients, but hoteliers. However, I did benefit from the eclectic range of free giveaways – bringing home everything from chocolates and coffee samples, to a few shiny bags of lovely mini toiletries – and a rubber duck!

Spending enjoyable time with the team easily balanced the exhaustion of two full days at Olympia, and I’m pleased that I introduced a good amount of prospective business to them. It’s all good networking. However, I must admit to having more fun at Olympia when I visited the Chocolate Show.

IMG_5194If you saw the photos I posted on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know that I found the afternoon a great success!  I have a very generous boyfriend who, like me, is a chocoholic, so I returned home weighed down with fancy bags full of delicious, mouth-watering treats.  They’ve all gone now, but fortunately a well-timed birthday has restocked my treats cupboard!

IMG_5233In a month of chocolate-filled decadence, I took some time out, working at the very beautiful Hambleton Hall Hotel in Rutland. The autumn sun was warm and washed the lovely gardens in a glow that was more befitting to a summer’s day. I’ve long worked on the basis of have laptop will travel – and the beauty of social media is that so much can be handled from a phone. It’s a luxury I make the most of in my business.  So I sat on the terrace with my hot chocolate and a smoked salmon sandwich watching the swallows swoop over the lake as I crafted a few client blogs and set the week’s tweets.

FullSizeRender (5)Back to the reality of the city and, by coincidence, another business exhibition, this time organised by YBC. I had a stand close to the buffet table (of course!) and chatted all day to people interested in how good social media marketing can boost their business profile.  I was invited to speak on an ‘Expert Panel’ too, answering social media-related queries, and I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of incredibly interesting business-owners as a result.

Aside from the chocolate show, more fun-without-work visits to huge venues has included two trips to the O2: once with Gill to spend an evening in the company of Neil Diamond. This legend of five decades of success danced around the stage and sang in his still-sexy, unaged voice with a packed house on their feet, clapping, cheering, singing choruses.

The second time was with Sharon to view Prince’s collection of clothes, trophies and hand-written lyrics. So who do I quote today? Neil, or Prince? Prince, or Neil?

“Hello, my friend, hello.  Just called to let you know – I think about you every night when I’m here alone, and you’re there at home. Hello.”

Of course, since Mr D wrote that in 1980, no one has to feel alone. Even from across the other side of the world, it’s so easy to send a message on social media any time, day or night, night or day; letting people know you’re here – whether it’s a friend you miss, or a business prospect you’re targeting. So if you’d like social media help from a business perspective, feel free to get in touch – any time!! (I might not reply until after breakfast!) Email hello@imaginativetraining or tweet: @WeekendWitch.

Global business, LinkedIn profiles and Viking Pirate Women

Sometimes when we’re introduced to people through random conversations, we make business contacts that help us immensely in our work, but to add sugar on the top, we can build relationships that turn into valuable friendships. This has been the case with Kathryn.

A client introduced me to Kathryn a couple of years ago. (He wasn’t a client at the time; he is now). I was looking for a recommendation for a professional service, and he’d engaged her for something similar. Hence an introductory email and we were good to go.

One of the most fantastic things about our digital age is the ability to work with clients and suppliers anywhere in the world. I’ve worked with businesses across the globe from the Netherlands to Australia, via the Ukraine and USA, and my lovely team are all over the place. Kathryn hails from Sedona, a beautiful area of Arizona with russet-red mountains; an oasis of lush landscape settled like a jewel in the heart of the desert.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingKathryn’s in Europe for a couple of months, so we met up to spend a day at the Design Museum in Kensington.  I once went to the Commonwealth Institute on a school trip and this new museum stands in its place. It’s interesting – the Commonwealth Institute slowly vanished as the commonwealth itself shrunk, yet today’s displays include a history of global communication that reflects the globality of our history.

SImaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritinghe’s immensely good company, and stunned me with the title of the lecture she’ll be giving later this month at a Danish conference: Viking Pirate Women! How cool is that?! She’s an expert in medieval literature and this is an opportunity to discuss something that I, for one, don’t encounter on a daily basis. Do you?

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywriting

Doubt they looked like this in Viking times…

Princesses and queens fighting for their thrones, avenging their husbands’ executions and avoiding marriage: these are just a few of the reasons these women took to the seas – often disguised as men in order to secure their places on-board. Sounds very Game of Thrones-ish. Compared to that, we almost live in boring times. They’d have had a few tasty posts if social media had been around in those days, that’s for sure.

While Kathryn’s having fun entertaining and educating the conference delegates in Denmark, I’ll be right here in England, educating people all over the world on the effective use of LinkedIn.  In case you didn’t get my newsletter this month, I’m offering LinkedIn coaching sessions for the introductory price of only £75 – all via Skype, so you don’t have to leave your office. Or home, if you work from home. I’d prefer no pyjamas, but I’ll leave it up to you.

The session covers an awful lot for an hour, so be prepared for fast, hard work – but you’ll achieve so much! An awesome profile, improved search engine status and the ability to find the right people to help you in business. You can click here if you’d like to book a session or find out more – or to sign up to the mailing list for hints and tips on social media.

As tempting as it was to search out an 80s vintage classic Adam Ant lyric, these far less trendy words – actually quite shocking for children – flew into my mind: “We kindle and char, inflame and ignite, … we burn up the city, we’re really a fright.”  With visions of people on Tinder throwing down their reading material so they can hit the town and terrorise the community, this is a good example of the opposite image you want to portray on LinkedIn!! Agree? Let’s chat further! You can message me on LinkedIn, of course – or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Lyrics credits: Songwriters: F Xavier Atencio, George Edward Bruns · Published by: Lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

Chocolate investment, Business Junction and a stand-up comedian

My friends started a business from scratch a couple of years ago and it’s grown exceptionally well. You have heard me raving about their products – delicious, luxurious, decadent chocolates! I know a lot about chocolate, as you may have gathered – and I can tell you with full conviction, these are amazing.

Kennard’s Artisan Chocolates have won four industry awards in the past year alone: two for their triple Espresso Capsule, one for the Peanut Butter Truffle and another for their Spiced Fruit Cup. They have a range of Vegan and Kosher products, dairy-free, gluten-free, guilt-free… You’re really missing out if you haven’t tried try them. And you can – and with a discount! Because now my lovely friends are giving you the opportunity to become a stakeholder in their business.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThey’re offering three ways for people to invest. I have donated an amount via their crowdfunding page which means I’ll be delivered copious amounts of chocolate brought to me by my smiling postman. (Postwoman actually). You can also invest in the business to become a shareholder – for savvy people seeking a fast-growing enterprise in which to capitalise, this is wonderful opportunity. There’s a charity-focused option too, so take a peek at the full offering and enjoy yourself while your finances grow along with your waistline.

Thanks to the freebies they give me, and my usual cake-coated diet, it looks like my exercise bike will be getting a few more miles on the clock. Luckily for me I have some new special magic bike knickers. They have a rubbery padded bottom, a bit similar to the one I’m heading for at this rate. (No, there’s no photo of my magic knickers.)

I’ve kept up my swimming; that helps to balance the chocolate cravings. My physio agrees it’s good for my balance, and my swimming teacher, David, waivers between telling me I’m doing great (very nice for my self-esteem) and I’m rubbish (makes me laugh, so good for my overall well-being).

20663998_10155649375991255_1251140908236944038_n (1)Another reason to laugh this week was a trip to Arch 1’s comedy club to see my friend David from art class – a different David – performing his stand-up comedy routine.  It was such a funny night. He’s recently jumped on board the stand-up circuit so I expect to be seeing a lot more of him. I’ve seen a lot of him previously, in art class, this is a different seeing him. He’s really good, so if you fancy a fun night out in London you should join me sometime.

I did do a bit of work this week too… It’s not all wine, canapés and chocolate you know. I went to a Business Junction networking lunch. It was all wine and canapés (see – no chocolate!) and meeting new people of course. As well as the usual collection of accountants, IT consultants and designers, there was a very interesting guy who provides business advice based on the law of attraction. He called me afterwards and we may be working together in a few weeks once his business is ready for full marketing. I love all that.  Mark first recommended Esther and Jerry Hicks’ book in 2012 and it’s been sitting on my desk, dipped into and chocolate dripped on it for five years. We can change our worlds. And as we’re pretty much the only ones who can, we’d better get on with it.

Emeli Sandé says, “I’d be smiling if I wasn’t so desperate. I’d be patient if I had the time. I could stop and answer all of your questions, as soon as I find out how I can move from the back of the line.”

If you’re desperate about moving your business forward in line, give me a call. If you can’t find time for social media I can handle it for you – and if you generally want more time I can help you with that too. Check out my time management training and you’ll soon be smiling again. And if you know any good jokes that could give David a run for his money, tell me here: @WeekendWitch.

Networking fun, bargain books and grabbing a man where I shouldn’t (again!)

Having skipped most of my networking invitations over the past few months due to work commitments, holidays and funerals (my 101-year-old auntie!), I’m making up for lost time.

As you’ll know if you run a business, online social networking is brilliant for 101 reasons, but social media should be part of your wider marketing strategy. It’s also important to get out there in the real world and connect with people who you might like to do business with.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingSo, in the past fortnight I’ve been to four events and met some fabulous people. Of course, Networking’s not just about making new contacts. It’s about building relationships with people you already know, learning more about each other so you can recommend potential clients and remembering names and faces so they spring to mind when someone asks if you know a good accountant, designer, event planner, lawyer – or social media management company!!

Wednesday night’s barbecue overlooking the Olympic Park, high on a hotel terrace with sizzling meats, delicious salad and an abundance of bite-sized cakes, is one of my favourite business events of the year. Run by the Newham Chamber of Commerce, which is far more dynamic than it sounds, it’s more of a party than a business event. I knew loads of people, met some more that I’m sure I’ll see again and was, as ever, greedy with the chocolate brownies.

This was the scene of (one of) my most embarrassing network fails. That night five years ago when my pink suede stiletto slipped cleanly through the gap in the decking, causing me to reach out as I tumbled forward…. grabbing the closest thing to hand in order to break my fall. I grabbed hard. And the closest thing was a man.  Or rather, part of a man. A rather red-faced man!! You can imagine what I grabbed…!!

This story was recounted several times during the evening, including by people who had actually witnessed it, proving that you definitely can attend a networking event and be memorable without even trying!!

Another lovely event was Andrew Segal’s lunch in Richmond. As the sun beamed down on the sparkling river outside, we listened to Royal artist-in-residence Jeremy Houghton  talk about his incredible artworks for clients including the Queen, Aston Martin and Wimbledon. I admire such talent, especially when it goes hand in hand with a warm and engaging personality. Andrew’s latest book, Beads of Blood, is available on Amazon – you can pick up your bargain copy this week for only 99p!

The thing with a lunch or formal dinner is that you get to know the people around you quite well, but must make an effort to chat to others sitting further away, either before you sit down or after coffee. At the Hofburg Palace in Vienna last week, I learned that 18th century dinner guests were only allowed to speak to the people sitting directly on either side of them. No shouting across the table, talking over someone else or hand waving in front of your neighbour’s face. Not that people generally do that at the lovely dinners I’m invited to. But imagine if you were stuck next to two incredibly boring people and simply not allowed to talk to anyone else! A good case for musical chairs.

…Which leads me nicely into Saturday night’s excellent Sing Song Club at my local pub – the Chequers. The event was quickly thrown together as a fundraiser for the tragic Grenfell Tower victims, so it was, in a way, sadly oxymoronic that we had such fun. The band played with karaoke-style wording displayed on a giant screen, but with the clever addition of chords, so musicians in the audience could join in while the rest of us shook home-made percussion instruments and much-loved tambourines. We sang, danced and drank large glasses of Pimms.

The song that immediately sprang to mind for today’s blog was Don’t look back in anger, as we all sang along to that quite rowdily on Saturday, with Sue commandeering the mic and walloping out a tune. But actually, the lyrics aren’t at all appropriate for the severity and nature of the tragedy, so – instead – I’m not quoting anything. I’m just sending love, sympathy and hope to the victims and their families. So much has already been said, there’s nothing new to say. Let’s simply raise a glass, Pimms or otherwise, to a stronger, safer, healthier future for this shocking world, and hope and pray for the positivity needed to get England out of these dark times and back on track.

Sad songs, happy days and so you win again

It’s always a pleasure to write a winning award application, as the clients I work with are awesome and I totally believe in the services they provide. So I can write from the heart, with passion and, of course, knowledge.

18485663_10208699780441789_90201385747404553_nNordens, the fabulous accountancy firm that I always recommend, won yet another gong this week: ICAEW’s Accountancy Firm of the Year (Essex). It’s the Chartered Institute of Accountants for England and Wales, so it’s a pretty big deal.  They’ve won it before, along with various other prestigious accolades, including the British Accountancy Awards Practice of the Year for London.

I joined the team for a black-tie dinner at Stock Brook Manor Country Club. There was no dancing, but a lot of champagne and surprisingly delicious pork belly – which I’ve always steered well clear of, but my son highly recommends – so I tried it, and now I’m a convert.

18556413_1460548417342827_1240640762771653331_nWe spent the following day on a trip to Ramsgate, a small Victorian seaside town in Kent. Another lovely meal followed our walk along the beach (with brollies). Again, there was no dancing, although I was one of the first up for the coach karaoke on the way back to London. Sharon and I have a long history of duets, so we sang a couple of ‘popular numbers’ together – not our usual repertoire of 1970’s cheerful hits: Billy, don’t be a hero and Seasons in the sun. (For some reason we always sang really sad songs about people dying!!?!)

Back at the office, Nordens have displayed their latest trophy along with their many other shiny, crystal awards. I don’t have an awards table in my own office. My recent CEO of the Year Award sits alongside my Inspirational Woman trophy on a bookcase filled with art books. My collection of social media and business books are nestled onto a shelf on another bookcase (you can get some of the them here) next to trusty dictionaries and thesauruses that were staple tools of my Plain English Business Writing before the Internet made everything available without the need to reach out even a glossily painted fingertip to grab a book.

IMG_0597The bookcases overlook a garden that’s disgracefully full of weeds. I’m slowly cultivating a beautiful outdoor space but it takes time. I’d really prefer a garden like the one I visited yesterday at Ayot St Lawrence’s Manor House. The Tudor property is my dream home, set in my dream garden – complete with azure pool (now I can swim!), tennis court (it’s been a long time), an orchard, vegetable gardens and the most exquisite displays of flowers all around.

When I got home I googled to find out who lives in such a glorious home.  Such a small world – the first people I spoke to about the garden said, “Oh yes, they’re our friends. They used to live next door!” Now, I’m not normally an envious person, and I don’t hashtag anything unless it’s in the appropriate place (Twitter, where relevant and useful, and Instagram, where expected) – however, just for today… #jealous.

This is the Terry Jacks song I was talking about earlier; please note that I didn’t choose the lyrics ‘too much wine and too much song’ even though they are probably more appropriate this week! “You gave me love and helped me find the sun., and every time that I was down you would always come around, and get my feet back on the ground.”

I can help you get your business feet on the ground, if that’s what you need – or I can help you spread your wings and fly. Without social media, who knows you’re there? (Are you there??) I’m here: @WeekendWitch.

 

Seasons in the sun: Writer: Brel, JR, Copyright: Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Carlin America Inc.

No social media strategy, pushing boundaries and taking a giant leap

The Isle of Mull is a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland. In fact, beautiful is an understatement.  I’ve been to various Caribbean islands with foamy waves atop azure seas, and walked the rugged Cornish coastline in all weathers, yet the pure, unspoilt loveliness of Mull is unrivalled.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingMarion and I spent last weekend there – supposedly to work on client social media strategies, but, in reality, to clear our minds (without being overly-mindful), eat fresh seafood and meet interesting people over a glass (or two) of red wine.

We trekked through hilltop forests filled with giant rhododendron bushes and stunning waterfalls, drove across vast areas of prehistoric landscape and stepped carefully across ancient white beaches that make the Bahamas seem dull – teeming with birds that she can identify and I had to squint to see.

One of the most impressive people we met was a young woman working in the castle giftshop. She and her new husband gave up high pressured jobs in London to buy a motorhome, and they travel around the country stopping wherever they fancy. They’re in Mull for the summer, as they love its beauty and calmness – although that may change once the influx of tourists hits in high season. They’ve pitched up in someone’s garden and live a simple life – working at the castle while enjoying a life that’s free from reliance on possessions and material goods.

Talk about a leap and a half. It was a brave and bold move, but the opportunity arose and they grabbed it with twenty fingers. I admire that. (You’re also brave if you’re running a business without a social media strategy! Maybe not so bold though…)

Back in London, I spent an afternoon at the Tate Modern, catching up with an old friend for lunch then laughing together at Wolfgang Tillman’s photographic exhibition.  I have to admit that it wasn’t my favourite art display, although kudos to him for achieving a glittering career that has led him to one of the foremost galleries in the world. The contemporary works are described as an exhibition that “pushes the boundaries.” Hmmm…

Another cultural event this week also almost pushed boundaries…. A trip to the theatre to see The Girls, Gary Barlow’s musical based on the Calendar Girls’ story: the WI ladies who stripped naked for a charity calendar. It was quite enjoyable, although a bunch of 60-something women stripping off on stage is a bit ‘different.’ That story was fantastic though – the real one, I mean. Eleven members of the Women’s Institute who normally displayed flowers, cakes and pots of home-made jam, getting their kits off to raise money.  It worked – they have successfully raised over £5million for leukaemia research!

I was almost tempted to end this blog with ‘Calendar Girl’ lyrics, and I’m pretty sure as I flicked through the Evening Standard last week it said Neil Sedaka is doing another concert – but no. It’s too much. Anyway, many people seem to think the following lyrics were written about The Isle of Mull, but they weren’t.  They were written about another (apparently) gorgeous place, by Paul McCartney (the one Gill and I met, but that’s another story in another blog).

“Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain still take me back where my memories remain. Flickering embers go higher and higher.” If your business is a bit of a flickering ember and you’d like to fan the flame, give me a call to chat about how social media marketing can help. Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

PS I know someone will email me to say it’s 16 fingers and four thumbs!

LinkedIn testimonials, aerodynamics and making a smash

I’m learning to swim! You may be shocked at this admission, but it’s true.  Some of my friends – mainly Gill and Mark, who have both rescued me from the sea in summers gone by, will be relieved. I made this decision on the spur of the moment, then two years later Sue called to recommend her friend David, a one-to-one teacher who gets in the water and stops your hips from sinking – even if you have just eaten a whole bag of Selfridges’ macarons.

I could kind-of swim a bit. I mean I could get across the width of a pool flapping gracelessly and with about as much technique as a handbag. So, my first lesson was a success. I floated aerodynamically, blew bubbles underwater, then performed a rudimentary kind of backstroke. David seemed pleased. I certainly was.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI learned my kind-of swimming in Florida when I was 15. Terrified of getting my face splashed, my cousin Harry taught me to close my eyes, put my face in the water and float like Marina. (Gerry Anderson’s marionette.  Possibly a subconscious purchase, I do have a very similar dress to hers: aquamarine, beaded and floaty. But then I also have a Star Trek uniform like Marina Sirtis, and I don’t much fancy the idea of intergalactic flight.) Anyway, that’s how I did it for the next 10 or so years, until I forgot and reverted to panicky sploshing around.

Dating a Masters swimmer and boat-owner changed all that. Last year, on a particularly wet and dismal afternoon at Rutland Water, muscles aching from clenching in fear and fingernails ragged as they smashed against the mast, I was convinced I was going to die. As the boat tipped 44 degrees and I prepared to make a splash, I became determined to conquer my fear of water.  Really, as any good Scorpion should!

Last week I was wined and dined on the 32nd floor of Canary Wharf.  Actually, that sentence borders on exaggeration and artistic licence; no red wine, I was driving later, But he drank Beaujolais, so that counts. We were discussing social media training sessions and the popularity of LinkedIn training.  I love working with business owners on a one-to-one basis to create outstanding profiles and show them how to maximise the benefits of LinkedIn for business.

The views are always great from Canary Wharf, and this time we had the added bonus of window cleaners rising up before us as they haphazardly wiped their cloths across the reinforced glass. That’s not a job for someone who doesn’t like heights. It confirmed my earlier assertion that I’m better in the water than I would be in the sky.

I can’t think of any songs about swimming, so in my mind I’ve been sifting through the many songs I know about boats. Although being terrified and getting soaked and frozen to the bone may be fun, I do love lazing about with a picnic watching them elegantly glide by. So Otis Redding’s lyrics may be more in keeping. “Sitting in the morning sun, I’ll be sitting when the evening’s done. Watching the ships roll in, then I’ll watch ‘em roll away again.”  And at least if I fall off the dock, I will be able to backstroke smoothly to shore.

I don’t know if my swimming teacher is on LinkedIn, but his website is full of excellent testimonials.  I’ve worked with so many people who are reluctant, scared or shy to ask for a testimonial, but it’s so incredibly important in these days of customers’ preoccupation with online reviews. If you’d like a ten minute chat to boost your confidence with regard to LinkedIn testimonials, give me a call on 020 8551 7077, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.