Monday, 13 May 2013

The Athena Network's INSPIRE conference

I have had a completely productive day today and I have the Athena Network to thank for that after attending their motivational INSPIRE conference on Friday.

As well as rubbing shoulders with hundreds of successful businesswomen, we were treated to excellent speakers who were educational and informative.

First of all, we met the lovely Jacqueline Rogers who is just so much more wonderful in real life than I'd realised.

Here's a picture by photographer Dianna Bonner here:

Pictured from left: Freelance writer and PR Margaret McDonnell (looking terrible here!), Lorna Smith of TopMarks Health Insurance (WPA); Carolyn Whitehouse from Fifth Avenue Jewellery; Jacqueline Rogers founder of The Athena Network; Lis Allen motivational speaker; Claire Plumridge from Olio Photography; Claire Stevens from Keeps Printing and Debbie Miles regional director for West Berkshire.

Onto the speakers, and the first was my favourite and made me have a good think about my sales skills (of lack thereof).

Lara Morgan built and sold 99% of Pacific Direct, a luxury toiletries company for £20 million!

Here are some of her words of wisdom:

“Don’t leave boring voicemail messages – who is going to call those back? Be energetic!”

“Build memorable relationships and do your fact-finding before you start selling”.

“When you deliver a successful pitch, write down what it was that you did so you can keep improving”.

“Strive with pride to be the best. You know you’re doing well when you have sweaty knickers”!!!

“Choose your life, plan it and make it happen.”

Miranda Ballard talked about grace and femininity in business and shared the story of how she and her husband started Muddy Boots Real Foods Ltd in December 2008. Although I'm a vegetarian, I shall be hunting down their products in Waitrose for MrM who would move to the countryside to be a farmer himself given half a chance.

Hattie Hasan started Stopcocks Plumbing (!)and talked about her rise from plumber to international businesswoman. I'm reading her book at the moment and it's particularly useful for me in my business career at the moment. What's more, some of the proceeds from her book support a water charity in Kenya.

So great to see the metamorphosis from a worker to someone who has franchised their business and had honest things to say about the low moments and about wanting to give up sometimes!

Kimberly Davis who appeared in the Apprentice a few years ago talked on Marketing and gave these reasons why your marketing is not working for you:

- "Businesses don't have a blueprint for your business. You wouldn’t get into your car to drive without knowing where you’re going.”

- "You're trying to do everything in the business. Focus on what you're good at and delegate the rest".

Miti Ampoma is an award-winning business communication specialist, and talked about putting the soul back into businesses communications.

“Customers like their businesses to do three things; act ethically, treat customers and employees properly and contribute to the community.”

“Don’t repeat gossip – be a rock!”

“Develop relationships through shared interests outside work.”

Thank you Jacqueline Rogers, the founder of the Athena Network for letting me be a part of it!

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