For the first time in my life I feel like an actual business woman! Its funny, I’ve been to countless breakfast briefings whilst employed and been in the presence of highflying professional confident men and women before. I always felt a bit like a year 7 on the first day of high school, wearing a hand me down school blazer – a very small fish in a very big pond with something that didn’t fit quite right! I didn’t really network at these events, the only people I spoke to were the ones that were the there to professionally work the room, cool as cucumbers their sales patter slipping off their tongues as I stood there and nodded and smiled politely. Yesterday I attended the SPEDI Meet-A-Mentor Event at the Baltic. And I genuinely think this event might have changed my life! Or certainly given me what I needed in order to bring my plans to fruition! Unfamiliar with the event, I had looked up the IOEE and the kind of work they do. I like the look out of their website, and I think becoming a mentor is definitely something I would like to do further down the line when I have both life and business experience a bit more in abundance than my 32 years and 4 months respectively! Walking into the room, being given a name badge and told which table to sit at my stomach dropped and the nerves kicked in a bit! my table looked a little intimidating at first but when I sat down the two men were quick to introduce themselves and shake my hand and make me feel more at ease. The other mentees had the same startled rabbit look I first did but after some chit chat everyone seemed to relax a little! The aim of the day was to meet a mentor and to do this we were to chat with a mentor for 10 minutes, then there was an informative speech by SPEDI and then move on to the next mentor and more chat! The first chat both myself and the mentor, his first time as a mentor, were nervous and conversation wasn’t initially free flowing but he gave me some good suggestions for increasing my use of Linked In. The next mentor was from Barclays Bank and a bit more confident this time I was really able to get in the flow and sell myself for the first time. She told me that I was clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about my business, and I spoke with conviction that is sure to help my business succeed. I suddenly felt like I was flying! I am very passionate about GA Bookkeeping NE and the Northumberland Mumpreneurs and it felt nice to be acknowledged for it! The mentors all seemed very impressed with my plans for both ventures! The final mentor on my table was Dave Howarth, Business Manager with Barclays Bank who had travelled up from Hull for the occasion. We talked about value and he also advised me to pop into my own bank, introduce myself to the local business manager and build up a relationship, leave business cards and regularly pop back in. He said I would probably be surprised at how many leads I could get! So that is now high up on my every increasing to-do list. Next I spoke to Marianne Raine of Red Whippet Ltd. We talked about Linked in, about utilising the iNorthumberland service for online learning for new businesses which she teaches a class on tendering. We also talked about value, about how I am a professional with professional qualifications and should value myself as such, not undersell my services! I think I am going to look at this in more detail I know people like to know costs upfront, who doesn’t want to know how much they have to pay out for a service before they commit to that service! Her recommendation was to have a tiered system, maybe bronze silver and gold levels of service. Definitely food for thought! After a lovely buffet it was time to regroup with fellow Northumberland Mumpreneurs Cherri Bray-Bowden, Angela Purves of Monkey Mayhem Softplay Hire and Kelly Wood of Kellys Kakes and head home to process the information overload!
So now I am left pondering what it is I want from a mentor, what particular skill I require, what guidance or support I would benefit most from? In all honesty I don’t know! Perhaps on a personal level I got what I wanted out of the event, the speaking practice and the confidence boosting! I know for definite that I would like to be a mentor, perhaps I need mentoring to be a mentor? It would be a mentor mentoring a mentee to be a mentor! Get your tongue round that one! I think I might use my new lifetime affiliate membership of the IOEE to investigate that one further….