Are you a networker?

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Those of us who have businesses or blogs, should allocate time to build relationships with others in our field. Not only will this enlarge our knowledge base but it will take us out of our comfort zone.  We cannot isolate ourselves from those who potentially could open a door for us or visa versa. 

The introvert in me likes the idea of networking behind a screen as then I can communicate on my terms. However, I am learning that networking online is simply not enough. I need to attend bloggers events, business events and show my face to the world.  There are millions of small businesses and bloggers all over the world. It can be a challenge to showcase your skills to a world which is exposed to blogs and small businesses all day, every day.

I have joined several forums on LinkedIn and Facebook where I participate in group discussions and critique where asked. I do not know any group members on a face to face level but feel I have built a rapport with those who are regulars. In the process of sharing my blog content, my confidence has grown. I am open to comments, most are positive whilst others pose questions which go on to challenge me as a blogger.

There is a London Bloggers Ball taking place in June 2016. I often read about the ins and outs of it on Twitter. The excitement from fellow bloggers is contagious – it seems this really  is the place to be! 

A part of me thinks;

“It may serve me well to attend.  Who knows who I could bump into.”

Then my thoughts run into;

“You are not an established blogger. This event will be full of bloggers who have 1000+ followers, won awards, spoken on radio and large events.”

On occasion, I feel out of my depth as I try to “find” my place in this ginormous blogging pool. Perhaps I need to take on the mindset that though there are many of “us”, there is still a place for me to share my thoughts to those who have a keen interest.

I conclude that whether I attend the Bloggers Ball or not, I know I must continue to engage with others online and at events.  There is much to gain by networking and I must be a part of this in order to increase my readership and followers. 

How often do you network online and in person? 

Do you naturally gravitate towards networking? 

Do you understand its benefits?  

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The highs and lows of blogging!

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I have been blogging for nearly two years, somehow it seems far longer! I came to the point where I was itching to put my thoughts on paper. I felt I had something to share with others and it would be a way of expressing myself without verbally speaking.

It did not dawn on me there were thousands (perhaps millions) of bloggers who had created their websites years before me. Through LinkedIn and twitter I began to network with these bloggers who appeared to “know their game” while I as a complete amateur looked on. I wondered if they ever felt like amateurs – likened to the shy/nervous child looking on from the edge while their peers played happily and confidently. 

I absolutely love the networking and rapport building side of blogging. I enjoy rubbing shoulders with those who have impeccable writing skills and are knowledgeable about their field.  I have found most to be humble; always willing to advise and encourage others.

At times I feel “lost” in the world of blogging as I am one of many. The bloggers I come across are established and have thousands of followers and readers.  On twitter it is difficult to stand out and build your audience unless you practically live on there. I simply do not have the time as I hold down a full-time job, run a make up business, raise a family and am in church leadership. As a result I dip in and out of twitter and therefore appear inconsistent. Perhaps I should allocate a 20 minute slot in the morning and afternoon – at the very least I will have a routine. 

I often reflect on my blog and wonder what impact it is having on the lives of others. This is highly important to me and I always hold on to the notion that even if just one person resonates with my blog, then it is serving it’s purpose. 

The more I write, the more my skills improve. The more I read literature and blogs, the more I am challenged to take my blog to the next level. What I am saying in essence is, I am committed to blogging and will do all I can to develop my skills and create a niche for myself.

If you are a blogger, what compelled you to start a blog? 

How do you ensure your blogs stay fresh and interesting? 

What do you do when you run out of content ideas? 

Where does your passion lay?

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What moves you, shakes you, angers you; cruelty to children, cruelty to animals, poverty, education, politics?

I believe we all have at least one passion which stirs up inside of us. As far back as we can remember, we have felt pulled to this cause and are willing to state this in the presence of just about anyone. 

Passion pushes us to move and to take action. It may mean standing alone at times but we are willing to do this. The cause means more to us than the way in which we are perceived by friends and family.

I have a number of passions, the main being;

1. Injustice – I struggle with people being mistreated and with anything which appears to be underhand or unfair.

2. Cruelty to children – I recall the first time I watched the NSPCC advert with Kate Bush’s song, “This Woman’s Work” playing in the background. This had a major impact on me and opened my eyes up to the fact that children are being mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused all over the world.

3. Poverty – seeing or hearing of people going without the necessities of life affects me. A warm, clean home with food on the table and clothes on our back is something many of us take for granted. 

4. The environment – I have little time for inconsiderate people who allow their dogs to foul on public walk ways, who spit and drop litter on the streets. It creates an unhygienic, sometimes dangerous and grim environment.

I look at protestors who are even willing to die for their cause. They do not fear death at all. Their focus is on making a point, making a statement whether political or otherwise. You may argue that some have been brainwashed and perhaps they have to a certain extent. However, in their eyes they are standing firm in what they believe. 

Passion can make us rather shortsighted therefore we need to use wisdom, acknowledging that it will not always be well received by others. There is a time and place and we must know when to move and when to stay still. 

What are you passionate about?

How far are you willing to go to fight your cause?

Dealing with the mundane tasks in life

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Last week, I cleared the used dinner plates before washing the dishes as my husband tapped away on his laptop. I recall thinking;

“I would rather be doing anything but this.”

“What life must be like for those who are free from housework; washing the dishes, cleaning, ironing – the whole shebang.”

I think, actually I know it was the rice grains splattered all over the kitchen floor that set me off. My toddler son has not quite mastered the art of keeping his meals above table level!

Do not get me started on washing clothes. I am either loading or unloading the washer dryer. I wash at least one load a day to avoid a pile up and the basket is still rarely empty. It is an ongoing battle and I should really accept that running a home is a juggling act. 

In my opinion, there are far more interesting tasks that I could be getting on with.  Perhaps having this mindset whilst carrying out my household duties is somewhat of a stumbling block. It clouds my mind and brings out a little resentment and feelings of “woe is me”. 

My husband does more than his fair share in the home so I cannot complain.  We are also teaching our children to tidy up after themselves, which of course helps us but will also set them up for the future.   Self sufficiency is important amongst men and women.  I have heard a number of cases where 18+ year olds on university campus cannot wash clothes, clean or cook.  They were never taught as children so have no clue. 

As mundane as these tasks may be, they are essential in order for us to function. The attitude we have whilst approaching these tasks can make all the difference.

I mentioned in a much earlier blog post (maybe six months or so) that listening to music, audio bible or a teaching helps me stay focused.  The noise keeps me company as I like to do housework alone but feel cut off from my family members. 

What is your approach to dealing with the mundane? 

How confident are you in saying no?

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Are you confident in saying no?

I am assertive in saying no when I can give a valid reason why. In a situation where I am invited to an occasion or asked for a favour and have nothing preventing me from doing so, I struggle. I tend to feel the need to justify myself and end up over explaining as a result. No doubt, this annoys the other person as much as it does me!

I am far more assertive at work than when at home. I put on my professional hat and focus on getting the job done. I am clear about what I need and what I am willing and able to give. 

Recently, I was asked for an ongoing favour from an old friend. I took a few days to ponder on it. Deep down I knew it was neither practical or sustainable – that if I had agreed; it would have created problems and could possibly impact on the relationship I had with the person. I said no, giving a clear reason. I felt uneasy and occasionally wondered how the person would now view me but I knew it was the right decision.

I have reflected on why I feel uncomfortable in saying no.  Reasons include; 

1. As a Christian I believe I am called to go over and above and not be led by my emotions and own selfish needs.

2. Wanting to please others and meet their need, often doing so to my own detriment. This derives from low self esteem which I am working on. It has been a long but worthwhile journey.

I like to walk with integrity and believe you should carry out what you have committed to unless of course an emergency occurs which prevents one from doing so. It is this same principle which holds me to my word. If I have said yes, then I will do my upmost to meet this. 

Having a good heart is of equal importance. It is pointless and unfruitful being of service to another if we do not have a genuine willingness and correct attitude. Feelings of resentment will follow.

It is therefore important that you do not commit yourself flippantly and go back on your word. It is always best to say no rather than “going with the moment”. Giving thought rather than rushing in helps!

Are you confident to say no? 

Does it depend on who is doing the asking? 

Patience – do you desire it?

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Patience is not only about enduring but maintaining a good attitude whilst you endure. Our patience is tested on a daily basis; often when we are dealing with people.

I stumbled across this quote;

“Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

There were specific periods in my life where I became greatly disappointed and dispondent due to not receiving what I felt I had earnt or deserved.  I am an ordered person and like to plan, plan, plan. There were times I did not allow for setbacks and delays. Inpatience and a lack of gratitude soon kicked in. You see, when you are solely focused on meeting a need or desire, you are often blinded by the blessings that have come your way.  You can even overlook people due to being all consumed with your wants and needs.

I have spoken with a few people about patience in order to gain an understanding of the different views we hold. One or two people felt that because they had suffered hardship and setbacks, this meant they had patience. I do not believe this to be true. If we desire particular things in life, say marriage, a house or a high flying career and are waiting years for these to come forth – this does not equate to patience. In most cases, we have no choice but to wait.  There are particular desires that with all the will in the world, we cannot bring them forth in our own strength.

You cannot then confess to having patience as you had no other alternative but to wait. It is important that we choose to maintain a good attitude whilst we are “in waiting.” This shows a true sense of character and gives us such freedom. Also we can still enjoy life in the meantime. Life does not stop because we have not yet received our heart’s desires – it moves on and so should we. 

How do you maintain a good attitude whilst waiting?
Does this depend on how long you have waited?

How much do you utilise apps/systems to assist with planning?

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Abraham Lincoln quoted;

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first four, sharpening the axe.”

However good a person’s intentions, if something is not planned for, it is rarely carried out. Though technology is supposedly making our lives easier, it also means we are spending ample time planning as much as we do on tackling the actual task. 

I use a number of apps, software and spreadsheets in order to keep track of my projects at home and at work. It is work in itself monitoring the process of each project or even keeping your calendar (mobile and hand held diary) up to date. On reflection I feel that the average person is far busier today than say 20 years ago.  Technology has developed so much that we can reach people via countless social media platforms at any time of the day. This of course, has it’s advantages and disadvantages. 

I would struggle to keep on top of my projects, meetings, social events if I was without my mobile and hand held diary. I rely on my mobile to prompt me for the most basic of actions. As in “call Denise” or “make an appointment at the doctor’s surgery”. I am confident I would remember high priority tasks but there is no need to when I have systems in place to assist me.

Everything is becoming more fast paced and we are able to attain what we need in seconds. At times the influx of information fed to us can be overwhelming but there is room to switch off from “the world”. That is, if we really have the desire to. 

Do you heavily rely on technology to keep you on track? Which apps or software do you use?

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!