If you follow me on Instagram (@severnsidemum), you’ll know that I’ve been a very lucky and busy bee this week. Not only did my beautiful sister get married (more on that in a future post), but I attended my first two networking events as a freelancer.
Firstly, I went to The Forge in Bristol; a stunning, open space with views over the city run by the lovely Silkie, to Social Butterflies’ first ever event. It was hosted by Amy, who has (very) recently started Freelancing and is the owner of https://wearesocialbutterflies.com/ Its a great website, with interesting and creative content; a space for women to learn about the digital world, help each other and progress creatively. Amy had a successful career at The Guardian, before moving to Bristol when she had her children. This was the first event that she’s ever put on and to say it was a huge success would be a massive understatement!
She had Hayley Southwood (from Southwood Stores https://southwood-stores.myshopify.com/ and Southwood Social Hub) as a guest speaker, who was majorly inspirational. If you haven’t listened to her, I really suggest finding out where she’s talking next. Her life story is wide-ranging and you can’t help but be moved by her story. As someone who is moving from one career and regenerating into something new, I found her tip to ‘pivot’ a breath of fresh air. When we left, she asked if I’d walk her to the car park (she lives miles away) and I took the opportunity to speak to her 1-1. It felt like one of those moments that you mustn’t waste or mess up! Let’s just say, I’ll be chasing the dream.
We listened to Hayley talk and then had 15 minutes where we had to make three new connections, in a quick “speed chat” kinda way. I was dreading it, but it was great. I met some lovely women, learnt about new businesses that are local to me and expanded my own knowledge about alternative primary education. It’s amazing who you meet if you put yourself out there. We were treated to a beautiful, printed goodie bag with some fab treats in, which was just the icing on the cake.
On Thursday night (I know: I never go out and then I go out twice on the trot! Don’t worry, I’m feeling it) I drove up the M5 to the stunning Cowley Manor http://www.cowleymanor.com/ I have never been to a hotel quite like it. It’s about two miles off the main road and the track feels like you’re heading to the middle of nowhere! Just when I was wondering if I’d gone wrong (as per!), I came across a beautiful Manor House, complete with lake, grounds and church in the grounds. After having a shocker trying to park and walk in heels (told you!), I arrived at Cara Sutherland (https://withinthesewallsblog.com/) ,Kate from Cheltenham Maman (http://cheltenhammaman.co.uk/) and Infiltrend’s Instagram event. I’ve been using Instagram for a while now and thought who better to learn from than these these ladies! Both Cara and Kate are people who I follow and read their blogs on a daily basis, so it was super exciting to meet them face to face. I picked up some fab, technical tips for improving how I use Instagram and enjoyed a delicious tea party, too. Again, we networked and chatted and met some great new connections and friends.
Kate and Cara led the event with humour, honesty and integrity; it was an inspiring evening, not to mention the ladies’ loos were blooming gorgeous! I was a very lucky lady to leave with the most amazing goodie bag – why did party bags ever die out of adults’ parties?! Definitely the way forward.
So, why have I been gallivanting on week nights to these events, you may wonder? Well, mainly, because I am loving using social media as a means to reach out and connect with new people. Being a stay at home mum can be lonely at times, and these new friends have been a saviour. My work for Mama Tribe (www.mamatribe.uk) has allowed me to make a lot of new friends, but they’re all behind the screen, so I wanted to get out there (so to speak) and actually connect on a human level. It was terrifying. I’m not going to lie, I was really scared to walk into new places and I felt a bit like a fraud, but I left both feeling like I belonged.
I’m, also, really keen to develop my own business in time (lots of time) and so wanted to listen to those who’ve made it work; any advice is really welcome. The world of blogging and social media is still so new, in some ways, and when you move into it from a completely different field it can be daunting. It’s also quite difficult to explain it to people who don’t use it; so I was really keen to see the people behind the posts. I couldn’t stop smiling on the journeys home and will definitely be attending more in future.
Good old Sheryl Crow was right: a change can do you good.