Friday, 26 August 2016

#Emotions Are What Makes Face to Face Best!

Holidays are over and I have been back networking over the last week. Meeting people for one to one  catch ups over coffee; attending structured business networking events with like minded women; holding small get together with former colleagues.

Every opportunity has rekindled my passion for entertaining relationships face to face rather than on line. I must admit, I am quite fond of social media and I like to tweet regularly and update my LinkedIn account.

Yet, never mind the number of likes and followers, every time I attend a meeting or have a face to face networking event I deeply relish and enjoy the opportunity to get to know other people and find out how others work and do things; what people are interested in and what they are up to.
True, as human being we are 'social animals' and enjoy the contact and engagement with others. But what exactly makes face to face networking so much more compelling than social and virtual networking?

To me, it is all about finding out who we really are . When people sit or stand in front of you, when dialogue opens, a joke and a laugh are shared, people feel they are getting the authentic you. 

It is very hard to convey the same feeling in the virtual world....Emotions make up a hugely important part of that encounter. Whether somebody is going to remain engaged in the conversation with you is often dictated by emotions that are displayed, the feeling conveyed, and the way we make them feel.

It is our emotions, our emotional intelligence,  that engages with people, over and above our expertise or reputation. By attending events and engaging with people in person we give others a quick glimpse of who we are, perhaps a slice of ourselves. That is the biggest present we can offer to people and the one that will be remembered at a time when a specific expertise is called for.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Summer of #Inspiration, Women Through the Lens Sarah Clayton Turner

Sarah Clayton Turner is my guest blogger this week. I have known Sarah for a while as we share an interest in Women and also in the Travel Industry. Sarah tells us about her business and her work life.

1. Please tell us what you do  

I started my own business seven years ago providing primarily marketing consultancy to small and medium sized travel companies who are looking to expand their marketing activity in the travel industry, whether it be B2B or B2C.  This includes brand development, web site traffic growth, advertising, strategic marketing consulting, including marketing plans, PR, event management, business development and copywriting. So it’s very varied.  I have worked in travel for the best part of 20 years now, starting off in tour operators and then bed banks and even a travel recruitment company but always working in the Marketing department.  I am also on the board of the Association of Women Travel Executives, so my role of Website and Communications Director also keeps my busy.  I’m also a mum of a five year old, so you can imagine that also keeps me on my toes!

2. What does a typical day look like?

A typical day for me starts of with a quick email check as soon as I wake up (yes I’m one of those!), as one of my clients is based in Dubai, which means a time difference so I may have received emails during the night.  Once I’ve packed my daughter off to school it’s back to my laptop to action anything urgent and get on with my day.  There’s no ‘typical’ day, literally everyday is different depending on which client I’m working for and whichever project is currently underway!  However, laptop closes at 3pm to do the school run, sort out various clubs that she attends and then dinner.  Once she’s in bed and calm has been restored, very often the laptop comes out again to continue work in the evening if deadlines are looming.

3. What are the best things and more challenging things about your career?

The best thing about my career is the industry I work in.  I adore the travel industry - I have made some fabulous contacts over the years, many of which have become very good friends over the years.  But equally working for yourself has a lot of benefits, flexibility being the main one; having the freedom to be a mum as well as uphold my career.  The more challenging part of running your own business is ensuring you have enough work. Equally you are always ‘on call’.  Work never stops, so I’m always checking emails and taking my laptop on holidays!  Also, as we all know, marketing can be one of the first areas of a business to see cuts when times get tough, so it can also be challenging trying to explain to businesses that they need to remain visible and continue promoting themselves when they want to cut marketing budgets.

4. What would you recommend to a younger colleague wanting to start her career in your area or sector of expertise??

The best advice I can offer a younger colleague wishing to start your career is network!  It can be daunting to begin with, entering a room full of people who seem to all know each other.  Truth is, yes they probably do but everyone is just as keen to make new contacts…so put your ‘brave knickers’ on and just get stuck in!  My business would be nothing without my contacts.   So try and attend as many events as possible.  AWTE is a great source of networking, often running informal free networking events (which is rare these days) as well as more formal development sessions.  

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Best Person for the #Job or the Best #Woman for the Job?

I have been discussing this topic with a senior male executive recently.

He said that, when it comes to hiring, his wish is that the job is eventually assigned to the best person for the job. This means that nobody should really pay any attention to gender, sexual inclination, race or religion, but simply to the mix of expertise, experience, mind-set and skills that make that individual the most suitable for the job.

I think this is absolutely ‘fair enough’ and can hardly be disputed. However, I would take it a step further by saying that the right person for the job cannot be found unless it sought among a variety of backgrounds, gender, communities etc. that mirror the diversity in our societies and also in our customers and audiences, supplier base and colleagues.

Thus, I would argue that unless the recruitment process provides access to a range of candidates that include women as well as men, and women and men of different races and backgrounds, the recruitment will not produce an outcome that is representative of what we see out there in the real world.

The male executive I was discussing with agreed that ‘it would be a very sad workplace indeed the one where only white, middle class men were appointed to senior roles and to the board’. But, unfortunately this kind of places still exists in my experience and in-fact one hears of too many executive recruitment processes in which diversity is not identified as a key criteria at the outset.

People say that ‘women candidates for senior roles’ are hard to find and that is probably true for a number of reasons that go from lack of self-confidence to lack of networking and everything else in between. But this only increases the need for women/diversity and for candidates who are sought not just from the obvious places but from more imaginative ones.

In particular, let’s not only consider candidates that have been brought up doing the same role in the very same sector but at a competitor’s company. Or candidates that have a totally linear career, no breaks and no pauses, whether for childcare, elderly care or any other ‘non-professional’ reason. Or candidates that only come from a handful of universities…and so on.  

This approach is inevitably more challenging of the 'status quo' and probably means more hard work and out of the box thinking for those involved, but it has more chances to produce a long-list and a short-list of candidates that is really diverse and inclusive. Indeed it is quite possible that, with this approach, the right person for the job may ultimately be the right woman for the job.

That to me would be the right step in the right direction.

I would love to hear from you people out there, particularly those involved in executive recruitment, about your experiences of short lists and long lists and how much diversity is pushed from companies when it comes to senior candidates. Can we make the right person for the job the right woman for the job?

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.