So, by the time we had heard the 3 excellent speakers, we had some networking to do before lunch.
We were divided into a number of groups, and each group was allocated a room.
There we spent about 5-10 minutes with 3 other business women, and we shared a little bit about our business, exchanged business cards, and connected. We then moved into different groups, to connect with more people, but not too rushed or forced. I much prefer this type of networking to the one-to-one “you-must-cram-everything-in-to-about-2-sentences-and-don’t-really-have-time-to-listen-to-the-other-person-before-your-time-is-up” type of networking.
Lunch at the Hilton, Belfast was delicious, and gave us a chance to further mingle and chat. On the way back up to the afternoon sessions I was able to chat to one of our morning speakers …. Lara Morgan …. and I didn’t realise quite how much more I would interact with her later in the day.
Workshops / Parallel Breakout Sessions
In the afternoon there were a number of workshops, and the highlight for me was attending Eleanor McEvoy‘s workshop on “Engaging Your Customer”. She shared her story leading up to how she has taken on the traditional energy suppliers in Northern Ireland with her company Budget Energy, and challenged us to give her anything to sell. Without thinking too much about it, my hand shot up, and I offered her one of my handknitted cuff bracelets which I just “happened” to be wearing from the 2nd row.
Eleanor shared it’s features and benefits, negotiated a discount I was prepared to offer if a number of the audience purchased, and asked the audience to help in describing and selling it. Seated in the front row was our morning speaker, Lara Morgan, who loved it, tried it on and modelled it.
A variety of other businesses then went on to offer up their products/services for the “Eleanor” sales treatment and also got some great advice and feedback.
Later in the afternoon, Lara approached me and asked to buy the very knitted cuff I was wearing – of course I was delighted, if a multi-millionaire entrepreneur loves your creation it is a great feeling! Lara kindly agreed to pose wearing her new Janmary Designs purchase, which I duly added to Facebook and Twitter.
Quite a few other members of the audience came up to chat to me about it later, so the word on the Janmary Design brand is spreading!
For my friends who hadn’t yet heard of Lara, there was an added bonus and a bit more social media mileage out of her purchase when she appeared as the business expert 6 days later on the BBC “The Apprentice – You’re Fired” programme! Couldn’t quite see if she was wearing my cuff under her jacket sleeve, but I like to think she was!!!
Final Afternoon Session
The final session of the conference was by Dr Maureen Gaffney, a clinical psychologist and author, who spoke on “Balancing Your Working Life”
Unfortunately I was fading fast by this point of the day, and we were running slightly over schedule, so Dr Gaffin probably didn’t get quite the time or attention she deserved, but her presentation was about the fascinating scientific statistics on how to flourish (scientifically!) in life.She talked about not just your IQ but your EQ (Emotional Intelligence) was important – your ability to understand self and interact and cooperate with others. There was lots about how your brain is constantly moniroring your responses to people and situations as positive and negative, and how the balance needs to be at least 3 positivies for every negative to feel “ordinary”. Below that you will be languishing, and if you can experience at least 5 positives for every negative you can flourish.
Lots more of what Dr Gaffin said was fascinating, but at this stage my brain had about reached capacity, so my note-taking stopped making sense at this point! So that is all I have to share!!
So there you have it – my 2 part summary on the Women in Business conference.
An impressive line-up of inspirational but not intimidating speakers, and more than 300 women keen to connect, learn and do business here in N Ireland.