A year ago today
On 31 January 2017, I went into the office for the last time (delivering my final Excel pivot-table mentoring session as a parting gift!). 12 years after joining global PR agency Hill+Knowlton Strategies, I’d decided it was time I said goodbye to many great colleagues and said hello to…..ummm, I wasn’t actually sure what! I just knew it was my moment for change.
It didn’t take long (once I’d completed the final series of ‘Prison Break’!) to realise I needed to get out and start meeting people to discover my next move. London had always been my work stomping-ground, but since moving to Hove with my family, here was the chance to build my Sussex network. So a serial networker I became! I did some talking but mostly a lot of listening – hearing inspiring stories, mainly from women, about their fascinating independent careers and how they’d got there.
What happened next?
A couple of months in, I got lucky (is it luck though? Don’t we make our own?) and was offered my first taste of freelance data analysis work – something I’d not fully considered – with the fantastic team at Red Setter. This gave me confidence in my skills and experience garnered from my 20+ year career. Project completed, my mind was set – I was ready to make the leap from corporate, global ‘we’ (always starting my sentences with “we at XY company believe…”) to one of me (using a scary but exhilarating new phrase, “I recommend you…”).
Part of my retraining in all things freelance included an excellent workshop organised by the Brighton Chamber of Commerce, culminating in a one-hour mentoring session. I credit that single meeting to things really getting started – in his words, I needed to just “get out there and start talking to clients”…. so I did! And from there, my company Bon Insight was born – helping businesses grow by delivering insight from their data.
So 12 months on, here’s what I have learned:
- That networking is really just chatting – over coffee, a drink, in the playground. It’s engaging and building trust with people, so they’ll put their trust in me;
- That learning by osmosis, from listening to other’s experiences, is the best way of not reinventing the wheel;
- That I need people around me for high-fives! Working independently, you definitely need a ‘team’. I’ve been fortunate to find 3-such teams – a face-to-face ‘tribe’ who meet monthly, virtual group Talented Ladies Club and a mix of the two One Girl Band. So find one that’s right for you;
- That learning is self-rewarding – from how to create my brand to how to build my website, and much more;
- And that I still really do love Excel – so bring on more pivot-table opportunities!
And what do I actually do?
I help clients to look at their numbers/data (call it what you will) and apply the insights to marketing activities to grow their business – be it to deliver a hero piece of thought leadership or a content-driven social media programme. From surveys that you’re not sure how to repurpose, to customer databases that hold a wealth of information to help you target the right audiences – all of this can be mined to help your to business grow.
So, if you have data but don’t know how to make it work – call me. I’d like even more excuses to play with pivot-tables!