What I learnt this week… delivering great presentations and the future of work

The past week was another exciting and super busy one for me. On Monday, I got back from my Easter trip down to Cornwall, where I managed to unplug completely (not 100% voluntarily, though, because our cottage didn’t have a proper wifi connection). On Tuesday, I had to jump straight back in and catch up with everything that happened over the previous few days.

And believe me, a lot had happened!

Put time aside for networking

People often wonder how it is possible that I’m everywhere – active online on many platforms and going to many networking events each week. It’s a habit that I started building since day one of running my own business.

No matter how busy I get, I’ve learnt to always put some time aside for networking. Meeting new people and regularly seeing my colleagues and business buddies is crucial for me. Not only does it help me grow my network, get new clients and build my brand, but it also (and mostly) helps me stay sane and inspired.

I plan my schedule around networking! Regularly, I go through Meetup.com and Eventbrite and look for interesting events to attend. I have a few ‘can’t-miss’ events and no matter what I’ll always make sure I’m free at that time (I even plan my travels around these events). In other words, I spend a lot of time networking, which means that when I’m back in the office, I need to be super effective to make up for the time. But it’s definitely worth it!

Many freelancers and small business owners struggle with continuing to market their business when they get busy. It’s a vicious circle! Getting the word out there, building your brand and securing new clients takes time, but if you’re just starting out, you don’t have the time to wait, you need new customers now. Once you get busy, you usually don’t have the time to continue networking and marketing your business, so your awareness drops and the stream of new leads stops.

When you don’t have work, it’s too late to start with marketing as it takes time! It’s really important to always put aside some time for keeping up appearances and continuously promoting your businesses even when you’re busy.

Bringing online and offline words closer

The main reason why I’m talking about networking is to share some of my thoughts on the power of combining online and offline networking.

This week, I went to another wonderful Cambridge Marketing Meetup organised by Joe Glover. I love these events as they allow me to learn new things and meet new people at the same time, all in a really relaxed and friendly atmosphere. But it can be really scary entering a room filled with 100 strangers and knowing who might be the right person to talk with.

I usually don’t have an agenda when networking. I just like meeting like-minded people and learning about their passions, dreams and hobbies. But how do you know if you’ll have something in common with that particular person that you’ve just bumped into?

That’s where social media comes in. Usually, you can easily see who’s coming to a particular event and you can see what they do, what they talk about, what their interests and opinions are. You also can start a conversation with them online and see if you have something in common.

Recently, I’ve been meeting in person many people that I’ve connected with on LinkedIn. This platform is the perfect place to find new people and build strong connections, but it’s even more powerful when you take things to the next level by meeting in person. You don’t need to set up a meeting or a 1-2-1 chat with all of them, that would be pretty time-consuming.

It’s much easier to see which events these people go to or invite them to your favourite events and chat there. This way you won’t feel overwhelmed by the number of strangers as you’ll already know some people there and you’ll also be able to meet more people at once (saving yourself lots of precious time).

How to deliver a great presentation?

I’ll stay on the topic of events and networking for a bit longer, but I’m also going to look into speakers. I’m no expert in public speaking, delivering presentations and generally performing in front of people [you can read about my experience of giving different talks in one of my previous roundups], but I’m always observing different presentation styles.

Usually, you can see two different presentation styles – traditional slideshow with bullet points or talks using storytelling. I’m sure that both styles have their place, but I find presentations that use narration much more engaging.

I don’t think it’s necessary to start your presentation with your life story and a long list of your achievements. You’ve been asked to present at this event and I trust the organiser has done their research and that you truly are the expert in your field. There’s no need to go through your CV before your presentation. I’d rather you jump straight in and show me what you know. Show, don’t tell!

How about you? I’d love to know what makes a good presentation in your opinion.

The new way of work

Since starting my own business, I’ve learnt a lot about new ways of working. As most freelancers, I started by working from home and, for a while, I loved it – no commute, no make-up, I can work from my bed and I can go out/do shopping/exercise/chill whenever I want. Isn’t it the dream?

However, after about 6 months, I realised that my productivity dropped drastically and that I’m procrastinating more and more. I wasn’t motivated (even though I was still driven to achieve stuff), I was doing everything else that wasn’t helping me to reach my business goals. I was paralysed by the vast amount of tasks and opportunities in front of me, and there was no one else who could help me.

Then I discovered co-working! I won’t go into detail why co-working changed my life, as I’ve already written a separate blog post about it a while ago. I’ll just say that leaving the house and working by the side of other like-minded freelancers and entrepreneurs has impacted my business in multiple ways. Now I can’t imagine working from home anymore!

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Even though many people think that being an entrepreneur (or solopreneur, mumpreneur, youpreneur etc.) is the ‘cool thing to do’ these days, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right move for everyone.

Even Gary Vaynerchuk (probably the biggest advocate for entrepreneurship in my opinion) says it very often – that not everyone should be aiming to start their own business. Some people are better suited to be the number 2, 3, 10 in a larger organisation.

Not everyone is an entrepreneur and is ready to do everything that’s necessary for their business to succeed, but many people have an entrepreneurial gene in them and if given space, trust and opportunity, they can help your business grow.

The issue is that many companies are still not seeing that there’s a new way to work (or they are afraid of change). Only a handful of employers are offering flexible working hours, options to work remotely and empowering their employees to work on their own side project, to have their own vision for the company, to work when and how they want to work.

The damn work-life balance

Lots of freelancers struggle with work-life balance, which is often the number one reason why they started their own business. They wanted to have more flexibility and time for their family/hobbies/life in general. The thing with being an entrepreneur is that you need to wear multiple hats – you’re not only doing all the work, you’re also the CEO, the marketing director, the head of the finance department, plus you are in charge of business development and sale. That’s a lot to handle!

So once you’re done delivering the work for your clients, you still need to think about getting more clients in, doing your taxes and other operational tasks. And that’s why many freelancers struggle with overwhelm, depression and anxiety – because there’s always something else you could be doing, more marketing, more content, more networking, etc. It’s really hard to switch off.

I think that the future of work lies in more companies embracing the shift towards flexible working and ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit. By giving your employees more responsibilities, more freedom and flexibility, by trusting them and empowering them to pursue their own projects you’ll create a healthy and motivated company culture.

The best part is that it’s not just a theory. There are many companies out there already embracing this approach and it’s working out amazingly for them. One of the examples would be Genie Ventures. I had the pleasure to meet their CEO Ciaron Dunne at a networking event this weel. I learnt more about their philosophy and approach to employee engagement and setting up of company goals.

Podcast Corner

So I thought that instead of a random book recommendation, I’ll share this really interesting podcast episode with you. It’s really relevant to the stuff I’ve been talking about above.

It’s the ep. 68 of the FOMOFanz Podcast hosted by Brian Fanzo called Future Of Work: Empowered Collaboration.

Brian talks about a few very interesting topics in this podcast, including:

What role does technology play?
What about those damn millennial / GenZ job hoppers?
What’s the role of work from home for continued growth?
Culture outside the walls of HQ?
And mostly, what is the Trust Triangle?!

What do you think the future of work is? Is it freelancing and being entrepreneurial or is it somewhere else? I’d love to know!