Missed our Q&A with business mentor and stress expert Heather Bestel? Find all the expert advice she shared here
More mums than ever are juggling work and motherhood and we want to make sure you feel fulfilled and supported. That’s why we’ve set up our Working Mums Club, to advise and get behind you every step of the way.
Part of this involves Q&As on our Facebook page with inspirational working parents who can offer advice and share their own experiences of bringing up a family and moving up the career ladder.
Last Thursday, we had Heather Bestel answering your questions. Heather is a mum, therapist, author and award winning business mentor. She’s travelled around the UK speaking at conferences about stress management, set up a blog for mumpreneurs and founded The Happiness Garden, an online virtual retreat for women.
This is what she covered…
I've set up my own business and am signed up to attend a mumpreneur networking event. But I'm terrified of talking to people. Have you got any tips on how to feel confident and introduce yourself at these types of events?
'Firstly, congratulations on setting up your own business. Now, there's not many of us who feel totally comfortable in this situation so keep in mind that you're not the only person in the room who is struggling with being there. That's a great opening line by the way "Hi I'm Heather, how do you cope in these situations I find it really difficult talking to people?"
'I've been networking for the past twenty years and have always noticed newbies being 'looked after' because it's their first time. Remember you don't have to speak in front of the whole room, just say hello to one person and take it from there. The mistake that a lot of people new to networking make is that they think it's all about selling and that scares them to death.
‘It's all about building relationships and educating others about what you do. In my opinion women are totally natural networkers, we do it all the time. We make connections and recommend people to each other. We find a new hairdresser and share them with all our friends. We ask our girlfriends if they can recommend a nice restaurant for our next get together. It's what we do naturally.
‘So, approach it as if you are meeting a group of friends. Be yourself, be interested in others, ask lots of questions. People love talking about themselves so just ask them what they do. And when they ask you "What do you do?" tell them stories of how you make your clients feel or how what you sell makes a difference. If you say "I'm a life coach!" they are left to make their own minds up about what that entails. Instead tell them you work with women to help them be confident, successful and happy whatever their size and shape (if that's what you do).
‘One great tip for networking is to not see the people in the room as your customers but as your sales force. Instead of wanting to sell your wares to them, imagine them going out into the world spreading the word about you and your business. Tell them all about it, give them samples, educate them on what to say about you and who you're looking to work with. And see networking as a long-term investment in you and your business. Make it part of your marketing strategy. I find 99% of my business comes through word of mouth. Remember online networking is just the same, think long term relationship building and you'll be amazed at the results – I even got myself a publishing deal through online networking.’
Ever since I returned to work, I feel like my voice isn't being heard in meetings. It's almost like they feel, I've disappeared for a year and now I'm back I'm less important, despite still doing the same job. Is there anything I can can do to make them notice me again?
‘This can be such a challenging time especially just now when your self-confidence can feel a bit sensitive as you've been out of the loop for a while. Things have moved on at work while you've been gone and sometimes colleagues can feel as if you're the new girl again. They may need reminding of your past successes and achievements.
‘Assert yourself in meetings by stepping up and taking on responsibility for a project you're passionate about and make sure you follow through. It will demonstrate your commitment to the team and reassert your abilities.’
I find it really hard to wind down after doing a full day at work, picking up my toddler and getting him fed, washed and put to bed. My mind is buzzing and yet I feel knackered at the same time! Any advice?
‘This is a very common issue. It's an important time to just take some Me Time for yourself and really relax, by that I mean give your whole central nervous system a chance to totally bliss out. Stop all the other things around you that might be adding to the 'buzzing' things like the TV and social media and just take yourself off somewhere (maybe your bedroom) lie on the bed or the floor and just take a moment to focus on your breathing. Listening to relaxation mp3s is a great way to shut everything else out and just BE.'
I feel really guilty every time I leave my baby at nursery to go to work. How can I stop feeling like this?
'Totally understandable and we've all been there. Give yourself a break and stop beating yourself up. Remind yourself that time away from your baby can be good for both of you. Baby gets different experiences in readiness for first day of school (another whole mums club chat just there lol) and you get to be the 'professional you' and wear a different hat for a while. You can enjoy adult company and find satisfaction in your work. And when you come back together it's an opportunity for total quality time.
'I know it's hard and when I took on some part time lecturing hours after our daughter was born I was a total mess. I couldn't even have a photo of her in my purse. I had to become a different me, if that makes sense. I told myself that I was working so that we could have a lifestyle that gave her so many opportunities that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise. While I was feeling guilty, she was thriving and having fun learning and socialising in an environment I couldn't give her. Find a strategy that works for you and start being more gentle with yourself. We're all doing the best we can with what we've got and it's good enough!'