Connections & Friendship

How did a South African find her way to a women’s networking group in Mount Waverley, Melbourne?

Hi, my name is Tracy and next year (2018) I will turn 50 and it will be my half-way point, 25 years in Australia and 25 in South Africa. My family immigrated to Australia when I was 10 years old and lived here for 4 years. I often say I went home to find a husband. On our return to Cape Town, aged 14 I started working in a café (milk bar is the best Australian equivalent) and it was there that I served my future husband Andrew, who would regularly come in to buy the newspaper for his dad. A few years later we found ourselves in a carpool to uni. He was studying land surveying and I was doing Psychology. The carpool eventually disbanded, and it wasn’t until seven years later that we met by chance and a romance blossomed. We had both finished our studies, travelled and worked overseas (UK & Europe) and established our careers. Andrew had also been to the army (national conscription), where he met Trevor, who became a good friend, travel buddy and housemate.

On 13th June 1997, Andrew and I took a bold step and boarded a flight to London on a round the world trip, intended to end in Australia, where we would create a new life and home. As Trevor waved goodbye at the airport, he handed over a small piece of paper and in scruffy handwriting was the name Glen, a phone number and an address in Box Hill. He told us that his brother lived in Melbourne and we should look him up.

After our travels through the UK, Germany, Spain, US and NZ, on the 28th Sept 1997 we took a very early flight from Auckland and arrived at our destination, Melbourne. Our worldly goods were in two backpacks and we didn’t know a soul in Melbourne but still had this little worn piece of paper that offered the promise of at least one person that we could possibly meet. We did make a call to Glen and have enjoyed many years of friendship with him and his wife.

About 5 years ago, after a major health scare and the loss of my brother, I started a career coaching business. Glen suggested that I contact Mi, his former colleague from Health Super. I met Mi for a coffee at the Glen, felt a connection with her, told her my life story and accepted her invitation to join her and Meg’s networking event: Monday Connections. At the little Connections Café and later at the Bruce Country Hotel, many new connections began. Mi also hooked me up with Naren (but that’s a story for another time) and so the cycle continues…

So, in this case it was just three degrees of separation between Mi and I. Interesting how the world is such a small place and I love thinking about the sliding doors, which change our experiences and life forever.

But some things are just meant to be.

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The Box

You may be wondering about why we have this box on the table each time we have a Monday Connection.

It is our referral box. It contains your business cards and you are free to add some new ones and have a look at the others and take out any that catch your eye.

Referrals are all important and another of our values is that we don’t do forced referrals like some networks do. We always like to hear of successful referrals and there have been a few, but in the main we feel that business generated within the group stays relatively private between the two parties.

The box allows anyone to take a card, leave a card and make contact after having had a conversation at a Monday Connections event. It’s all about building relationships.

We realize that as solo business owners that sometimes we can’t make it to a Monday Connection because of clients, sick kids and other things that life throws at us from time to time. By having your card in the box, you still have a presence at Monday Connections as it may be taken out and saved by another attendee for future reference.

If you are going through a re-branding, then by all means take out your old cards and put your bright shiny new ones in. About 10 will do and you can always replenish on your next visit if they have been taken. Do make sure your details on your card are correct… although that is how Mi & I met all those years ago because I had left off the .au on my email address and she phoned me to let me know!

First time visitors are welcome to put some cards in the box as you may feel a little shy. Because Monday Connections is a relationship based networking group, some lasting friendships have evolved and this may seem a little daunting at first but this is because we all want to get to know the other attendees a little better before giving a referral. Putting your cards in at the very first Connection will help others to “suss” you out and perhaps make contact with you!

Every now and then, the contents of the box are gone through and if someone hasn’t attended in over 6-8 months the cards are removed as is their membership of the Facebook page. You will always find our cards there as we are the founders and organizers of the group and we reserve the right to remove cards of people who haven’t attended for some time. The second photo shows what is left after a “cull”, so we are looking forward to having some new and updated cards put in the box at the next Monday Connection!

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Reflections

Our little group, still going strong after five years, met today to welcome 2017!  With a fantastic core group of members, it was still nice to see new faces, and we hope to continue to be a safe place for women in business to network without the pressure of elevator speeches and referrals.

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As usual, interesting themes were discussed, and our get-to-know-you speeches revealed such fascinating stories.  It is in the stories where it becomes clear that we are so much more than business owners.  We reveal our history, our passions, and sometimes our struggles.

photo2Originally meeting at the Connections Cafe, which was the inspiration for our group’s name, we have now been meeting at the Overflow Cafe for a few years.  I thought it was time to join the VIP club. Meg and I often stay on for lunches and the 10% discount will definitely be appreciated!

I hope everyone has a great 2017!

Mi

 

 

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Blogging…Is it your cup of tea (or coffee)?

cup of cofee

Both Mi & I have blogs as part of our websites. Mi is far more diligent in writing regular, structured posts whereas my blog is more of an occasional stream of consciousness.

You can read some of Mi’s articles HERE and some of mine HERE.

If you are not sure about whether blogging is for you, we have run some successful workshops on blogging basics and we could be cajoled into running another one if you are interested.

For those of you who are regular attendees of our monthly Monday Connection, there is an opportunity for you to “guest blog” here…. and let the world know about what it is that you do or your passion in life. Just in case you missed my passion you can read about it in this post.….. (nothing like a little shameless self promotion 😀 )

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Welcome to 2015

A warm welcome to 2015, both figuratively and literally!

As we enjoy a brief respite from the previous few days of scorching heat, many people are looking forward to beginning the new year with a myriad of resolutions.

Resolutions are good, but how many people really keep them?

What is it about a resolution that is kept? A successful resolution is a goal. It doesn’t matter what model you use, SMART, GROW or another; the common denominator with successful resolutions are that they focus on the positive rather than the negative. Writing them down, being specific about the steps that you are going to take to get that end result and a time frame in which to achieve each step is a start. Identify any obstacles to achieving your goal or goals and work out how to sidestep them or remove them. Include regular review sessions to enable you to make any necessary changes that will help you meet your goals!

If you are a more visual person, then a Vision Board may be the way to go.This is a little more involved than wishful thinking and cutting out pictures from glossy magazines. Start by doing a short meditation on what it is that you really want. An image or a word may come to your mind or possibly several. Again, be specific. If a new car is on the horizon, a picture of the model you want rather than a picture of a car yard is preferable. It’s a pleasurable exercise and can be done either on your own or with a group. You can make a book, a board, a poster… it’s your vision and it’s great to return to them later and see what has materialized. I did this with my current house… and got all that I envisioned and a couple of extras!

As we come out of the holiday period, this is an ideal time to focus on your vision and goals for your business. Our first networking event for 2015 is a little earlier than usual, due to the Australia Day public holiday and we meet on January 19th at our usual meeting place. This is an ideal time to meet other women in business, and discuss with them in a relaxed and informal setting your plans for the year. Sometimes articulating a goal is the ideal way to make yourself accountable to keeping on track!

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Meeting places

Originally we began meeting in a small cafe called Connections….. on a Monday…….. hence our name! Quite a cosy spot (if the door was closed in winter), but we had to walk through clouds of cigarette smoke from the nearby office workers to get there. It was cheap and cheerful and at times a little loud!

This year we have been meeting at Clancy’s Restaurant within the Bruce County Motel, following on from a very successful end of year lunch there. The service there is great and occasionally Mi & I have stayed on for lunch to discuss other matters. The July Connection was a little different as it went “walkabout” and attendees were treated to morning tea made by one of our network members.

If you are interested in networking with a difference, come and meet with us….. the coffee (and tea) is good and importantly, no parking restrictions!

The next Monday Connections is August 25th at 9.30am.

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Networking etiquette

Is it ok to add someone you met at a networking event to your newsletter mailing list?

My answer to this is “no”.  I find it rude.  I may be alone on this but I doubt it.

Networking is about building relationships, not finding the next opportunity to sell.  Adding me to your list without first building a relationship grates at my sensibilities.  My initial reaction is to click “spam” but I know how damaging that would be to you if my email provider blacklists your domain as producing spam.  So think about this issue carefully.  If you are going to do it, send an email, say hello, treat me like a real person, ask whether I would mind.  If I yes, and only then, add me.

What do you think?

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