It seems like I’ve been doing a lot of fighting…and I’m tired.
Last week I attended the Bayside Business Breakfast. The Bayside Council runs various business networking events for small business owners. These vary from after work ‘meet and mingle’ events, business book club, workshops, seminars and a popular breakfasts with great speakers that not only educate but entertain.
I live in an area that is flanked by three local councils (don’t get me started on the many levels of government in Australia) but personal feelings aside, an an independent consultant this is a good thing as it exposes me to different business demographics. Where the City of Glen Eira and Bayside are more the small business retail operators, the City of Kingston is in an area where the light industry of the area drives a percentage of the Victorian economy through jobs and industrial products and services. I participate in all three councils different business networking events as an effort to become more reconnected and build new networks into my local community. As a result, it’s opened up my eyes to how small and medium size business work and in particularly, what business owners consider important.
And guess what, learning is not front of mind for them.
Now to someone who has been in learning and development for all of her working life, in the tall corporate ivory towers hidden away in a department that is considered a ‘cost’ to the business, in all honesty, this makes me sigh.
It makes me sigh on the one hand that people don’t realise that by default, every interaction with someone, every new connection online, every book they read, every search on Google, every conversation they have – they’re learning something new – and it’s likely that they’re going to remember, apply or discard it. In their brain, there is an active transformation process happening that is creating new neural connections.
On the other hand, it makes me sigh because I should have known better. After all, I was espousing this to my learning and development clients for their interactions with their business units but I wasn’t doing it myself for my own products and services!
Wake up call!
I have been using these business people in my local area network to ‘pitch’ my products and services to them in particularly, my coaching program and get some hard but constructive feedback. Everything from the look of my website and my products was up for discussion. I urged them to be upfront and honest as I needed to hear the words from their perspective as to whether my concept was going to ‘fly’ or ‘die’.
After all, this was going to give me an idea if I could provide services to the corporate world as well as a wider market across to medium sized businesses and individuals.
In effect, I had to use my skill in performance consulting to find a problem in a particular demographic to build a new solution that was attractive enough for these people to buy.
My original idea as simply providing ‘consulting services’ in the area of social learning strategy and implementation to corporate learning and development teams is not enough. Add in the big consulting firms implementing enterprise collaboration systems and the emergence of new players in this market, I see that my skills that can also be applied to other less crowded markets too whom I hadn’t originally considered.
Have I succeeded? It’s early days yet because I feel I have put in a lot of work and it’s evident from my blog posts (which I love to write), from my vlogs (which I love to create) and the variety of packaged services, workshops and webinars.
So now, it’s up to me to explore how these can be translated for a new market and for that, I need to be open to constructive feedback so that I can start to build the solution.
And if that doesn’t work, I’ll change it again and again. Each time there is fear but without fear guess what, there is no learning.
It all comes back to learning.
(If you’re interested, here is the video of the Bayside Business Networking event on Change without Fear. On the day, I was also awarded my graduation certificate after a year long business coaching program I participated in through the Outcomes Business Group).