Wednesday 22 March 2017

Daylight savings - what will do with that extra hour of daylight?

It’s that time of year we all look forward to – the clocks go forward an hour this weekend and spring is in the air.

Studies show that the more daylight we’re exposed to, the more active we are – and the better we sleep at night. The question is what are you going to do with your extra hour of daylight? And, what difference is it going to make to your life?

We’ve compiled some suggestions to get the most out of your – longer – day, helping you to feel happier and more fulfilled.

Get off to a positive start (20 mins)

A good morning routine helps to set us up for the day, so starting the day as we mean to go on is a great way of making the most of your extra hour of daylight. Understand what works best for you in a morning then make it happen. Write out a schedule and have a plan of what you want to achieve during each day. This insight into the morning routines of successful people makes pretty inspiring reading.

Take 5 (5 mins)

Build some time into your daily routine to take in your surroundings and be thankful for the beautiful nature around us. Just five minutes is long enough to practise some mindful thinking, which will have a positive impact on the rest of your day. For more information about mindful thinking, you can read this previous blog post.

Catch some rays (10 mins)

Vitamin D is essential for human health. It increases the metabolism and the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Sunlight is what the body needs to produce Vitamin D in the skin – so plan some time into your schedule and use some of your extra hour to get a daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. To find out more about the benefits of Vitamin D, why not read this article?

Get moving (15 mins)

Try to do more of what you love outdoors. Take a walk – use local parks to get more active. The great news about exercising outside is that it’s free and the preparation time is minimal; you don’t need any equipment and you’re less likely to get bored with the routine. This study outlines the benefits of outdoor exercise on not only our physical wellbeing, but our mental health too.

It may only be an hour, but we guarantee that these extra 60 minutes will be enough to boost your mood and leave you feeling more positive and productive. So, use it wisely – take a big breath in of the fresh spring air and leave the ‘sluggishness’ of winter behind you.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Networking matters – how to leave a good impression

We often hear the saying that you only get one chance to make a first impression. While this is true, it does imply that once we’ve made an initial connection with someone, we’re home and dry. Yes, the foundations of good business relationships can be laid on first meeting, however keeping these connections alive through networking is an ongoing process – rather than a one-off event.

As with all relationships, business associations need to be nurtured and fed regularly if they are to flourish. The alternative is that we only connect with people when we need them for something and our work colleagues will soon get wise to this!

That aside, if we view networking as simply something we do when have a specific outcome in mind, it can become a more daunting task. Much better to embrace networking as part of our working life than think of it as a means to an end.

It’s good practice to build networking activities into your weekly work schedule, when you’re not looking to gain anything – this way you can focus on what you can do for others, rather than on what you expect from them.

We’ve developed some tips for building authentic networking connections that always leave a good impression

It’s not all about you

Make sure the focus is on others, not yourself. When building new relationships it’s easy to slip back into our comfort zone and talk about things we know most about – in many cases, that means talking about ourselves! The best way to excel at networking is to turn the tables and make sure that we always keeps others at the core of the conversation. By all means, share your views when asked, but make a real effort to include others in discussion through asking questions and bringing people in to give their perspectives too.

Listen more than you talk

We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason, and the rule of thumb when networking is to listen for twice as long as you spend talking. Relationships are about give and take, so make sure you give others the time and space to express themselves before sharing what’s on your mind. Active listening skills, such as keeping eye contact with others, and interjecting with questions or verbal cues – such as ‘mmm’ or a nod of the head, show that you are paying attention.

Stay in the room

Value the time that you spend networking with others. Be present in the conversations, turn your phone to silent and don’t look around the room, or down at your watch, unless absolutely necessary. People will very quickly pick up on your body language and your non-verbal cues, as much as they will the words that come out of your mouth.

Be a name dropper

When talking to new people make an extra special effort to use their name, to show that you’re paying attention and are making a personal connection with them. This serves two purposes: people respond better to those who address them by name, they’re more likely to remember you and it’ll make them feel good; it also means you're more likely to remember their name again in the future. There’s nothing worse than meeting up with a new contact, only to struggle with their name. If you find this a problem, this article may help.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to get the most out of your networking experiences, why not read this blog from the guardian newspaper?  It describes a three-pronged approach to networking - the ARE strategy. It stands for anchor (finding common ground), reveal (share interesting information about yourselves with others) and encourage (getting others to join in the conversation).

Remember, mutually beneficial business relationships are not built overnight. We need to put the same time and energy into nurturing our connections at work as we do those in our home-life. Put other people first and your networking efforts will soon pay dividends.