As we say goodbye to this decade, entrepreneur Andrea Callanan looks back on the past 10 years of business and how her network really has become her net worth...


Andrea, who has been named a top 25 inspirational Welsh women and a small business Guardian Leader of the year, has two main strands to her   
As an international mindset, business and voice coach, motivational speaker and best-selling Amazon business author she’s a busy woman. 
She’s also the founder and owner of the multi award-winning ‘inspire me’ – a corporate engagement company which changes lives in business with team building, behavioural training and singing! 
Best known for its Workplace Inspire Choirs with long standing customers such as Admiral and EE, inspire me has worked with brands including Deloitte, GE Aviation, John Lewis, Sky, KFC, the BBC and British Airways. 
Andrea attributes her long-term service with her clients to her network and building relationships. 
Andrea knows first-hand how important it is to nurture your client relationships. Retention is always more beneficial than new business, and most of her new customers come from referral. 
Nurturing those relationships and keeping communication lines transparent and open is key. 
Getting visible and having the courage to be seen is key for attracting new business. 
The old adage, ‘people buy people’ is so true. People need to know, like and trust you before they will invest money and the best way to do this is to be in the same room as your prospective clients. 
In 2016, Andrea was given advice by a number of mentors to ‘get out from behind her logo’ and be the face of her brand. 
As a singer who has performed for royalty and in front of as many as 80,000 people, you would think this would have been a walk in the park.
But Andrea actually found it incredibly hard. 
She said : “The thought of taking responsibility for my business in this way was scary. It’s much easier just to hide behind your brand!”
As she became more visible, Andrea’s personal brand developed.
Having been a music industry voice coach for some 25 years, Andrea had been mentoring start-ups and mindset for around 15 years. New opportunities came flooding in for motivational speaking and with it, the opportunity to take her coaching business online.
Through leveraging her networks and being committed to her business and personal growth. 
Andrea has doubled her income in the past 18 months. Her senior executive coaching clients and personal development industry contacts now contribute to the funnel for inspire me, making business so much easier.
She frequently speaks and works in America and will be attending a mastermind with Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island next year by personal invitation. All through her network.
Growing and maintaining your online network is also hugely important and cost effective. 
Another area inspire me has innovated is hosting their own events. Personal invitations to an event packed with valuable content is very compelling. Especially if it’s on brand. When done well, the return on investment for your own events can be huge. 
As a performer and confident person, most would be rightly mistaken in thinking that Andrea loves networking. In fact, she has had to reframe how she saw networking.  

Here are her top tips for getting over the fear of networking:

1. Be strategic

Attending every local networking event and getting involved with every relevant group on LinkedIn or Facebook can be exhausting and a waste of time unless you are strategic. Always plan which networking events to attend. Try and access the delegate list beforehand where possible. Always know your outcome for the events you attend. When you are investing time, energy and money into making new contacts it’s important you know why you’re doing it and how it can benefit your business. Is it to socialise and forge friendship, such as a meal, pub meet up, sports club or choir for instance? Or is it an event where you need to be more on your game and generate some leads for your business, like a conference, forum or awards ceremony? Time is the only resource you can’t replace, so make sure you invest it well. 

2. Know your worth

Don’t be a busy fool. If you own your own business, you won’t get paid to have meetings. Be mindful of undervaluing your time, expertise and business by spreading yourself too thinly across your networking platforms, both online and in person. If you’re more established or responsible for lead generation in an organisation, make sure the time you spend networking is spent wisely. Time really is money where networking is concerned if it’s for business development. 

3. Change your mindset

If you’re someone who dreads networking, this might be the top tip for you. As a reformed ‘Networking Debbie-Downer’, Andrea suggests changing your mindset around the whole thing. As a mother of two with limited energy, Andrea shifted the axis on her thinking. Whereas before, Andrea would dread ‘selling’ at networking events, now she just talks about the outcomes that her businesses provide. Chatting about your business and how it can help others is way easier that ‘trying to sell’. It’s a completely different dynamic. 
Now, she attends events for three main reasons. To form relationships – so much about business sustainability is attributed to relationships. To generate leads and brand awareness for her business – being visible is vital for people having the opportunity to know, like and trust you as mentioned earlier. And finally, to support others. It’s important that you show up for those that matter. If there is a charity event or professional function that someone you care about in business or otherwise is hosting. It’s good to support one another. One of the reasons inspire me is still here after 11 years is because of the organisations ethos around people and that extends past the internal team. 
Wherever possible, Andrea or inspire me, will offer something of value for networking events. This makes visibility easier and aids supporting others.

4. Be authentic

Whichever way you cut it, one of the main negative points around networking is that people are just out to get something. So be authentic, have integrity and keep your ‘BS T-Shirt’ at home. Long term, valuable friendships are built on shared experience and trust. No one’s going to resonate with you if you are just spouting a lot of buzz words without being fully present. Show up as your best self and encourage others to do the same by not pretending to be someone you think you should or need to be.

5. Embrace your fear 

Learning to embrace your fear is a more aligned way of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. When it comes to entering a room full of people you don’t know, remember that everyone is usually in the same boat. All your fear is doing is trying to keep you safe. So, acknowledge your fear, put a smile on your face and your best foot forward. Go build your relationships and see how they will benefit your business or organisation.

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