Would a Seamless Work-Life Existence Work For You? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself.

Do you ever wonder if you could make your life more “seamless”?  Would it work for you to have less division between your work and personal lives?

In these glorious summer months, I am reminded of how much I like a seamless work-life existence.  I like that when I get up in the morning at our house in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, I can spend an hour wandering around the vegetable and flower gardens and then take the big 2-second commute to my upstairs office.

I like the fact that I can join a conference call from my backyard hammock, or pause on an all-day bike ride to return a call to a client.  I like that I can be on-line returning emails five minutes after arrival at our house in Mexico, and then go up on the rooftop to watch the sun set.

A seamless existence works for me.  I think I have developed a reasonable skill at focusing on work…and then just as intently focusing on leisure.  Furthermore, I would suggest that if you are running your own business – or contemplating running your own business – it is a vital skill to learn.  Too many people leave the stresses of a full-time job, only to be just as stressed, or more so, at their own company.

Not everyone can switch channels from work to leisure easily.  If you can’t find that switch, you can find yourself permanently on the work channel or conversely, forever on the play channel.  It is one of the most important factors to consider before you launch yourself on a career as an independent consultant, coach or any other career direction that requires self-management.

So if you are thinking of heading in this career direction, here are 5 questions you might ask yourself to test your ability to lead a seamless existence:

1.  Importance of work colleagues: ask yourself how important it is to have work colleagues close at hand?  The old water cooler conversation (or modern day equivalent!) is considered key to many people in being able to maintain not only work relationships but also keeping abreast of what is going on in the company.  Give this one careful consideration because it may be that this element is a critical success factor for you.

2.  Ability to have someone to bounce ideas off:  running your own home office based company can not only be lonely, but some people miss the close proximity of having someone to bounce ideas off.  Do you have a network of people that you could call or meet over coffee who could be sounding boards for you?  Remember this does NOT always include your clients – they pay you to know the answers!

3.  Stimulation of the work place:  are you a person who enjoys the buzz and activity of an office?  Do you need a certain amount of visual and audio stimulation to get your juices going?  Will you be able to recreate that in some way in the quiet of a home office?

4.  Closing off distractions:  if you are a person who needs quiet in order to work, can you create that in your home office?  Kids coming home from school, dogs barking, your partner asking you to do things – these are all common distractions.  One home office consultant told me that she has the cleanest kitchen floor in Vancouver since she creates the distraction of sweeping the floor to avoid working!

5.  Self sufficiency:  be tough on yourself: can you truly manage your own calendar, create your own power points, remember to buy post-it notes?  If you are accustomed to having a support person, it can be difficult to teach yourself new tricks and remember all the little and not-so-little things that keep an office functioning and keep you efficient and generating those billable hours.  Is it worth learning to do these things yourself or can you afford to hire someone to do them?  A good solution is to engage a Virtual Assistant on an as-needed basis.  But if you are used to having someone in the next office, this might not be enough. These are just a few of the things to consider.  Another colleague of mine said the thing she missed most was getting dressed up to go to the office.  Her solution was to put on a business suit and makeup every morning and then go to her home office!

I have developed a tool kit for people looking to start their own businesses, including a list of resources.  If you would like to find out what’s in that tool kit and further test your readiness for a seamless existence, please send me an email or give me a call.

And enjoy the rest of the summer!

Linda Oglov

Finding your personal networking style and why it is important

I have a friend and long-time colleague who likes to call me the Queen of Networking. In truth, I hate what are considered the traditional forms of networking – such as schmoozing at cocktail parties, just for the sake of schmoozing.  This type of networking conjures up images of a guy in a white vinyl belt with matching shoes, randomly passing out business cards! What one author calls the “networking jerk”.

But I do think effective networking is hugely important, no matter what you do. We know that people are more likely to hire people that they like and therefore trust; and we know that opportunities can come from unlikely sources, so the broader your network the better. If you happen to be in or considering career transition, it is even more important to have that network in place.

I can readily say that the vast majority of my jobs, contracts, and opportunities to live and do business in other countries, potential for reinventing my career, etc have come from my network. I have been lucky enough to have calls out of the blue to say “how would you like to work on a World Exposition” or “would you like to go to Asia for 4 years” or “I hear you are a business coach now, how would you like to coach a member of my team” – all of which came from my network.

So how do you build a networking style that works for you? I will provide a couple of resources below that I think are worth reading but here are my top networking tips: 

  1. Build it before you need it – if you wait until you need your network, it may be too late. Consider the information that is out there on networking and start developing your personal networking style NOW.
  2. Get your story straight – those readers who have worked with me know that I am very big on people having their Career Story nailed no matter what stage they are at in their career. Figure out what your succinct, compelling story is and how you will articulate it before you reach out to your network. Not only who and what you are, but why you do what you do, or want to do.
  3. Make a list of who is already in your network – my clients often tell me their network is limited to the field they are in or that they don’t know anyone in the field they want to be in. Really? Everyone has a network and it is broader than most people think. It can include parents in your child’s soccer club or the person you see everyday at the gym or someone your sister knows. Sit down and make a list – and think outside of your immediate connections.
  4. Decide who is at the top of your list and start contacting them – one of the best ways to start networking is to start! You will get better at it if you practice. It may be that you just start with casual lunches or chats but figure out in advance what you might want to offer that person (what value can you provide to them) and then what are one or two things you might ask them for – everything from advice to the names of other people that you can add to your network.
  5. Maintain your network – just like a fitness regime, a networking plan needs constant care and feeding. One of the things I have done for years is keep a weekly TO DO list and down the side is a column called “Networking This Week”. It could be called “Business Development” but in fact often the people that I will network with that week will not and may never be direct leads to business. The point is to make it a constant and regular feature of your life.
  6. Never Eat Alone – this is the name of a book by Keith Ferrazzi that I recommend you pick up. The subtitle “And Other Secrets to Success One Relationship At A Time” kind of says it all. I have subscribed to the “never eat alone” philosophy for much of my business life. Whether I am in Vancouver, Toronto, London UK or Mexico, I seek out people in my network and line them up for coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner. Great things come about in such relaxed environments.
  7. Hone your social media skills or hire an expert to help – of course these days social media networking contains a suite of powerful tools to help you be more effective than ever in reaching a wide network. I don’t pretend expertise in this area but I have engaged expertise and then been the beneficiary of how effective social networking can be. For example, I was recently invited to speak at a meeting of global leaders in a field that holds potential for me as a business coach and the connection came through my positioning on the web. So don’t delay on getting that LinkedIn profile in decent shape and figure out what else can work for you.

In addition to the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, I also appreciated a recent post entitled “7 Key Habits of Super Networkers” that you can find here:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224819

Always happy to talk about networking or anything else that your career might need – you can reach me on linda@oglov.com or 604.288.7031.

Linda Oglov