So what do you do then?
I'm a big fan of networking. I know there are many people who couldn't think of anything worse than walking into a room full of people, many of whom they don't know, and then being expected to actually talk to people. Social media networking is an entirely different thing - some people would much rather network on LinkedIn than spend time physically getting to and from a venue. And that's absolutely fine - we all have the choice, and whilst I've dipped into social media networking I still enjoy going out and meeting people - or maybe it's just that I like the breakfasts!
But there is one thing that we all encounter, whether online or face to face, and that's when someone says to you, "So what do you do then?". I'm sure I'm not the only person that starts the conversation off with "Ah, well...……" and then wonders how on earth I'm going to explain to someone in a few sentences what I actually do.
So here are six examples of work that I've recently undertaken for clients, that will give you some idea of what I actually do:
1. Formatting Word templates for reports - my client runs a small 'one-man band' business and completes a pro-forma whilst working 'out in the field' and then scans and emails this proforma to me. I then take that information and convert it into a report template that we created together, adding photos where necessary. Dropbox is used to store the documents, scans and photos and this makes it secure and easy for us both to work on the same document at different times. I also undertake document formatting for businesses who have already created their training manuals and policies, but need some help in tidying them up and making them look professional - being a whizz with Microsoft Word means that when they get into difficulties with a document that just doesn't look right, then they know I'll probably be able to sort it.
2. Audio transcription - clients email through to me audio files and I then transcribe these using Olympus software, a foot pedal and headphones. Gone are the days of tiny cassettes. Transcription in this way can be used for transcribing interviews, notes, letters, reports, blogs - the list is endless really. I've recently transcribed a PHD student's interviews, interviews for a local heritage society and dictated reports.
3. Copy typing - this ranges from typing memoirs, all handwritten in several A4 notebooks, to invoices and quotes for local businesses. In some cases, I collect and return copy typing, particularly if it's local, and sometimes the work comes through scanned. It's easy to scan handwritten documents from training courses, meetings or brainstorming sessions, simply by using a mobile phone these days - so copy typing doesn't have to mean physically handing the paperwork over any more.
4. Databases - many business use databases that need to be constantly updated. It's time consuming and is often put to the bottom of the heap of admin tasks but plays heavily on the mind when it's not up to date. I've worked on databases for clients and helped streamline admin processes - there are many tools that can be used to get things organised and it’s a question of finding the one that best suits the client.
5. Training - with 35 years of secretarial experience and having worked as an Executive Assistant with Directors and Chief Executives, I spent many an hour writing reports and also taking minutes of very high-level meetings. I now train others in minute-taking and business writing skills and have recently undertaken this work for two large island employers. Never underestimate the importance of good minute taking.
6. Newsletters - not everyone has the time or knowledge to create newsletters for their businesses. I've helped businesses and organisations put together interesting newsletters that tell their customers about their business and their offers.
7. Book publishing - One of my clients spent several years writing a book in Word and then finally decided to have it published. He came to me and chose to go via the self-publishing route. I helped him with this and he's now working on his second book.
So that’s just a glimpse of some of the things I do – still not sure how I can tell someone that in short form at a networking event, but I find that if you show people that you’re interested in them and what they do, the two-way conversation naturally comes round to being able to say exactly what I can do to help their business.
So yes, I’ll continue to go to those networking events where I can get the opportunity to answer the question, “so what do you do then?”.