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  • Achieving greater things in oxfordshire

    Achieving greater things in Oxfordshire

    I’ve been a member of The Oxfordshire Project (TOP), a collaborative networking group that extends across Oxfordshire, for a little over a year now, and rate it as one of the best networking groups I’ve become involved with. It certainly inspires people,  so that they’re achieving greater things in Oxfordshire.

    Top talk

    TOP run meetings at attractive venues in Thame, Witney, Didcot, Abingdon, Bicester, Oxford Central, Banbury and Faringdon every month. There’s a lively talk by a TOP member at each meeting, helping listeners achieve greater things in business in Oxfordshire.  I’ve learnt something useful from every talk I’ve heard so far.

    Supportive connections

    Unlike some networking groups, there’s no pressure to provide referrals and the atmosphere is friendly, uplifting and collaborative. The TOP mission statement is ‘To support, connect and inspire great people so they achieve greater things’, and you do feel supported, connected and inspired. As a member, benefits include a complimentary mentoring session with a member of your choice (or with one that’s been recommended) and a coaching session with a member having expertise in an area you’d like help with.

    In the spotlight!

    A new initiative is the TOP Business Spotlight, and I was chosen as one of the first twenty businesses to be in the spotlight. You can read my spotlight feature here on Linked In. After having to think quite hard about some of the questions I was asked, I’m really pleased with it – it’s a great idea to help build awareness of your business, inspiring you to achieve greater things in Oxfordshire.

    Reach out

    TOP say their members have a giver’s ethos based on ‘how can I help?’ rather than ‘what’s in it for me?’. In a world where, it seems, there’s a lot of focus on ‘me, me, me’ I find it refreshing to belong to an organisation that places emphasis on reaching out to others to improve business, personal life, and community at home and abroad.  

  • Badly worded signs mislead the pub;lic

    Badly worded signs

    Badly worded signs are misleading. There are plenty of examples of such signs. But, mostly, the errors are all too obvious to the reader. You can look at pictures of these badly worded signs on the internet – they often make us laugh. After all, a sign that has obvious errors in it can still be understood – it won’t do any harm other than raise the occasional eyebrow.

    But sometimes a sign can be perfectly spelt and still be completely misleading. The author of the sign knew what he or she meant to convey but  failed to make that meaning clear.

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  • Your document's finished or is it?

    Your document’s finished – or is it?

    It’s time to start composing that important document! But once you start, it’s tempting to ‘go for it’ and write as much as you possibly can. The thoughts are coming thick and fast, and you’re intent on capturing them all before they vanish again! Then it’s done, and a weight is lifted from your shoulders! Your document’s finished – or is it? 

    No, in most cases it isn’t.  This first draft is a long way from being the finished version.

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  • Giving constructive feedback

    Giving constructive feedback

    Most of us try to do our best when we’re asked to carry out a task or respond to an enquiry – whether this is from customers, clients, colleagues or our nearest and dearest. But how do we know when we’ve done our best? Were we given any constructive feedback? Could we have performed better? Were there aspects we could have improved if we’d been aware they were required? 

    There’s usually some learning to be taken on board, no matter how experienced we think we are. The only way we can really improve is by receiving feedback. But this is mostly not given unless specifically requested.

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  • Overcoming fear f blank paper

    Overcoming fear of blank paper

    Overcoming fear of blank paper is something most of us have wondered how to do at some stage. We have sat in front of that blank sheet or screen, wondering what on earth to write and where to begin.

    Some people find it easier to handwrite initially, others prefer the keyboard or tablet. It doesn’t matter which medium you use, just choose the one you feel most comfortable with. 

    Switch on the light!

    Perhaps you’ve been asked to write a job description or a difficult letter, a marketing strategy or business proposal, or simply summarise outcomes from brief (and now difficult to make sense of!) notes you made at a meeting? Time ticks by and you still haven’t written a thing!

    But there’s no need to feel defeated by the blank paper (or screen) in front of you. Just start somewhere.

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  • Engaging with readers stimulating interest

    Engaging with readers

    I love reading articles by many different writers because every one of them has his or her own style and vocabulary. Each writer has their own way of engaging with readers. No-one writes in the same style as the next person, which to me is part of what makes us unique as human beings.

    Sometimes a writer will use a word I’ve not come across. Being a wordsmith, I usually do a Google search to find out what it means! The writers I’m talking about write for newspapers and magazines. Their aim is to entertain as well as stimulate interest, engaging with the reader and capturing their attention. Good writers succeed in doing this. The best writers are those whose articles provide a pleasurable reading experience. They write well about things that interest us.

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  • Avoid email misery read emails carefully before pressing 'send'

    How to avoid email misery

    I expect you, like me, have received unpleasant or disagreeable emails. These emails were often sent on the spur of the moment, without thought of the hurt they might cause when the recipient read them. If only the senders of badly worded emails had thought twice about how to avoid email misery at the receiving end before pressing ‘send’.

    Silent conversation

    Email messages are a great way to communicate quickly, but the speed and ease with which they can be sent means they are also easily abused.  When you’re writing a report or proposal, it’s going to be checked before it gets sent anywhere. But emails are exchanges of dialogue between two or more parties. They’re like having a live conversation with someone, but it’s silent.

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  • Personalised handwritten mail

    Mail is better handwritten for uplifting response

    I was half-listening to a programme on BBC Radio 4 recently, during which the reporter remarked, ‘…ripping open envelopes feels like such an old-fashioned thing to do’. This comment struck me as bizarre. I half-wondered if the reporter had removed his letterbox on the grounds that he no longer received post – whether impersonal direct mail  or personalised handwritten letters. However, I feel sure he won’t have done so. Any more than he employs a private letter-opening assistant so that he doesn’t have to undertake such a menial task.

    While it’s true that we receive much less personalised handwritten mail these days – birthday cards and Christmas cards are major exceptions – business mail isn’t in decline with the rise of the internet, contrary to what some may believe.

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  • Girl reading attentively

    Letting Your Values Shine Through

    I was at a networking meeting the other day where I heard Mike Jennings of Jennings Property give an excellent talk about values and purpose. He made the point that, at Jennings, they have been developing their core values over several years.

    These values underpin what they do, how they do it and why. Their values have helped create the company’s ethos, so that they’ve evolved from being ‘just another property company’ to one that appreciates the people around them as their greatest friends and allies. Their ethos informs the way they behave with their tenants, suppliers, contractors, networking contacts, associates, partners and professionals. 

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  • Today is National Writing Day

    National Writing Day is being celebrated on Wednesday 27th June. It aims to inspire people across the UK to discover the pleasure and power of writing.

    It’s organised by First Story , the national literacy charity led by Monica Parle. They’ve been working for 10 years to show that writing can transform lives, improving people’s ability to express themselves. Amongst other activities, they bring professional writers into schools to work with students and teachers and foster creativity and communication skills.

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