Take the Work out of Networking

I ‘m due to attend yet another networking event tomorrow evening (hosted by Women on the Move).

Yes, it ‘s that time of year again, when fun barbecues (where it ‘s often easier to mix) turn to enclosed spaces in upmarket conference suites in hotels, where you are expected to speak to other entrepreneurs, sell your business or promote your idea.

It ‘s terrifying, I ‘ll admit, the first time round. But here are some surefire ways to get those butterflies flying in formation (lovely imagery, unashamedly stolen from a friend)! Continue reading “Take the Work out of Networking”

Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?

With The Slugger Awards 2008 happening in Belfast in a few hours, I’ve been wondering… Why this interest in Blogging? Why is it so popular just now?

I had a call last week from an NI Libraries Information Librarian asking whether I’d get involved in the SELB Library events. She’d seen the Welcome to the Blogosphere workshop I’m delivering for QUB’s Open Learning Programme and wondered if I could deliver a few demos on Social Networking and Blogging. I was up for the challenge. We’re starting with two demos and who knows where that might lead? It’s nice to get asked. 🙂

So, why are people, increasingly professional people, interested in blogging? Continue reading “Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?”

Beyond the Glass Ceiling (Women’s Event)


There are many business workshops and training events that are designed for businesswomen. Have you noticed how they tend to cover the same sort of themes? Conflict management skills for women. Assertive communication skills for women. Confidence building for women. Isn ‘t all this slightly reactive and belittling? Haven ‘t businesswomen in 21st century Northern Ireland moved past these stereotypes yet?

Beyond the Glass Ceiling is different. Instead of assuming what women need, we will address what real women want. Instead of patronising women by ‘helping ‘ them play catch-up, we will equip women to move ahead. Our workshops will achieve this by addressing some workplace issues with an openness and honesty that is rare, but that everyone welcomes when it arrives. Continue reading “Beyond the Glass Ceiling (Women’s Event)”

WordCamp Belfast 2016 #WCBelfast

WordCamp is a conference for everyone from WordPress enthusiasts to professional developers. It is designed to promote learning, connect people from across the world and share ideas and success stories.

Even before we got in the door, we knew it was going to be a good day. The atrium’s glass walls revealed a sea of yellow t-shirted welcomers, who swiftly registered us, issued us with lanyard with an attached list of speakers and pointed us in the direction of the freebies. We were then directed upstairs to the main seminar rooms by a friendly and efficient bunch of volunteers. Every time I looked around during the day, there was someone to point me to the next seminar, cup of tea, tray of fruit, shortbread or healthy packed lunch! It really was one of the best-organised conferences I’ve attended, minus the usual suited stuffiness.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Every good conference has freebies! The freebies ranged from the usual pens and super-useful, branded, cloth shoppers to a high quality moleskin. There were even customised mascot stickers for those keen to recreate the #WapuuOfTheNorth and enter an Amazon voucher competition.

In addition, we left the conference with a suitably geeky, black WordPress t-shirt.

Thanks to the sponsors who I’d guess enabled the organisers to offer the ticket price at much less than it was actually worth. View the list of sponsors.


The thing that struck me from the beginning was the amount of both speakers and attendees from places outside Northern Ireland. It was excellent to see so many visitors and I know some stayed over to take advantage of Northern Ireland sights and hospitality.

My favourite talk of the Saturday speakers was @ahmed_khalifa, who spoke on How to Find Endless & Relevant Content Ideas Using Just Google ideas for creating content using little-known Google. Though I’d become aware of these tools years ago, and even taught them as part of a Windows workshop on many occasions, I’d not used them in years. He took what might be quite a dry topic and made it interesting by searching for ridiculous things. The audience was suitably impressed.

@fellyph also impressively spoke with limited notice to fill in for another speaker who was unable to attend, his first seminar in English, From Marketplace to WordPress! It was an excellent story of how he got Marketing and IT to work together on their website content to improve sales.

View the full list of speakers.

I love live-tweeting and following the back channel during conferences and other events. It helps me catch what I may have missed during a talk. And, I really benefit from seeing the perspective of others, who have alternative motivations for tweeting about different things.

View the #WCBelfast tweets, which contain not only attendees’ thoughts on the day and since, but speakers’ links to slides and other resources.

Unfortunately, due to a busy week, my batteries were running low and we were unable to attend the After Party, where attendees were able to sample a specially-brewed, WordCamp Belfast 2016 beer!


WordCamp Belfast 2016 was expertly curated and executed by Mark Smallman of MacGraphic, and his efficient team of professionals. Thank-you for a wonderful conference.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use the WordPress application, including setting up pages and blogs, get in touch.

Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

On 11 August at 10:30 am, I ‘ll deliver a free mini-workshop: Mental Health for Entrepreneurs.

This topic hasn ‘t received much attention, despite the fact that its two constituent parts mental health and entrepreneurship certainly have.

The Blurb

A quarter of small business owners fall mentally ill due to burnout. Half of all entrepreneurs deal with at least one mental illness.

This workshop will explain why and examine practical strategies to ease and energise the business brain.

The first of these stats was covered in a Guardian article towards the end of last year, with the headline that business owners struggle to ease work-life imbalance. This is hardly breaking news! But the article did point to some serious research conducted in the same year by Simply Business which showed, among other things, that a quarter of the business owners surveyed have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.

Part of the problem rests with certain aspects of entrepreneurial culture, especially the ‘sleep faster’ startup culture, the pressure to succeed, and the notion that business failure is equivalent to personal failure. This often leads to self-worth issues, anxiety, and devastating depression. So there is plenty of evidence to suggest a connection between entrepreneurship and mental health conditions, and even that entrepreneurship itself can become addictive!

As well as taking a look at some of these statistics and symptoms, my workshop will explore what lies behind them, which is, an entrepreneurial mindset that brings with it great dangers as well as advantages. The main thrust of my workshop will be to suggest ways to transform the dark work-ethic of entrepreneurship into a play-ethic that protects mental health and promotes business success at the same time.

Why Am I Talking About Mental Health for Entrepreneurs?

My qualifications for speaking on this topic are professional and personal. I ‘ve lead courses in Positive Psychology at local universities and taught young people in our schools as a trainer for Aware. I ‘ve started and run my own business for almost a decade. I’ve had a long interest in the relationship between mental health and creativity. And I ‘ve experienced debilitating mental ill health first hand.

Venue and Booking

The location will be The Foundry, a coworking space established by East Belfast Enterprise, built with start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses in mind.

The session will last for 1.5 hours, including introductions and Q&A.

To book your place, contact Patrick at East Belfast Enterprise on 028 9094 2010.

This workshop will enable entrepreneurs and business owners to start a conversation about their mental health. I look forward to meeting you there.

Further Reading

I ‘m glad that research into this field is rising, with PhD opportunities now available for study into Understanding and Enhancing the Health and Wellbeing of Entrepreneurs .

Also, a number of websites and projects have recently arisen that are dedicated to mental health for entrepreneurs. Here a selection of them.

  • Business in Mind is a workplace mental health promotion program designed for small to medium enterprise owner/managers.
  • Entrepreneur Depression is a website with stories, self-care exercises and resources designed to help entrepreneur with depression.
  • The purpose of The Mindset Project is to get more entrepreneurial in supporting founder wellness.

What is WabiSabi?

WabiSabi is a new venture from Sensei. We’re exploring the demand for a new coworking community and space in Northern Ireland.

Join WabiSabi on Facebook

Join WabiSabi on Twitter

Join us at an Event

What is Coworking?

Coworking is where unconnected people (who often work from home, coffee shops, hotel lobbies or client offices) and organisations get together in one place to work. Coworking spaces may offer a combination of:

  • desk hire by the hour, day, week or month
  • meeting and training space for hire by members or others
  • virtual office services
  • events

Are there any current coworking spaces in NI?

Yes! See Hotdesking & Coworking NI

Safeguarding Children Online

Parents, guardians, teachers, youth workers, healthcare professionals and others who have responsibilities for safeguarding children online are often flummoxed when it comes to the web.

Do you feel lost, left behind and clueless? Are you frightened that kids seems to know more than you do?

We are designing a series of workshops for adults who are responsible for safeguarding children online or empowering them with knowledge (teachers, parents, guardians and youth workers). Initially there are two workshops: Kids and the Web and Teens and the Web. We can also provide age-appropriate workshops for children and young people.

Click to read more about Safeguarding Children Online


We’re delighted to be involved in this year’s CultureTECH programme. Specifically, we’re helping train 1000 Digital Champions.

The campaign has been developed in support of the Go ON NI initiative which seeks to address the lack of digital skills across Northern Ireland.

The programme is huge. Find out more at CultureTECH.

Image credit: oggierite

12 Great Online Locations to Promote Your Event

The following list is compiled from ways in which we have used online tools to help promote a key event. (Don’t forget the offline stuff too. Blog post in the making…)


It makes sense that if you’re using Twitter already, you tweet information and links to events you’re running or helping to promote.

  • Tweet often. People who are online at 07:30am may not be online at 3pm, or 10pm. Experiment, to see which times get the best results. You can measure this in simple ways, by engagament (i.e. Replies, Mentions and Retweets) or by using a URL shortener for example, such as Ow.ly (an URL shortener and link visit tracker).
  • Experiment with different phrases. As people expand the number of Twitter users they follow, things become unmanagable. This is where tools such as Tweetkdeck and Hootsuite play a role in helping users filter tweets for keywords. As you might expect, not everyone follows the same keywords as may be obvious to you.
  • If you’re not already on Twitter and open an account solely to promote a single event, don’t expect too many bookings. People like to get to know you first.

Also, take a tour of Twitter for Business, to learn about other promotional tools.

Your Own Website

There is no better place to promote an event than your own website.

  • Twitter aside (in our case), it is probably the source of the majority of visitors to your event booking page.
  • Remember to use Google Analytics, or some other website statistics package, to record the source of all visits.


We’ve already blogged How to Use Facebook to Promote an Event, but there’s no harm mentioning this again. (Remember to come back once you’ve read this post.)


The three best things about Eventbrite are:

Event invitation, booking, payment, reminder and notifcation management

OK, that’s five. 🙂 But, this (almost free) application is worth its weight in handbags. See Eventbrite pricing for further details.

  • Automate sending of invitations, notifcations and reminders (including complimentary tickets) to a pre-existing list of contacts
  • Take bookings – with multiple payment options – online

Tracking links

  • Would you like to be able to see which online marketing effforts are sending most links to your booking page?
  • Would you like to identify which affiliates are sharing your links more effectively than others?
  • Would it help focus future marketing events if you could see which tracked links were ineffective?


There are buckets of customisation options in Eventbrite. One of my favourites is the facility to create ticket forms, widgets like this one, calendars and links to promote your event with a clean, professional look.


Register and add your event (free) to WhatsOnNI.com. Events are uploaded along with an image and approved on the same day.

Email Newsletter

Using a legitimate email contact list, sign up to Mailchimp today. I’ve surveyed the best of the rest, and this is the one that was consistently easy to use and written with non-tecchies in mind.

Advantage NI

Advantage shares Northern Ireland news and events and has a Business Directory that you can add your details to. Register with Advantage NI to being making use of the website’s promotional facilities.


NI Business Info is an InvestNI webiste where you can read crucial business information and view business events in Northern Ireland. Register with NI Business Info, to begin accessing information and sharing events.


SyncNI publishes a Northern Ireland business calendar listing varying types of events, though its focus is business, technology, science and innovation. Register with SyncNI (for free) to list business events, post news, share press releases and blog posts.

Addictive Creatives

Addictive Creatives lists news and Northern Ireland creative events. Contact Addictive Creatives with details of your event.

LinkedIn Events

You can add LinkedIn Events as long as you already have a LinkedIn profile. Like Facebook, you, attendees and other interested parties can add their name to the list. You can also send invitations to anyone in your contact list.

Business Events Hub

The Business Events Hub Facebook page is added to regularly by business people sharing and promoting events. As long as you already have a Facebook profile, you can Like the Page, then share links to events.

American Schmaltz or European Laissez-Faire?

A man walks into a shop. He lifts a bacon-and-egg roll, a banana milkshake, and a Finger of Fudge choc bar. He then walks up to the counter to pay. Nothing remarkable so far. Except… this is Northern Ireland. Here, regular customer service is a tale told by weary travellers. As for exceeding customer expectations, that concept is as mythical and woolly as the mammoth.

The man waits. And waits. And waits. The till attendant sees him but is more concerned with finishing a conversation about last Friday ‘s pub-crawl. This riveting dialogue presumably with another ’employee ‘ is of first importance. The customer is secondary; an interference, an impertinence, a fly on the Continue reading “American Schmaltz or European Laissez-Faire?”