Social Media enabled me to hang out with Dragons.
Social media is a minefield, there are so many apps out there. I get the hang of one, then another one appears. However, social media worked in my favour recently. I was given an amazing opportunity, I got to hang out with dragons. Read on to find out how.
In 2010 Theo Paphitis (you may have heard of him, hint – Dragons’ Den) came up with an idea. One Sunday evening he asked small businesses to tweet about their business and he promised to re-tweet his favourite 6 the following morning. This initiative proved so popular that #SBS (Small Business Sunday) was created and it is still going strong today. The power of social media.
Theo Paphitis #SBS (Small Business Sunday)
Every Sunday between 5.00pm – 7.30pm small businesses are encouraged to tweet @TheoPaphitis describing their business using the all-important #SBS. Then every Monday at 8.00pm Theo re-tweets 6 of them to his 506k+ followers.
Back in September 2016 I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen 6. Theo re-tweeted my business tweet and I became an #SBS Winner. You can follow me on twitter here.
As a result of this ‘win’ my twitter news-feed went crazy. I received so many lovely messages of congratulations and support. I also received a lot more followers, many of whom I followed back. There have been many other benefits regarding my #SBS win.
Benefits of being an #SBS Winner
I received membership to an exclusive #SBS Winners Website, click here to view my bio (it needs updating), an invitation to a #SBS Winners FB group and an official #SBS Winner badge to add to my website. Ta-daaaaa…
As well as an increase in social media exposure, I have also gained some press coverage in one of my local newspapers, Bucks Free Press. you can check out my story here.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit was an invitation for me, and a plus 1, to attend an exclusive annual #SBS Winners Business Event.
#SBS Winners Business Event
This event took place in the International Conference Centre, Birmingham on Friday 3rd February. We decided not to stay overnight either on Thursday or Friday so we had a fairly long commute from High Wycombe. The journey up to Birmingham wasn’t that bad. However, the parking was a completely different story. You needed a degree in electronic parking ticket machines in order to pay the parking fee. Nevertheless, with the parking issue resolved, the front entrance to the ICC located and a big (if not slightly nervous) smile on my face I was ready to take on the day.
<<< I was a little excited to see this ‘Welcome #SBS Winners’ banner.
Due to the fact this was my first #SBS event I did feel slightly overwhelmed when we first walked into the main room. It was a lot bigger than I imagined. There were three big screens up on stage, the sponsors’ stands at the back of the room behind the rows of chairs and even the balconies were utilised. A number of ‘Meet the Experts’ sessions were available with the sponsors – 123.Reg, DHL, iLaw, Red Letter Days, Robert Dyas and Ryman. If you were lucky enough to get a slot you went up there to sit and chat. There were also a number of workshops taking place on the balconies.
We were among the first people to arrive so we spent some time wandering around the main room, looking at the stands, grabbing a drink and a cookie (of course) and then I was ready to network. The first person I saw was the lovely Linzi from @This was her first #SBS event too. We had ‘met’ on twitter and it was great to meet the person behind the name. My networking efforts were cut short by the announcement that the first workshop was about to begin.
I was lucky enough to attend two workshops, both of which were presented by 123.Reg. The first workshop was ‘Ideas for Social Media Content’. The main take away from that was ‘Be Focused and Be Consistent’. The second was based on ‘The importance of SEO’. Funnily enough I ended up sitting next to Linzi during that one so we were able to carry on chatting for a bit longer. Both workshops were very informative and I wrote lots of notes.
Sponsors & Motivating Story
The two workshops I attended took place first thing in the morning. Then the formal presentations by the sponsors started around 11am. During the presentations we were informed of various offers available to the #SBS Winners. Not long after that Theo was introduced and then there he was on the stage. It was all pretty dramatic. I wanted to join in with the rapturous applause but like some kind of nerdy fan I had decided to video his entrance. I tried clapping but this didn’t bode well with a one handed camera hold when trying to video. So, I decided not to share the clip with you, but trust me….I am pretty sure he had his own theme tune. Theo spoke for a little while and discussed a variety of topics including Brexit, Politics (yes, he even projected an image of ‘that’ Trump character), Football, and also highlighted some #SBS stats. This was followed by a discussion regarding new developments to the #SBS Shop.
Then we were introduced to a guest speaker Jodine Boothby, the founder of the World’s first teething glove. Her company Gummee UK is the happy ending to a huge success story. It was amazing to listen to Jodine’s story of her journey from her school days to where she is now. Her business success didn’t happen overnight, she hit some (a lot of) stumbling blocks, and she very openly talked about her experience of anxiety and depression. Her story was humbling, emotional and above everything else extremely inspiring.
People seem to think that when you say you are going to set up your own business it just all falls in to place ‘just like that’. However, Jodine’s story reminded me that there are actually years of hard work, tears and tantrums behind every ‘overnight success’. Having a business idea isn’t enough, maintaining a website isn’t enough, networking isn’t enough, and even engaging in social media isn’t enough… BUT it all adds up to a great start.
Consistence, persistence and passion for YOUR business is key.
Not only were we able to join in free workshops, given the chance to speak to business experts and network with other #SBS Winners, we also got fed. And what a nice little spread it was too. I planned on using this time to network but I ended up chatting to an expert from iLaw and gained some important and very relevant information.
Once we were suitably fed and watered it was time for the Q&A session. This was another big highlight of the day. The panel included Theo (obviously) and he was joined by a familiar face – Deborah Meaden (of Dragons’ Den and Strictly fame). I told you I got to hang out with dragons. The third panel member was John Mills, founder of the JML brand.
The Q&A session lasted for about two hours. There were some very interesting questions asked and some very informative answers were given. However, a lot of it was also common sense. A couple of people had brought their products with them as gifts for Deborah. I had packed a few products of my own in case a ‘Show and Tell’ opportunity came up whilst networking. I was tempted to try to bribe, I mean, present Deborah with a bracelet but it was hard trying to attract her attention. There were a lot of enthusiastic people wanting to be heard. Like I said, most of the questions were genuine questions that evoked words of wisdom from the panel. However, there were also a few hand to forehead moments where people obviously hadn’t been paying attention before they asked a question similar to a question that had already been answered…a few times. Theo handled it well though, it’s like he’s done it before. Towards the end of the session I happened to notice a few people leaving. Then a few more…and then people were leaving in small groups. The penny dropped, they were all new #SBS Winners (or old winners that hadn’t attended before) and they were off to secure a prime position in front of the ‘Collect your signed certificate and have your photo take with Theo‘ area.
Meeting the Man Himself
I joined the queue and waited patiently but the queue moved fairly quickly. Just before I got to meet Theo I walked past a desk, gave someone my business name and received my signed certificate. I’m not usually a stars in their eyes kind of woman, but for some reason I was a little bit nervous. I think it was mainly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I walked around the corner and was suddenly face to face with him. He stood there with two hands out but I didn’t want to be ‘that’ winner that stepped into a hug when really it was meant to be a handshake, so I stuck out my hand just to be safe. I knew he had hundreds of people to meet and greet so I wasn’t even expecting him to speak to me, but he did and it threw me a bit. The rest of those Theo infused seconds are a bit of a blur. He asked me what business I had. I either answered ‘Bespoke Jewellery‘ or ‘Bespoke Accessories‘ or I may have just said something that didn’t even make sense. I saw the cameras and the bright lights but not much else. I held my certificate with one hand and for want of something to do with my other arm I placed it on Theo’s back.
As we smiled (grimaced or whatever it was we did), I said, in a style of a ventriloquist ‘Could I interest you in a tiara? <nervous laugh>’.
He smiled, possibly even laughed and said something along the lines of ‘I’m not in to that just yet’. But he obviously meant,
‘I haven’t got into the jewellery business yet but when I do you will be the first to know.’
I will wait to hear from you Mr P.
One downside to the photo session is my plus 1 tried to take photos of me but was told by the official photographer that he wasn’t allowed. This photo was the only one he managed to sneakily take. Imagine my surprise when later that evening I saw unofficial photos lurking on social media sites. I just hope the official ones are good ones.
Overall, it was an amazing day. I learnt a lot and I met lots of people, not as many as I would have liked but the day just went so quickly. *Lesson learnt – next time I plan on staying over after (and possibly also the night before) the event, network, network, network! We were given goodie bags at the end of the event (you can never have too many pens). We were also given a free notebook at the start of the event. I was very excited about that as I am a #stationerygeek.
As I said before, there are so many benefits to being an #SBS Winner and I cannot wait to continue interacting with more #SBS Winners old and new.
Furthermore, on top of all that, I get to do it all again next year. I cannot wait!
If you have any questions or comments about this event then I would love to hear from you.
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