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Lisa Sweeny On Networking And Living Your Dream

Lisa Sweeny On Networking And Living Your Dream

Eventually it sank in. I was born to be… me.

If someone had told you 25 years ago that you would be where you are now, would you have laughed at them?

Well, welcome to my story. As far as the above is concerned, it’s probably similar to yours. From here on, it’s only the details that differ…

For 20 or so of those 25 years, I globe-trotted on the company purse. I ate in fancy restaurants, stayed in 5 star hotels and shopped in haughty boutiques – and got paid to do it! I thought it would continue forever. Harrods in London, Zara in Barcelona, haute-couture along the Champs Elysees and all the fine cuisine and indulgent Bordeaux wines I could pour into my crystal goblets (in moderation of course… hic!) were all in a day’s work. Yes – work! You see, being a clothing buyer for a large Australian retail chain meant international travel to the fashion capitals so we could pick up on trends, buy samples and stay just within the law changing them by 10% once back home to avoid any nasty legal difficulties. Yep – that was the job.

Lisa Sweeney, the owner and executive director of the women's networking group Business In Heels
Lisa Sweeny, the owner and executive director of the women’s networking group Business In Heels

We had to work with local and Asian suppliers and manufacturers to create the garments that would line the shelves most of us would wear at one time or another.

Well, that was then.

Children, disillusion and the desire for a new challenge slowly took hold and altered my course. The things I once treasured telling stories about (that exquisite restaurant on the left bank with the smelly sommelier and the smellier blue vein) became glib and meaningless as my desire for something new slowly took hold.

catwalk

With our two children, my husband and I took a glorious three month holiday in Europe. We stayed in budget accommodation and drank cheap red from enormous vats to economise! They tasted amazing because of the company, not the price tag.

Whilst away we talked of all the opportunities the unknown presents. Should we open a bed and breakfast when we return? Become business consultants? Invent our own line of clothing?

We dabbled in a few things and fate found us buying two Business in Heels branches – Melbourne and Geelong – which I operated. I loved it. In fact, it became the classic tale I now love telling – “I loved it so much, we bought the company!”

These days I jump out of bed every morning energised, pumped and ready to do what I now love best – helping other women make their passions work. It’s extraordinarily satisfying talking to a new business owner, a career woman with vast experience or a lady at a crossroads knowing I can help them get where they want to go.

Women attending a Business In Heels networking event
Women attending a Business In Heels networking event

You see, even though I’d been doing it naturally for my whole corporate career, I’d never pinned down why I’d done so well when others with similar experience and skill hadn’t. That reason became my calling. I loved networking because networking is helping people. Until that point, my business career had been this huge spinning wheel, finally stopping at the right place.

Top Networking Tips

1 Get over your self-destructive fears and go meet people! Everyone started somewhere.
2 Don’t sell anything! Offer to help instead – it’ll come back in spades when you least expect it.
3 Develop a knockout elevator pitch! It needs to make you sound enthusiastic about what you do and client oriented.
4 Dress like a professional in your field. Looking the part makes you feel the part. Feeling the part makes you act the part.
5 Finally – steer clear of small minds. They’ll damage your soul.

25 years ago, did you think you’d be living your life? Celebrate your journey.

Check out Lisa Sweeney and Joanne Plummer’s eBook,  The Heel to Toe of Networking here

The Carousel would like to thank Lisa Sweeney for her blog. For more information about Business In Heels, click here.

Written by Lisa Sweeny

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