Taking a turn in your career can be a tough experience filled with new challenges, unpredictable outcomes and perhaps even failure. Yet, knowing this, Louise Wightman knew she needed to make a change. Self employed since 2005, Louise decided to close her agency in 2008 and retrain as a Life coach.
Intrigued, we caught up with Louise to learn more about her story and “reinventing yourself” in the digital age.
LOUISE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR “REINVENTION”…
Well, I reinvented myself at the age of 33 after leaving the recruitment industry. I had worked in the recruitment industry since I was 20 years old and had my own small consultancy in Glasgow, Scotland, but due to the economic downturn it was becoming more difficult to match the unrealistic expectations of employers and recruiting staff, so I wound down the business. It’s been 8 years since I’ve been self employed, I really love what I do for a living.
WHAT SPARKED THE PROCESS?
When I closed the agency, it was a huge transition as everyone knew me as a Recruiter. This change in direction required an enormous amount of belief in what I was doing – I had to coach myself daily.
I initially thought life coaching would be the main source of income, however as I had to re-brand myself, I focused heavily on using the social media tools. It became apparent that I was resourceful using these tools, and decided that it would make sense for me to invoice companies for this service. I wanted to learn the best code of practice for using the tools as digital media is a minefield of information. I found a 16 week distance learning course which gave me a qualification ITQ in Social Media through Concise Training in the UK.
I signed up for a distance learning program for 16 weeks and obtained the ITQ in Social Media qualification.
HOW DID YOU TRANSITION FROM STUDENT TO YOUR FIRST JOB?
When I was studying I picked up some life coaching clients, then through some existing contacts I secured some business coaching work. My network was still strong through various sources i.e. LinkedIn, and I maintained these relationships consistently. To gain additional experience I volunteered for the Association for Coaching in UK. I held the position of Head of Operations for Scotland and worked with them for 18 months. This did heighten my profile in Scotland with Coaches, so it was a good strategic move and a great learning experience.
I was constantly enhancing my technical knowledge and began building websites using WordPress, this is a passion of mine. I was fortunate that the course in Social Media covered SEO so I could see where websites were failing and could offer suggestions. I am a creative and analytical person by nature, so I am drawn to analysis and marketing data. When I joined the recruitment industry in 1995 it was a very credible career, it taught me excellent business skills and I am grateful.
ANY SURPRISES ALONG THE WAY?
When I set up my coaching company Approach the Coach, I didn’t foresee the social media and digital work surpassing the coaching aspect. One website had all the information contained in the one place; I enjoyed coaching and I enjoyed social media so I combined them. Seemed sensible at the time!
Recently I have set-up Digital Diva Media Agency. The goal for 2013 is to firmly separate the two businesses so that Approach The Coach can focus strictly on coaching, mentoring and training and then Digital Diva Media on all things digital. I have two part-time workers and plan to expand this in 2013-14.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT YOUR NEW CAREER DIRECTION?
I am a person that likes to build things and I love having goals and targets to meet – it energizes me. A large part of my job is communicating results to the clients and planning their next month’s online activity. I really enjoy observing real-time activity and responding, and occasionally even stepping in for crisis management.
I am also a results – focused person and I enjoy finding solutions and passing on knowledge to others who are starting out, or looking for better ways to work. I have been so fortunate to work with some very talented people such as coaches and psychologists and use the knowledge gained to help my clients.
IS THERE REALLY A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIAL MEDIA, PLANNING AND COACHING?
Media planning is about creating new habits to ensure the client gets results, so if they need XYZ but don’t know where to start, I will coach them through the process. It is similar to joining the dots, showing them evidence that it is working and highlighting the benefits of staying on track and monitoring the results.
Clients want their expectations met, so at the beginning of any working relationship it’s important to be very clear with the client about what they can expect from us as Coaches/Website Designers.
For example, if the goal is to sell 20 frames of designer glasses, you may need to post 200 tweets and write 4 blogs with 14 facebook entries along with Pinterest images showing prices. The time it takes to do these tasks can be broken down into an hourly rate and that time taken off the profit of the sale. From here, you work out what has been worthwhile and adjust your marketing plans moving forward.
DO YOU KEEP UP WITH YOUR TRAINING NOW?
Every year I get a diploma to ensure I keep my skills marketable. In 2011 I received a City and Guilds qualification in Social Media. Then I mixed the digital with the business coaching and that works well for clients. They really like have a coach with a corporate business background who understand social and digital strategy.
In 2012 I studied a Level 5 in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which I can apply to business coaching as it is based on evidence and results. I think feeding the mind is critical when you are self-employed – it makes you alert, marketable and as knowledgeable as possible.
DO YOU HAVE 5 TIPS FOR A COMPANY GETTING STARTED IN SOCIAL?
- Image is everything, chose your logo carefully and ensure everything online is brand fitting, meaning your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn company services page should match your website as closely as possible, image and wording.
- Give your brand a personality that people can relate to. If it is a large corporation, people may not engage with a logo, so you have to humanise the experience.
- Be consistent with posts, whether its tweets or blogs.
- Interaction is key. Ask questions to find out what engages your online audience
- Do not, under any circumstances, engage in online negative banter as it reflects badly on your own brand.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN BUILDING AND MAINTAINING AN ONLINE IMAGE FOR A CLIENT?
Simple – Do what you say you are going to do! Deliver and be consistent.
Have you ever reinvented yourself? Tell us about your experience!