My DigitalMums Journey

Towards the end of 2016, I was given notice that my part time Head of HR role was to be made redundant. I had had the grim job of making other people redundant before, and I was desperately trying to tell myself that this was my own opportunity for an exciting new beginning. Fake it ’til you make it — right?

However, the job market for forty-something mums, seeking skilled local part time work is not particularly buoyant! With my career coach hat on I knew I had to tap into the hidden job market, network and be patient.

Alongside HR, I had been responsible for internal communications and overseen the implementation and creation of a Company Intranet and the LinkedIn Company page. So when I saw the Digital Mums advert for their Social Media Manager course, I explored further. My thinking was that with Social Media Management skills and HR skills, I would have an enhanced offering to small businesses and be well placed to market myself. As a Fellow of the CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development) I truly believe in the benefits of continual development and lifelong learning, so I took the plunge and invested my redundancy money in the course. It felt like I was taking some positive steps forward as my final date of employment loomed large.

I became part of the February Cohort and was allocated to peer group F. Group K quickly became #Minerva.

The Co — Fo’s — I’ve spent a lot of time watching them and I seem to know a lot about their dogs...

We were introduced to Moodle, G+ communities and Google hangouts. My brain hurt at all the new technology. We watched lots of videos of the Co-Founders (Co Fo’s to use the right lingo!) as they shared their 10 step social media marketing process and their ‘secret sauce’. We set up our campaigns and began to put the TMRR model into practice. (That’s Test, Measure, Reflect and Refine if I’m not in breach of copyright for sharing!)The course is a 24-week long distance learning programme. I have not (yet) met a single person IRL (in real life) from the course. Actually, that is not strictly true — one of my friends from school was also in the Feb Cohort, but as I knew her before she doesn’t count in this context!

The course works on a ‘learning by doing model’, which is ideal for me. You learn the theory and then you put it into practise. Mostly this works well, but I have to be honest that there were times when I just longed for someone to sit beside me and show me exactly what to do or to confirm that I was on the right path. There are only 2 one-to-one video calls during the entire 24 weeks and at times this can be really frustrating. If it hadn’t been for the support and help of my #Minerva peer group I am not sure I would have made it to the end.

But I it — so hurrah! Go me — Go Minerva!

So what have I learned from running my Mind Campaign Weybridge Wellbeing? Actually — so darn much! Everything from Branding and Tone of Voice, Influencer Strategies, Content Creation and Curation, Testing and Measuring, Setting up Platforms-Instagram,Facebook, Linkedin,Twitter, SnapChat,YouTube and Pinterest, Campaign Reporting, Advertising, How to Run Tweet Chats, How to Write Blogs, How to Schedule Posts, Applet Voodoo and loads about Time Management Tool, Trello.

Yet as crucial as all this practical knowledge and experience is, I have gained so much more. Firstly, the confidence to post and interact with others on social media. I had very much been a watcher and a reader rather than a participant on social media before the course. It’s pretty obvious (the clue is in the name!) but the key element of Social Media really is ‘Social’ and it’s only by being social and interacting that you make the most out of all the platforms. Posting and getting the ‘virtual me’ out there has led to a variety of interesting conversations and experiences; from chatting to Eamonn Holmes and GetSurrey one Saturday morning on twitter about the best place to have a cooked breakfast, to attending a Massaoke Event at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

I’m just a teenage dirtbag Massaoke Sing A Long

Hands down, however, the best part of the course has been my peer group #Minerva. In my HR life I often ask people when they have been part of a really great team. I would now answer, ‘on my Digi Mums course’. The reason is simply the generosity of the group — the seven of us have pulled our skills, resources and knowledge and worked together for the good of the group, with a determination that we will pull and push each other towards the finishing line, despite how confusing final reporting templates have been!

I have interacted with an amazing on-line community of inspirational women who are running all sorts of businesses. I have gained a huge amount of courage and self-confidence from this interaction. Previously, I have always been the person who feels I need twenty thousand years’ experience and the highest level of certification before I can add value to others. I have seen first-hand that this is not actually true and that you don’t need to be perfect or have all the answers to start your own business. I now really believe the mantra ‘why not me, why not now!’ I have also been inspired by the Co-Fo’s to just ‘put my own spin on’ any ideas that I have. I am really looking forward to joining the DM Collective as I have seen and felt the power of mums supporting mums. It’s amazing and I want some more of that good stuff!

So what’s next?

I seen other alumni who say that they are turning work down at the end of the course. Sadly no one I know on the course is in this situation. One or two have roles to move into immediately, but not the majority of us. This is subject to change, of course, and I hope to hear that more people have found engaging paid work soon. We are of course not yet graduates of the ‘do the hustle’ element and that could make all the difference — watch this space.

What’s next for me?

Well one month into the course I was offered and started an amazing local part time HR role.My #Minerva gals helped prep me for the interview. My boss is great and I am engaged in fantastically interesting work and able to work flexibly. (Yes, I know how lucky I am.)

I am also going to run some confidence and career coaching groups for women and I will be using my new Social Media skills to set up platforms for this part time coaching business.

How amazing it that? I may keep the name Weybridge Wellbeing or I may come up with something new. I will probably have a little wobble, and a bit of Imposter Syndrome is bound to hit me along the way — but I know I’ll have a group of cheerleaders to support me and provide feedback on my suggestions so I am confident all will be well!

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