Many people are surprised when they read about the diverse profiles of the client communities I serve. I often work with mature clients, professional men and women, who are likely to have owned or run their own business or are experts in their chosen field. I enjoy the great stories they have to tell, based on a variety of experiences and the valuable wisdom they have to share. They are generally also quite humble, and so very rewarding to work with, because I am able to draw them out and help them share their stories via their LinkedIn Profiles.
In this month’s Career Q&A we hear the story of Kerryn Powell, who describes herself as a Business Catalyst, Networking Strategist and connector. Kerryn is just months away from welcoming her first grandchild, and is the perfect example of the type of business owner I enjoy working with. Her work and life experiences, extensive networks and genuine desire to help others means she is an extremely valuable person to know. She helps business professionals and organisations build relationships both internally and externally and to help them grow confidence, understand their value, access knowledge, experience and the support they need to grow a bigger and better business.
Kerryn connects people and used her creative and organizational skills to build a community by starting and establishing the Bayside Craft Market which ran for several years at the Brighton Town Hall, providing the opportunity for stallholders to promote their businesses and create income. These days you’ll find her working in and on her business, Your Time Matters, which she’s been running since 2010. I really value the connections I’ve made from knowing Kerryn, and the approach she takes at her monthly events. Kerryn and I have collaborated on a number of key events, and this year Think Bespoke became Your Time Matter’s LinkedIn Strategy Partner. I have already reaped the rewards of this strategic alliance by meeting interesting people to interview for this Career Q&A and forged new business relationships with a number of the experienced and knowledgable professionals who attend Kerryn’s networking events to learn, grow and achieve.
Kerryn has a home office in Bayside Melbourne and if you follow @yourtimematters on Instragram you’ll occasionally get to enjoy the lovely views from her back garden. When she is not running events across Melbourne for YTM or her clients, this is where she works with her husband, Leigh Powell, who recently joined her in the business, providing Business Strategy and Mentoring services.
I hope you enjoy hearing Kerryn’s Career Story.
Please tell us a little about a day in the working life of Kerryn.
A day in my working life sees me responsible for all that goes with running a small business. I manage the day to day operations, plus organize our monthly events, promoting them; managing social media; building my business funnel; nurturing my clients and leads and having regular face to face meetings to strengthen my network with others. I am constantly learning and implementing new things into my business and I enjoy the challenge, the flexibility of being my own boss and creating opportunities for others to achieve their desired outcomes. I am constantly on the lookout for relevant and new content to assist my clients.
How does this differ to your career ambitions as a young adolescent?
As a young child, I always wanted to be a teacher. I don’t think I ever wanted to be anything else. But due to family circumstance when my parents divorced in my final year of school, I needed to change my direction. I had hardly studied that final year and thought I would not pass my exams and get the required marks, plus my mother was now the single bread winner and I could not afford to be a student.
So I was forced to take another path and went into the travel industry for the first 8 years after I left school. I enjoyed the experience and my geography certainly improved! I also developed my communication and organizational skills. I constantly met new people from a range of professions and I organized conferences, escorted tour groups and planned dream holidays for my clients.
But . . . I always wanted to teach, and so went back to study as a mature aged student in the 1980s and taught for 2 years before my son was born. I then took a break but returned to teach for 10 years after my daughter started primary school.
What was the defining moment that set you on the career path you are on today?
I left teaching after some 10 years and then worked in Home Relocation and Real Estate before I started my own business in 2010.
As a small business owner, I was helping other business owners and individuals find solutions to their lifestyle needs, both personally and professionally. I was also attending networking events to promote and grow my own business and network.
I suppose the defining moment came when I heard Steve Jobs speech to the Stanford Graduates where he said you can only connect the dots when you look back.
When I looked back at my life and really thought about what I enjoyed the most, the pattern was apparent. A love of people, organizing events, strong interpersonal skills and a desire to build relationships and help others find solutions to what they needed.
I had also attended a speed networking event and came up with an idea to make networking so much more fun and comfortable by seeding the conversation.
What is one of the best decisions you’ve had to make in your journey to success and career happiness?
The best decision was not to go straight into teaching. But I am also so pleased that I did . . . as I will not die wondering and thinking life may have been different “if only I had been a teacher”.
I enjoyed teaching, but for me and my personality, I would not have wanted to spend my career in a classroom. Funnily enough, I do teach now . . . but not in the way that I ever imagined.
I think I have been very fortunate to have worked in such a variety of diverse industries. I have meet many interesting people and have listened to them share stories and experiences that have given me a window into other situations. It has made me curious and opened my eyes to the fact that we need to constantly, learn, grow and achieve. That it is okay to give things a go and if they do not work out, to move onto something else. Yes, networking has certainly enriched my life, personally and professionally, and now I teach people to think that way and not see networking as a chore that they have to compartmentalize into their business, but as an opportunity to thrive and give to others.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career or business in your industry?
My advice is to never underestimate the skills you develop throughout your life and career. It is possible to constantly evolve, you just need to be open to opportunities.
I remember when I was teaching, so many of my colleagues stayed in education because they thought they had no transferable skills. This is so far from the truth. Amongst many other things they had good communication skills, time management skills, crowd control, were flexible, life learners, problem solvers, and able to create a whole range of learning materials based on individual needs.
Now as I provide Networking Strategy and Networking Coaching to business professionals, I often discuss with them the skills they have honed, the networks they have created throughout their careers and how else these skills can be utilized.
What is it that they really would like to do and could apply their skills to?
Please tell us more about your plans for the future.
Through losing family and many friends of all ages, through illness, accident, and old age, I have witnessed how precious our relationships are. I plan to enjoy the arrival of my first grandchild in a few months, and continue to help people achieve what matters to them, particularly if it makes a difference to the wider community.
I am also planning to leverage what I have developed and to share the wealth of knowledge I now have to create some more tools and products to help people develop their networking skills, and have deeper conversations that impact on their business, and life in general, both personally and professionally.
I hope I can help make a difference and encourage and teach others that your time matters . . use it wisely.
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