Vanessa Raath opened her presentation from her standing desk in Johannesburg, South Africa with the sun setting and a hope of making life easier for those listening to her speak. Through her African bush photographs, she told the story of how she pivoted in a year no crystal ball could have predicted. At the start of 2020, she had a business less than 8 months old and three international trips planned when she was told to “stay safe, stay home, and save lives.”
In South Africa, this meant no outdoor exercise, no leaving your home unless gathering groceries, and for some being in a single room with 8 to 10 family members with no escape. Vanessa recognized this meant she had to make adjustments in her professional and personal life. She learned how to work smarter, not harder while attracting clients to build her professional brand and adjusting her personal life to the new normal.
She began detailing her journey with an original photo of wild dogs, explaining they are extremely intelligent about how they approach their day. Once she realized she was working 12 hour days, she knew she had to shift from working harder to working smarter. The Pomodoro Technique is one method that helped in segmenting her day. She used the Marinara: Pomodoro Assistant chrome extension to block off 40-minute work intervals followed by a break from the computer.
Instead of going back and forth with potential candidates or clients, she incorporated a digital calendar scheduling assistant, Calendly. She left the audience with a wealth of other tools and suggestions listed at the bottom of this article. There are many great resources she found to help improve her workday, but she needed to focus on getting noticed online, especially after the cancellation of in-person training and speaking engagements.
Since the idea of doing cold calling gave her cold shivers, she set a goal of posting at least three times a week on LinkedIn to grow her professional brand. She learned authenticity and confidence are the best tools when building a strong online presence. She followed a 5:1 having five posts share information about the industry or collaborating with others and one post asking for assistance.
Along with her LinkedIn posts, she reached out to every speaker who was scheduled at SourceCon Lisbon and had a 30-minute coffee call. The more people she spoke to, the more doors opened and because of that she has still not had to make one cold call throughout the pandemic. Whether Vanessa was attending events, making new virtual connections, or volunteering as a speaker, she made an impact on her professional and personal life.
By March of last year, all of the goals she set for the year were out the window and she readjusted to focus on making sure she felt happy at the end of each day. She made sure her family was fed, helped her parents recover from COVID 19, and spent three weeks on holiday in December. This did not prevent the inevitable burnout she and many others felt towards the end of 2020.
In order to combat the fatigue, she pivoted by revamping her workspace with a standup desk, engulfing herself in the SourceCon South Africa community, and making a goal to look forward to in the new year.
The past year was a challenging time and the world is still feeling the residual effects, but as our speaker tells us, “you are stronger than what you think! So get out there, be brave, challenge yourself!”
It’s not the same as being there to hear her share a ton of tips and insights, however, I’ve included some of the resources that Vanessa Raath shared with us during her keynote. Enjoy!
Discord – (waynete.ch/discord)