7 November 2012

Keep Your Options Open...

... and you'll get more out of life.

I've never considered myself an adventurer. I'm not a great risk-taker. I don't mind going out of my comfort zone but sometimes I consider myself a bit antisocial.

But every now and then, I just push myself to do something because I know it will be good for me.

Such was the case last September. Well, the story starts earlier than that. Some months ago, I opened a Twitter account to publicise my book, The A to Z of Spanish Culture.  Early on, a fellow "twitterer" reached out, Steve Hall from thisisspain.com. "Hey," he said. "You might be interested in joining a Facebook group, made up of writers and bloggers in Spain."

A Facebook group, moi? To do what?

I might not be adventurous but I have a lot of time for people who reach out. It usually works out ok (except for last week when someone from a LinkeIn group invited me to connect with them and straight away went into a hard-sell, but that's another story...).

So, I joined this Facebook group, full of mainly British expats who have set up shop in Spain. I couldn't believe it, just like me to meet new people in Spain (a rare occurrence as I mainly see just my friends and family when I'm visiting) and they happen to be mainly British.

To cut a long story short, I fitted right in. I disagree on the whole with how much Spain has to offer (of course, they're there out of choice and I left the country out of choice) but the group soon felt like somewhere pleasant to hang out online.

Then in September, I went to Madrid for three weeks. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to meet some of these people? So, rather nervously (did I mention I'm not very sociable and like my cosy, close group of friends?) I posted on the group to see who might be up for meeting up. A couple of people said yes and we set a date.

And then, someone said. "Oh, I've just realised that I have organised a networking event on that evening. Why don't you all come?"

Argh! Networking is an important part of being self-employed and a business owner but I can only do it when I don't realise I'm doing it. In any case, I read through the agenda for the event and saw that we had to do a 30 second introduction to the whole group. Great.

"Ok," I suggested. "Why don't we go for the welcoming drinks and then leave before the "formal networking" begins?"

But, on the day, chatting to the wide variety of people there, I began to enjoy the conversations with all these entrepreneurs, these "Guiripreneurs" as the group is called. ("Guiri" is slang for foreigner in Spanish.) Meeting so many people together who were determined to create or begin to create their own work was very energising.

Now we're getting to the point of the story where the reason for this blog post becomes clear. (Took me a while.)

Talking to a woman at the event, we realised we were both in the professional development industry and so we decided to have coffee the following week, to find out more about what we both did. And then the unexpected happened. We have set up a project in Madrid. At no point in my career had I ever thought of working in Spain, much less of opening a business-type venture, but the suggestion from Kirstin that we run something together was difficult to resist.

So, in a month we have developed a range of teambuilding courses, created the website and have our first prospect meeting lined up. It's not the best of times to pursue a business opportunity in Madrid, but then again, we have very little to lose and a lot to gain, even if it's just the experience of working together.

The venture is called Teambuilding Madrid and through it we deliver teambuilding courses in English, with a focus on productivity, change or presentation skills. The courses are delivered in English, so we are actually offering three benefits for the price of one: team growth, skills-based training and the opportunity for participants to practice their English.

Let's see how it goes - and do drop me a comment below if you know of anyone who might be interested in our new venture!

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