First published on Nett Magazine (16th Jan 2016)
Melbournite Anneli Blundell has spent the past nine years building her business, and helping leaders learn to engage.
What’s the name of your company, and what do you do?
I’m best known under my own name. You can find me online at AnneliBlundell.com. I work with leaders to help improve their engagement, influence and impact with others. It’s about developing interpersonal intelligence – the ability to understand and navigate the people dynamics in a given situation.
How a leader shows up in the world really matters. What they say, what they do and even what they’re thinking affects people around them. The combined result is an interpersonal impact that works like a magnet; it either draws people to them or pushes people away from them. The difference this makes to a leaders’ engagement, influence and impact is palpable.
The world is getting smaller, the tasks bigger and the time to get them done, shorter. We need to build relationships and trust in record time. We need influence, engagement and impact and we all need to pay attention to our interpersonal footprint.
Essentially, I consider myself like a people whisperer because my work is all about decoding people dynamics and tuning into the below conscious drivers that impact performance and engagement. Have I mentioned yet how much I love my work by the way?
What were you doing before you started this business?
I worked at the ANZ bank. I’ve done everything from manage branches in the Melbourne CBD, to standing on the corner in a bee suit handing out flyers (not a highlight!), to delivering over 1000 presentations about banking benefits to our customers. Before I left I was the Manager for Branch Platforms Australia and New Zealand, responsible for the telling platform across the whole branch network. Essentially it was like being a diplomat with the United Nations (I imagine!). Constantly working with multiple stakeholders from many different departments and working hard to keep everyone happy. Easier said than done but it was great training ground for the work I do now. Reading people, decoding intentions, understanding and aligning motivations, influencing and engaging, managing conflict. All juicy people stuff!
How did the idea for your business come about?
I’d always wanted to do something I was really passionate about. I wanted to come to work with a fire in my belly, a passion to serve and a feeling that I had found my place. I knew my strength was in building relationships, working with people, and helping them get the most out of themselves and others and I knew there was a market for executive coaching and leadership training. So I quit my job and started my own coaching and consulting practice.
With a degree in Business Management and HR, I also realised the area of communication, influence and engagement would always be in demand. As long as people need to work with people, there will always be an opportunity for me to do this work that I love so much. I feel very lucky and am grateful everyday for the clients I get to work with and the impact I get to make.
What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Doing everything myself. What a shock! When I first started my own business I was blindsided by how much there was to do outside of my core work helping my clients. I remember the first time I had a computer issue I dialed the ANZ IT hotline! I was so bummed to realise they weren’t there anymore. I had to build a network of great people around me, really quickly – a bookkeeper, graphic designer, editor, a better accountant, an IT support person, a lawyer, a printer and of course Office Works became my secret guilty pleasure! Who’s with me??
Nowadays I’m lucky enough to be supported by my Business Manager and a Virtual Assistant who are both really skilled at doing many of the background activities that take up a lot of time but still need to get done.
What has been the most effective form of advertising for your business?
Word of mouth referrals and speaking gigs. Mine is a trust based business. People don’t buy relationships out of the yellow pages. They want someone they can trust and relate to.
If they can see you in action or get a recommendation from a trusted source then the rest will take care of itself.
How important is social media to you business?
Some forums are more important than others when connecting with my client base. I’ve always been an avid user of LinkedIn (and so too are most of my clients). I’ve only included Facebook and Twitter more recently. LinkedIn is where I get most of my engagement though. People ‘like’ and ‘share’ posts I’ve written or articles I’ve shared and they comment on them too. This often provides a warm introduction to new people and is a great way to expand my network and meet potential clients. I also get a quick read on which topics are hot and which are not! I love the instant feedback from the marketplace.
What are your plans to expand the business?
Right now I’m focusing on consolidating my practice. I’m further stream lining my products and services so that I continue to offer my specialist expertise to my clients in new and unique ways. I’m not looking to create 100 more Anneli’s in my business. Right now I’m just looking to continue deepening my expertise and doing great work with wonderful clients.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m proud to announce the publication of my latest co-authored book! Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders. It’s been a long time coming so I’m hugely proud that it’s now available for people. I’m also really delighted to give back to a much broader audience rather than limiting my reach to just the clients I have the privilege of working with face to face.
When running a small business, every contribution counts. Owners can’t afford to carry staff members who aren’t pulling their weight or who are generally great but have one or two behaviours that are impacting their performance. Finding the right way to develop team members on the job (and not through an outsourced training program) can be tricky. Often leaders aren’t sure how to do it, let alone do it well.
With this book, small business owners can get a practical resource offering proven strategies for developing leadership in others, whilst on the job. Packed with case studies, leadership theory and on the ground experience this guide helps leaders to close the gap between the potential and actual performance of their direct reports. The book addresses the 12 most common, globally recognised leadership derailers, to assist leaders dramatically impact performance, engagement, and the bottom line.
It’s available for purchase on most online outlets, and accessible from my website: www.anneliblundell.com/books/