Women in Property has helped me launch my new architectural practice Raynes Architecture and help me win work, as well as being an amazing network and providing support.
I took my post as the economy and our membership were nose diving.
4 things were important to me, reviving the committee, a strong events calendar, the WIP mentoring and student awards programmes and increasing the profile of the branch.
On the people side, mentoring become key, and I looked to past chairs Jo Farrell and Jean Godbert for their expertise and guidance. I also looked to develop the committee and restablish a presence in Liverpool with Kat Brown and Pamela Chesterman.
On the events side, organising members only events like the site visit to Ian Simpsons penthouse in the Beetham Tower, or the site visit to the Civil Justice Centre, ensure we give our members unrivalled opportunities.
Partnership with other organizations was key in providing our members with quality events eg CIOB for the Annual Dinner, Forward Ladies for the Cherie Blair and Arlene Phillips lunch and we also supported the charity Forever Manchester.
Raising the profile of Wip and the branch I saw as fundamental to recruiting new and senior members. Realising the importance of PR, Sarah Atta from Lexington Communications came on board as PR coordinator, with Sue McGuire Milestone PR in the national WiP PR post. I sat down early on in my term with Sarah to create a PR strategy for the year.
Over the 21 months, we had an unprecedented amount of press both in print and on line, in regional and national press, including RIBA journal, MEN, the Place, Manchester Confidential, the Independent and many others.
In parallel I developed a social media presence on twitter and consequently linked-in.
How it has helped me:
Standing up and speaking to rooms full of people and Chairing committee meetings have been great confidence builders.
Using wip as a tool to be able to go direct to leading industry figures, universities, target clients, key periodicals to say arrange an event or ask for sponsorship, partner up or look for a mentor, has opened many doors.
As chairman of WiP north west I’ve been invited to fabulous events. As a VIP guest at the MSA dinner along with Ruth Reed the RIBA national president. Then to the women of the year lunch in london with Annie Lennox, Zaha Hadid and a host of other high profile females. And recently to the Beautiful Magazine event with in Manchester with Lynne Franks too!
It's from this base that when I was made redundant in September 2010 as victim of the economic climate, I was able to hit the ground running so to speak and use the platform afforded to me by WiP to launch my new practice, Raynes Architecture.
The press and social media presence have resulted in high rankings on google. Following the launch of the Raynes Architecture website in October 2010, I’m now on the first page of Google if you type architect south Manchester, didsbury, chorlton, wilmsow and sometimes even architect Manchester.
This has brought me direct business - 4 leads, the first of which has converted into a proper job. And I hope the others to follow suit
And via google a journalist from the Times found me, and I’m in this Friday’s paper-in the Bricks and Mortar section.
All my other jobs have been Referrals directly as a result of my Wip contacts.
As well as promoting the Student Awards, I was honoured to judge this year, I met so many fantastic students, and have taken one on as an intern. I’ve been invited to lecture at 3 universities and I’ve been able to speak to very senior people at one university, with potentially project opportunities.
Wip has also given me an insight into accounts, essential business knowledge. I have also learnt management skills how to motivate a team of people and understand the issues of running a satellite branch.
In summary,it’s a cliché but you get out what you put in.