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Really Helpful Club - The power of the network

Sarah Austin on how to use the power of the network in our daily lives.


Vodafone Business is proud to have partnered with Really Helpful Club, but what is it and how did it come to life?

To answer these questions, and to gain an overview of all the fantastic initiatives available through Really Helpful Club, we spoke to its founder Sarah Austin; a former Senior Investment Manager and one of the youngest female directors at Baring Asset Management.  
Really Helpful Club was born out of chance, as many great ideas often are. Sarah left the City to focus on her family, and while attending a school rugby match, a fellow parent was looking for a solution to a problem. In this instance, Sarah didn’t have the answer, she knew someone who did. A common occurrence, this meeting was a lightbulb moment for Sarah who realised the importance of networking across all aspects of our lives, from the everyday to business and beyond.

What if we could have all this knowledge, gained from multiple sources on multiple topics, and then pool it together on an accessible online forum that anyone could access? Even with life becoming busier and more digitally focused, word of mouth, honest referrals from trusted partners are still what many seek out. And so, Really Helpful Club was born in 2014.
In Sarah’s own words, “It’s all about solving problems; using the power of the network, leveraging the reach and scale of the internet, to help find trusted, recommended solutions as quickly as possible in our daily lives.”

Really Helpful Club has recently launched a new website and branding. What do the core pillars of Wellbeing, Prosperity and Home & Leisure represent to you and the Really Helpful Club Community?

“They’re all about what we as a community can do for each other. Whether you’re looking for support in caring for your elderly parents or understanding the emotional needs of your teenagers, getting back into the workplace or looking to progress your career, or some inspiration for your next home project… each core pillar represents key areas in our daily lives: Prosperity represents careers and businesses, Wellbeing – the challenges we face in our health and wellness, and Home & Leisure is all about working towards a happy home and family life.

At Really Helpful Club, we give people a safe space where they can connect, collaborate and consult with like-minded, knowledgeable people, and find the support and solutions they’re looking for. It really is a trusted network of people that can help you with valuable advice, useful tips and information that can support us through every stage of our lives.”

Really Helpful Club launched your Back-to-Business conference a few years ago, which was a great success. What was the inspiration behind launching this and how does it benefit people in business?

“The Back-to-Business conference was inspired by the Women’s Boat Race, which was hosted in London in May 2014 on the River Thames for the first time in its history.  This landmark race was the catalyst to launch an event focused on women and the importance of equality in every aspect of our lives.  We hosted a talk with 100 members of our newly formed Really Helpful Club in a room overlooking the river. The talk was based around empowering women and our younger generation. I invited a former Olympian rower, who talked about her own experiences and the importance of keeping girls engaged in sport, as well as the need for equal opportunities for men and women across every aspect of our lives.
I stood there, in that room, and looked around me at a gathering of talented, engaged, professional and resourceful women, keen to share their experiences, valuable advice and information. Someone said to me at that meeting that if we started a company right there and then, drawing on the skills, talent, and experience in that room, you would have more than you would ever need.
Another lightbulb moment – I wanted to give my community members an opportunity to learn from these amazing people, helping them take the next step in their careers, and their lives, free from judgement. Literally 8 months later, we held our first Back-to-Business conference.
To date, we have helped more than 2,000 women take their next step in their professional journey. Our annual conference aims to encourage and empower our members and guests, to re-engage with the workplace, find the help and support to advance their career, whether that’s a promotion or starting a business, learn the skills to grow and develop, boost their confidence and expand their network with like-minded women.”

What would you say are the challenges businesses are facing today, and how has the pandemic changed business outlooks?

“The advancement of technology, and particularly the growth of social media and the internet, has on the one hand opened up new opportunities and channels to reach new audiences; but on the other hand, has brought with it the challenges of servicing them effectively. In a way, it has become a far more complex process to reach customers, but it has also levelled the playing field, in that small businesses now have the chance to really compete with larger corporations.
Small businesses are able to adapt and respond more quickly to various situations, are more flexible to changing conditions, which puts them in a much stronger position to seize those opportunities. 

The pandemic helped in many ways as a leveller. Being forced to move more online, the recognition that small businesses could connect and engage with potential clients more easily, rather than having to wait and meet in person, further extended a business’s reach – their world literally became their oyster!
But right now, small businesses are facing a perfect storm. Uncertainty about things over which they have no control – inflation, rising energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis are impacting consumer demand and spending, as well as the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on supply chains – are proving difficult, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be done to ease the pressure.”

What’s your vision for the future of Really Helpful Club?

“Well, firstly I am very excited about our new branding and website! We’ve improved the user experience and we’re receiving fabulous feedback. I really feel we are in a great place and on the cusp of accelerating growth; expanding the scale and reach of our network.
I’m also excited about our rapidly growing corporate and schools’ programmes, where we take the best of Really Helpful Club to support and respond to a real thirst for knowledge and understanding in both sectors. Our programmes focus on the important and critical topics that are totally relevant to employees, students, teachers, and parents today.

What’s really exciting is that the feedback we’ve received shows we are making a positive difference; we offer real, tangible benefits to everyone involved in our corporate and schools’ programmes, which we will build on in the future.”

Discover Really Helpful Club and how it can help you and your business here.


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