Category Archives: From the Editor

Top 15 Networking Tips for Introverts

Networking isn’t easy. It can take up a lot of your time and it’s hard to keep pitching over and over again. As introverts, it can also be a grueling process.

I’m a naturally introverted person, which for me means that networking and heading to events can sap a colossal amount of energy out of me. Not only that, but I can be an absolute nervous wreck before and during the event.

“What if say something stupid? What if I make a fool out of myself?”

I’m here to tell you, that it genuinely does get easier.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me get along. While I’m in no means an expert, I feel far more confident now about attending events on my own.

Practice your pitch

And practice it out loud. Write out a short pitch and become familiar with the key words that describe your blog or business. Five years ago, journalist Áine Kerr asked me while I was writing an article, “Now how would you describe that to a friend?” I haven’t forgotten that advice since. Keep it simple.

Do some networking even before the event

Has the event a page on social media? Are they using a specific hashtag? Check them out! I’ve found that these can be so useful to get a flavour of the attendees and you can even interact with people before the event has begun. You’ll feel far more comfortable with a person you’ve had an online conversation with when you meet them in person.

Have a goal

Tease out why you are attending. Who do you hope to meet? How many people do you hope to connect with? It’s important to set little goals for yourself – it keeps you on the right track too.

Get there early

It’s far more intimidating to head into a room where groups of people have already established conversations across the room. By being early, you can even set the trend and people may start to surround you.

Eye contact with a firm handshake

Eye contact and a firm but brief handshake is always welcome.  Who wants to handle a dead fish? It sounds so basic, but the amount of people I’ve met who don’t bother looking at you is crazy. It can also come across as rude, and people may think you’re not interested in what they’re saying at all. I certainly know that I’m very put off when the person I’m talking to is scanning the room behind my head (When I’m nervous, my eyes tend to go everywhere, so I usually take a deep breath before I decide introduce myself to someone).

Listen first, then pitch

If you think about it this way, the person who starts talking is actually at a disadvantage because they’re only being half listened to (Their counterpart is usually practising their own pitch in their head). By speaking second, this means that you can still listen and get a breather while the person you’re talking to will be more focused when conversation turns to you. Hat tip to The Muse for this one.

Try and ignore that negative inner voice

“Why would they want to talk to me? What if I mess up?” Believe me when I say that I have learned from fluffing up but it’s never as major as we imagine it to be. Despite what you may think, you need to believe that you have something to offer. Sometimes people don’t want to talk and they’ll move on – that’s ok! It can be difficult but try not to take it personally. Understand that they’re here to network too and you just mightn’t be a fit.

Wear an icebreaker!

If you have a statement piece or something quirky that you can wear, this can be a fantastic icebreaker (Yes, I do own a Pikachu watch). Not only can you have a bit of a joke about it, but it’s something that you’re familiar with and can ease you into conversation.

Remember, you don’t have to talk to everyone.

This was one of the biggest mistakes I used to make. You may feel like this is your only shot at connecting with people but honestly, it’s not. Try to connect with a handful of people and they’ll remember you far more than that person you just spent two seconds with.

Don’t hang with friends all night

While it’s nice to see people that you know, if they’re already aware of your pitch, there’s no need to stay with them all night. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly but remind yourself of the little goals you set yourself.

 

Physically move

It’s tempting to just stay at a table and not budge. The trick I’ve found, is to move to different groups with a smile and depending on the event, simply ask how they’re doing. “Hi! My name is Úna-Minh”, isn’t a pitch or a sale but it’s a simple introduction that has got me moving. It’s very hard to mess up your own name! “Have you been to this before?” is also a really handy line.

Don’t overdo it with your business cards

While it’s a nice feeling to hand over your business card, it’s good to be selective about who you’re handing them out to. Oftentimes people throw cards in the bin, so make sure you take to the time out to make an impression before you hand the card out. That being said, keep your cards handy where they are within reach and you won’t have to go fumbling in your bag. A card case will keep them free from smudges too.

Have a drink

Don’t be afraid to take a glass of wine if you’re looking to settle your nerves but don’t overdo it – especially if you’re around people you’ve never met before. I always keep a bottle of water in my bag, to keep me hydrated and alert (plus even the motion of taking out a bottle to take a sip, gives me a few seconds to collect my thoughts!).

Step out if you’re feeling overwhelmed

As introverts, it’s natural to position ourselves near an exit for a quick getaway. It’s absolutely ok to go outside or to the bathroom for a quick breather. Take five or ten minutes for yourself. It’s better to go to a safe space and take time to gather your thoughts, rather than be flustered amongst people.

Follow up!

Don’t worry, this doesn’t necessary mean a lunch or a coffee (but it’s certainly worth it if the person really struck you and could help in the future). Simply dropping them an email or a tweet shows that you’ve made an effort to reach out and what’s even better is if you can add in some information that was personal to your conversation.

Points about people

They like to talk about themselves and are often flattered when you’re interested in them. The majority will also reciprocate if you’re showing them sincere interest, are maintaining eye contact, and come across as totally genuine.

Pub Etiquette: Why it’s ok not to get into buying rounds

“Drink anyone? I’ll buy this round”

When it comes to a night out with a big group of friends, there’s a big chance that you will all get stuck into making the long slog back from the bar with several drinks in hand.

Before you’ve even looked at your own wallet or thought about how the night will pan out, you’re already down €25 (at least). Too polite to say “I’m not going to do rounds tonight lads”, you’re already ordering at the bar.

It’s not generousity that ties people to rounds these days – it’s fear.

Why in Ireland are we so concerned about being seen as the black sheep of the group?  Is there really anything wrong with saying “I’m going to pay my own way”? Of course there isn’t.

Here are five valid reasons why it’s ok to not be guilt-tripped into engaging in this social minefield:

People drink at different paces

By buying into rounds you’re essentially forcing people to either drink more slowly or quickly than they want. Not only that, but there are also those who will change up their drinks during the night in favour of more expensive ones when it isn’t their round.

Some people don’t plan on staying out all night.

If your plan is to be home by 12 and you forked up the first round, then the chances are that you’re not going to get your money’s worth back by the end of the night. It’s perfectly ok to say that you’d rather buy your own.

You don’t have a lot of money

And that’s ok. You know how much you can afford and you shouldn’t have to justify to your friends why you can’t afford to buy them all a round. In 2014, the average amount that a person spent on a night out was €81, sometimes even more.

Some people wait until the very end before they offer a round

I’ve heard stories of people who hold back until the end of the night when people have whittled off before they start offering to pay for the next one. It’s a sneaky tactic and very unfair.

Some people don’t drink alcohol

At least one in five adults in Ireland don’t drink and why should they have to pay for other people’s booze? There’s a big price difference between a Coke and a Jameson and Coke.


Instead of judging people as being unsociable or unfair, consider how unfair you’re being by forcing them into a system that they don’t want to be a part of. You don’t know what their financial situation is.

Doing rounds essentially leaves you drinking and spending more than you intended. So don’t be miffed with the friend who doesn’t want to buy into the system.

(Lead image via Wikimedia Commons/Zenior)

Pig Welfare in Ireland: Free-Range vs Factory-Farmed, Which is Better?

After watching Philip Boucher-Hayes’ documentary What Are You Eating? this evening, I struck up an interesting conversation with Shane McAuliffe of Truly Irish foods.

I was curious to know, given the clear pride Shane has in the products he promotes, if the Truly Irish brand was free-range.  I received a prompt response:

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Curious at this answer and admittedly skeptical, I wanted to hear more and so invited two more people into the conversation Oldfarm and Inagh Freerange Farm.

Just for some background information from their websites:

Truly Irish

“Truly Irish Country Foods is a farm based business established by pig producers throughout the island of Ireland with shareholders who are based in every county in Ireland. We supply exceptionally high quality pork for sale in the local and international market place. The Shareholder has full control of his product from farm to market”

Oldfarm

“Our mission is to bring you the taste of ‘real’ Irish Pork and Bacon! To this end we produce tasty, succulent free-range pork and bacon which we deliver directly to your door. Our pigs are fed on a completely gmo-free and organic diet which ensures clean, healthy meat”

Inagh Freerange Farm

“Inagh free range pork comes from animals born, raised and allowed to mature at a natural pace on grass without hurrying the process. The pork retains all the old fashioned virtues of succulence, tenderness and full flavour, is sumptuous and delicious, and makes proper crackling. There is a little more fat than commercial pork – but that’s where the tenderness and succulence comes from. The pork from each breed has its own characteristic taste and texture”

As you can imagine, the conversation escalated quite quickly with evident passion and resulted in a heated discussion on pig welfare in Ireland.

Surely being out in their natural environment is a good thing? According to Shane, this isn’t the case:

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(Alfie McCaffrey is also from Oldfarm.ie)

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I asked Shane to provide me with a link to some of the articles he mentioned and he shared this one: Pig Crushing Mortality by Hut Type In Outdoor Farrowing.

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Briefly touching on what organic and free range, actually mean and the types of feeds that animals get, it was an insight for me on what strong differences in opinion farmers and producers had on rearing animals.

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All three farms invited me to visit their premises to find out more about how they reared their pigs – an offer which I think I’ll definitely take up in the future.

What do you think? What’s the ideal way to rear pigs in your opinion? Are there real benefits to free-range?

Let me know in the comment section below.

(Lead Image courtesy of Inagh Freerange Farm.  Unfortunately for some reason my blog doesn’t allow me to properly embed tweets, so I’ve done my best to screengrab them and put them in the proper order. For information on Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme in Ireland from Bord Bia you can click here)

The Sunday Round-Up: A well-needed catch-up and a cup of tea

My fellow Beanies, it’s been a while. Let’s sit down, relax and have a cup of tea. A lot has changed over the past few weeks.

Cooks Academy

After a long time to holding out and keeping an eye on the job front, I started with Cooks Academy the week before last as their Digital Content Manager!

Looks like my long awaited dream of combining my love of media and food has come true – life has so many different routes for us to take but right now, I’m grateful.

I guess that’s hence why there’s been a mini hiatus here on the bloggy, blog. I’ve had to settle into a new position and sort out what needs to be done. Don’t worry I’m still blogging!

Currently I’m working on the Cooks Academy Blog where I’m giving insights into what’s going on in the school as well as helping with redesigning the look and feel. Let me know what you think.

Irish Foodies

In other related food updates: I’ve created the Irish Foodies subbreddit on Reddit which is a great social network that’s constantly on the ball with news.

Irish Foodies is going to be a hub for all the latest goings on in Irish food where people can just submit links be it from their own blog, recipes, things they saw in the news etc. etc. Have a look at it over here. (Incidentally I’m also a moderator of Irish Food – got to keep juggling all of these pots!).

Instagram and Facebook

I update way more about my food goings on, on Instagram and Facebook, if you’d like to check them out. No pressure of course, but just in case you thought I had jumped off the face of the planet.

Savour.ie

Really delighted to have been featured by Paul McLoughlin on Savour.ie (really surprised too as I’ve been slightly neglectful of my blogging duties!). I particularly like that he was appreciative of my MegaBites section – I’ve got to keep the geek in me happy.

You can read the full article here.

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(Lead image is of a Vietnamese Crab Salad that I rustled up recently for a birthday)

Ciao! It’s Italian Week on Spill the Beans

Last week Mr. POH and I celebrated Chinese week where I cooked nothing but food with an Asian-flair but this week we’re going European.

This week, we’re zooming over to Italia, where I’ll be rustling up some tasty (I hope!) Italian dishes.

Included on the menu this week is: Minestrone, Zuppa Toscana, Lasanga and a curious Spaghetti Cake.

I’ll be featuring at least two Italian-themed posts on the blog – movies, culture, recipes? We’ll see!

(Image via WikimediaCommons)

Nǐ hǎo! It’s Chinese Week on Spill the Beans

In a bid to try something a bit different here in the Spill the Beans household, I’m cooking dishes with a Chinese-flair.

So what’s in store for this week? Well we’re kicking off tonight with a Beef Noodle Soup, using egg noodles and beef that’s marinated in soy sauce and garlic.

Tomorrow we’ll switch out the beef for pork, with a sweet and sour dish on the cards. Then on Tuesday – as a celebration of buying a Playstation 4 – we’ll have special fried rice with chicken and prawns.

Wednesday we’re going to go back to beef for some delicious chow mein and then on Thursday I’ll be rustling up some Lemon Chicken.

To finish the working week, we’re going to be a bit bold and indulge in some tasty spareribs and then finally on Saturday we’ll have Lamb Meatballs.

We’re also going to be looking at a few Chinese movies that have food at the core of their story including Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman, The Chinese Feast and the BBC Four documentary The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World.

 

Next week we’re going to change it up with Italian food! So if you have any suggestions on what we should do – feel free to leave a comment below. Zàijiàn!

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Kitchen Diaries: The joys of a cold shower

The heat from rushing around the kitchen takes over your entire body and you feel like a mobile sweat machine – cold showers are a godsend.

Another fast-paced week in the kitchen, I was glad to see that I was getting more into the swing of things and seeing my confidence grow.

I’m a natural introvert and sometimes anything that involves prolonged human interaction terrifies me, but getting to know the staff and children at a steady pace is reassuring.

Though I’ve made a few mistakes over the past few days, I’ve been very grateful that my colleagues have been so understanding. All finger and toes are accounted for. 

I’m getting a real feel of how catering works and it’s actually pretty exciting.

Apart from serving up to hundreds of children, I’ve also managed to keep on top of my HAACP training (more on that some other time).

I also managed to peel close to 100kg worth of potatoes! 

Here’s to another week.

Kitchen Diaries: Babies, Wobblers, Toddlers

I slowly eased my shoes off and threw them as far away from me as possible – my feet were in bits.

As some of you may know, this week I started work in a kitchen based in a family centre. Catering to many young mouths, my job involves a lot of multitasking and a lot of smiles!

Each day we provide babies, wobblers (a new word I learned for babies that are about 1-2 years old), toddlers and pre-schoolers with breakfast and dinner throughout the day, as well as catering to any food specifications they may have.

With a rotating menu that’s open to change, though it may be simple, I reckon the meals would satisfy most tummies – a decent Shepherd’s Pie is tough to beat.

Much to my delight, though I’ve only been here a week, the children are super lovely and even the Pre-Schoolers greet me with a “Hi Úna” and a wave.

Without sounding cheesy, it’s actually such a relief to be back working with a team, where you meet new people but also get to know the regulars. For me, there’s only so much satisfaction that you can get from working at home.

I come home sweaty and tired, but incredibly satisfied and fall into bed as early as I can – Hence why I haven’t been updating my blog as much as I’d like to.

They say that it takes a few weeks for your feet to adjust to standing up all day and I’m sure I’ll get into the swing of things soon.

I’m happy and that’s what counts.

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Part 25: Irish Food and Drink Producers Worth Getting to Know

Another Sunday, another short round-up of some of Ireland’s best food producers!

Celebrating local produce, this week I’m looking at five more companies that caught my eye:

Kearney Blue Cheese

A deliciously creamy cheese with a balanced blue flavour throughout, Kearney Blue is definitely one for the cheeseboard.

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Based in Northern Ireland, the cheese itself has one numerous awards including Best Irish Cheese, Gold medal at the International Cheese Awards, Nantwich 2011.

Website: http://www.buynifood.com/buyer_search.php?supp=19829

Oldfarm

Irish free-range pork and bacon – need I say more?  Oldfarm breed and raise Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot pigs and also some cross-breed pigs.

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Their happy pigs have access to the outdoors all year round and live on a diet that is totally gmo-free! Delicious? I think so.

Website: http://www.oldfarm.ie/

Aruna Sauces

Feeling saucy? Sarajit Chanda uses his mother Aruna’s recipes to create authentic curry sauces.

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Using traditional recipes and methods, the sauces have won gold and bronze at the Blas na hÉireann food Awards.

Website: http://www.aruna.ie/

Eadaoin’s Kitchen

Eadaoin Walsh creates delicious bakery and pastry delights, at the School of Food in Thomastown, Co.Kilkenny.

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A professionally trained chef, her products can be found in Cillin Hill Market, the Truffle Fairy Chocolate Shop, Knockdrinna Farmshop in Stoneyford, and Nicholas Mosse Cafe in Bennetsbridge.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eadaoins-Kitchen/285286431592891?sk=timeline

Pandora Bell

Using only the purest ingredients for sweet treats, Pandora Bell is based in Killonan, Ballysimon.  The range is made using traditional methods passed down through the centuries with recipes that never change.

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The result? Mouth-watering delights: fruity, fresh Jellies, Sweets, Lollipops and Candy Canes, light, luscious Nougat, succulent Caramels and creamy rich Fudge – guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Website: http://pandorabell.com/

(All images via company Facebook pages)

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Would you like to nominate Spill the Beans for a Blog Award? Details here!

It’s that time of the year again where mountains of bloggers will be plugging away in the hopes of being nominated for a rather lovely award. I’m afraid that I’m going to be one of them!

If you like what I do here on Spill the Beans, I would be so grateful if you could take a moment to nominate this little blog. There are 20 categories in this year’s awards with food being one of them!

All you have to do is head to the Blog Award Ireland website here, and fill in your details as well as adding the link for my site: https://spillthebeans.ie/ – You can nominate four other blogs too.

A sincere thank you in advance, and of course if you can’t, that’s totally cool no bother at all. I always feel a bit funny asking for people to nominate me!

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