Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Steps 1 - 7 to Small Talk Heaven

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
~ Robert McCloskey

Steps 1 – 7 to Small Talk Heaven

1. Be likable – not to be confused with being “like a bull”. Go ahead, be the first to say greet other guests with a smile as you say “hello”!

2. Shake hands when you meet someone…even if you’ve met before or there are a lot of people around. Shaking hands stems from a ritual of trusting the other person had “nothing hidden up his sleeve like poison in the “olden days”, and as odd and germy as it may seem to do it today, it is still a professional courtesy (and even expectation) if you want to be taken seriously. Say your first and last name slowly to the person (even if you have met him or her before) so that you can save those “I’m bad with names, but good with faces” people.

3. Be mindful during introductions. Make the effort to remember names of those you meet, and use them readily. Be the person who introduces new acquaintances to others so that you are seen as the connector.

4. Ask a direct, non-intimidating question like “how do you know the host?” if at a house party, or “what attracted you to this event?” if at a conference, so that the conversation begins on a positive reference point/perspective. Also, know what current events, movies and books are being talked about. Have an opinion on them, but ask others theirs first so as to not get confrontational right away.

5. Stay engaged verbally and with eye contact. Resist glancing around the room while others are talking to you, as it appears you are flighty and/or looking for a better opportunity elsewhere. Listen more than you talk if you are not there to be the entertainer/speaker.

6. If/when appropriate, present two business cards to the other person with the cards framed with your index finger and thumb…facing the full card to the recipient. If the other person reciprocates, look at the card and comment on something positive/interesting about the card. Put other cards in the same place you keep yours to show those received have the same value.

7. Watch monopolizing others. Be friendly, be memorable, and be moving on. Know when and how to exit a conversation by stating things like “it’ll be great to speak more about this at another time, I’ll follow up with you later this week via email” (if you will), or “surely there are a lot of people who want to meet you, so I will respect that and not monopolize your time. It was a pleasure”. Close with shaking the person’s hand and using his/her name again.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Friend or Not to Friend...That is the Question!

“The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.”
~ Justice William O. Douglas

To Friend or Not to Friend…That is the Question

And, the answer is…

If you use Facebook and LinkedIn (highly recommended), and you receive a friend request from a colleague, manager, acquaintance, or co-worker, you may get that odd twinge in your belly that tells you if you confirm, you will be exposed, and if you decline, you will be a jerk. Ah, but there is another option, and that is by clicking the send a message link and replying with something similar to the following:

While I appreciate your seeking me out on Facebook, my professional contacts and messaging are on LinkedIn, so here is that contact information Please connect with me there.
Thank you, and see you on LinkedIn!
Your Signature

This will keep you in touch, out of reach of the awkwardness of that person being your FB friend, or having to adjust your privacy settings for each person, and still make the connection on social media…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Landing Your Next Position

“I feel sorry for the person who can't get genuinely excited about his work. Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile.” ~ Walter Chrysler

Top 10 Tips for Landing Your Next Position

If you are thinking of changing roles, positions, or directions in your career, consider the following:
1) Assess your past and the results you have accomplished to determine your 2 - 4 areas of expertise. Resist attempting to be "all things to all companies/roles".

2) Get clear on, and excited about what you offer and the areas/industries for your talents. Watch words like "I could" or "I'd be willing to", as these are red flags for people to realize you will bolt when another opportunity comes along. Know that if you cannot articulate your strengths, nobody else will be able to do so either. Have a quick 15-30 second "pitch" regarding your offerings - not just what you do.

3) Vow not to change your resume for every position/posting. It seems tempting, but that is the purpose of your cover letter.

4) Use job sites and industry-leading resources like institutes or associations to stay up on language, lingo and the buzz words that are likely key for your resume and/or cover letter to get selected from the scanning software that many companies use to assist in their vetting of potential candidates.

5) Update your resume and stop changing it weekly. Decide if you are staying in the same or related field that you can use a reverse chronology approach, and embrace the idea that if you are shifting gears, you will likely want a functional/skills resume that reflects those 2 - 4 areas of expertise.

6) Consider your audience and that you have much competition. Too much I, I, I can sound like it's all about you, and not about the company and their customers and/or clients.

7) Google yourself to see what everyone else can see. Revisit all your links, websites, blogs, tweets, posts, etc., as you will be researched by any serious potential employers or business partners. Present publicly what you want to be discussed privately.

8) Know that you are more than what you do for a living. You are a second-rate someone else, but a first-rate you. Keep yourself healthy and focused so that you do not start to resemble a tired version of yourself, or worse yet, someone you are not!
9) Be productive over being busy with what you are doing and with whom you are interfacing and collaborating. Never underestimate the power of contacts, professionalism and follow-through on comments, commitments and opportunities...

10) Network, network, network, and when you are tired of it all, get re-energized, and network more! Network to assist others, and not just to focus on yourself and your job search. You'll be surprised how true the adage is of "you get what you give"! Networking is how most people land positions now...and it's not likely to change in the future.